Integrated Pest Management is an approach to pest management designed to manage pests and diseases with as little damage as possible to people, the environment and beneficial organisms.
Farmers aim at producing high yields and profits from their crops but their efforts are reduced by pests and disease infestations and damage.
Managing any vertebrate pest requires a preventative approach and with mice and rats, it begins prior to harvest. Even if rodent activity appears lower, preventative management still needs to be considered to prevent future damage.
The Types of Damage Caused by Rodents
- Loss of volume or weight due to their feeding
- Loss in quality caused by droppings, urine, and hairs
- Damage to containers such as bags, that results in spillage
- Health hazards to people who handle the stored products, certain species of mice and rats are carriers of diseases such as plague, weil’s disease (Leptospiral jaundice) rat-bite fever, and salmonella.
While they are different species of rodents with slightly different habitats, the management approach for all is the same. All mice and rats in storage facilities can cause a significant amount of damage. Nearby corn or soybean fields can provide a fall food source for mice and rats that will then move into the storage facility or the barn.
Controlling vertebrate pests requires multiple approaches, which in general include exclusion, habitat modification, repellents, trapping and rodenticides. In an open and large scale commercial setting, exclusion, trapping or repellents are not effective. This leaves habitat manipulation and rodenticides, and both are needed for a successful mice and rats abatement program.
Habitat modification such as a close mowing of grass in row middles and ditches late in the fall provides a two-fold management purpose – reduce favorable habitat for mice activity and expose rodents more readily to predators that help with population management. Cleaning up fencerows to reduce habitat is also needed.
Rodenticides are another approach in management programs, as they provide the quickest and most practical means of bringing large populations of mice and rats under control. Bait should be applied when dry and fair weather is predicted for at least three days. If there is a great deal of alternate food (fallen mangoes in a block or nearby field corn), baiting might need to be done more than once to be most effective. If mice and rat populations are very high, a second rodenticide application might be needed. As with any pest management program, but especially when using rodenticides, the risks to non-target organisms needs to be taken into account and prevented.