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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

I’m a Mite Peeved (AKA: Sweat the little things)

I always say that entomologists notice the little things. Get it: insects …small…little things? I visit a lot of different facilities, particularly commercial facilities that can be very sensitive to pest issues. During these visits, I tend to notice a lot of little things that may seem very minor and not worth bringing up. However, these “little” things can actually have a big impact. Here’s three of my biggest little things:

1. Multi-catch traps are not flush up against the wall. Listen, I get it: people kick them out of place, forklifts clip the edges, sweepers shift them around. It happens. Once it happens, put them back! It may seem petty that it’s not right up against the wall; maybe it is half an inch off (or more). That tiny space that is now between the trap and the wall is now a direct run-way for mice to run right between the trap and the wall. Never going into the trap. Think about it: you are a tiny mammal whose vision isn’t all that great and there are lots of big scary things all around you. You want to scrunch up next to the nice safe wall where you feel protected. You won’t come off that wall, even a half inch, if you don’t have to. So when those trap openings aren’t directly on the wall, you’ve just created a little tunnel for the mouse to run behind and further into a site.

While I’m on the subject, stop using multi-catch traps if the problem is rats! There is no rule that says you have to use multi-catch traps. Snap traps provide protection too.

2. Glue boards aren’t dated. I get a lot of pushback on this one because it takes time to get a sharpie and scribble a date on the back. That’s obviously an onerous amount of work for many people. With no dates, there is no information on how long the traps have been out. Consider this: an ILT has a glue board that is absolutely covered in flying insects. The question is, did that happen in a day, a week, or a month? There’s no information on when that issue started or how serious it truly is. It’s not a bad thing for glue boards to sit out for months without being changed. As long as the glue is still sticky and can catch insects, it’s good. It’s not good and provides no useful information when you don’t know the last time it was put out or checked. This is particularly important if it is an audited account.

Since I’m on the subject of making glue boards useful, ID what’s on them! If there are “flies” caught, are they large flies, small flies, random flying insects? It matters.

3. Pheromone sticky traps (AKA diamond traps) don’t have the “wings” pushed in. Look at these cardboard glue traps and you notice a fold mark on the bottom. By folding these edges in, you accomplish two things that make the trap much more effective at catching Indian meal moths and other flying stored product insects. The first thing: you make the trap more structurally sound and it is actually much more open and the pheromone wafts out better. The second thing: it gives the insects (particularly IMM) a landing zone. Research has found that by putting those wings up and providing a landing zone, IMM were much more likely to actually enter the trap. More catches equal better information on populations. This is one of my biggest complaints because it is so easy to put those wings up, but so often I see just the trap pulled open and hanging there limply. That’s being lazy.

Speaking of pheromone traps, they don’t last forever and need to be changed more often than “as needed”. Seriously, I was in a facility a while back that had had them up for six months and couldn’t understand why they weren’t catching anything anymore.

It's a habit for me to nudge multi-catch traps flush up to the walls as I walk by them. As an inspector, I’m constantly checking glue traps to find out how much has been captured over what period of time. My biggest issue is definitely seeing pheromone diamond traps hanging limply. So do me a favor… WINGS UP!!!

Those are my major (and minor!) items currently bugging me. What about you? Have you noticed any of these situations or other problems with your current pest management plan? If you want help evaluating your current program and how it may be done better, give us a contact here!

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