Feature articles

16 November 2017

Back to basics: effective control of stubborn mouse infestations

Feature pest control | PPC89 November 2017

Many of us will have come across those stubborn, hard to control infestations. Chris Cagienard from Pest Solutions Glasgow makes the case for getting back to basics with mouse control.

Infestations are becoming more of an issue, especially when it comes to the effective control of mouse infestations within domestic and commercial buildings in some of our larger towns and cities.

The famed ‘city mice’, who will happily show their presence but seemingly avoid many of our control measures, are on the increase.

So, what’s the best way to tackle this problem? And how do we cope with the service burden that these issues can cause?

Bait shyness and CRUU

As we know from the CRRU Code of Best Practice, we should always be working on the principle that any anticoagulant baiting should have achieved control within 35 days. Also, we must be able to document and justify the reasons why any treatment of rodents may take longer than this period.

For this reason it has never been more critical to ensure that we can resolve even the most persistent infestation promptly and productively.

Taking longer than expected to gain control of a mouse infestation, or any pest activity for that matter, can have an impact on the cost of our service delivery, margins and the way in which our clients perceive our professionalism as pest controllers.

Let’s look at how this can affect our business and how we can overcome all of these issues by getting back to basics.

Back to basics 1

Impact on service perception

When customers choose a BPCA member company to help them solve their pest problem, we all know that they are picking the best that our industry has to offer.

The continually improving standards within our industry mean we’ve never had better-trained frontline technicians. Our technicians demonstrate their effectiveness by being trained to the required minimum standards, and by maintaining ongoing CPD.

However, even the most experienced technicians or biologists can be made to look foolish by a stubborn mouse infestation.

Any customer with mice in their home can be distressed, and any food processor with an active mouse infestation will insist on a rapid eradication of the outbreak.

This can quickly escalate to an understandable urgency to see the activity cease.

When we fail to deliver efficient and timely control this urgency can turn to impatience and ultimately lead to anger and dissatisfaction. The customer can lose faith that you can get the job done. Will the customer give you the time to get it right? Will they call a competitor to take over where you have failed? Will they leave a negative review online?

When we undertake the control of a pest infestation, we set the required number of treatments that we believe is needed to achieve power.

However, in the mind of a customer, they expect that they are employing you to get rid of their particular pest problem.

Most of these issues can be mitigated by ensuring that we never deviate from the first principles of our training:

  • A thorough survey
  • A planned approach
  • The correct choice of treatment 
  • Effective communication
  • Proofing and prevention advice.

The importance of the first visit

We need to ensure that we do not deviate from the first principles of our pest control training to ensure that we set ourselves up for success when facing even the most stubborn mouse infestation.

A planned approach and a proper survey of every job will ensure that we take all aspects of pest biology, environment, habitat/harbourage, food source, and proofing into account. Doing this will allow us to choose the right form of treatment. What bait formulation are we going to pick? Should we consider physical control measures alongside baiting? How many visits and what frequency do we require?

Make sure to take the time to accurately assess the number of treatments required or establish the expectation that further procedures may be needed at an additional charge before starting work. Doing this will help to limit the chance that you may be compelled to carry out other visits at no cost which will decimate your profit margins.

Back to basics 2

Choice of bait formulation

A wide range of anticoagulant rodenticide formulations are available to us today, not to mention other effective methods of control.

From whole wheat, cut wheat, wax blocks, pasta, paste, polled oats, contact gels, contact foam and more, we are spoilt for choice. We all tend to have our favourites – the dependable go-to bait that is your personal preference or the preference of your employer, the product that you carry in your kitbag and use as standard on most jobs.

But, is it the right bait for this job? That is the question we should always ask.

What type of food source are mice currently exploiting? Is there a bait choice that would be better suited to replacing the current food source? What aspect of current feeding activity could you use against them to achieve the best result?

