Tag Archives: rodent monitoring

Benjamin Hottel

Rodent Control Challenges for Organic Facilities

By Benjamin Hottel, PhD, BCE, PCQI
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Benjamin Hottel

 As a business owner, you have a multitude of challenges to contend with, but one of the most insidious and damaging threats to your facility operations might be lurking in the shadows: rodents. These stealthy intruders not only jeopardize the integrity of your property but can also carry diseases that pose serious risks to your employees and public health. In organic facilities, rodent control can be a balancing act between implementing control measures to help remedy the problem of rodents and maintaining your “organic” status.

While post-pandemic activities have helped reduce the amount of public rodent sightings, their threat to public health hasn’t decreased. Rodents can spread dozens of harmful diseases directly and indirectly—including salmonellosis, leptospirosis and hantavirus—in addition to contaminating food products and potentially causing structural damage in buildings. Left untreated, rodent sightings within a commercial facility can lead to ongoing infestations and eventually, failed inspections and stalled operations—a costly blow to your bottom line.

Knowing how to spot rodent activity is essential to helping stop it early and prevent a larger issue for your business. If you notice the following signs around your facility, you might have a rodent problem:

  • Capsule-like droppings
  • Rub marks along walls and other hard surfaces
  • Shredded packaging, insulation or fiber like materials
  • Damaged food products and gnawed hard surfaces

There are some factors that can make rodent infestations more likely in a facility. For example, poorly maintained walls, foundations and roofs can create entrances for these pests along with improperly sealed openings such as doors and windows. In addition, standing water, left out food, cluttered spaces and overgrown landscaping can also attract rodents.

Common Types of Rodents

If you suspect you may have a rodent problem in your facility, it is important to correctly identify the species you are dealing with and report any sightings to your pest control provider. Here are some of the most common rodent species you may encounter in a commercial facility:

  • House Mouse: The house mouse is a small mammal named for its propensity to live within human habitats, including food plants. Next to humans, the common house mouse is one of the most prevalent mammal species in the world. Between five to eight inches long, these rodents can produce 50-60 offspring per year.
  • Norway Rat: Norway rats are easily identifiable by their coarse brown fur and large size, measuring up to 19 inches long including their tails. These rodents may be difficult to spot during the day, as they are nocturnal. However, droppings and gnaw marks are telltale signs that these pests may be present.
  • Roof Rat: More slender and agile with even longer tails than the common Norway rat, roof rats present a unique set of challenges for food processors. These pests are known to build nests at higher elevations, making them more difficult to catch in warehouse and processing facilities with large roof spaces.

Protecting Your Organic-Certified Facility

To learn more about specific requirements and rodent management strategies for organic-certified facilities, view our on demand webinar “Rodent Control and Organic Certified Facilities.” 

Organic-certified facilities maintain a variety of measures to ensure they meet all USDA standards. Contamination of non-organic products and substances is a real concern for these highly regulated facilities. As mentioned, rodent control is crucial to maintaining a safe environment in commercial facilities but can threaten to spread diseases and contaminate organic products. Fortunately, there are many organic-certified rodent control methods that these facilities can use to maintain their certification while helping to lower the risk of pests:

  • Preventative Measures: Sanitation and exclusion efforts should be some of the first actions taken before moving on to other control measures. Sanitation will help eliminate food sources for rodents while exclusion work will help prevent rodents from getting into the facility in the first place. Exclusion work should be focused around doors, loading docks, utility penetrations and holes in walls.
  • Mechanical Measures: Rodents can be controlled through a variety of devices including glue boards, snap traps and multi-catch traps.

If either of these two methods are not successful in controlling a rodent problem, work with your pest management provider to determine which approved products (e.g. baits and conventional treatments) can be applied. You can reference the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for a full list of substances that may not be used in organic facilities.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Rodent Control

By implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, you can help keep pests at bay and work together with your provider to come to the best solution. IPM programs focus on preventive techniques like exclusion, sanitation and maintenance to keep pests where they belong: outside your business.

Most organic food processing facilities have customized IPM programs in place, especially if they undergo regularly third-party food safety audits. These programs are implemented by qualified pest control technicians in collaboration with a facility’s food safety and quality assurance team to help deter pest activity and prevent infestations without losing organic certifications.

