Noted rodentologist Dr. Bobby Corrigan has consistently stated that sanitation is pest management. You could substitute exclusion, habitat modification or monitoring into the previous sentence and you’d still be on point in describing what is included in an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to rodent management.
A successful rodent IPM program deploys multiple tools that all point to the same goal: preventing a rodent infestation from occurring in the first place or quickly dispatching an infestation and making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Why IPM for Rodent Control?
IPM uses information about rodents including biology, behavior, etc. and the environment you’re treating to identify control methods that are most effective but leave a minimal environmental footprint. IPM methods include pest monitoring, prevention, exclusion, and non-chemical tools first.
With IPM, you start by asking, "Why is this mouse or rat here?" and try to eliminate the conditions allowing it to enter a home or business and live. An IPM approach solves rodent problems rather than just treating the symptoms.
Advantages of IPM Rodent Control
Janet Hurley, A.C.E., M.P.A., an extension program specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas, said 75 percent of rodent management is IPM-based.
“Exclusion, habitat modification, sanitation – they all are part of IPM,” said Hurley. “IPM is using control tools based on the specific situation that exists in a residential or commercial account.”
When initially assessing the situation pest management professionals need to gauge the severity of the infestation, learn the specific needs/requirements of the client (this is especially important in the food processing, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries) and identify the conducive conditions that have contributed to the rodent infestation being there in the first place.
“PMPs need to look holistically at the situation and determining where to start and what tools to deploy,” said Hurley. “Is monitoring needed? Is there an exclusion or sanitation issue or is the rodent pressure severe enough that it warrants a baiting and trapping program to achieve quick knockdown?”
What are some of the benefits of a rodent IPM program?
IPM is Education
Richard Monastero, owner of Amtech Personalized Pest Management in Brookfield, Connecticut, said his company invests extra time to educate clients on the details of an IPM approach to rodent control.
Clients receive a copy of the technician’s notes and an explanation of what is being done, what role they play in the success of the program and the ‘carrying capacity’ of their home or business in attracting rodents.
“We give them the carrying capacity of their home or business for rodents and explain that if they take care of one item on the list of conditions that can attract rodents, it will stress the population and help achieve a quicker and more lasting resolution to the problem.”
Rodents seek easily accessible sources for food, water, and shelter so it is critical to eliminate access to these items.
In residential settings that can include:
In commercial areas that includes:
No pest management professional likes a toolbox that is full of promise and half empty on delivery. Today’s successful rodent IPM programs deploy an array of tools to secure control of rodent issues facing home and business owners.
Tackling a roof rat infestation in a poultry processing plant or a stubborn mouse infestation in an apartment building requires innovation and a willingness to adapt to new approaches.
Why Are Alternative Tools Rising in Use?
The pest management industry has been accused of being slow to change but increased rodent pressure is quickening the pace of the adoption of alternative tools.
“Pest management professionals are looking for solutions to help them do rodent management more effectively,” said Tom Boyd, vice president of sales for Agri-Turf Distributing in Santa Fe Spring, California. “They are also looking for tools that will set them apart from the competition and give them an advantage.”
Boyd added that in California recently passed legislation banning the use of second-generation anti-coagulant baits has forced PMPs to change their approach to rodent management out of necessity.
Among the alternative rodent management tools being deployed in the fight are remote sensing devices, rodent contraceptives, cameras and repellents.
Boyd works with several forward-thinking PMPs who have added alternative tools to their rodent management programs with growing success.
Rodent contraceptives are one tool Boyd has seen deployed with greater frequency as PMPs look to offer creative options to clients.
“The market is ready for contraceptives,” said Boyd. “Communication with the customer is important since they take longer to work than other methods, but the long-term results will be there.”
Seeing Is Believing
Cameras are a tool that Boyd has witnessed firsthand having a positive impact. A PMP client installed cameras at a high-end residential property and discovered it was dealing with two species of rats – roof and pack rats.
“The cameras allowed the PMP to get their heads around exactly what species they were dealing with, the size of the infestation and their movements,” said Boyd. “As PMPs better understand the value of cameras and how best to deploy them they’ll gain a valuable rodent management tool.”
Janet Hurley, A.C.E., M.P.A., an extension program specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas, said pest management professionals must disrupt a rodent’s habitat or they’ll keep coming back.
“Game cameras have changed the dynamic when it comes to rodent management,” said Hurley. “PMPs are seeing how rodents really travel within a structure or gain access. Seeing is believing.”
Drones are another tool PMPs are turning to for inspections of properties for rodents, birds and other pests. Hurley said PMPs can uses drones to identify access points on roofs or other hard to reach areas where roof rats could gain entry to a structure.
“We are sitting on so much more in terms of technology that can help PMPs battle rodents,” said Hurley. “There is always a better mouse trap that can be added to the fight.”