Pest Control – How to Keep Rodents and Insects Out

Keeping a business free of pests is the goal for many food or catering businesses. Preventive measures include clearing away cluttered areas where pests breed, caulking cracks and crevices, and repairing leaky pipes.

Chemicals may be needed, but use them sparingly. Select pesticides designed for the target pest and apply them correctly to minimize off-target damage. Contact Exterminator Boise now!

Insects, the largest group of land animals, are very diverse. They occur in all habitats as predators, prey, parasites, hosts or herbivores and are the basis of many ecological food webs. They provide valuable ecosystem services such as pollinating crops and flowers, improving the physical condition of soil and acting as decomposers of organic matter.

In general, insects have six legs, three body segments (head, thorax and abdomen) and two antennae. They live by consuming other organisms in a process called “ectophagy.” They are cold-blooded and do not have lungs. They feed by absorbing nutrients from plant leaves, stems and fruit.

The earliest stage in the life of an insect is the egg. After hatching, the fertilized egg enters a larval form and grows through several stages of development that eventually produce an adult insect.

Some insects are very successful at invading new habitats, especially those where they have no natural controls to limit their populations. These introduced pests must be controlled by chemicals.

Most insects have chewing mouthparts to cut or tear plant tissue, whereas others use piercing-sucking mouthparts to suck the juice from plant cells and tissues. These are known as sucking pests. The damage caused to plants by sucking pests can be quite serious, affecting plant growth and appearance.

A few insects carry disease pathogens on their bodies or inside them to inject them into plant tissue, causing infections. These insect-borne diseases could not complete their life cycles without the insect host.

Some of the most damaging pests are soil-dwelling insects such as wireworms, grubs and cutworms that attack roots or other parts of the plant in contact with the soil. Healthy, vigorously growing plants may outgrow a few of these insects, but large numbers can reduce crop yields and even kill the plant.

There are few effective methods to control these insects once they have invaded a garden, so prevention is the key. Using well-cultivated soil that has not been covered with sod the previous year and applying a broad-spectrum granular insecticide prior to planting will prevent most of these problems.


Rodents are small mammals with long tails and sharp incisors that they use for gnawing, digging burrows and building nests. They have a global distribution and live in every habitat from the Arctic to the driest deserts and wettest tropical forests. In general, rodents are a major cause of wildlife damage and crop pests. They also act as reservoirs for diseases such as plague, murine typhus, scrub typhus and tularemia that can then be transmitted to people by fleas. In addition, rodents can destroy landscapes and crops with their constant gnawing.

Rodents enter homes and businesses seeking warmth, shelter and food. They chew on pipes, shingles, electrical wires and other materials, causing fires that result in expensive repairs or even loss of life.

Besides the obvious destruction to property, rodents carry pathogens that can cause disease in humans and pets, such as leptospirosis, rat bite fever, salmonella poisoning, and hantavirus. They can also contaminate foods, taint water sources and create unsanitary conditions in buildings. Rodent droppings are known to contain harmful fungi, bacteria and protozoa that can infect crops and livestock.

The most important factor in the control of rodents is sanitation, which should be a priority at home and business. Food should be stored in rodent-proof containers, and spills and trash should be removed. It is also important to keep trees, shrubs and grass clippings trimmed away from structures. This will reduce rodent hiding places and access to the interior of buildings.

When these measures fail, exclusion is necessary to prevent rodents from entering buildings. Doors should be kept closed, with a minimum clearance of 1/4 inch from the floor and have metal kick plates attached to prevent rodents from climbing up them. In addition, exterior vents, floor drains and other openings should be screened with finely woven mesh to exclude rodents.

Long-term rodent control for urban areas often combines sanitation, exclusion and traps or baits – what is called an integrated pest management program (IPM). These programs are based on an inspection to identify the type and extent of infestation and determine the need for control.

Rodent Control

Rodents require food and shelter to survive and multiply. Providing a hospitable environment by reducing the availability of these two factors is the key to an effective rodent control program. This can be accomplished in buildings and in open areas by establishing sanitation standards. This is primarily achieved by keeping floors, walls and ceilings clean of garbage, discarded equipment, wood piles, weeds and overgrown vegetation. It also means storing foods in chew-proof containers and cleaning up food spills promptly.

Indoors, rats and mice build nests in dark undisturbed places, such as under stoves, in cabinets, and near utility lines and appliance motors. They may also live under eaves and in crawl spaces. It is important to inspect these spaces regularly, especially during the fall and winter when populations increase rapidly. A visual inspection may reveal droppings, gnawing damage to wires, and other signs of rodent activity.

It is also helpful to inspect and maintain exterior spaces to eliminate the rodents’ access to buildings. This includes trimming trees to keep branches from touching the house, removing brush and weeds, and sealing openings through which mice and rats enter (i.e., holes larger than 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch). Rodenticide bait blocks, grain, pellets in place packs, snap traps and repeating catch-all devices that capture rodents are all effective forms of physical/mechanical controls for rodents. It is important to use only nontoxic baits that are placed in tamper-resistant stations and checked regularly for feeding.

Because rodents spread diseases by urine, feces and tracks and indirectly through parasites such as fleas, mites and ticks, disease control is a necessary component of pest control. Several diseases that are spread directly by rodents include hantavirus, leptospirosis and monkeypox; others are spread through indirect contact when rodents pick up bacteria or viruses from infected parasites on their fur or feet.

Public education is an essential part of a successful rodent control program. This can be done by distributing informative fact sheets in homes, schools, food-handling facilities and businesses. The information can also be included in city mailings such as utility bills.

Insect Control

The insects that eat or otherwise damage plants are called pests. They can be detrimental to crops, ornamentals, weeds and trees. They can also carry diseases and contaminate food, make asthma and allergies worse, and cling to carpets and other surfaces, making them difficult to remove. Often, they can be controlled with non-toxic methods. Using these methods, you can save money and the environment while still keeping your home or business pest-free.

Insects are usually classified by the way they feed and reproduce, but other factors can affect their impact on the environment as well. For example, many soil-dwelling insect pests (e.g., wireworms, grubs) can damage or kill plants if their numbers are too high. Several types of granular insecticides can control these pests when applied prior to planting.

Some soil insects are also preyed upon by natural enemies, including predators, parasitoids and pathogens. In addition, nematodes, a type of microscopic eel-like roundworm that has a symbiotic relationship with some insect pest species, can cause disease and mortality in these insects.

Chemical pest controls are most widely used to manage insect pests. However, they can have a wide-ranging and unpredictable effect on the environment, because pesticides are typically transported by air or water and may enter streams via stormwater runoff. This is because the timing and rate of applications, weather patterns (e.g., precipitation, wind speed for drift) and the low environmental persistence of most current insecticides all influence where and how much pesticide reaches water bodies.

Insecticides kill or prevent insects from engaging in undesirable or destructive behaviors by attacking their nervous systems. Most act by causing an imbalance of the sodium/potassium ratio in neurons, thus blocking transmission of nerve impulses. Others interfere with hormones that regulate an insect’s growth and development, or block the activity of chloride ions in neurons, resulting in hyperexcitability and convulsions.

Some broad-spectrum insecticides are harmful to natural enemies; however, selective products in the chemical classes of pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates and neonicotinoids have varying levels of selectivity. The effects of any insecticide on natural enemies can be reduced by careful timing and placement of application to limit contact between the pesticide and its targets. This can be achieved by spot spraying in areas of high pest density or treating alternating strips within a field.