When a new rodenticide is introduced to the market, professional pest managers need to know how it compares to the product they’re currently using. But many avoid doing this because they think it will be complicated. If you’re frustrated with your current bait, switching to a new product can be relatively simple with a little forethought and planning.
Before starting, an understanding of rodent behaviour is vital to successfully switching baits. Knowing the feeding preferences and behaviours of the rodent species being targeted will help not only determine the correct bait choice but station positioning too.
For example, house mice may have 20 or more feeding locations and will eat almost anything, but typically prefer seeds. Norway rats have fewer feeding sites than house mice and prefer to bring food back to their burrows to eat in safety, so getting them to feed at a bait station can be difficult. Although they will eat almost anything, they typically have a preference for meats and consume grains and nuts. Roof rats tend to live in high places, so be sure to look up for runways and place bait stations accordingly. Thanks to their tendency to live in trees, roof rats have evolved with a taste for fruits and seeds.
When comparing your existing bait to a new one, keep it simple by avoiding too many variables. Ideally, you’d be trialling a new product at an account without any previous rodenticide usage. If this isn’t possible, and you’re changing baits at an existing account, discard used bait in a safe and appropriate way. Then place the trial bait inside new bait stations (of the type already in use) as these will not have scent cues from other rodenticides. Put the new bait, in the new stations, in areas of rodent activity.
Rats, and sometimes mice, are naturally neophobic, meaning they are fearful of new or unfamiliar things. New food sources require an acclimatization period; it will take a few days before a bait station – or even unsecured bait – will be tolerated as a potential food source. Plan on letting a test run at least a month, if not more. Once rodents feel secure visiting a new station, don’t disturb it other than to resupply bait. In heavily infested areas with minimal competing food, you may have to check the bait more frequently – at least once a week, if not every two or three days. Otherwise, rodents may eat all the new and existing product, and you won’t be able to tell which one was consumed faster.
Be aware that new baits may alter rodents’ feeding routes. Look for indicators of activity in new locations, such rubbing or gnawing marks along walls and doors, and relocate the new bait stations closer to these areas. Recording field data will enable you to determine how successful the new bait has been. At each visit, record the amount of each product eaten: has it been nibbled at or completely devoured? Also note other issues such as melting, mould, crumbs or insect feeding, all of which may affect rodent attraction, or your cost-per-placement.
In the end, switching from one wax block bait to another may not result in much improvement; you may see more of a change switching from wax blocks to soft bait. FirstStrike and Resolv soft baits from Liphatech are formulated to mimic rodent preferences for grains, seeds and nuts. Since rodents often have varying food preferences, the two wax-free baits are also made with different blends of oils and grains to make them highly palatable to rodent species. Like wax blocks, soft bait can be secured on both vertical and horizontal bait rods away from non- target species. While wax blocks are better suited to areas subject to frequent flooding or water exposure, soft bait is the ideal solution for many situations and will not melt in high temperatures.
Rodent control is hard enough as it is, and the last thing professional pest managers need is a bait that isn’t as effective as it could be. Switching to a new bait can have excellent results, with greater bait uptake helping to establish and maintaining lasting control at a site. FirstStrike is available from Garrards, Globe and Agserv, while Resolv soft bait is available from Garrards.
Gavin Wilson, Technical and Marketing Manager, Liphatech