E2M2C™ Chronicles

This newsletter, authored by Jerry Cates, keeps E2M2C™ program participants informed about the devices in place at their homes and businesses. It is accessible to all who are interested in the general subject of rodent control and the research this program is conducting.  © Bugsinthenews Vol. 23:09(01): Re-published, with fresh content, on May 31, 2022.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: PRICE INCREASE FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

EFFECTIVE 1 JULY 2022 PRICES FOR ALL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ASSOCIATED WITH THE E2M2C™ PROGRAM* WILL GO UP 8.7%. Though this increase does not fully recoup the added costs of inflation, it will still allow us to continue providing the superior services and products our clients and customers demand. Questions? Call Jerry Cates at 512-426-8993 or email Jerry at entomobiotics@gmail.com. 

*The term E2M2C™ is a trademark of EntomoBiotics Inc. The devices placed and regularly serviced at client sites in conjunction with the E2M2C™ program are never sold, but remain the property of EntomoBiotics Inc. at all times, as the label permanently affixed to every E2M2C™ program device makes clear. E2M2C™ devices are placed at our client sites at the beginning of every E2M2C™ program, then serviced regularly for as long as the client desires the E2M2C™ program to continue. Once the E2M2C™ program at a client’s site is terminated, all E2M2C™ devices at that site are collected by EntomoBiotics Inc. personnel and returned to the EntomoBiotics Inc. inventory.


Note: The E2M2C™ program emanates from our focus on EcoSystem Forensics.. Rodent control is only one of several of our E2M2C™ projects. But, because rodent control is so important for human health and safety, it is — without question — the most crucial project in the entire mix.

As mentioned in our last update, by my reckoning nothing in the way of human-affecting pests — not even mosquitoes — rivals rats and mice in terms of the total harm they cause to humans and our companion pets in the lower 48 U.S. states. True, mosquitoes kill over 700,000 humans each year worldwide (90% of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa), and bats carry more diseases than rodents. But mosquitoes are only present for half the year throughout that part of North America that lies north of Mexico, and can be kept at bay with repellents, so the number of cases of mosquito-borne diseases (less than 5,000 in 2019), and the death toll from those diseases (practically nonexistent) in this part of the world is relatively low. Bats, for their part, almost never interact with us directly, so the risks they pose are rarely actualized. Commensal rodents, by comparison, are present throughout the lower 48 U.S. states all year round and though we’ve tried hard to come up with effective rodent repellents, not one exists at present. Besides diseases, rodents consume and make inedible a large fraction of our U.S. food supply as well. So, if you live anywhere in the lower 48 U.S. states, there’s only one way to prevent commensal rodents from spreading diseases to you, your family, and your business associates: by implementing an on-going, effective rodent control program.

Warm, even HOT weather is finally here. Rat and mouse populations are now ready to explode, all over Texas. Smart business owners are contacting us the minute they see evidence of rodent activity.

Most had already paid dearly for “rodent control,” yet they still had rats and mice in their offices, warehouses, and grounds. They’d been told that “nobody” can get rid of those critters entirely, so… until now… they’d accepted the idea that “a certain amount of rats and mice” at their homes or businesses is “just inevitable.”

Told by whom? The list is long, but — would you believe it? — we can start with a very influential government agency…

You may not know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that rats and mice cannot be effectively eliminated from food processing centers. But they do. That’s why the FDA allows food processors to have certain allowable amounts of rodent hairs and feces (the latter being described in the FDA document as “mammalian excreta”) in their processed food products before action is taken to remove that product from circulation.

For example, if I read the FDA Food Defect Levels Handbook correctly, cocoa beans can have a maximum of, on average, 10mg of mammalian excreta per pound, and still be marketed to the American public. Cornmeal can have a maximum of, on average, 1 rodent hair per 25 grams, and 1 rodent excreta fragment per 50 grams, in an inspected sample before action is taken. Ground paprika can have a maximum of, on average, 11 rodent hairs per 25 grams…

Need I go on? Clearly, the FDA has concluded that rats and mice in food handling facilities are “just a fact of life” that the American public simply has to accept. Next time you buy cornmeal, just remember that the FDA inspector at the plant where it was packaged has to let it go to market even if it has, on average, 1 or fewer rodent hairs for every 25 grams, and 1 or fewer fragments of rodent excreta for every 50 grams of product. Let’s see, that means that a five pound bag of cornmeal (weighing 2,268 grams), might include up to 90 rodent hairs and 45 fragments of rodent excreta. All that, and that bag of cornmeal still has the FDA’s seal of approval for use as a food item in your kitchen pantry.

Think what that means. If rats cannot be eliminated from food processing facilities, what hope is there for keeping them out of ordinary businesses and homes? No hope at all? Yes, that is apparently what the FDA believes.

Well, the FDA may believe it, but it’s not true… Furthermore, it’s time you stopped believing it, too. You don’t have to live with rats, mice, or with rodent urine or feces (rather, per the FDA, mammalian excreta). Period. End of story.

Email me at entomobiotics@gmail.com and I’ll arrange to meet with you at any rodent-infested site in Texas. I’ll be happy to explain, while there, what needs to be done so your rat and mouse problems can be quickly and permanently eradicated. 

If you happen to presently have rats or mice at your home or business, you can take solace in one thing. You’re not alone. If you’re smart, though, that’s not exactly comforting… Besides a few publicized reports of apparently unprotected commercial entities with rat infestations, we’ve seen evidence of, and been told about, similar infestations here in Texas that so far have not made the news. If your site falls in that category, we urge you to take steps now, before it’s too late. Talk to your supervisors. Make them listen and do the right thing. Your health and that of your co-workers depend on it.

