The Bug Doctor: Adam Villareal, owner and president of Insight Pest Solutions, entomology nerd, and family man. To help demystify the world of bugs, the Bug Doctor answers your questions during our weekly “Ask the Bug Dr.” blog feature. You can submit your bug and pest control inquiries for him on our Facebook page, by tweeting @insightpest, or commenting below.
Rodents are one of the most common pest invaders that many commercial and residential structures may experience throughout the year, especially as temperatures begin to drop outside. During these times of cooler weather rodents are seeking out new shelter/nesting sites to over winter, places to reproduce, as well as new food and water resources.
House Mouse. Photo credit: Duncan Hill.
In times of warmer month entry, it’s usually a result of easy access to the structure, and an abundance of a food resource to limit foraging efforts for the mice. If activity is noticed inside the structure a thorough inspection of the active area will be needed in order come up with an appropriate plan of action, as well as to figure out what to repair, or exclude on the exterior to keep them out moving forward.
As structures begin to age over time, small cracks and crevices will begin to develop around the exterior due to weathering and structural settling that often times provide easy entry points for rodents to access the interior. Other forms of very common entry are caused by the rodents themselves as they are constantly chewing and gnawing on things to seek entry when cooler or extremely hot weather is present to escape the elements, testing for edibility for food, and lastly to keep their teeth from growing out of control from their mouths as biologically speaking they must keep doing so to prevent them from getting too large.
Mice are opportunistic and will stick around if food is a plenty, or eat just about anything when resources are running low, so it is imperative to remove any/or all sources of food that can be identified as a current food source from within the home, building, or garage. If the source of food cannot be removed, then it is suggested to place them in chew-proof containers so that the mice will have to move on, or succumb to starvation.
Once the food resource has been removed or contained, it is then recommended to begin your integrated pest management program (IPM). Mice are mostly made of cartilage with minimal bone structure, and can flatten their bodies and squeeze through the slightest cracks or crevices around a structure to gain entry.
Therefore it is important to locate all entry points around the structure and seal them off with caulk, expansion foam, steel wool, silicon, or any other building or repair materials to help seal up the house. You should also check entry points and garage doors for gaps in weather stripping and replace any necessary to prevent rodents entering from under door ways. Lastly, you should make sure good sanitation practices are being performed to the structure to stop enticing mice to enter, as well as trim any trees or shrubbery on the structure that give them a possible entry inside.
After the food source is contained and the building is sealed, you should begin actively removing the rodents that are nesting within the structure. The most common forms of removal are with baiting and trapping. Place mechanical traps or glue boards within the structure in areas they are active or where nesting is taking place, and you will begin to catch and remove existing populations. Try to identify what their most common food source is, bait your traps accordingly, and place them perpendicular to the wall along their feeding paths. Mice don’t see well and are very cautious and tend to stick to walls or under furniture when foraging.
You can use professional rodent lures, peanut butter, jelly, cheese wiz, seeds, or pieces of material they are using to build nests, as they are seeking to continue to add to their shelter. You can also place stationary bait stations around the exterior of the structure to control foraging rodents seeking entry. You must be careful and consider other animals, people, and children when doing so, and place in them in the safest way possible. Once you have completed your inspection, IPM, and baiting you will begin to see a decrease in the rodent population, and prevent new ones from entering in the future.
Learn about other methods to get rid of mice.
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