By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Research continues to show us the public health importance of rodents, so it’s not surprising that income from rodent management continues to increase. So why does rodent control continue to challenge our industry?
Here are a few scenarios that tipped the scale in favor of rodents:
- A Pest Management Professional (PMP) made a residential contract that included insect and rodent management, but only focused on insects.
- No one set up a preventive rodent program (including bait stations, traps or pest-proofing). Rodents appeared, and then the PMP went into action. That’s called "extermination," not pest management.
- An apartment may have already had a well-entrenched rodent problem that was grossly under-evaluated by the PMP, technician and/or customer.
- A facility only used a few glue boards, when they really needed dozens of bait stations and snap traps to create a proper protective barrier.
- A facility with a rat problem used bait stations and traps labeled for mice.
- It might not have even been a rodent problem. Voles, moles and other vermin can dig holes and enter structures too.
- Bait stations and other control devices were placed without thought, or where it was easy to reach and inspect the devices. It’s the hard-to-reach areas that need control devices the most.
- Technicians were too timid to ask for or create access ports. Inaccessible voids in walls, floors and ceilings sometimes have to be made accessible for effective rodent control.
- Incoming goods contained mice, and no one inspected the material before it was unloaded. The reproductive rate of mice is so prolific that even if a few mice were caught every day, they were still losing ground.
- A technician knew there was a problem, but didn’t ask for help for fear of being reprimanded. Creating a positive communication atmosphere is important for all company employees.
Even if you’re not suffering from one of these issues, rodents can still persist. In these cases, take a closer look at the condition of the rodenticide:
- Is it placed in a dry bait station, and/or raised off the floor inside the bait station?
- Does the technician smoke and then touch the bait with his bare hands? Tobacco odors reduce palatability.
- Is the bait changed often enough? Grain insects and mold can dissuade rodents.
- Is the bait stored in tight containers in the shop and/or vehicle? Is it kept in separate compartments isolated from insecticides?
- Are there competing, “natural” food sources nearby, such as a bird feeder? Although baits can be very palatable, rodents may eat other food available in the area. Proper sanitation means eliminating as many of these food sources as possible.
When something isn’t working, don’t double the service and do the same thing twice. All the modern technology in the world is no substitute for human intelligence and hunting skills. For instance, going at night and watching rodent activity will open your eyes and mind to a whole new approach to the challenge.
Now, who said pest management is dull?
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