Consistently warmer weather is now on the way. We may have one or two more sub-freezing events left this spring, but they will be few and of short duration. Remember, cold weather is not the real problem. High endemic populations of wild rats and mice are. Cold weather just made their presence more obvious, because they had to move indoors to avoid freezing. Those that didn’t, and couldn’t find burrows or tree-hollows to nest in, may have died. In other words — though their numbers seemed to rise — rat populations actually decreased some over the last couple of months. Now that warmer weather has returned our endemic rat populations will only grow larger, quickly. What are today considered “mild” infestations will soon become burgeoning ones, the kind nobody can ignore. For your sake, and for that of your families and customers, please… don’t let that happen…

We, along with other analysts who are monitoring rodent infestations in the United States, have been sounding the alarm, attempting to warn vulnerable entities about the dangers that wild rats and mice pose to their homes and businesses. Those who — like the Family Dollar stores — failed to heed those warnings risk huge financial penalties, not to mention the potential cost in human health and safety.

That’s the bad news…

The good news? Check it out–

The E2M2C™ program continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to bring wild rat and mouse infestations to a stop, quickly and permanently. All of the sites where the E2M2C™ program has been in place for a month or longer — including restaurants, nursing homes, shopping centers, warehouses, day-care centers, apartment complexes, condominiums, duplexes, farm houses, and single-family residential homes in a wide range of settings — have remained essentially rat-and-mouse-free, without requiring any special servicing beyond that normally provided in conjunction with the routine administration of the E2M2C™ program itself.

Not only that, but our most recent placement sites, where we were called out to install the E2M2C™ program just before and immediately after Snowmageddon II hit, are — almost without exception — now reporting that their rodent problems have already been resolved. That mirrors last year’s experience, when we installed this program at a number of new sites, all infested with rats, just before the big freeze and snowstorm that occurred in early February 2021. Even during the worst of this winter’s low temperatures, we brought rat infestations to a stop in as few as four days, without using traps, and without placing rodenticides inside homes, businesses, or their crawlspaces or attics. Ah, but what about bad smells? Nope, none of that, either… Not even one case of noxious odors in the past twelve months despite over 100 successful eradications…

CASE IN POINT: We were called to two residential homes in downtown Austin, on the same day, in mid-February 2022. Both had animals in their attics, and both clients believed the animals involved were bigger than rats. In one case it was obvious that rats were also involved so we immediately put the E2M2C™ program in operation there. In the second case we could not be absolutely sure if the unusually large droppings we found were from super-large rats or juvenile squirrels, though Norway rats were most likely; we opted, under the circumstances, not to place the E2M2C™ program until we knew for sure.

We placed wildlife cameras in both homes’ attics to establish what kinds of animals were involved and returned a week later to download the photos. In both houses rats — and nothing else — were imaged in their attics. At the home where the E2M2C™ program had been installed a week earlier, all rodent activity in the attic had ceased by day 4. In the other home, without the E2M2C™ program, rat activity increased throughout the entire seven day monitoring period. We placed the E2M2C™ program at that last home right away and now both homes, including their yards, are rodent-free.

But don’t misunderstand. We cannot claim to be entirely perfect, because… well, gosh!… we just aren’t. We’re very human, and humans are nothing if not fallible.

We’ve had a few exceptions to the typical success stories that accompany 99% of our E2M2C™ placements. In two instances this winter, for example, immediate, total eradication of existing rodent maternity nests at our placement sites did not occur. We didn’t exactly fail, because the number of rodents did decline considerably, but they were not totally wiped out in a matter of days the way the program usually works.

Why not, pray tell? In a word, cooperation… rather, a lack thereof.

We rely on close cooperation from our clients to make the E2M2C™ program work. The cooperative effort we need from the client is absolutely crucial, and must begin immediately in order for immediate results to occur. However, the client participation we request involves what, for some people, appears to be relatively trivial things “that can wait,” things like removing certain kinds of bird feeders from the yard, cleaning up bird-seed residue under those feeders, and changing how pets are fed so pet-feeding doesn’t feed the rats and mice along with the dogs and cats. If the client puts those “trivial” things off, or mistakenly thinks of them as “optional,” rodent control is delayed.

At commercial venues, dumpsters need to be kept clear of easily accessible foodstuffs, and sometimes that is easier said than done. In some cases, in fact, it’s an impossible task, and the only solution is beefing up the existing E2M2C™ program there (that works, but it takes longer to wipe the existing maternity nests out completely.) At other commercial locales, one or more employees may be in the habit of feeding feral cats outside with daily placements of food in overflowing dishes hidden where only the cats (and the neighborhood rats) can find them.

We’re up front with out clients on the importance of these cooperative issues, but we recognize that our requests can’t always be met 100%, and always have to get prioritized along with everything else in our clients’ lives. Still, as long as we all work together in unison, and our clients take on their part of the solution right away, the E2M2C™ program never fails. For the rest, we do all we can to help the client meet their responsibilities as fast and as completely as possible, and make appropriate adjustments where they are needed.


The Family Dollar Debacle… It bears repeating…

The following sobering narrative relates to a commercial entity that that was not protected by a comprehensive rodent control program such as E2M2C™.

Nationwide news reports have, in January and February of 2022, chronicled the devastating costs associated with a major rodent infestation in a distribution facility operated by Family Dollar, an American variety store chain with — at least in 2014 — over 8,000 locations in every U.S. state except Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. Founded in 1959, it was purchased in 2015 by Dollar Tree, for a reported sum of $8.5 billion. Its stores, in 2014, employed over 60,000 and reported revenues of $10.489 billion, from sales of clothing, cleaning supplies, home decor, and groceries. 

$10.489 billion in sales, over 60,000 employees, 8,000 stores nationwide… that’s impressive. Protecting those numbers, and making sure they continue to grow, is a critical part of corporate responsibility. As everyone associated with corporate enterprise knows, however, little things — things easily overlooked by those at the highest levels of management — can wreak monumental havoc on a corporation’s bottom line in a matter of days or weeks.

Little things, like rats… 

Rats Galore…

In January of 2022, the FDA received a consumer complaint regarding the presence of live and dead rodents, rodent feces, urine, and related issues in the Family Dollar distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas. A subsequent investigation by FDA personnel confirmed the essence of that complaint.

