Mall mice offer pest management challenge

Photo: IGphotography/E+/Getty Images

Photo: IGphotography/E+/Getty Images

Question: Dan, I am having trouble with a mouse infestation at a restaurant client in a shopping mall. I get the activity down to zero, only to have it jump back up. Help!
— Needing Information Lessons

Answer: The shopping mall setting is one of the most challenging for pest management professionals (PMPs), NIL. There are many factors to consider — so many, in fact, that I can only address a few of the big ones here. Let’s start by thinking about the environments (yes, plural).

The first environment is the business itself, as it exists inside the envelope, which consists of all the physical and operational characteristics that exist in the interior of the restaurant space. This “inside the envelope” area typically is the only portion of the building controlled by the client because it is the leased space. Retail space is costly, so kitchens often are small, cluttered and full of places for mice to hide.

The tight quarters also can complicate cleaning, and structural items in need of repair may be more challenging to find. Patience during an inspection is always necessary, but it’s critical in a mall restaurant.

Let’s try to jump ahead a little bit, though. We will assume you have worked with the client to correct all the structural, sanitation and storage issues. The restaurant is now spotless, there are no holes in the walls, and the entire storage area is perfect. (Now that’s a pleasant fiction, isn’t it?)

Dan Baldwin

Dan Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

No matter what you do, the problem returns after getting down to zero activity. It is said that no man is an island; well, neither is a restaurant in a shopping mall. Your client’s business might exist in an envelope, but the mall is like a box full of envelopes!

The connection spaces, which join stores, are the next environment to consider. The areas outside your client’s business are more challenging from pest management and interpersonal relations and communications perspectives.

Most mall restaurants don’t have solid walls on all sides. The open front is meant to be welcoming, but pests use the open walls to walk on in. Walk in from where? Candidly, pests typically walk in from all the other businesses. You have an access point that you can’t defend yourself, which is likely why you have the ebbs and flows of activity.

So, what do you do about it? Unfortunately, much of what has to happen is outside your control, but you can get the ball rolling and work to keep it going.

Together, you and your client need to engage mall management to coordinate all the businesses’ pest management activities and PMPs. Think of your fellow PMPs as members of an all-star team, not adversaries. It will take all of you together to provide mall management with a comprehensive plan to address all the observations each company has made. Remember, our first obligation is to the client, protecting them and their customers from pest-related illnesses and damage.

It’s best to get management-level engagement from other PMPs, as there often are extraordinary measures needed, and frequently different PMPs will have to work closely together. No matter how the scenario plays out, remember we are responsible to our clients and the public to help maintain a healthy, pest-free environment. Use your intellectual curiosity to find the problems, your experience to come up with a solution, and your diplomacy to help bring everyone together to end the infestation.

Mice. Who knew demons could be so cute?

About the Author

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Baldwin is the vice president of technical services for Hawx Pest Control in Tombstone, Ariz. He is also an Editorial Advisory Board member for PMP. He can be reached at

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