Do you have issues with mice? If you are responsible for a residence in Minnesota, chances are you have, will, or are dealing with them... or... you just haven't realized they're busy dealing with you. Signs of mouse activity are many: rice-sized, black poops; small burrow holes in the rim joist insulation; small burrow holes in the attic insulation; and of course, the crazy-obvious mouse corpse.
Most people haven't looked in their attics (more on that in a future post), and that's one of the first places to check if you believe you're in one of those nearly fairy-tale, unicorn, mouse-free houses. I've seen some of them in my inspecting days, but not many. I didn't need to go all the way to my attic as our not-so-cute-or-cuddly cohabitants were quite bold with their bathroom activities. Rice-sized evidence was noted under the stove, mechanical room, and garage. I took the obvious steps first: deny entry, deal with however many have already infiltrated the home, and make the property less appealing for them. I sealed up whatever holes and gaps I saw at the exterior. Consider any hole 1/4” or bigger as sufficient for them to gain entry. I opted for brass wool and pest foam and I replaced a few small, damaged pieces of siding. Then, I started trapping them. I didn't opt for the life-preserving style of traps, but they are available if your heart inclines you to use them. We were regularly resetting traps from that moment on. The mouse activity didn't slow despite the number of traps I set or mice captured in them. They just kept coming! It was early September, and my wife and I were quickly tiring of setting traps. Semi-defeated, we were considering hiring a professional exterminator. My wife and I respect experience – it matters. Maybe the pros could find holes around the home that we missed or their traps were superior. We were talking this through while heading into Fleet Farm to stock up on more traps and other super important stuff (candy, candy, and dog food). While cutting across the store aisles, we noticed an electronic mouse repeller product. I've seen these things plugged in at homes dozens of times while inspecting and not really thought too much of them as the insulation in those attics looked like Swiss cheese, but I had nothing to lose at that point as I was already planning to bring in the professionals. We bought the Victor 6-pack Mini PestChaser Rodent Repellent W/Nightlight for about $45. We got home and put one in each outlet that was close to an exterior door, garage near the main door, and anywhere I had seen evidence of past or current activity. Two weeks went by, I checked all the traps and saw no signs of mice. One month goes by, two months, now in the middle of January when I'm usually catching 1 mouse a week, all the traps are still set and there are no signs of them in the house or garage. Now I know all about anecdotal evidence, but I don't have the time to pick through the data and variables. Bottom line, the mouse activity dropped to nil. I'm not saying that the electronic devices FOR SURE perform “as seen on TV” or that it was a pure coincidence. I'm saying I tried a combo of tactics and got results. Here are some tips and advice on how to help reduce the potential for mice to enter your home: 1 - Location, location, location. Living by a water source, wooded areas, fields, tightly spaced neighborhoods... pretty much anywhere in Minnesota means there are mice outside. Don't make the house even more inviting to them. Avoid having bird feeders, stacked wood, or vegetation near the home. Birds are super messy eaters. I've exhaustively tracked this and 84.32% of the feed ends up on the ground under the feeder... okay, I've never owned a feeder, but it's still true that the feed ends up in a tasty halo under those feeds. Stacked firewood against the home is a haven for those furry, poop machines as well. The wood is slowly decaying, which attracts bugs, which in turn attract mice. Finally, vegetation is just a pathway onto and into the home. Trim back all vegetation that is against or near your home. 12"-16" for bushes and shrubs and 2'-6' feet for tree branches. 2 – Deny entry! Go around your home and find all the spots that are greater than 1/4" in diameter and seal them up with materials tough for mice to breach (steel/brass wool, copper mesh, pest form, and/or silicone caulking). If you have metal or vinyl siding the corner details are often open and can allow access to soffits and attics. Use Kritter Caps or another such product to block them off. Another option is an electronic repellent. These devices are plugged into the outlets around the home and release ultrasonic sound waves that are inaudible to humans. There are many different brands and options when it comes to these devices. The one thing they all have in common is, the sound will be blocked by furniture, and the more units in use the better coverage you will have. 3 – Kill 'em all!... or humanely quarantine and relocate. Setting poison bait traps is an option, but could lead to pets and children being harmed. Using natural, pet/kid-safe remedies may be preferable. Mice may also be repelled by peppermint oil, eucalyptus, citrus, lavender, and garlic scents. Worst case scenario, the scents aren't super effective, but your home (depending on the scent) smells lovely. These methods need attention, though. Reapplication of scents. Reset traps. 4 - Call in the pros! Hiring a professional exterminator may be the best choice, especially if you don't want to go around and find all the holes, restock the traps and bait and scents. Unfortunately, those companies usually only warranty their work for up to 1-1/2 years. At our home, we will be continuing to use the electronic devices along with the other methods I refer to in this post. Well, all that and some hoping and praying that we will never have to see another awful, rice-sized, black, mouse poop in our kitchen again. Keep in mind though, we do live in Minnesota.