A fumigation of the distribution center was then carried out. In the aftermath, over 1,100 dead rodents were found there. A review of the company’s internal records soon revealed that — between March and September of 2021 — more than 2,300 rodents had been reported by employees in that facility. In other words, the rodent infestation at this distribution center had been known by its staff for nearly a year before the consumer complaint alerted the FDA to the problem in early 2022. 

Maybe upper management at Family Dollar’s headquarters, in Chesapeake, Virginia, knew about this, too. Or maybe the managers at the West Memphis, Arkansas distribution center kept it close to their vests, hoping they could take care of it before the big suits in Virginia found out. We’re not privy to any answers to those questions, nor do we know who was responsible for rodent control at this facility. What we do know is that the infestation continued to grow, became a public news story in early 2022, and has likely cost Family Dollar $Millions as a result. 

Take this to heart. If you are in a supervisory position at a commercial entity anywhere and somebody reporting to you mentions that rats or mice have been, or are being seen at your place of work, don’t ignore the warning even for a moment. Problems of this nature cannot be kept hidden for long, because rat infestations don’t resolve on their own. They grow larger by the day…. Pass that report up the chain, and don’t shrink from your duty to keep higher management informed. Dire consequences are around the corner if remedial action isn’t taken right away, not by company employees, but by professionals skilled in rodent control. In-house rodent control measures are fraught with a number of serious risks and almost never work. Do the right thing before it is too late.

Store Closures…

For Family Dollar’s distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas, it was too late… The FDA closed that distribution center days after beginning its investigation, and Family Dollar was forced to voluntarily recall a long list of products contaminated with rodent feces and urine, including dietary supplements, cosmetics, animal foods, medical devices, and over-the-counter medications. Those products had already been distributed to hundreds of its stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Customers in those stores purchased those products, and took them home, between January 1, 2021 and February 21, 2022. 

A combined total of 404 Family Dollar stores in the above-listed states were ordered temporarily closed in early February 2022, so that existing inventories of contaminated goods could be checked, boxed up and disposed of. 

The $Millions this cost Family Dollar, in damaged goods that had to be destroyed alone is staggering. Added costs, in lost revenue from sales that should have been made in the stores that were temporarily closed, and in future losses emanating from a tarnished reputation, may never be revealed. You can be sure of one thing… those costs will only continue, at least into the near term. 

It didn’t have to be that way.

Lessons Learned…

Rodent infestations in individual stores are bad, to the bone. If your store or home has a rat problem, it needs immediate attention. Your health and that of every person that lives at or visits that site is at risk as long as that infestation continues. Infestations of rats in distribution centers are even worse, because the rat problem gets exported wherever that distribution center’s goods are sent. So, in every case, sightings of rodents should be given immediate attention. Don’t wait for customers to complain. The costs of procrastinating can skyrocket overnight. In many cases, the consequences are permanent.

We know, from our own research and from our observations throughout Texas, all about that…

We’ve chronicled similar debacles in other places, including right here in Texas, and yes, including some of the most highly regarded commercial enterprises in this state. Government facilities, too — including Federal, State, and Local Government offices and warehouses — are often infested with rats as well, though the repercussions emanating from such infestations never seem to rival those from commercial enterprises (it’s difficult for regulators to regulate themselves, somehow)… When rodent infestations arise in commercial venues, even those where food items are not involved (notice that very little of the contaminated goods at Family Dollar involved foods), the potential costs to that entity can be astronomical. 

We’ve been made aware of such infestations in a number of places, right here, in the Lone Star State. Existing employees of a few — places where we are not presently providing rodent control — have candidly told us about them, wishing we were being asked to help solve their rodent problems. Past employees of those places, who left them and now work at venues where our E2M2C™ program is keeping wild rodents fully under control, tell us about the horrors they’d witnessed at the previous stores where they’d recently worked. 

So, Family Dollar is not an isolated case. Chances are many who read these words are employed where similar conditions exist. Don’t sweep it under the rug, and don’t allow others to do so. Do something about it. Start with your supervisor. Use the Family Dollar example to bring home what can happen if the problem is ignored. If that doesn’t produce results, take it to the next level. Rats and mice are not mere annoyances. They carry and spread a long list of human diseases, diseases that are not trivial, the kind that matter. Your health and that of your family can — and most likely will — be impacted. 

E2M2C™ To The Rescue…

E2M2C™ devices for rodent control are now in place at even more sites throughout Texas, places where rats used to infest, and — too — places where rats have not been known to infest but where ownership and management was and is determined to see to it they never will. The E2M2C™ program’s devices are well known for both preventing, as well as quickly bringing rodent infestations in stores, distribution centers, single and multi-family residences and all kinds of other places to a halt, decisively and permanently.

Just as important, these devices are also contributing to our knowledge and understanding of rat and mouse behavior. That specialized knowledge is, in truth, the only thing that enables us to be successful. Without it, we’d just be another ordinary “rat-catcher” with a mediocre-at-best reputation, and a long list of sorry failures-to-succeed in our history.

We’re not anything like that. We solve rodent infestations quickly, permanently, without fanfare and — yes — for a lot less once the costs of failure, the ones racked up on your account by others, are fully tallied. We know what we’re doing, and it shows. That’s the nature of real results. Not just talk. No meritless boasting. Just results. Real, genuine, results...

But we’re not ashamed to tell you we still have a lot to learn. Yes, indeed. We do get results. Quickly, and permanently. But we’re not done learning. Laurels make terrible seat cushions. They’re not made for lounging, so we never rest, even for an instant. We know, no matter how much we learn, we can always improve, even on what we know to be the best rodent control program on the planet.

More to Learn?

Like most people, and even — it seems — most pest management firms, you may think nothing more needs to be learned about rats and mice. Hundreds if not thousands of studies on the subject have been carried out in the past, so it might seem doubtful to you that those studies would have missed something important.

