Where Is The Bird Feeder?

My name is Shawn Payne. I own Lakewood Exterminating. Let me tell you that mice went crazy this past summer (2017). My business went from a hand full of mouse jobs in summer of 2016 to servicing several homes per week in Lakewood alone. Although mouse calls have slowed down recently, I expect them to start up again once the weather turns. I titled this article "Where is the Bird-Feeder?", so you might see mice in a different light.

Take this into consideration: If you have ever had a mouse in the house, it is because you have a gap on the exterior of your home large enough for them to enter. If you are able to locate/ seal all potential entry points on your home's exterior, then you will not have mice inside your home.

Not many people care about insects and wildlife outside of their home. If they get too close for comfort, they take action. Mice will squeeze through gaps larger than a quarter inch.This is not to say that you should go purchase 10 cans of spray foam to protect your home. Do not make your home into the fountain of ooze. Spray foam is not considered rodent-proof.

I can tell you that the homes on Virginia Ave. and French Ave. in Lakewood are going to get plagued by pavement ants due to the brick streets. Based on our sewer system, I can tell you that most rat calls come from very specific sections of town. Yet the calls that we get in Lakewood for mice are area-wide. Mice in Lakewood seem to inhabit basements, where mice in Rocky River love nesting in the attics. It is all based on a home's construction. A vinyl sided home with attached garage in Rocky River, OH is much different from a typical Lakewood home.

House mice and field mice both frequent Cleveland area homes. It is important to identify a pest before you apply any control measures. For instance, you will be hard pressed to find a rodenticide bait labeled for field mice. Always identify your house guest first. Focus on properly sealing off their entry, and applying your traps/ bait as necessary to remove the infestation inside.

What do you see when you drive down the residental streets of Lakewood, OH? I see a plethora of front porches. Most of these porches are wide open for mice, rats and other wildlife.

  • The most common front porch in Lakewood is sided with sections of lattice between the pillars. The voids under these porches are often stuffed with ladders and old construction lumber/ debris. All of that debris creates a perfect habitat for burrowing mice. The foundation wall under these porches is usually hollow clay block. The mortar joints between blocks are often deteriorated. The resulting entry points turn your home into a sort of mouse catacombs. Decking on newer homes consist of a ledger board attached to the foundation wall. Porch joists run off this ledger board. In contrast, the typical old Lakewood front porch has support beams that sit on top of the foundation block. They penetrate into the box sill. This is a really important spot to seal up to exclude mice.
  • Another significant front porch type in Lakewood has solid masonry walls. Most of these porches often have brick facades backed by hollow clay block. Due to the solid walls, weep holes are added for air ventilation. More often than not; these weep holes are not screened. Think about how nice that is for rodents. Their main predators, like skunks, can not follow them through those weep holes! If wood decking tops the walls; there are usually gaps between the wood and masonry. Gaps are also common between sandstone steps. Don't forget to look for potential entry points at the porch/ stairway junction and the porch/ home junction. Mortar joints break apart in these areas due to freezing and thawing. Chipmunks love these vulnerable points of entry as much as mice do. The bad thing about masonry porches/stoops is that they create an inaccessible void. Unless you have a hatch door in the basement (which some homes in Lakewood have) there is no way of inspecting the condition of the underlying foundation wall. Whether you have a giant masonry porch or just a stoop, consider sealing it up. Just don't stuff the weepholes with a material that doesn't breathe.  

Inspecting and repairing potential wildlife entry points is not an easy task. Yet it is necessary to prevent ongoing rodent issues. In this article, I only mentioned the potential entry points in and around front porches. There are so many other spots around our homes that mice squeek into... Its ridiculous.

Mice communicate through pheromones. Scent trails mark up locations of shelter and food. These signals stick around for a long time. Even if you catch and remove your current infestation, new mice will probably sniff their way back inside.

Setting traps and bait for mice is how you remove mice once they get inside. Why let them get inside though? Once they get inside they start pooping and peeing. Why risk food poisoning through contamination? The protein in mouse urine causes a mousey odor inside your home. It is also a huge household allergen. Children are especially susceptible to this allergen. Mouse contamination is nothing to sneeze about.

  • Never convince yourself that you will always have mice because you live in an older home. Older homes are much easier to repair, in my opinion, than a lot of the newer homes we service.
  • Don't rely on your cat to get the job done. You would be better off getting a pet skunk to keep mouse populations in check. Just realize that a pack of wolves will never eat every deer in the forest. In contrast, biological control has its place. Not many people know how many rats we had in 2016 before the unpopular coyote pack came into town. Everyone talks about coyote sightings. No one admits to seeing a rat. I personally do not like rats or mice. Most people get rid of skunks (our main predator of mice) when their territorial dog gets sprayed. The authorities recently eliminated our coyotes in response to our need to protect our pets. Biological control of rodents is a deep subject... It goes beyond adopting a cat. There is nothing more organic than the balance of predator and prey within the environment. Other control methods are callled for when the balance of nature goes unchecked. My college education at OSU taught me this.

A combination of control methods is essential to eliminate mouse infestations. Your mouser cat might knock off a few mice, your neighborhood skunk family will also help out in that effort. The gaping wounds in and around your porch will not help. Mouse-proofing is a valid long term control option. Traps and bait are old standbyes. Yet they only go so far. What else can you do? Every living organism needs food, shelter, and love to survive. Hating mice to death probably won't do you much good. Rake up your yard full of fallen acorns. Look for the bird feeder. Where there is bird seed, there are rodents. Eliminate food and shelter and you will gain control of your mouse infestation. Do not bother with the mint oil.

Shawn Payne

Shawn Payne resides in Lakewood, OH with his two daughters. He runs the local pest control company, Lakewood Exterminating. 

Shawn attended Ohio State University where he earned dual degrees in the horticulture field. While at the institute he tutored entomology and botany. He also studied abroad in the United Kingdom.

Shawn has been a Licensed Pesticide Applicator since 2005 when he began working at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse in Cleveland, OH. After leaving the city, he ran the pest control, wildlife trapping and weed control at NASA Glenn Research Center for nearly a decade.

Now Shawn concentrates his efforts on helping the community with their pest problems with Lakewood Exterminating. He loves to share his knowledge of plants and pests with others. 

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Volume 13, Issue 23, Posted 10:05 PM, 12.05.2017