Editor’s note: The following article is bonus coverage from PCT’s 2016 “State of the Rodent Market” report, sponsored by Bell Laboratories. Look for new survey results and feature articles about the rodent control segment in the 2017 “State of the Rodent Market” report, coming in December.

The products and service regimens PMPs used for rodent treatment over the past year remained consistent with those of last year, although bait choices have evolved and exclusion appears to be growing in importance.

Bait stations continue to be the most widely used product for rodent control, with 92 percent of PMPs reporting their use. Other popular products included bait blocks (85 percent), glue traps (77 percent), snap traps (77 percent) and rodent exclusion products/services (68 percent). Soft baits also have proven popular (44 percent), with bait pellets (27 percent), tracking powders (26 percent), place packs (21 percent) and liquid baits (14%) rounding out the list (see “Varied Service Offerings” chart on page 64).

The majority (52 percent) of pest management professionals said that they have relied on rodenticides steadily over the past five years; 25 percent said they are more dependent, and 21 percent less dependent, on rodenticides than they were five years ago.

The use of exclusion was referenced by 68 percent of 2016 respondents — a 9-percent jump over 2015’s 59 percent. The majority of PMPs believe that keeping rodents out is an important step in resolving customers’ issues.

“The tricky part about exclusion work is that you either exclude the rodents out, and so your traps don’t catch a thing, or you exclude them in, and so customers might see more activity than they’d like to see,” says Sheri Spencer Bachman, who has created a specialty services team for handling rodent and wildlife control at Spencer Pest Services in Greenville, S.C. “You need to set expectations with your customers up front so they understand and prepare for either scenario; otherwise, their perception may be that you haven’t performed your job well.”

But let’s back up a step. Before exclusion or trapping or baiting can begin, technicians need to perform the all-important inspection. What goes into that?

First, an understanding that no “one size fits all” when it comes to rodent control, says Josh Erdman, whose Erdye’s Pest Control in Green Bay, Wis., specializes in mouse control (see related story on page 92). “We look anywhere and everywhere we think there might be activity,” he explains. “In the crawlspace, under dishwashers or stoves, in a fan compressor — mice can squeeze in just about anywhere.”

Erdman share a glimpse into his inspection and treatment program: He says he begins with the home’s exterior, looking for evidence of openings and murine activity at the garage doorjamb trim, the corners of the house, and places where the brick and soffit meet. He looks at the landscaping for clues, too. He seals any openings in the structure and, if warranted, recommends an outdoor baiting program. Once inside the house, he checks the basement, drop ceilings, fireplaces and the attic.

“Since mice shy away from heavily trafficked areas and like burrowing in insulation, we find about 95 percent of mice in the attic,” he explains. “We draw a schematic of the attic that includes all of the traps we set (we set a lot of them!). Every time we remove a mouse, we mark the area on the schematic to identify whether the infestation is localized or widespread. We check the traps once a week to start and then spread our visits out to 30, 60 and 90 days. We also do cleanup, sanitation, deodorizing and insulation reinstallation to offer customers a complete package of services.”

Erdman says that in very hot summers, mice often move to the basement, so he takes his treatment program to them. His thorough approach typically nets 30 to 50 mice in an average-size house. His personal record was 285 mice trapped in well-kept, million-dollar home.

“My technician and I monitor about 13,000 traps at any given time and set probably 1,000 a week,” he says. “Our reputation for climbing around in customers’ attics and leaving them with mouse-free homes has given us a true competitive edge.”