Wild rats and mice don’t appear, to the uninitiated, to be complicated animals. Like all the rest of the animal kingdom, they spend their lives in the mundane pursuits of eating, reproducing, nesting, etc. What more do we need to know than that? Surely today, rats and mice are “known quantities.” Spending additional time and money to study their habits in the wild in greater detail would, one might think, just be a waste of both time and money.

We understand why most people think that. We also understand why most biologists, both in academia and industry, seem to agree.

That’s why precious few new studies on wild rat biology are being produced these days, either by our universities or by practically all those other companies that are, at this very moment, developing “exciting” and faddishly new methods and devices for rodent management. Both appear, as a rule, content to rely entirely on the studies of the past as the be-all/end-all foundation upon which they are now analyzing ways to presumably protect mankind from the dangers posed by wild rats and mice.

Isn’t that the main object? Protecting health and safety? Absolutely it is. We all know — rather, we all should know — that wild rats and mice spread more disease and destroy more commodities than practically any other organism on planet earth. And, according to the wisdom du jour on this subject, since those earlier studies supposedly cover the waterfront on wild rodent behavior, focusing on so-called “smarter, technologically more sophisticated” devices and methods to deal with them makes the most sense.

Except, surprise! That’s definitely not the case. We  don’t know nearly as much about them as we should, as I continue to explain in this edition of E2M2C™ Chronicles. 

The Depth of our Ignorance..

I became aware of the serious knowledge deficit regarding the biology of wild rats and mice long ago, in the process of developing what eventually evolved into the E2M2C™ program. Not on laboratory rats, mind you, but on their wild cousins, the rat populations from which those lab rats originated way back in 1828, when the first lab rats were domesticated for serious studies in academia. The first of those were used in experiments on fasting. From those paltry beginnings lab rats have emerged as efficient subjects for just about every scientific study in animal and human anatomy imaginable. Those studies are not only legendary, but figure in practically every toxicological survey carried out to this very day. For those who work with such animals, it is natural to think that lab rat behavior correlates to that of their wild relatives.

I once thought that myself. Yes. Even I… But it just isn’t so.

I wanted to achieve total control of wild rats and mice. Like everybody else, I initially assumed that the supposedly “well-known” behavior of wild rats and mice — even though heavily influenced by what was known about the behavior of the descendants of those rats that were first domesticated in 1828 — was settled science that could be applied just as described in the literature. My background, as a programmer and systems analyst who’d worked for some of the most technologically advanced research and development teams in the world, initially led me down the garden path (an apt metaphor) of technological sophistication.

Traipsing Down The Garden Path of “High Technology”…

I’d gotten started as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Air Force, first with Strategic Air Command studying radar photography downloaded from B-47 StratoJet and B-52 Stratofortress Bombers, then with Tactical Air Command interpreting U-2 imagery taken minutes earlier over Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Crisis. A little more than a year later I was in Vietnam, poring over infrared images of enemy encampments in the jungles of southeast Asia. A year after that, now as a civilian working at Rome Air Development Center (RADC), Griffiss AFB, New York, I helped develop a number of advanced aerial reconnaissance systems. Soon I’d returned to Vietnam on a DOD project to analyze FLIR, Side-Looking Radar, and Low-Light-Level Television images, all from aerial platforms performing remote sensing of the environment.

After that last assignment in Vietnam, I spent 8 months flying nightly missions out of Eglin AFB, on an experimental reconnaissance aircraft outfitted with the most advanced sensors technology could produce at the time. Shortly before that aircraft was approved for active deployment, I returned to RADC to direct a study of remote, ground-based intrusion detectors. I was then recruited by Texas Instruments, Inc., in Austin, to conduct computer simulations of the Tactical Image Processing and Interpretation Program (TIPI), which combined all the remote sensors and reconnaissance devices in the Department of Defense’s arsenal, in a bid to make counterinsurgency warfare as technologically advanced as possible.

Back To Nature…

By the time the TIPI project was nearing its end, I was way past being bone-weary of war. I wanted to return to my roots. Having spent many years of my youth in the Ozarks studying wild plants and animals, I remembered how I’d never felt more at peace than when surrounded by dark forests and unsullied meadows. Nature beckoned me to her bosom once more… 

With a strong background in computers and remote-sensing technology, I believed my return to nature was destined to find better ways to apply electronics, computer networking, and wireless communication systems to detect, track, and — ultimately — control insects and animals, particularly wild rats and mice, in homes and businesses.

Part of my earlier expertise with government work had focused on intrusion detection, using the most advanced technologies science could muster. I had spent hours, back then, calculating such things as Fourier transforms, using mathematical models to predict where — within various spatial detection zones — Fresnel diffraction patterns from high-frequency wave transmissions would produce a detectable aberration indicating an intrusion was taking place.

That was truly challenging work, the kind that excites the intellect in special ways. Naturally, the notion of applying those same methods, using similar if not identical technologies — now more advanced than ever — to rodent detection and control, was very appealing.

Failure Assessments & Human Factors…

An important part of the studies I’d carried out in my earlier work with the USAF and the Department Of Defense was failure assessment. We’d placed a large number of specialized intrusion detection devices of varying kinds in the field and carefully monitored how well they worked. Every failure was analyzed thoroughly, so we could make adjustments that reduced or eliminated future failings. One of the most enduring lessons I learned from that work was this: No matter how good your detection devices are, they’re useless if you don’t know  enough about the behavior of the intruders you’re trying to detect.

Yes, most of the failures I documented back then were due, not so much from a lack of sophistication in our detection devices, as from a lack of knowledge about the human targets those devices were intended to detect. To combat this deficit we compiled and tuned up a huge database containing a long list of human factors, not only of the anatomical sort, but of the psychological kind as well. The team of bright, young PhD psychologists and physiologists I worked with at RADC was first class, yet they were bowled over by the enormity of the task. The human body and mind represents, together, a highly complex set of variables that cannot be grasped without intense study and analysis, spread over decades, not days, weeks, months or years. Though our team of brilliant scientists included some of the best that academia could produce, the minuscule years of work I served on that project hardly scratched the surface.

