Busting up burrows


and January 20, 2014

Let’s say you have a rodent infestation indoors but can’t find any nesting or living sites. The building is in bad shape and has

many holes and entry points. When you inspect the building thoroughly, you find rub marks and hair snagged around the entry points. You determine the rodents are coming and going regularly. Outside, you discover burrows. Because it’s winter, the leaves have fallen from the trees and cover some of them. It’s difficult to tell which ones are active. If runways exist, they can’t be seen thanks to the ground cover and leaf litter. Your exterior bait points have intermittent activity recorded. You need to start crashing the population while the client, or you, work on exclusion indoors.

What are your first steps? One of the first things you must do is determine whether the burrows are active and the source of your problem. Remember, just because there appears to be a burrow doesn’t mean it’s the source of your rodents.

There are two methods to determine this. First, rake leaves and debris gently to look for signs such as runways and droppings. Then check the burrow by placing a loosely balled up piece of paper just inside the opening. Leave it for a day, then return to inspect. If the burrow is used, the piece of paper might be pushed further in than you left it, or it might be pulled out.

If the burrows are determined to be active, they need to be treated. Remember rodenticide isn’t always the first step in an integrated pest management (IPM) program. You might try flooding the burrows with water to drive out the rodents. You also can cave in the burrow to slow them down while you continue to work on exclusion. If using a rodenticide becomes your best option, follow the label directions and manufacturer’s recommendations. Remember, placing rodenticide in burrows isn’t always allowed.

Once the burrows have been taken care of, determine whether the bait stations are in the correct locations to intercept the rodents before they enter the structure. How close are they to the entry point on the building? Are they easy for rodents to stumble into when they approach the structure? Can you trap the rodents inside the bait stations instead of feeding them bait? This process might require several trips and changes to the service until it’s solved. Still, you should be working inside to reduce population as much as possible by trapping and excluding.

You can reach Meek, international technical and training director for Orkin, at fmeek@rollins.com.


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