Do you have a mouse in your house? Or worse—a mouse with friends in your house? We sure hope not, but unfortunately the time is now for rodent invasion in Kansas City. Our friend Robert McElwain, the regional manager for American Pest Management Kansas City—who talked termites with us back in August—explains a typical mouse’s housing plan.
“Mice will be outside all summer because they can easily find food. They don’t need or want to be inside, it’s just when the temperature drops that they don’t have any other choice,” McElwain says. “The fall is when they start looking for warm places to harvest and that continues through winter.”
So how can you tell if critters are harvesting under your roof? McElwain says to look for chewed lines or wires, but the No. 1 sign is exactly what you think it is.
“Mouse droppings near appliances or in cabinets is very common—especially in kitchen cabinets and drawers,” McElwain says. “The kitchen is a hot spot. They’ll be there looking for lunch.”
These clues also double as dangers that come with having a rodent-infested home. McElwain says that because they tend to chew through electrical wires, in certain parts of Kansas City, mice and rats are some of the major culprits of house fires. He says it can also cause problems for homeowners and guests with breathing disorders.
“People with asthma and allergies will notice if there are rodents in the house,” McElwain says. “The droppings will become airborne and people in the house can inhale those particles into their lungs.”
Naturally, this isn’t a good breathing situation for anyone. Not to mention the diseases and health concerns that comes with having mice feces near your cooking utensils and food. And unfortunately, the mice and rodents don’t care if your home cost $700,000 or $120,000.
“Every house—and room— is vulnerable,” McElwain says. “I’ve had houses with mice on the third floor. However, a house with a rock foundation can be more vulnerable than one with regular concrete foundation with stucco on the side.”
He also says that rodent infestation is less of a factor in newer homes. But a mouse only needs a 1/4 inch hole in order to sneak in and make himself at home.
“I find that they get into the garage and feed on grass seed and fertilizers or they’ll make or find openings that lead to the basement,” McElwain says. “Then they’ll eat dead insects.”
So how do McElwain and his team wrangle the beady-eyed critters? They use three main methods: baiting, trapping and exclusion. They normally set up bait stations outside because traps tend to be more effective—and safer—inside the homes. That last technique, exclusion—which involves sealing up gaps and cracks around and in the home—is especially important.
“Look for sheet rock on garage walls with unfinished trim towards the bottom,” McElwain says. “Between the concrete and sheet rock, this is a common place for gaps and mouse entry points,” McElwain says.
Of course, it’s never a bad idea to let a professional do the dirty work for you. If you see something strange and it doesn’t look good, you can always just call McElwain for a complimentary pest audit.