The Challenges of Rodent Biology & Psychology… 

Now, though, I was back to nature. I expected that the challenges associated with rodent control would be different. Tracking and neutralizing rats and mice should have been much simpler. To my utter surprise, the exact opposite was true. I soon discovered that our knowledge about rat and mouse behavior was dismally sparse. Worse, much of what we “knew” was totally backward.

Before we could even think of using sophisticated detectors to track rats and mice, we had to re-learn, the right way, how wild rats and mice behave. Once we did that, we had to come up with new ways to control them. Without that foundation, advances in technology, alone, would be a waste.

You may be excused for questioning what you just read. Hear my reasoning, though, before tuning me out. Wrong beliefs about wild rat and mouse behavior have led to the widespread acceptance of a long list of partially or totally ineffective approaches to rodent control. That, in turn, has led to the mistaken notion that full control of rats and mice within a given ecosystem is not even possible. In fact, that notion — which is founded on a faulty understanding of rodent behavior — has led the FDA and the pest management industry, as a whole, to create a list of “reasons” why full control can’t be achieved. We now know those “reasons” are little more than poor excuses for a generalized failure to understand how wild rats and mice actually behave. 

We Soon Knew Better…

I was shocked to discover that nobody — Yes, nobody — really knew the real answers to even the most basic questions about rodent behavior. Oh, the grossest rudiments were known, just not the simplest of details, and that had led to misinterpretations of the consequences those gross rudiments led to. All those old studies from the past had missed a number of minute, but very important points.

Without accounting for those minuscule, seemingly unimportant kernels of fact, fully effective rodent control was impossible to achieve. So I sought to fill in the gaps. After years of field studies, I’ve compiled a list of little known, but extremely important wild rodent behavior patterns. Every one of those patterns impacts the development of effective rat and mouse control strategies. I’ve since woven each of them into the development of the E2M2C™ program.

It isn’t an ego trip, trust me. I simply had no choice… sleuthing out those behavior patterns, and working them into the E2M2C™ program had to be done. Otherwise the program would have failed.

Success — Mother Nature’s way of telling you you’re on the right track — is what I was looking for. Well, the E2M2C™ program is working, and accomplishing feats nobody thought possible. Inculcating my newfound understanding of that list of little known rodent behavioral traits into the program explains why. Yet, we — I and my company biologist, Leah Quintana, who I am happy to say joined the program in 2020 — know that list is still incomplete. We also know our understanding of those traits, in terms of how they should affect further improvements to the E2M2C™ program, isn’t fully developed. In other words, we still have a lot more to learn.

The Learning Never Stops…

Knowing that our learning must be a constant, never-ending process, we attend every seminar we can on rodent biology and control, hoping to learn something new — from others — that we can use to make the E2M2C™ program better. Over just the past three months we’ve attended every class put on by Texas A&M at the Dallas AgriLife Research Center (Dec. 14-15 for pest managers, Dec 16 for Sanitarians and Health Department Inspectors), the Environmental Protection Agency (Jan. 20), Nancy Hinkle, PhD, regarding Ekbom’s Syndrome (Jan. 25), that included subject matter often related to rodent infestations, and the city of New Orleans (Feb. 3rd, Feb. 17th, and March 10th), conducted by the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite, and Rodent Control Board (NOMTRCB). Like the 2021 Texas Rodent Academy, and the EPA webinar on Rodent Management, the message from every lecturer either implied or candidly reiterated the fact that scientific knowledge about wild rodent biology is still in a primitive state.

So… We’re not the only ones who realize that…

If you’ve been reading the E2M2C™ Chronicles for very long you know how serious we are about learning more on this subject. That’s why we will be present in the coming week at the Texas A&M campus in College Station, for the 76th TAMU Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop. We need to know everything we can about how wild rats and mice behave, down to the very last detail. And though we’re not alone in that quest, our companions are yet few in number. It’s been that way for awhile.

Technology, using advanced sensing equipment, computers, wireless communications and telemetering devices, is now the rage, indeed. But while that is important and needed, it should not be the primary focus so long as our knowledge about the rudiments of rodent biology remains as primitive as it is today.

Which begs an important question…

Applied research in the field of wild rodent biology has gotten short shrift, in academia, for as long as I can remember. We would hope that every U.S. University with a biology department would recognize this as the problem it is, and begin to promote needed studies with gusto, but few are doing so. Harvard, ranked #1 in Biology and Biochemistry in the U.S., is doing little along that line. MIT and Stanford, ranked #2 & 3 respectively, are — as best as we can tell — doing no better. What is behind what appears to be willful ignorance of a glaring set of unknowns?

A glimmer of Hope on the Horizon…

By contrast to the behavior of the reputedly top three biology departments in the U.S., the University of California, ranked #4, is in this game in a big way. Maybe UC is naturally oriented in that direction, or perhaps they are just lucky enough to have a few bright scientists who are willing to get their hands dirty. Dr. Niamh Quinn is an important example. She’s authored or co-authored nine peer-reviewed, and nearly 30 non-peer-reviewed papers on the subject of mammalian biology, many of which focus on wild rodents. Her insights on wild rodent biology, delivered to the live audience attending the Texas A&M Rodent Academy on 14 December, stole the show. In one of her slides at that presentation, she pointed out that we know more about polar bears than we do about commensal rodents.

Imagine that. Polar bears, confined to the Arctic, number between 22,000-31,000, and have almost no observable impact on human life. Wild rodents, by comparison, are found practically everywhere. They number in the billions, spread diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of humans, and destroy $billions worth of commodities, year after year. Yet of the two, polar bears get the most attention from academia. 

