Should we ban anticoagulant rodenticides?
Did you know that the EU Biocidal Products Committee (BPC) is currently in the opinion that anticoagulant rodenticides should be banned? (read details HERE).
If the EU Commission follows the BPC opinion, it will not be possible to use anticoagulant rodenticide for controlling mice indoors after July 2024!
Treating Rodent Infestations In Apartment Blocks
Most rodent control in apartment blocks is currently achieved through the use of anticoagulants. The reason is that alternatives either do not work, or give partial results. This means surviving rodents reproduce and cause ongoing/recurring infestations.
We will give the example of commensal rodent control (rats & mice) in apartment blocks, as we are responsible for maintaining rodent-free conditions in over a thousand apartment blocks in Ireland for over 25 years.
What is the risk with rodents in an apartment block?
Modern apartments must be built in accordance with European standards for insulation. This means an outer wall, then a cavity for insulation, then an inner wall (the thick one with deep foundations at the base), then more insulation behind plasterboards (walls and ceilings) in each apartment.
These structures offer more opportunities for rodents, especially house mouse (mus domesticus) to invade and infest apartments as illustrated below:
Once indoors, it is relatively easy for rodents to travel from one apartment to the next through insulation voids or service ducts. For example, house mice, we found that if nothing is done to control the infestation, mice will spread up to two apartments every week.
Mice urine is probably the highest risk to public health as it may not be seen on kitchen counters or utensils. This issue is widely documented and I would like to point out the structural damage caused by rodents. We have had several situations over the years where rodents have caused thousands of euros of damage by chewing through PVC water pipes (again PVC water pipes are gradually replacing copper pipes in every type of building).
But more importantly, rodents (who are more active at nighttimes) can cause electrical fires which can have tragic consequences. Over the years we have had many instances where such hazards were about to happen, as illustrated below with chewed wires from a ceiling lamp:
- Control methods that do not work and why
Most domestic apartment owners do not use rodenticide to control their mice infestation. They utilise in this order:
- Break-back traps
- Ultrasonic electronic devices
- Live catch traps
All 3 approaches systematically fail to achieve complete control of an established infestation.
While being available and “improved” over 40 years, ultrasonic devices could never be proved to work in any scientific study. Their use relies on people’s perceptions and successful marketing strategies. Most apartments we treat for mice infestations have tried controlling the mice with several devices plugged in.
Break-back traps are good if the resident only has 1 mouse in the apartment: sooner or later the inquisitive mouse will walk by the trap and get caught. Unfortunately, it is exceptional to only have 1 mouse in an apartment block. Females are always pregnant, with only one week between delivering their litter and being pregnant again!
Most invariably, residents tell us the same story: “We have caught some every few days, but they keep coming back. This has been going on for weeks/months now“. The reason is that most mice caught are adult or young adult mice. The young ones stay in their cosy nest (e.g. insulation behind plaster boards), being fed by the older ones who have the instinct to store the food they find.
The other problem is that some mice may have access to a source of food easier to reach (or with a better taste) than the food in the mouse trap.
For these reasons, pest control professionals concerned with public health aim to achieve COMPLETE control of an infestation and cannot rely on these methods alone.
Control methods that work
The professional approach to effective rat and mice control is trying to prevent rodent access as the preliminary concern, i.e. blocking little gaps outside at the ground floor level or basement car park.
Nevertheless the main objective is to completely eliminate the infestation so the entire apartment block becomes free of rodents. Fumigating an apartment block is not an option for practical and financial reasons.
The mechanical approaches are limited in efficiency as explained above. Glue boards are currently illegal in Ireland, and were only providing limited results.
The ONLY solution to control rodent infestations effectively in apartment blocks at present is anticoagulant rodenticides.
ONLY anticoagulant rodenticides offer the following 3 essential elements for a 100% infestation control:
- Killing all rodent populations, i.e. no resistance to the active ingredient
- Killing only 3 to 5 days after ingestion, so rodents are not suspicious of the bait and have time to carry the bait to the nest(s) and feed the young ones
- ONLY anticoagulant rodenticides, with their various formulations, can be applied to areas difficult to access where rodents are living.
Treating behind wall and ceiling plasterboards is essential as rodents may be heard for weeks/months and yet never access the kitchen or other open areas of an apartment. Such treatments are illustrated below:
There is no current alternative to anticoagulant rodenticide for efficient control of commensal rodents. Should rodents develop resistance to 2nd generation anticoagulants or these anticoagulants be banned for any reason, the consequences to public health would be enormous.
Call for the Experts in Pest Control
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