St. Patrick – the Patron Saint of Pest Control?

If there ever was a patron saint of pest control, it might very well be St. Patrick.

Obviously the St. Patrick’s Day holiday has me thinking about everyone’s favorite Irish saint. Before you think that I’ve picked up the bottle for a wee bit of inspiration for this blog, I should explain.

You see, one of the major reasons why we have a job is that so often the environment has been modified in a way that makes it easier for a pest to survive.

A classic example is St. Patrick, famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland. However, snakes are predators on mice. Without snakes, one can only imagine that mice started getting worse on the Emerald Isle.

St. Patrick likely gave work to the Pied Pipers of Ireland – and hopefully the burgeoning rat catching industry was smart enough to follow St. Patrick around and promote further snake removals.

Now our industry has been moving in the opposite direction. Instead of environmental modifications without concern for their effects on the environment, good pest control is about restoring the balance as much as possible. Cockroaches have no place in our homes and should be eliminated, although if we allow garbage to pile up, we are creating an ideal environment for them, just like St. Patrick made Ireland a better place for mice. So, we normally will recommend people with cockroaches to clean up, where needed.

I don’t mean by all this that you should be carrying around a cage filled with snakes to release at each of your mouse jobs, but rather, that you recommend or perform environmental modifications to make client properties less appealing to mice. Here’s a top ten list of modifications.

10. Mow down weeds and tall grasses – these can provide harborage for mice.
9. Use pea gravel around the foundation of structures to discourage burrowing.
8. Don’t feed stray animals in the yard.
7. If there are pets, only put out enough food for the pet to eat in one sitting.
6. Bushes must be trimmed such that trash, litter, and other debris do not collect in them.
5. Trash areas must be clean.
4. Ensure that doors are closed at all times except when passing through.
3. Replace damaged door sweeps and thresholds.
2. Stop feeding birds, or, at least use no-mess bird seed.
1. Seal off openings into the structure that are 1/4 inch or larger.

And, if someone complains about seeing snakes in the yard, you can tell them that they are just keeping the mice away. For some reason, though, I think that the response you’ll get is that they’d rather have the mice than the snakes.

Ah, well.

Whether you prefer your drink with or without alcohol, raise a glass with me this St. Patty’s Day to St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Pest Control!

Thanks to Brian whose conversation about snakes and mice helped inspire this post.

Related posts:

  1. Notes for Kansas Pest Control Association Spring Conference March 2011

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