In another slide, Dr. Quinn explained how, presumably as a result of this academic neglect, we have to rely on a woefully-imperfect system to help manage rat and mouse populations. To her, this represents a colossal challenge, one she refuses to let stand. In response, she’s doing all she can to turn the tables. Imbued with a strong dose of Irish enthusiasm (a native of Ireland, Niamh earned her PhD in small mammal ecology at the National University of Ireland, in Galway, in 2010), she’s a bright star who’s on the path toward solving some of our most vexing questions about wild rodent behavior.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Quinn is not alone.

Dr. Claudia Riegel, as the director of  the NOMTRCB, is doing the down and dirty job of finding out precisely how wild rats and mice in cities like New Orleans are managing to infest homes and businesses. I cannot say enough glowing things about this gifted and energetic young lady. She’s the closest thing I’ve met to a modern incarnation of Theodore Roosevelt, speaking softly while carrying a big stick. A fearless advocate for health and safety, she’s whipped the NOMTRCB into what may be the most effective rodent monitoring and management program in the world. It’s no exaggeration to say she’s saved countless lives by implementing and enforcing strict sanitation laws and regulations, and keeping rodents under control in places where they once thrived with impunity. She’s advancing her work based strictly on solid science, too, science she is documenting and backing up with a mountain of field data collected all over the New Orleans metroplex.

Her sidekick and — some might say — secret weapon, Tim Madere, can rightfully claim to be much more than New Orleans’ most experienced rodentologist. His reputation as a leading authority on wild rodent management and control in the U.S. is legendary. Both Claudia and Tim presented impressive, highly informative lectures at all of the rodent seminars I attended in 2021 and, so far, in 2022 as well. 

But there’s more. Without Texas A&M University’s Dallas AgriLife Research and Extension Center and its world-class extension specialist, Janet Hurley, we Texans might not have had that much of a chance to learn from the likes of Quinn, Riegel, or Madere without traveling outside Texas. As with Dr.s Quinn and Riegel, I cannot thank Ms. Hurley enough. Without her steadfast dedication and hard work, it is likely none of the recent Texas Rodent Academies, all conducted at the Dallas Center, would ever have taken place.  She’s arranged them all, and made sure everybody with a stake in learning more about wild rodent biology, management, and control is able to keep informed. Like Dr. Mike Merchant, whose shoes she’s filled since his retirement, Janet is a tireless worker whose attention to detail knows no bounds. 

Blazing New Trails, Practically Alone…

So, we’re definitely blessed here. We owe all the aforementioned luminaries in this field a strong debt of gratitude. It could be much different, in a very negative way. That it isn’t is a tribute to them, and I for one am very appreciative. They are an unusual lot, deserving of all the accolades we can deliver.

Still, even they — the best, brightest, and most motivated of the lot — continue to be hamstrung by a set of preconceived notions upon which our E2M2C™ research has cast serious doubts. 

From all the evidence I’ve been able to gather, most of today’s academic research, even at the best University campuses, only reluctantly addresses the vagaries of wild rodent biology. True, a few academicians like Dr. Quinn at UC’s South Coast Research and Extension Center, a few specialists employed by governmental entities, like NOMTRCB’s Dr. Riegel and Tim Madere, and certain exceptional practitioners like Bobby Corrigan in New York City, are blazing new trails where others fear to tread, but — like most explorers — they’re not just lonely outliers, but their own conceptions of the rodent-control problem are hampered by old ideas they cannot seem to shake off.

As mentioned earlier, at prestigious universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and — let me add — even at the main Texas A&M campus in College Station, most of the funding and intellectual energies expended by their biology departments focus on topics that only tangentially relate to the practical world, the one in which we live, work and play.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not intentionally casting aspersions here. Every bit of research on rodent biology, no matter how little it relates to what we think of as the practical world, still adds to mankind’s knowledge. But the man on the street needs answers to questions that save lives, right now. Only research that explores questions whose answers have immediate utility in the practical world will do that. Human lives are at stake. But for some reason few are interested in the kind of research that would produce the life-saving answers that are needed.

I have a few suspicions about the reasons why that isn’t happening. I saw the same pattern in the research I was involved in during the Vietnam war. Nobody, it seemed, but me wanted to study the behavior of the Vietnamese natives, much less that of the Viet Cong. I was criticized, soundly, for focusing my attention on “the wrong issues,” to the point that the approach I took to the work I carried out in Vietnam — both while in the military and later, as a DOD civilian — was often the subject of fierce criticism. Fortunately, though at great risk to their own careers, one or two high-ranking officials in my chain of command recognized enough merit in my approach to keep me on. But they were rare…

Technology alone would, everyone around me presumed, rule the day without the necessity of getting wrapped up in anthropological details. Yet, relying on “Technology First” led to inexcusable, tragic failures in Vietnam, costing untold numbers of innocent lives. The story doesn’t end there, either… I’ve seen strong evidence of the same kinds of failures in every war America has fought since that time. In the more mundane world of rodent control I see similar failures which, while not quite as tragic, still result in disease and financial losses that can clearly be measured in terms of human misery. The toll, in both cases, is unacceptably high. The recent debacle involving Family Dollar illustrates that fact in bold relief.

The Path of Least Resistance…

But, why must this pattern continue? The simple answer is that it is human nature to favor the path of least resistance. Anthropology, for example, is an arcane science few humans find interesting. The path one must follow to uncover deep anthropological truths is uninviting, winding and thorny. Rodent biology is even more arcane, and even less intriguing…

Perhaps that’s why it is easier to get academia’s brightest biology students to tackle investigative projects that can — presumably — be handled in the lab, than those requiring field work where exposure to the elements and the dangers associated with wild animals, their pathogens and parasites, is part of the work. You have to be tough, in spirit, mind and body, to do what it takes to really understand what wild rodents are all about. Tough like Quinn, Riegel, Madere and Corrigan. Fortunately, those folks are not only tough, but about as bright as it gets, as well.

