Salisbury Press

Sunday, April 5, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMice are small gray, black, or brown rodents with a light colored belly and large ears. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMice are small gray, black, or brown rodents with a light colored belly and large ears.

Growing Green: House mouse?

Saturday, February 11, 2017 by LEHIGH COUNTY EXTENSION Special to The Press in Focus

Is there a mouse in your house?

Eliminate mice with IPM.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses information about the pest to choose methods of control that are safest and most effective.

IPM methods include pest prevention, exclusion and nonchemical tools first. If chemical pesticides are needed, products are chosen that pose the least risk to human health.

With IPM, you start by asking, “Why is this pest here?” and try to remove the conditions allowing the pest to enter and live. This approach solves pest problems rather than just treating the symptoms. It also reduces the need to use pesticides repeatedly.

The first step is to identify that you have a mouse problem. Mice that infest houses are typically 5- to 8-inches-long, including a long, hairless tail. They have large ears and their droppings are pointed, about the size of a grain of rice.

The next step is prevention. Keep them out. Look at the walls, ceilings, floors and around pipes and wires on the inside of the house for holes and other points of entry. A mouse can fit through a hole about the size of a dime (or a pencil).

Look outside the house to determine how they may have gotten in, especially around pipes and wires and the foundation of the house. If possible, seal off or plug outside holes with rodent-proof materials (copper mesh, hardware cloth, silicone sealant).

Install door sweeps under doors. Many mice come in the same way you do: through the doorway.

Now you need to eliminate their needs. All pests look for food, water and shelter. It is very important to remove access to these items to prevent an infestation.

Clean up crumbs and spills, and store food (including pet food) up off the floor and in sealed, hard containers with tight-fitting lids.

Fix dripping faucets and leaking pipes.

Keep living areas clean and uncluttered. Make sure you regularly utilize trash pickup.

Finally, let’s control the mice safely. The safest traps for catching mice in the home are snap traps that are set by latching or squeezing the back of the trap. This avoids snapping fingers while setting and releasing.

These traps kill the mouse quickly and prevent you from having to touch the mouse when disposing of it. The snapping side of the trap should be set toward the wall and baited with peanut butter. Mice tend to run along the wall, so this increases your chances of catching them.

Set mouse traps in areas where most of the mice droppings are found, but keep traps well-hidden and out of reach of children and pets.

Glue-boards are not recommended for rodent control and should be used with caution. They are nontoxic but they do not kill the mouse, leaving you to deal with a live mouse. You may be bitten, and the mouse can suffer while on the trap.

Once mice are eliminated, wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves to dispose of them and to clean up urine and droppings. Place the dead mouse in a bag and throw it away, and then clean the area. Cleaning up mouse droppings should be done carefully because of disease and triggers for asthma. Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings, urine or nesting materials.

Mouse baits are pesticides, also called rodenticides. Historically, baits in pellet form have accounted for a high number of calls to poison control centers because children put them in their mouths.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now requires that such baits be in larger, solid blocks and enclosed in a secure, tamper-resistant bait station. Like all pesticides, these products must be used carefully and according to label instructions.

“Growing Green” is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. Information: Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-746-1970.