With three decades of industry experience, Misty Goodroad has seen her share of rodents over the years. Not only is she president of Delcon Termite and Pest Control, with a dozen employees offering residential and commercial services, she’s also president of the Nevada Pest Management Association, overseeing both an association magazine and its annual expo and conference.
Q: What’s the largest rodent infestation you’ve battled, and how did you win?
GOODROAD: We had a food processing plant with thousands of roof rats (Rattus rattus). The facility was very old and had too many areas to rodent-proof in a cost-effective manner, so we had to get creative.
We inspected thoroughly, to ensure we knew the worst nesting areas as well as their entry points. This allowed us to move systematically through the facility and bill the client over time. It also allowed the account to budget for exclusion, since we were breaking it into sections.
In addition, we applied a bio-repellent gel to areas in which we knew they would come in contact. Rats are thigmotactic in nature — they like to run next to a structure, constantly touching on at least two sides and preferably three. Painting the gel on baseboards and corners was very effective.
As sightings were reported, our technicians applied the gel in these areas, and those sightings ceased immediately in every case. The facility reported no more issues, and our bait stations and other monitors verified no activity. Rats communicate with other rats, and it wasn’t long before the facility had no sightings at all. We caught around 1,500 rats total over several months, but we estimate that many, many more were moved out of the structure using the gel in key areas.
Q: Can you recall the single smartest rodent you’ve run into, and how, in the end, you ensured you got the best of it, and not the other way around?
GOODROAD: We’ve had many interesting rodent infestations over the years, but one that stands out was at a large pet store chain. There were lax procedures for handling the rats that were sold — as well as employees setting the rodents free in the store. This led to a massive infestation throughout the store, including in the overhead insulation.
We caught hundreds of rats via trapping, and the store had to spend thousands of dollars removing the insulation. After several weeks, we were down to one alpha. We could not catch the sly fella until we borrowed several females and placed some unset traps in a tank with them for the night. We set the traps the next day — with no pre-baiting — and caught him in one night.
GOODROAD’S RODENT CONTROL TIPS
- Inspect everything. Especially up high, in the case of rats. Setting traps without knowing why the rodents are there or where they are nesting or entering is a sure-fire way to fail. I’ve seen technicians set traps just inside attic entries when the rats are coming and going through a broken dormer vent; the rats will never encounter those traps. The vent must be fixed, and rats only will be trappable from within that dormer space.
- Go big or go home. Always pre-bait large infestations, and always set more than enough traps. The No. 1 reason why rodent trapping services fail is because not enough traps are placed from the start. Also, trap first, clean up after. Rats are neophobic and don’t like new things or changes in their environment, so disturb as little as possible when you begin trapping.
- Finish the job. We make sure we have at least two follow-up visits without activity for smaller infestations, and four visits with no activity for large commercial infestations.
- Don’t set traps without a thorough inspection. Focus on finding at least one nesting area and an entry point. You must know where they’re hanging out and their points of entry to succeed.
- Don’t just set and forget for four weeks. Communicate with facility staffers consistently to gather sighting information, as well as to let them know what to expect and what the process is like.
- Don’t leave droppings after the infestation has been cleared. Vacuuming up droppings not only shows professionalism, but it also allows for effective monitoring against future infestations.
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