Rodent Control Technologies: The Wave of The Future
As humanity has co-existed with mice rats (not peaceably, mind you), technologies for catching them have necessarily evolved through the years. “He who makes a better mouse trap rules the world,” the adage goes, and development of rodent elimination technologies is ongoing today. In this article, we will investigate the state of the art in rodent control and talk about the future.
The Integration Model: Birth Control, Community Involvement, data science and dry ice
Some cities are discovering that a multiprong approach to rodent control is more effective than using just one method. We concur and Reported on Washington, DC’s ongoing war on rats a year ago, when they decided to implement Contrapest birth control. This year, the head of the city’s rodent control program is taking the additional 1 million dollars the department was given for pest control and implementing, in addition to Contrapest, community involvement and data science. Community involvement (encouraging people to call in and tell the city where the rats they see are), works hand in hand with data science, to more accurately predict where the rats are, in order to more effectively target them without wasting time, money or manpower. The data mapping program also aims to help immigrant communities, who are less likely to phone in complaints about rats. The Washington Timesdetails the data mapping program:
“The program uses data such as a particular building’s age, the type of business it houses, the number of apartments inside and the proximity of city parks, among others, to develop the predictive map. The Lab tested its predictions by riding along with city pest controllers looking for rat burrows.
“The model worked really, really well,” Mr. Casey said, going on to tout its predictive accuracy.
“Where we thought that they would find rat burrows 80 percent of the time, they were finding rat burrows eight out of 10 times. Where we thought they find rat burrows hardly ever, they were finding once out of every 10 times,” he said.
The maps are already being used to decide which businesses would be most eligible for the city’s trash compactor program, through the DC Local and Small Business Administration to reduce the amount of food sources for the rats. They are also using the data mapping to determine where to best target dry ice placement.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
The mapping program is similar to one being implemented in Paris, France, which we covered June 17. Surprisingly, this technology has been around since at least 1998, when the city of Akron, Ohio implemented it by conducting block to block surveys throughout the city to see where the greatest
infestations were occurring. According to JSTOR, the software used was called MapInfo Professional Version, 4.0, and helped the city target places in the sewer lines in neighborhoods with verified complaints. This targeting no doubt helped them utilize their budget money for rodent control more effectively. In 1999, The National Institute for Health predicted (if you like scholarly journals, click the link to read more about this fascinating subject!) that public health mapping using GIS technology ( was the wave of the future, and that certainly seems to be the case. As to using mapping data with community integration, the City of Boston has created Leaflet, which allows the public to create a map of pretty much anything—but Leaflet uses as an example rodent infestations called in to the mayor’s office. The website explains under the mapped data which showed concentrated infestations in various parts of the city: “Rodents everywhere! The data come from the City of Boston’s open data site. We have converted the original CSV to GeoJSON ahead of time using QGIS. GeoJSON is the de facto standard data type for web maps, and Leaflet has built-in methods to make it easy to map GeoJSON data.” You can click on each rat to find out the date and address of the infestation reported.
To explain the acronyms in the previous quote, what is GIS? Simply put, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is a geospatial system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on the Earth’s surface. GIS is great, because it can show many types of data, from buildings, to streets, to vegetation and…rats! This helps people to more easily see patterns and relationships and analyze them. GIS allows multiple layers of information to be displayed on one map. So when we talk about community involvement in mapping rat infestations using GIS, we are talking about a particular kind of mapping called “neogeography,” which is a controversial thing because it describes user generated or “citzen geographer” platforms such as OpenMaps that the City of Boston is using and teaching the public how to use. It is controversial because regular people are plugging in the data, not professionals, so the inference is the data may not be reliable. That is not stopping the City of Paris nor Akron, Boston or Washington DC from taking advantage of the goodwill of the public to apply with GIS technologies.
These technologies are really just locator technology that helps us find rats better so we can target the methods of actual control more accurately so as not to waste time or baits or traps. The standard issue for killing rats and controlling them remains to be traps, poisons, dry ice, and now, Contrapest birth control.
Contrapest was developed by Senestech to be used as a part of an integrated pest control program
and is non-lethal. It works by targeting the reproductive systems of both male and female rats—inhibiting sperm development in the males and inducing egg loss in females. It is a liquid palatable to rats and is placed in tamper proof bait stations to be placed strategically wherever the customer needs them placed. A certified applicator is necessary to place the bait stations.
We have some questions about public health and eco effects of this method, which highlights shrewd multi method pest control strategies related to individual situation and impact of.
As you can see, the race to control and eliminate rats goes on as it has for millennia.
The strategies are becoming more complex and more technologically advanced, but as we’ve noted, along with many city managers and pest control departments, and health departments worldwide, we are dedicated to interface with innovative progress.
Rats are smart. We will always be competing with the intelligence of this rodent, learning from which never ceases to amaze.
Tags: Contrapest birth control, Data mapping, Dry Ice, Environmental impact, Fenn Trap, GEOJSON data, Instructional, Mk 4 Fenn Trap, MK6 Fenn Trap, Pest Control, PestWorld2018, predictive accuracy, Public Health, Rat infestation, Rat poisen