Hurricane Matthew has caused devastation on Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas and is now on the East Coast of the US. What effect do hurricanes have on insects? Hurricane can cause flooding from storm surge and damage to vegetation with high winds. Most insects are small enough to find suitable harborage during the storms and can adapt to conditions after the storm. Some insect populations will suffer direct mortality from adverse environmental conditions. However, disturbance by hurricanes is often patchy and insects in stable situations typically find plenty of refuge during and after the storm.
Insects that live in disturbed or temporary habitats may find conditions suitable for population expansion in the wake of a hurricane disturbance. Mosquitoes and other insects that live in temporary ponds created by the heavy rainfall typically increases in numbers. Trees blown down and killed by high winds becomes sites for colonization by detritivores. Hurricanes can partially defoliate trees. Leaf feeding insects such as caterpillars may benefit from a spurt of new growth by the trees. Very seldom do large hurricanes that have great impact on human structures create a similar devastation on insect populations. Many local populations that are reduced by direct mortality are quickly replaced by unaffected nearby refuges.