Now that you know how to spot signs of rodent activity around your facility and tips you can implement to reduce their impact on your business, don’t forget to review your IPM plan with your pest control provider. Rodent activity fluctuates with the seasons and a reliable pest control provider will regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your IPM plan to make sure food safety remains a top priority. If you don’t have an IPM program in place or a reliable pest control provider, now’s the time to implement one before you have a costly rodent issue that impacts your business reputation or the health of your employees and customers.

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

If You Think Plague Is a Thing of the Past, Think Again

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Rodents are vectors of more than 50 pathogens, including plague.1 While plague may be considered a problem of the past, according to the World Health Organization, between 2010 and 2015, there were 3,248 cases of reported plague worldwide and 584 deaths. While it is clearly not the 1300’s when the plague killed millions, the CDC confirms, “plague occurs in rural and semi-rural areas of the western United States, primarily in semi-arid upland forests and grasslands where many types of rodent species can be involved.” While the fact that plague is still lurking is a bit surprising, it should be no surprise that rodents can spread more than 50 diseases. Not the least of these diseases is Salmonella braenderup, the cause of recall of approximately 206,749,248 eggs in 2018. The good news: In the age of IoT, new technology can enable an immediate response to help prevent infestations from growing out of control.

With rodent populations on the rise due to climate change and the resultant public health issues in major cities across the United States, public health officials and pest managers face unimaginable challenges in staying ahead of rapidly growing and spreading rodent infestations. Earlier this year, Los Angeles had a typhus outbreak that resulted from a rat infestation near an encampment for those experiencing homelessness. The unsanitary conditions created a harborage for rats that spread the flea-borne illness. Cases of typhoid have doubled in the area since 2012. When and where will the next pathogen outbreak from rodent activity hit?

If that’s not frightening enough, it is important to highlight that once an infected, flea-carrying rodent enters a facility, eliminating the rodent does not always necessarily mean eliminating the presence of plague pathogens. The World Health Organization explains that once vectors have been introduced through rodents and their fleas, it is not enough to eliminate rodents. Vector control must take place before rodent control because “killing rodents before vectors will cause the fleas to jump to new hosts.”

Controlling the spread of pathogens via rodents is becoming increasingly important, particularly in sensitive environments like food processing and manufacturing facilities. Effective management begins with early and accurate detection and sustained through continuous monitoring. However, the traditional method of manual rodent inspection by its very nature cannot provide facility and pest managers with either early detection or continuous monitoring.

Thanks to IoT, monitoring systems can now be used in a wide variety of rodent monitoring devices inside and outside a facility. The systems transmit messages in real time over wireless networks and provide pest managers, facility management and public health officials with 24/7 visibility of rodent activity in a monitored location, which will enable more timely responses and help improve the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Digital IoT technologies are rapidly becoming the modern proactive tool used to help predict and control rodent issues before they occur in an age when traditional, reactive methods are insufficient.


  1. Meerburg, B.G., Singleton, G.R., and Kijlstra, A. (2009). “Rodent-borne Diseases and their Risk for Public Health”. Crit Rev Microbiol.
Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

Top 3 Things to Know About Digital Rodent Monitoring

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

The future of rodent control is here. The traditional, time-consuming method of manually checking traps just got a lot smarter thanks to the science of IoT (Internet of Things).

What does IoT enable when it meets a device like a mousetrap? 24/7 monitoring, real-time capture alerts and up-to-the-minute program verification. This means that instead of getting caught up in the cycle of checking and scanning empty traps, now there is the ability to immediately respond to a capture alert and spend the time needed to identify the root cause of the problem. The result? Improved efficiency, audit readiness and protection for your business, brand and the public health.

If you’ve been considering the idea of going digital, it’s likely you have a few questions. The following are the top three things you should know about going digital with your rodent monitoring system:

  1. Technology matters. Before taking a shot in the dark, you need to understand that many types of technology exist on the market, each with unique features and varying levels of detection sensitivity and accuracy. Understanding the pros and cons of available systems is a vital ingredient for success.
  2. Not all network platforms are created equal. Network connectivity in complex environments is a key feature to look for when considering digital rodent systems in order to ensure your system is working reliably 24/7. Everyone is familiar with cellular and WiFi networks, but did you know that these communication platforms can be challenged in factories, food processing facilities, convention centers and other complex environments? (Other network platforms exist and you can refer to this article on wireless modules that operate in the sub-GHz bands to compare their features and characteristics).
  3. False positives are common in many technologies available today. False capture alerts destroy the value proposition of remote monitoring and cause headaches and unnecessary labor. Be sure you understand this key performance metric and invest in a system that has solved this issue.