As I’ve said before, the extraordinary complexities surrounding wild rodent behavior — in the myriad settings that commensal rats and mice infest — do make research in that field unusually challenging. The path of least resistance points toward technology, not biology. That, more than anything else, may explain why academia’s studies seem to be mostly oriented toward studying laboratory rat behavior. Unfortunately, lab rats don’t behave like the wild populations from which they were derived, long ago.

The Dangers Posed by Rodents…

At EntomoBiotics Inc., due to what we’ve seen as a lack of well-researched information on wild rodent biology, we — like those mentioned above — have had no choice but to strike out on our own. For over 40 years now, I’ve been feeling my way through a maze of conflicting views on how commensal rodents behave. Over that period I’ve amassed a sizable library on the subject. As mentioned earlier we attend every conference, seminar, and webinar on the subject we can. Sadly, with a few exceptions most of the serious studies on rodent biology were carried out long ago and are now out of date. Recent publications, along with many of the lectures presented in recent conferences, are forced to pass on the dated findings from those older studies.

New research on wild rats, in typical commercial and residential settings, is sorely needed.  Researchers like Niamh Quinn and Claudia Riegel are doing that, and that’s what we’re trying to do as well, all in an effort to craft practical solutions to today’s rat and mouse problems. Like Quinn and Riegel, we’ve been spurred on by the absolute imperative of solving those problems quickly and permanently. 

The dangers rodents pose to human health make them the most serious epidemiological risk most humans face every day. Everybody in academia and the pest management industry agrees on that. Of all the lectures at the Texas A&M 2021 TRA, the EPA’s January 2022 webinar, and the latest New Orleans webinar of March 10th, those describing the long list of disease caused and spread by rodents seemed most clear and on track. 

But explaining why rats and mice are dangerous is the easy part. Finding and implementing iron-clad solutions that work every time, in every kind of situation, is where the challenges are. The E2M2C™ program was developed to meet those challenges.

The E2M2C™  Program’s Proven Results…

We’re well versed in the epidemiological issues surrounding rodent infestations. The stakes are monumental, as human health and safety is involved in a big way. As we learn more about wild rodent biology, we’ve been surprised to find how often our findings contradict well-worn, “settled” views on how rodents behave. Those views are so enshrined in literature and science as to make some of what we’re discovering seem like tales from another universe, or perhaps from another galaxy far, far away. We’re discovering a vast wilderness that practically everybody else thinks has been fully explored. Further, we’re developing new and effective protocols that nobody else imagines could or should work.

Like Dr. Riegel, we’re documenting and backing up our findings with data we collect in the field. Eventually that data will be used to prepare formal reports that will be shared with others.

In the meantime, I can report with confidence on three important points: (1) The E2M2C™ project continues to reveal new insights into rodent biology that point to better ways to control them without harming other animals or the environment; (2) those insights continue to affirm that this program’s discovery of a host of contradictions to the old, settled science on rodent biology are not imagined but real; and (3) by using those insights to further the E2M2C™ project, making constant improvements that make it work even better, we’re able to achieve total, lasting rodent control in even the most challenging rat and mouse infestations.

What it Doesn’t Do…

For one thing, it doesn’t cost more. It provides genuine, lasting peace of mind to commercial and residential clients alike, for significantly less than conventional rodent-control programs.

For another, it does all that without placing non-target animals — like dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, foxes, owls, hawks, eagles, or children — at risk. 

Where The E2M2C™  Program Works…

Examples of places where the E2M2C™  program is in place today are listed at the head of this article. Many of those examples had been plagued with rat and mouse infestations for years, even decades, without a break before they joined the E2M2C™ program. Some had hired from 5-10 “expert rodentologists” over that intervening period. One apartment complex had suffered with a continuous rat infestation for over fifteen years, despite promises from a long list of professionals that resulted in dismal failures, before we solved, and kept solved, their rat problem within a matter of weeks. Most had also tried a long list of do-it-yourself rat control methods when the professionals they’d hired failed to solve their problems, all without success. Most, too, had spent $thousands on professionally-installed rodent exclusion services that also invariably failed. In every case without exception, once we installed and fine-tuned the E2M2C™ program at their sites, rats and mice became past history and stayed that way.

The settings where the rodent-control devices associated with the E2M2C™ project are presently placed include both typical and atypical settings, throughout Texas. That’s saying a lot, but we say it without hesitation. We’ve never turned down a rodent infestation project. We’ve seen the worst of the worst, and we’ve still succeeded.

23 Texas Cities Down, 1,193 to go…

Ten cities in Central Texas, and 13 cities in the northern half of the state, currently participate in this program. The differences between various placement sites present unique challenges. That’s one of the things that makes Texas special: it has, within its boundaries, practically every ecosystem found anywhere in the U.S.A. When we claim to be involved in what we call EcoSystem Forensics, we’re not engaging in exaggerated puffery. We’ve serviced and succeeded in rodent control in practically every ecosystem found within the U.S.A., entirely within the boundaries of the state of Texas. What we’ve learned is easily transferable anywhere in the nation. 

We’ve placed the E2M2C™ program in each of those ecosystems, and we’re pleased to report that, at each of those sites — despite all the differences between them — the E2M2C™ project consistently solves rodent infestations quickly and keeps them rodent free. Commercial and residential venues once overrun with rats have been freed of those pests and kept that way, now for a number of years.

It’s exciting to be able to write those words, especially knowing that all our clients who are enjoying the fruits of this project will be reading them. Most of our new sites come, these days, from referrals given by our current clients. That’s amazing by itself. Most business owners and homeowners prefer not to reveal to others that they once had a rat problem, even though — for them — that problem is now fully under control.

Thanks are due to all E2M2C™ program participants for their encouragement, support, critiques and suggestions. This program could not have advanced this quickly without the help we’ve received from program participants. The more we learn from you, the better. We never forget why we’re doing this. Controlling commensal rodents is a crucial step toward protecting human health and the environment.

