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REDUCING RODENTICIDE USE IN COMMERCIAL ACCOUNTS

The strategic use of non-toxic baits alongside with mechanical traps is a smart way to use smaller amounts of rodenticide baits.

 

Any pest manager who works in the commercial sector will be aware that auditing bodies and customer specifications are becoming increasingly restrictive, and are limiting the use of chemicals to achieve the goal of eliminating pests or maintaining a pest-free environment. This is most certainly the case with rodent control, which is a segment of the industry that more often than not relies on placing toxic baits before any activity occurs, and utilising them as an ongoing monitoring tool. Two approaches pest managers can take to reduce their rodenticide use – while still achieving control – is to use non-toxic baits, and to set traps.

Traditionally, rodenticide bait would be placed in bait stations around the account, and when activity was detected though consumption, the pest manager would report this to the customer in the knowledge that the off ending rodent would have been dealt with, and that there’s no serious cause for alarm. A truly professional pest manager would investigate the activity, identify a root cause and make recommendations to prevent a reoccurrence. But instead, a common practice has been to treat an incursion as a one-off, top up the bait, and move on.

 

A rat caught in a tunnel trap

 

Over the last few years, particularly in food manufacturing facilities, there has been a greater focus on monitoring using non-toxic methods. It is possible to monitor activity using a non-toxic bait block and then introduce a rodenticide when and where activity is detected. Samuel Wood, Asia Pacific business manager for Bell Laboratories, believes switching between bait types in this way is a sound approach.

“Particularly in commercial accounts, a non-toxic monitoring block, such as Detex Blox, is a safe choice,” said Mr Wood. “Upon detection of activity, this can then be replaced with Contrac All-Weather Blox or Ditrac All-Weather Blox in locations where activity is detected.

“This is usually a particularly efficient method of control, as very rarely is any neophobic reaction encountered when switching between these different baits. Once control has been achieved, pest managers can switch back to non-toxic monitoring with Detex Blox – and so the rotation program goes on.”

In more restrictive accounts, pest managers may be permitted to monitor with a non-toxic block but may be unable to introduce a rodenticide once rodent activity is detected. This makes controlling the infestation much more challenging and leaves trapping as the only option. Some jurisdictions may allow the use of glue traps, but this isn’t always the case. It is essential for pest managers to be familiar with the regulations in their state or territory.

Introducing a trapping program to an account can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Whilst it is not an exact science, there are some general rules that will ensure the most successful outcome. As with any job, it is important manage the customer’s expectations from the outset. Explain that a successful trapping program is labour intensive, and does not provide instant results – they can expect to see their pest manager much more frequently!

It sounds obvious, but before setting any traps, pest managers must be certain which species they are dealing with. (If targeting rats, setting mouse traps won’t be particularly useful.) Traps must be placed where rodents are travelling – setting traps in the wrong location is a commonly made mistake. There may be some success attracting rodents to the traps, but the hit rate will be much higher if traps are placed where the rodents are.

When targeting rats, position traps in the unset position for a few days before arming them. This will allow time for the resident population to overcome their natural neophobic reaction.

The use of attractants should be carefully considered. Just because peanut butter gave great results in the past, this doesn’t mean that it always will. Consider the environment, and use an appropriate attractant. The local food source that the rodents are already feeding on usually yields good results.

“Traps need to be suitably enticing to the rodents to achieve the best results. Provoke Professional Gel for Rat Traps and Provoke Professional Gel for Mouse Traps are scientifically formulated to be attractive to rodents in many different situations,” said Mr Wood. “And don’t rule out non-food attractants, particularly in areas with considerable food competition.”

How many traps should a pest manager place? The more the better. Put simply, the more traps that are set, the greater the chances of a catch. Additionally, when targeting mice, pest managers can take advantage of their natural curiosity, as every trap is a new object to be investigated.

“A great mouse trapping tip I like to share is to place two of Bell’s’ Trapper Mini-Rex traps side by side, with about 20-30 mm between them. It’s not uncommon for mice to attempt to jump a trap in their path, and this can often cause them to jump directly into the adjacent trap,” said Mr Wood.

If using traps uncovered, set them with the trigger 90 degrees to the wall and avoid placing them directly in front of an entry point. Whilst it may seem counter intuitive, this is more likely to cause alarm amongst the rodent population than to bring success. Instead, position the traps approximately 100 mm either side of the entry point.

Depending on the situation, using a tunnel can boost trapping success rates. Mr Wood recommends the Protecta EVO Tunnel, a station specifically designed to hold two Trapper T-Rex traps (main picture, above) end to end. The tunnel can be installed without traps for a few days to allow the rodents to become accustomed to its presence and comfortable with travelling through.

Whether using non-toxic baits or handling traps, pest managers should always wear gloves and appropriate PPE while undertaking rodent jobs. Wearing gloves while handling used and new traps, and monitoring blocks, helps prevent the transfer of your scent.

For pest managers who may still be relying on traditional rodenticides for monitoring and control, non-toxic blocks and rodent traps offer two ways to reduce the use of chemical controls – which is certainly the future for this segment of the industry.