Catch the Rodent Monitoring Wave

Columns - From the Advisory Board

Rodent monitoring can be a powerful pest control tool if deployed correctly, writes Chelle Hartzer, consulting entomologist at 360 Pest and Food Safety Consultant.

Subscribe
October 12, 2021

Technology has provided us with many innovations: cell phones that do more than computers, cars that almost drive themselves, manufacturing equipment that processes, sorts and packages. But when was the last time you thought about technology and your pest management program?

There have been a handful of changes to pest management in the last few decades. Documentation and pest trend reports have allowed for better, data-based decisions. Monitoring devices have gone from standard placement intervals to placement based on risk. Within the last few years, digital pest control (also referred to as digital monitoring, remote monitoring and electronic monitoring) has appeared on the market. Digital pest control incorporates connected monitoring devices that provide alerts when pests are present. While not widespread (particularly in the United States), it is being increasingly installed, particularly for rodent monitoring. If you have thought about incorporating these devices into your pest management program there are a few things to consider.

For starters, are you all in?

Depending on your site, you may want to switch entirely to electronic devices, or you may want a bit of a hybrid program: some connected devices and some traditional options. A program of interior and exterior connected rodent control devices will give you a complete picture of what’s happening around the site. Alternatively, there may be one or two high-risk areas. You may want the enhanced protection digital pest control provides in those spots, while the rest of the site is lower risk. When talking with your pest control provider about installing these systems, think about the risks, thresholds, history of the site and the cost of the devices.

Who’s going to know?

Once a rodent encounters a device, an alert is sent out. The system can then email, text or have an app alert to show that a rodent is present. Of course, the people performing the pest management services need to get this alert, but there may be others that want to see that information. The quality assurance team or whoever oversees the pest management program will likely want those alerts and maybe some of the management team. When setting up a digital pest control program, ensure there is clear communication on who is supposed to get those alerts.

What are you going to do about it?

The biggest advantage of an electronic monitoring program for rodents is the immediate notification of a rodent issue. No more waiting a week or more between regular service visits to find a problem. However, because of this immediate notification, it indicates something needs to be done soon. No waiting for the next regular service. If you know a rodent was captured in a particular device inside, that area can be quickly inspected for entry points, those points sealed and no more rodents can gain entry. If an outside station suddenly has increased activity, a targeted inspection can find the potential sanitation issues, which will be addressed and rodent populations will fall again. If a digital pest control system is being considered, make sure the expectations are clear on how soon someone needs to respond to an alert and what that response will be. Otherwise, alerts will continue because the underlying problem hasn’t been dealt with. That defeats the purpose of having immediate knowledge of a problem.

Pest management plans can be enhanced by using this technology. Having notifications means the problem can be addressed quickly, while it is still an introduction and it is not given time to become an infestation. It is important to look at where devices are going to go, who gets the alerts and what to do when alerts happen. When rodent problems are solved quickly, it’s less impactful to the operation of a site and the products. While these systems are expensive, they can reduce shut down time, contaminated/damaged products and even recalls. If you have thought about using these systems, talk with your pest management provider and evaluate not just the cost and benefits, but what will be the best solution for your site. If you haven’t thought about it yet, now is a great time to start.