WEATHER AND RODENTS

Warmer weather is in the forecast Central Texas, and will continue to climb. This will usher in a fresh batch of weaned pups from winter and early spring litters in rodent nests throughout Texas. If your site is not protected from maternity nesting activity, prepare to see lots of rodent activity in the coming weeks and months. 

What to look for during the 2022 Springtime…

We’re already getting calls from home and business owners who are finding fresh rodent droppings in their BBQ grills, outdoor patios, and attic spaces. That’s never a good sign. Remember, those droppings carry a long list of human diseases, and where you see droppings you can be sure urine is present also. Rodent urine carries another list of additional pathogens that cause illnesses in humans and our companion pets. 

Rats don’t have to get inside your home to make you “under the weather” or genuinely sick. Getting rid of them in your yard is just as important as keeping them out of your homes and businesses. You see, having them in your yard increases the volume of disease agents — i.e., the pathogenic load (PL) — within your immediate environment, in ways that impact not only your immediate health, but the quantity and quantity of your lifespan, far into the future.

PL can refer both to the number of different pathogens involved, as well as to the population — the volume — of specific pathogens represented. You may not be aware that, in general, it isn’t just the kind of pathogen that matters, but the amount of that pathogen — the PL for that specific pathogen — that you are exposed to, that determines how your body reacts to it. The higher the PL for a given pathogen the more marked the morbidity associated with it, and vice versa. That is, a low PL for a given pathogen often translates into little or no outwardly observable effect. You get some of the pathogen into your body, but you don’t notice it because it isn’t enough to make you sick. It’s just a minor disease event, which some describe as a latent infection, i.e., one that does not blossom into a full-blown one. If you are aware of that fact, you may think that if those exposures don’t make you truly “sick” they don’t really matter. Recent studies in disease pathogenicity and virulence have found strong evidence, however, that that’s not true.

Cumulative Minor Disease Events

Medical science has only recently been exploring the impact of minor but cumulative disease events on human life. Though the effect is felt by all age groups (so everyone should be concerned about it), the focus of most of those studies is generally on older folks, to see how such events affect how long they live, and the quality of life they experience in their senior years. How, these investigators ask, can we improve the likelihood of our senior citizens not only living a long time, but doing so in excellent health, bothy mentally and physically?

One important way, it seems, is to avoid the cumulative effects that come from minor disease events.

Even the ones that just make us feel “off” but don’t keep us from going to work or carrying out our daily regimens can weaken our ability to react effectively to other pathogenic threats of greater concern that we are exposed to. Latent infections of this kind can occur on a regular basis, even without our direct knowledge. They don’t make us “sick”, but just make us feel less than 100%. Many if not most of us are constantly afflicted by such latent infections throughout life, because the ecosystems where we live, work, play, and visit are typically laced with small amounts of the pathogens involved.

Latent Infections and Human Longevity…

Where do those pathogens come from? More often than not, they emanate from a single source, namely commensal rodents. The tokens emanating from that source are two-fold. First are depositions of relatively small, often unnoticed fecal pellets. Second are sprays or dribbles of rodent urine. Most people are not aware of the presence of these tokens in their environment. When they feel “lousy” for a few hours of days, for no obvious reason, they have no idea why. 

A study published in 2020 examined the effects of such latent infections on older adults and found a significant correlation between pathogenic load (PL) and human frailty, the latter being an index that predicts morbidity and mortality. Specifically, high PL was associated with 8.5 times greater likelihood of being physically frail, 2.8 times more likely to be physically weak, and 3.4 times greater likelihood of being slow. All together, those correlations translated into a significantly greater likelihood of getting sick and of succumbing to such sicknesses (when exposed to other pathogens), especially as one gets older. 

The naive lesson from this is to avoid places where high pathogenic loading is present. A more mature approach, however, would lead us to do all we can to ensure the places where we live, work, visit or play are as devoid of pathogenic loading as possible. When you see rodent pellets at the BBQ grill on the patio, that’s your clue that a high PL exists not only there, but throughout your yard. Seeing rodent pellets inside your home or anywhere at your workplace is a clue that a high PL exists that needs to be eliminated. 

Avoiding exposure to rodent-borne pathogens in our yards seems unimportant to most, yet the more we learn about generalized and genetic predispositions to disease, the more obvious it becomes to avoid exposure to disease agents of all kinds. Rodent exclusion projects that focus on keeping rats and mice out of homes and businesses, but do nothing about the rats and mice in the yard or grounds, are ignoring a large fraction of the epidemiological risks those rodents represent.

The Cumulative Effects of Even Minor Disease Events…

The effects of disease, even those we consider minor, can be cumulative. The more often we suffer from minor disease events, the more likely it becomes that those cumulative effects will eventually translate into major diseases.

Keeping the pathogenic loading down in your immediate ecosystem matters. Mathematical models can easily demonstrate that reducing rodent activity in yards and in the grounds of commercial businesses, alone, can significantly reduce disease incidents in the humans who live in homes surrounded by those yards. Yet, we tend to mortgage our futures by not worrying about such things. Wisdom dictates that we stop that deleterious pattern of behavior. The E2M2C™ program offers a way to help us in that quest…

Time to Prepare…

Those already participating in the E2M2C™ program have little or nothing to worry about from the increasing temperatures.  Some who got in on this program earlier — especially residential homes whose participation commenced early in 2019 or before — have fewer E2M2C™ devices than we now recommend, and that can be a source of concern. In a few of those cases, the rodent populations in the areas surrounding those homes may still be so high that they’ll begin to see evidence of rat incursions in their yards. If those rodents are able to get inside, they may do so. Be on the lookout, and contact E2M2C™ program management directly if and when the need arises. We hasten to add, though, that we’re not seeing evidence of that kind of problem anywhere yet. 

QUESTIONS?

Those who have questions about their particular site, as well as those who are not yet involved with the E2M2C™ project but would like to consider getting on board, should call or text for more information. Current participants already have the number… But, for those who don’t, it’s five-one-two 426-9883.

Jerry

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