It is essential that prior to the application of any practical control and management programme the full scope and extent of the infestation that is to be treated is identified and is understood. One of the most common reasons for treatment failure and prolonged treatment times is the underestimation of the extent and intensity of the infested area as a result of inadequate survey. Underestimation of the extent of the infestation will lead to poor application of the control measures. This failure may then be misinterpreted as anticoagulant resistance. The objectives of the initial survey are to identify the species under treatment, the three-dimensional patterns of activity, the harbourage being used, food sources, non-target risks and appropriate sites for the safe and effective application of control measures.
Effective survey requires that the person undertaking the survey possesses practical and observational skills and that they are able to identify patterns of rodent activity, often without ever seeing a live rodent, from the signs and traces that the rodents leave behind. When undertaking the survey the surveyor will be looking for traces of activity that the rodents have left behind. These will include droppings, footprints, tail swipes, damaged materials, smears, urine patches and urine pillars (house mice), burrows and holes and even smell can be indicative of rodent activity.
At the same time as signs of rodent activity are being sought, the surveyor will be identifying the reasons why the area is infested and will be identifying those components of the habitat that might need to be managed as a part of the control programme to reduce the carrying capacity of the environment. Such management will not only help with control, but will also reduce the opportunities for re-infestation after the control programme is complete.
The quality of the survey is the basis upon which the remainder of the control strategy will depend and should be undertaken thoroughly, by trained and competent staff that has the time to undertake the survey to the standards required.
New technologies of survey, also including options of physical control, are based on electronics and information technologies. Traps and motion detectors, equipped with respective techniques, may communicate with the pest management technician’s computer and mobile devices, enabling constant remote monitoring. Set up with some experience, such devices are very efficient and reliable tools for permanent detection of rodents, including transparent documentation. They may also be used for the control of small or incipient infestations, such as where rodents are approaching a protected property, such as food-production units. As this segment of professional pest management has just started to develop, a wider variety of efficient solutions for detection, monitoring and physical control may be brought to the market in the near future.