We are no longer able to use the ‘city baits’ of old by mixing liquid bait with a selected food source, but could you achieve control by selecting a physical control? Set bait in snap traps in a tamper-resistant box with an attractive food source and reduce the time between your follow-up visits.

Try to get away from doing the same thing all the time and let the individual circumstances of the job tell you what to do.

You may have to carry a few more products to choose from, but you will reduce the overall cost of the job by eliminating unnecessary follow-ups and have delighted customers by eliminating stubborn mouse infestations faster.

Back to basics 3

Communicate expectations

What advice do we need to give the client? Are there competing food sources that need to be excluded? What environmental habitat aspects can be modified to give you the best chance of an effective treatment. What proofing should be done and when?

Do not wait until your first follow-up to give any advice as you have already lost time in the treatment and the customer may also perceive that you are making excuses for the treatment not being active.

Communicate all advice on the first treatment, and this will allow you to return to any unactioned recommendations putting the responsibility on the client to work with you for the best outcome.

It is important that our customers understand that you are there to work with them to solve their pest problem and this involves working in partnership. They are not entirely removed from
the process.

I’m sure most of you can relate to the type of customer that thinks that effective, lasting pest control and prevention can be achieved regardless of their ongoing attempts to facilitate hygiene, housekeeping and proofing standards that are ideal for any pest infestation to thrive.

Be confident and expect that they must follow your recommendations to aid effective control and that there are real limitations on what can be achieved if they do not.

Try to get away from doing the same thing all the time and let the individual circumstances of the job tell you what to do.

Chris Cagienard, Pest Solutions Glasgow

Proofing recommendations

It is in proofing recommendations that I am convinced that many pest controllers shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to practical control of mouse infestations.

More times than I can remember, I have spoken to customers who think that just sealing visible gaps will solve the infestation. Proofing recommendations are a vital part of effective pest prevention. But, it is so important that the right proofing is recommended to be carried out at the right time.

The principle of sealing a building to exclude entry, and thus prevent mouse infestations is sound, and in all cases, it is the ultimate end goal. Effective proofing of the external perimeter and service trunkings of a building will help to prevent mice and other pests entering the building at all, and this removes the need for physical or chemical control which is always the best situation. But, what if there is a current infestation within the building?

Back to basics 4

Poor advice: Internal encapsulation

This is the one piece of proofing advice that I struggle to get my head around, and I have seen this advised many times. In most cases, this is recommended when all methods of physical or chemical control appear to be failing.

However, I firmly believe that this type of proofing is destined to fail, as it does not address the core issue of the mouse infestation active in the building and allows the resident population to increase before breaching the proofing measures at the first 6mm opportunity.

Avoid falling into this trap as it will only push the problem slightly into the future where it will return to a larger scale. We must exclude and control pest activity for effective pest prevention.

Proofing that just won’t work

It is easy for us to put our recommendations in a report to seal this gap and seal that hole, and we absolutely should make these suggestions as it is our job. But, it is important that we consider what we are recommending regarding practicality and effectiveness.

The one I have observed the most is the recommendation to seal gaps at the back of kitchen units to exclude mice. Sounds great. But how do you get to it and how can we ensure there are no gaps that are hidden from sight that may completely negate any usefulness of our recommended proofing.

When we recommend actions many of our customers invest in carrying these proofing measures out.

Let’s make sure we are giving our clients sound advice. Proofing should be for the long-term exclusion of pest species from a building where a pest free environment is achieved and maintained.

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In summary

Effective control of stubborn mouse infestations or any other pest comes down to not falling into the one size fits all mentality. If we do this, there will always be the instance where our standard approach fails with any pest.

Remember your training – go back to basics. Evaluate every infestation based on its unique circumstances, and you will not fail to achieve efficient control.

What pest management issue do you feel requires going back to basics?

Let us know what you think. Email us.


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Chris CagienardChris Cagienard
Pest Solutions Glasgow

16 November 2017  |  PPC89

Source: PPC89