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A homeowner in Jackson, NJ, contacted Cowleys after finding mouse droppings in their basement. Although most everyone uses their basement for storage, this particular home had a significant amount of “stuff.” It was filled with storage totes, furniture, and most everything else that families accumulate and rarely use that is then brought downstairs into what I like to call “the land of no return.” Cluttered basements have a major downside: they offer mice almost unlimited harborage areas. Mice thrive in locations where there is limited access due to clutter, especially when items are directly against the outside walls and no elevated off the ground. Ideally, homeowners should keep items 6” to a foot off the ground and 1-2 feet away from walls. These gaps allow for inspection access around the home’s interior perimeter. Mice have poor eyesight and rely on tactile sensation and the smells left by other mice. As such, they like to form travel lanes along the edges of walls. Along these travel lanes, you often find mouse droppings in corners where the mice rest.
I explained the relationship between basement storage issues and mice problems to the homeowners. I was happy to hear that they were going to listen to my advice by rearranging their storage items and clearing out what they were no longer using. The homeowners told me that this infestation and my advice had motivated them to do what they had been thinking about for awhile —having a garage sale and donating items to charity. Charitable donations of household items are not just a good deed and a tax write-off — it’s also a great way to keep your home clutter-free and remove harborage areas for rodents and other pests to hide and nest.
In the meantime, I set up rodent bait stations around the basement perimeter and sealed up access holes around some incoming utility lines. This particular job is a great example of showing how pest control is a team effort with the pest control service and the homeowner. Working together is the key to preventing infestations and getting them resolved quickly when they occur.
While servicing on one of Cowleys commercial accounts in Somerville, NJ, I noticed that some of the floor drains were quite dirty with accumulated organic matter on the walls of the drains. This “gunk” can easily become a breeding ground for fruit flies, drain flies, and other small gnats.
To treat these potential breeding areas, we use a bio-foam, a bioenzymatic cleaner that continuously breaks down the decaying organic matter, removing a choice breeding habitat for these pests. I applied this product generously to the basket, pipes, and anywhere else that build-up was evident. Going forward, I recommended a stringent cleaning program to prevent this from re-occurring. Often, especially with restaurants, the source of the pest problem is hidden food debris, whether behind appliances or inside drains. A commercial kitchen may superficially look spotless, but once you start doing some digging, you realize that there are many food sources allowing these pests to survive and thrive. Instituting and enforcing sanitation and hygiene protocols can make all the difference.
I was sent to a home in Bridgewater, NJ who’s owner was walking to their car when he noticed a huge gray hornets nest in the tree adjacent to the walkway. Hornets make their own nesting material by mixing chewed-up wood pulp from tree bark mixed with their saliva, forming an enclosed nest around the comb where the queen lays her eggs.
First I want to say, it’s a good thing he did not try to remove it himself. These hornets are extremely aggressive, and will defend its nest if threatened. They are close relatives of yellow jackets and they are just as nasty and aggressive, singing anyone or anything that comes into the “danger zone” around their nest. These wasps, unlike bees, can sting repeatedly, so a swarm of them can pose quite a dangerous situation.
I quickly put on my bee suit. With these particular stinging insects, I wasn’t going to take any chances. With the protection of my bee suit, I was able to I walk right up to the nest, and find the entry hole.
Once found, we inject a foaming insecticide directly into the nest, quickly paralyzing all of the hornets and any stray hornets that might be returning from gathering nest building material.
Once I was sure that there was no further danger from those hornets, I removed the nest from the branch, and let the homeowners know to stay away from the area for a while because there still could be returning hornets wondering where their home went. Eventually the hornets would go elsewhere.
A homeowner who resides in a residential community that we service in Brielle, NJ, noticed mouse droppings in his utility room and contacted the property manager, who relayed the problem to us. I was immediately dispatched to resolve the rodent infestation. Mice are overwintering pests that look to invade our homes to escape the harsh outdoor elements as temperatures drop.
