As temperatures continue to drop this winter, remember that people are not the only ones rushing indoors to get out of the cold.
Rats, mice and other pests are relentless in their efforts to get inside, and only a comprehensive exclusion plan — creating physical barriers against rodents and pests to prevent them from entering a building — will keep them out for good.
Take the time now to identify each and every rodent access point, install an appropriate exclusion product that rodents nor time can degrade, then rest assured that your building and its occupants are protected against unwelcome pests and the harsh chemicals associated with pesticides this winter and in the years to come.
Rodents can enter a building through an opening as small as ¼-inch, and they will use any means necessary to reach the food and shelter that a heated building provides.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 50 percent of premises experience either rat or mice activity.
And, while an accurate number of rats living in the U.S. is difficult to ascertain, some experts believe it is as high as 1.25 billion.
Protecting your building against these unwanted pests should begin long before they have made their way inside.
In fact, pest control professionals across the globe agree that exclusion is more effective than attempting to remove pests once they have taken up residence.
“The foundation of any successful rodent management program is to keep rodents out of where people reside,” said Dr. Austin Frishman, president of AMF Pest Management Services. “We call this rodent stoppage, and it is the most economical and effective step in a pest management program. It is essential to keep new rodents from invading, and proper exclusion methods provide immediate and long-term positive results for the property owner.”
A Worthy Opponent
As you survey your building for areas in need of exclusion, it’s important not to underestimate the tenacity and agility of rodents attempting to gain shelter.
In addition to squeezing through miniscule openings, rats and mice can climb wires and rough surfaces, jump considerable distances and gnaw through a variety of materials including window screens, wood, fiberglass, plastic and even concrete.
Common rodent entryways include:
Rats and mice can also gain entry easily through tiny cracks in the foundation by gnawing through the standard rubber and vinyl seals on most garage and loading dock doors and those beneath roofing tiles.
A One-time Investment
A comprehensive exclusion plan — one in which every possible entry point is excluded to rodents — is necessary to fully protect your building.
While this may seem like a daunting task, it should be one that you never have to repeat.
Unlike extermination methods, which may become necessary again and again as persistent pests make their way in, exclusion offers a “set it and forget it” solution.
Investing the time and resources on a proper exclusion installation will safeguard your building indefinitely.
That said, exclusion is only as effective as the barrier product installed.
Steel wool, though inexpensive and readily available at home improvement stores, faces rusting and decomposition over time.
Non-reinforced rubber or vinyl seals and spray foam products can be gnawed through easily by even the smallest of rodents.
The most effective exclusion materials include stainless steel or other permanent elements that will not degrade over time.
Some online retailers dedicated to exclusion offer a wide range of specialty products to secure even obscure problem areas, including specially designed rodent-proof garage door seals, under-door sweeps and more.
So, whether you are tackling a small problem area with a do-it-yourself installation or employing a pest control professional to safeguard an entire building, ensure the products used offer long-term, permanent protection and the accompanying peace of mind.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Rodent infestation undoubtedly takes an emotional toll on those impacted — no one is comfortable sharing their personal space with rats and mice.
But, the emotional impact of an infestation often pales in comparison to the financial damage.
By the time a rodent problem has been identified, the amount of physical damage inflicted can be devastating.
In the U.S., rats cause an estimated $19 billion in damages per year.
Given adequate food and shelter, a single pair of rats can multiply into 640 within a year.
In just six months, a pair of mice can eat more than four pounds of food and contaminate 10 times that amount.
Beyond financial destruction, rodents can trigger asthma and carry parasites such as fleas, mites and lice.
Rodent excrement and saliva carry diseases, including the rare but serious hantavirus — a life-threatening disease carried primarily by deer mice that is found throughout the U.S.
Each year, upwards of 24,000 Americans are bitten by rats.
A Greener Solution
The majority of exclusion products available are completely eco-friendly; they are chemical-free, non-toxic and safe to use around people, animals and areas where food is handled.
They also help prevent the need for noxious chemicals often associated with pesticides.
“Going green” when it comes to pest control is not only good for the environment; it’s also one more way in which exclusion can be good for your pocketbook.
Chemical-free exclusion plays a significant role in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, an accreditation offered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to identify “green” buildings.
LEED-certified buildings have lower operating costs over time — particularly with energy savings — increased asset value, reduced waste and even potential tax benefits.
To achieve LEED certification, a pest management program must be implemented that reduces the exposure of building occupants to hazardous substances, including pest waste and the allergens pests transmit.
The plan must also create the lowest possible environmental impact.
Chemical-free exclusion is a simple step in working to achieve LEED certification and the long-term benefits that distinction provides.
Investing the resources on pest prevention now will pay countless dividends in the years to come, saving both time and money on repair and remediation and providing a safer, healthier environment for building tenants and employees.