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25 YEARS OF RODENT CONTROL: WHAT’S CHANGED?

Samuel Wood from Bell Laboratories reviews the last quarter century of rodent management innovation.

As Professional Pest Manager magazine celebrates its 25th birthday, it seemed like a good idea to reflect on the last quarter century of rodent management, and to consider how things have (or haven’t) changed in that time.

It may surprise you to learn that active ingredients used in rodenticides haven’t really changed a great deal. In the last 25 years, the industry globally has consolidated its reliance on second-generation anticoagulants, which have been in use for around 40 years in Australia. Brodifacoum remains the most widely used active ingredient today, which is impressive considering it was the first of the second-generation anticoagulants registered in Australia.

The last 25 years in Australia has also seen the introduction, withdrawal, and reintroduction of cholecalciferol as a rodenticide, as well as the introduction of difethialone in 2010. Excitingly, a brand new active ingredient has been registered and will become available in Australia in early 2022.

Whilst the chemistry hasn’t really changed in the last 25 years, new bait formulations have been introduced. In 1997 Bell Labs introduced both Contrac Blox and Ditrac Blox to Australia, both of which have become mainstays in the toolbox of many pest managers. The introduction by Liphatech of high-quality soft baits in 2012 provided pest managers with a new tool, and another option in the fight against rodents. In the subsequent years, soft baits have continued to grow in popularity, with more options becoming available for pest managers, most recently with the launch of Contrac Soft Bait in late 2019.

In keeping with the advancement of the pest management industry in general, rodent management has undoubtedly become a more professional pursuit. Tamper-resistant bait stations are now standard, whereas cardboard or improvised stations would have been more commonplace a quarter of a century ago. We’re more considered in our approach, and more aware of the potential impact of our treatments on the environment.

The rules governing rodent control have certainly become stricter; the use of live catch traps is much more challenging than it once was, and the same can be said for the use of glue traps. In many cases, glue traps were a front-line control option 25 years ago. Now they’re heavily restricted in most parts of the country, and completely banned in Victoria.

Today, we’re seeing a clear drive towards the use of technology in rodent management. Several systems are available on the market globally that can assist pest managers in their rodent control programs. Bell Labs is active in this space, and has created a new division called Bell Sensing Technologies, which has a range of products that provide pest managers with more data and information about rodent activity at their accounts than they’ve ever had access to before. Whilst this product range isn’t available in Australia yet, a launch is planned for 2022.

Technology advances quickly, and we can say with confidence that we’ll see many more changes in the next 25 years than we did in the last.

 

Samuel Wood, Asia Pacific Business Manager, Bell Laboratories