Upon arrival, I grabbed my flashlight and started my inspection in the basement. Rodents often find their way first into a home’s basement or crawl space before finding their way to the living areas of the home, especially the kitchen where they forage for food. Suffice it to say, once your home has mice, they won’t hesitate to make themselves at home, depositing their droppings everywhere and crawling all over and under every counter and appliance in your kitchen. My primary concern during a rodent inspection is finding potential entry points. I conduct a thorough inspection of the sill plate where utility, water, and electric lines of through the sill to the outside. Often, I find gaps in these areas, and it doesn’t take much of an opening. A mouse only needs a gap of about 1/4”, or the size of a dime, for them to squeeze through. Cowleys technicians emphasize and proactive exclusion for the long-term elimination of rodents in a home. It’s all well and good to set bait traps to get rid of the mice in your home, but you also need to locate and seal all of the entry points to stop more mice from making themselves at home.
During my inspection, I located two utility lines from the AC unit where the caulking had deteriorated, leaving a gap for mice to enter the home. These problem gaps were a definite entry point for mice and they needed to be closed. I sealed these gaps around the utility lines with chew-proof copper mesh. After I was done, no more mice would enter this particular home. Going forward, if these mice want to stay warm in a home, they’ll need to bother someone else!
I was sent to Holmdel, NJ to help homeowners who were dealing with a mouse infestation in the void above their basement ceiling. After finishing up exercising on their basement treadmill, the homeowners heard some strange noises above their heads — the scratching and scurrying noises of mice above their heads. Mice prefer to stay away from well-lit areas and stay in out-of-the way places like wall voids and above ceilings where they can come and go and move around the house as they please. When things are quiet, these sounds tend to amplify, and often, homeowners think that they are dealing with a much larger problem like squirrels or even raccoons. Of course, no homeowner should ever think that it’s “just mice.” Mice and their urine and droppings can contaminate food and counter tops. Like any wildlife, they are a health risk to a home’s occupants.
Needless to say, the homeowners were right. Mice had entered their living space from outside. Mice usually enter homes around gaps and cracks in the foundation, and I began my inspection in the basement, first popping out some tiles near where they had heard the unwanted visitors so I could get a better look. There were some mice droppings on to of the ceiling tile. I immediately saw how the rodents were gaining access. There was some daylight coming from a small opening on the outside wall. There was a hole drilled through the foundation, possibly for a exterior water spigot. However, nothing was ever installed and the hole was never sealed. Mice exploited the opening and came into the home. Mice only need a hole about the size of a dime to squeeze through. These rodents are even smaller than they look because of all their fur. They have no collarbone, so if they can stick their head through an opening, the body will follow.
I always carry disinfectant and a hepa vacuum with me. I first sprayed the the droppings before cleaning them up. It is dangerous to disturb dry droppings because microscopic particles containing dangerous pathogens like potentially fatal hantavirus are released into the air.
Preventing entry is key to rodent control. I stuffed the entry points with copper mesh that rodents are unable to chew through. Finally, I secured a rodent bait box on the home’s exterior near the hole. The combination of these strategies will soon put an end to the mouse problem for these homeowners.
A homeowner in Lincroft had been dealing with mice in their basement, attempting to handle the problem on their own for quite some time. According to the homeowner, they would trap some mice, and drive them 4-5 miles away to a wooded area, and release them. Thereafter, new “replacement” mice would soon appear. This cycle went on for a while. Finally, they decided that their DIY plan of action was not working, and they contacted Cowleys for a permanent resolution of the problem.
A mouse infestation will not be resolved unless and until their access points into the home are identified and sealed. Without doing this exclusion work, you’ll be in the same situation as these homeowners and dealing with a never-ending stream of mice. Also, I pointed out to the homeowners that, although they had good intentions by not immediately killing the mice, they did not do them any favors by releasing them into a strange area. These relocated mice would likely die because they don’t know where to find adequate food, water, or shelter in their new surroundings, and in their weakened state would likely succumb to predation.
Upon arrival, after speaking with the homeowners, I grabbed my flashlight and began my inspection. Finding the access points for mice presents a challenge for pest control technicians, especially if they really want to do the job right. Unlike larger wildlife that will use of carve out readily noticeable entry points into the home, mice can get through extremely small cracks and gaps. Because of their fur, mice are even smaller than their appearance. They only need a 1/4" diameter hole (about the size of a dime) to squeeze through. Mice don’t have collarbones. The rule of thumb is that if a mouse is able to poke its little head through a hole, the rest of their body will follow.
