July 21 2010
“No thanks,” I said, aware that several residents in the building were having a problem, and glad that my apartment wasn’t infested, but worried that it would be. I checked with friends and found out their buildings also were being invaded, which made me even more nervous – and determined to get to the cause before the mice got to my apartment.
“There are always more of them in the summer,” said Enzo Amorelli of Pride Pest Control. “They’re out and about like people and now there’s more food around to eat.”
“In the last 6 or 7 years, there’s been a rodent explosion,” Jeffrey Eisenberg of Pest Away sounded the alarum. “Their population probably increased 50% a year.”
The reason is twofold: We’ve had warm winters with little snow so the mice can smell, and find, food. Add to that the city has chopped its extermination budget amidst the financial downturn, and you can begin to see why mice are fat and happy.
“Mice can multiply every 35 days,” Mr. Eisenberg told me, a statistic I thought was pretty frightening, only he said the bed bug situation was worse due to globalization – so bad that he’s been asked to write a book on how to cope – The Bed Bug Survival Guide — due out next year.
Another factor, according to Mr. Eisenberg, is that mice have peak moving seasons, and August – September is one of them. They don’t wait till it gets cold in December to find a warm, comfy place, but are smart enough to engage in advance planning.
So who’s going to win – the mice or us? It’s like dealing with terrorists. You have to have multiple lines of defense because none is foolproof.
First, prevention is key. Once they’ve landed it’s too late – at least for a quick fix. Build them out, and the battle is won. This isn’t easy, explained Ronald Rosenbaum of Executive Pest Control. They can get in through broken windows, holes in the bricks, doors that don’t come flush to the floor, even cracks. According to Mr. Amorelli, a large mouse can fit through a ¼ inch hole, a rat through ½ inch space. Y-e-e-e-c-h! “It’s a myth that mice don’t have bones,” he said, “but they can squeeze through tiny crevices.”
Inspection and sealing entry points, using screening and door sweeps all help, but all someone has to do is accidentally leave a door open, and they’re in – and multiplying.
Once they’ve arrived, the trick is to keep them from going upstairs. As between food and poison, they’ll go for the grub, which is why there should be lots of bait stations, and NO food hanging around in the basement.
Otherwise, they’re likely to feast on what they find and then find an entry point, and ride the highway of risers inside the walls from the ground to the top floor. Even if they make it on up, you can keep them out of your apartment, which probably is what you care about in all this. Mice sleep during the day and go out at night looking for food, at least that’s what Mr. Amorelli told me. And usually the way out is through an opening around a bathroom or kitchen drainpipe or a stove pipe or under the radiator.
Don’t let them in. All the experts I spoke to said the way to prevent entry is first to put poison powder in the hole. If it‘s really bad, and you can hear the mice scurrying and scratching through the walls, which is beyond disgusting, they may drill a few more holes in the wall and insert more powder. But the most important thing is to SEAL THE WALL AND EVERY OTHER SPACE NO MATTER HOW SMALL.
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