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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

What Are You Looking At? (AKA: Trap or monitor?)

I had the privilege last week of being part of a workshop on rodent monitoring. I got to talk about monitoring and was part of an expert panel where we answered a bunch of great questions from the audience. This is a perfect time to talk about the benefits and limitations of monitoring, particularly when it comes to rodents.

It's not the trap, it’s you. A little controversial, I know. When traps and bait stations aren’t working to control rodent populations, it’s typically not because of the device. It’s because of the placement, the conducive conditions, lack of inspections, and more. When it seems like a rodent control program isn’t working consider these things:

  • Is it the right trap? Let’s be honest, a mouse trap isn’t going to catch a rat. A glue board can catch immatures but doesn’t often catch adults. Use the right product.

  • Is it in the right place? I worked with a restaurant that was having issues with house mice. Every night they would set out hundreds of traps on the floor to catch them and were not having any success. It was because the mice were up in the drop ceiling. They were coming down through a void, walking on the counters to get food, then going back up. The mice never went on the floor. The traps were not in the right place for the mice to encounter them.

  • Is there food nearby? If there’s a fresh baked plate of chocolate chip cookies five feet away, do you walk to the grocery store and to get cookies? Definitely not. Same thing for rodents – if there is a close food source and a nearby harborage point, they aren’t going out of their way to a device that’s far outside of their range. Making sure the traps and bait stations are close to them and that other foods are limited and hard to get to will make the devices much more attractive.

  • Are they being welcomed in? A food facility I worked with was having a rat issue. After a lot of work, we narrowed it down to certain incoming shipments of raw ingredients. Their supplier was supplying a free shipment of rodents with every truckload. Whether the rodents are being “delivered” in or are walking in through open doors or entry points, these issues need to be fixed or the problem is going to continue.

I think the biggest failing in monitoring that I see is that the data isn’t used.

  • Bait stations are set out along the perimeter of the site, bait placed inside, and changed every month. No information is collected on how much bait is being consumed so no one is aware of where the biggest rodent issues are. Or when outside populations are starting to increase so additional prevention methods can be put in place to keep outdoor numbers low.

  • Inside traps may catch a mouse, and the data is recorded that a mouse was caught. Then the next week another mouse or two is caught…and again, and again over the next weeks. Traps are designed to catch so they are doing their job correctly. However, the underlying conditions that are allowing mice to enter are not being fixed so the problem continues and gets worse. If at the first mouse capture, the area was inspected, it would have been found that the bottom of the door seal was broken and mice were entering from that point. The issue could have been solved at week one. Instead, it went on for months and mice got all the way into the middle of the warehouse.

  • With the onset of digital pest control devices that send alerts to your phone/email when a rodent enters a trap, doing something becomes even more important. An alert (that a rodent entered a device) means something is going on. In order to stop getting alerts, something must be done to find out why that rodent is there, and how to prevent more from occurring.

Many sites have monitoring programs in place. A monitoring program is only as good as how the data is used. Otherwise, it’s just a trapping program. Would you rather have traps checked or problems analyzed and fixed?

To find out more about how we can help with monitoring programs for all pests, contact us here!

Lagniappe – one of my favorite rodent videos (turn on the sound!)

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