Looking for any potential entry points, I thoroughly inspected the basement perimeter, paying careful attention to any gaps around utility pipes or wires going through the foundation wall. These are often the preferred entry route for mice. I found two areas of concern: A PVC pipe discharge line from the sump pump and an outdoor water spigot. Both had sizable gaps that would easily allow rodent entry.
Before laying out my equipment that I’d be using to control the mice, I first grabbed my hepa-vac to vacuum up all of the rodent droppings. Mouse droppings are toxic, and may contain many dangerous pathogens, including hantavirus. When the droppings dry out, spores can become airborne if the droppings are disturbed, creating a potential health hazard, especially in an enclosed area like a basement. After cleaning the area, I set up some rodent bait stations around the sill plate in the basement, dusted the two openings with a tracking powder, and sealed the holes from the outside with copper mesh.
The homeowners were relieved that they would no longer be dealing with mice, a problem that had been going on for far too long.
I was sent to Middletown, NJ with my colleague Alfonso to help a homeowner who had contacted Cowleys after finding mouse droppings in several areas of their home. With any rodent infestation, our priority is finding any actual or potential entry points. Finding mice entry points is a challenge since they can squeeze through the smallest of cracks and crevices. A mouse needs only about a quarter-inch gap to find their way inside your home. If a mouse is able to poke its snout through a hole, the rest of its body will follow. To successfully resolve a mouse infestation, it is critical that these entry points are located and sealed. Failure to do so means that you’ll likely have ongoing problems with these overwintering pests, even if the ones already in your home are eliminated.
As outdoor temperatures drop, mice, other wildlife, and certain insects will look for harborage in your home to escape the harsh outdoor elements. if there is a weak link for them to gain access inside your home, they’ll find it. Mice commonly look for entry points around the home’s foundation. They’ll enter into the crawl space or basement and then find their way to the living areas of the home when they forage for food and water. One of the most common, and often overlooked, entry points for mice are pipe chases, those spaces where pipes, such as from air conditioning units and the home’s plumbing system, as well as electrical supply lines, are run into the home. Pipe chases often become entry points for overwintering mice and bugs when the original sealant around the pipes starts to become worn and disintegrates, creating a perfect “tunnel” for pests to enter the home. We found several possible entry points around some pipes, and sealed them with chew-proof copper mesh. To reduce the mouse population in and around the home, we set up rodent control bait boxes in the home’s interior as well as the exterior perimeter. Finally, as part of our protocol, we scheduled a two-week follow-up to re-inspect and replenish the bait boxes as necessary. We are confident that with the exclusion and the bait boxes. We’re confident that it won’t take long for the infestation to be resolved, and this homeowner will no longer find droppings and other upsetting signs of mouse activity in his home.
Recently Middletown Township, NJ homeowners contacted Cowleys after noticing some debris coming out from the drop ceiling in their finished basement. Upon arrival, I immediately went into the basement to inspect. I popped out the tile and immediately noticed that something had been chewing on the tile itself. I had a strong suspicion that this homeowner had a mouse infestation. After entering the home through gaps and cracks around the foundation, they will make their way through wall voids or travel on top of drop ceilings to forage for food and water. We see a substantial uptick of mouse infestations when temperatures drop and mice attempt to gain access inside our homes to overwinter to escape the harsh outdoor elements and forage for food and water.
Mice, as all rodents, have incisor teeth that constantly grow. To keep them at a reasonable length, they will gnaw on almost anything they can get their teeth around as well as grind their teeth as a way of slowing their growth. While inspecting the sill plate, I found the tell-tale sign of mice — the rice-like droppings they leave behind. Adjacent to this area, I noticed several wires going to the outside with a noticeable gap around them, allowing mice to enter. Gaps around pipes and wires entering the home are one of the more common entry points for rodents.
I vacuumed up the toxic droppings and then placed a rodent bait station on the sill plate. Mice will follow the same trail, so placing bait stations in their pathway is highly effective to reduce their populations. I temporarily sealed the gap around the wires using chew-proof copper mesh. The homeowners informed me that they would have their contractor permanently seal the gap with stucco to prevent a re-infestation. With mouse infestations, to permanently resolve the issue and prevent re-infestations, it is essential to locate and seal all of the potential entry points around the home.