Risk Management - Pesticides or House Fire?
Rodents are a leading cause of house fires. And mice control is all about risk management.
Mice can get into your home in many ways. Mice exploit low pipe penetrations, climb up your exterior wall and get in through 1/4 inch construction gaps along roof, or gnaw in anywhere they see opportunity. It’s easy for mice, they climb, scurry, and get access anywhere! Mice are rodents and once inside, they can gnaw electrical wiring.
Some people try peppermint oil, coffee grounds, sonic noise makers, Irish spring soap, dryer sheets, or some other spice that they think repels mice. They say, “no more mice in kitchen, since I started using peppermint oil”. If it even worked, we have to wonder where the repelled mice go? Often, mice hide in attics spaces where they are free to multiply.
There are alot of cat owners out there, and they believe that a cat solves mice problems. While cats are excellent at catching mice that get in or around the house, cats do not have access to the attic. Attics are the number one place where we discover mice activity. Attics protect mice from cats and other predators, and they can multiply rapidly. When you see your cat catching an occasional mouse in the house, please understand that those are the mice exploring new territory. The last thing you want is hundreds of mice in the attic, where most of your electrical wiring runs through the home.
Other people use traps to control mice. This is an effective method, provided that they actively manage the traps. You must get to the source of the population and make sure your traps are ready to fire at all times - forever. It can be an ongoing chore. You can not rely on seeing mice as an indicator of success. Mice reproduce exponentially. Some people live catch mice, and take them for short drives to release in the country. Being caring toward another life is admirable, however live trapping can be very inhumane. Mice do not last too long in confinement, and releasing them away from their shelter exposes them to stress. There are disadvantages to trapping programs for mice.
Many people are afraid of pesticides, and caution is warranted. Some of the concern is from environmental groups that focus on misuse of pesticides. For example, a certain type of fly bait was being misused and killing bald eagles, deer, and raccoons. The method used was a home remedy mixture that contained this fly bait pesticide. It was a completely illegal misuse of pesticide that was horrible consequences to the environment. Many States (including Michigan) took steps to get the product off the shelves from the public.
Before we use a pesticide, we consider ways to manage risk - and we are very conservative. We research and choose a product that has an antidote. Also, we use a product where a large dose has to be consumed before medical care is required. For example, if a dog needs to consume 10% of his body weight, then odds are that this won’t ever occur if only a small amount is utilized. Placement of product is critical too. Bait stations can mitigate risk for non-target animals. We choose bait stations that meet the most stringent requirements.
We love wildlife, and there is concern for pesticides effecting hawks and owls. Did you know that owls consume a variety of critters such as: spiders, earthworms, snails, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds? There are a variety of ways pesticides can get into their food chain. For this reason, use the products responsibly according to the label. Remember we are using rodenticides in a residential surburban setting. Maintaining a constant supply of product at all times, will ensure that you do not experience a population boom of mice - that could be a food source for hawks and owls. Keep grass mowed, and store excess debris away from the home to help keep mice away from your home. You can refer to this table from a study regarding barn owls and rodenticide.
As a consumer, choose the method that mitigates the risk to a level you are comfortable. Realize that if you must rely on peppermint oil, then your risk from pesticides may be low, but your risk for house fire is elevated!