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 17 September 2023.

Click Here for: Important Notice about the E2M2C™ trademark , the Ownership, Placement & Servicing of E2M2C™ Devices, and Program Participation/Termination

Our Latest News on Rodent Biology is posted below:

Note: The E2M2C™ program’s focus is on what we refer to as EcoSystem Forensics. Rodent control is only one of several projects that fall under the E2M2C™ umbrella. But, because rodent control is so important for human health and safety, it remains–for us and most of our clients–the most crucial project of all.

The E2M2C™ program utilizes specialized devices that neutalize commensal rodents (roof rats, Norway rats, and house mice) in a humane way. We never trap rats, for reasons explained in the supplied link. Instead, we use a special mix of neutralizing products that reduce or eliminate the risks of morbidity and mortality in non-target animals. 

As explained in earlier publications of this newsletter, commensal rodents pose the greatest risk to humans and our companion pets of all the pests found in North America. Nothing in the way of human-affecting pests — not even mosquitoes — rivals rats and mice in terms of the total potential for harm that their infestations hold.

We service sites throughout Texas. When we first began investigating the extent and nature of rodent activity here we wondered how prevalent it was. We expected to find some areas where commensal rodents were rarely or never found, but–with only one exception–that expectation was dashed.

The exception to that rule is wilderness areas where humans are not normally present. Commensal rodents are habituated to human activity. They are perfect poster children for the red-lettered sign that says “Do Not Feed The Animals.” Raccoons and opossums are almost as bad, but are able to survive in wilderness areas, while commensal rodents ordinarily cannot.

We have not found any locales–anywhere in Texas–where commensal rodents are absent, though some areas do experience short periods of rodent quiescence. If a particular area is not currently experiencing continuous commensal rodent infestations, it is never wise to presume such infestations will not take place in the near future.

Example: Austin’s first environmentally planned community, Travis Country, was platted in the early 1970’s in southwest Travis County. The entire subdivision was initially surrounded by heavy forest that separated it from the nearest residential subdivisions by close to a mile of wilderness. Construction began in 1973 and continued through the year 2000, and during much of that nearly 30-year period much of the subdivision was free of commensal rodents. Though the nearby subdivisions were infested with commensal rodents the intervening forest prevented them from making the trip to Travis Country. Still, over time, small numbers of commensal rodents were imported accidentally by new home-buyers who unknowingly brought a few in with their household goods. Today, as a result, commensal rodents are as common in Travis Country as in all the other subdivisions nearby. 

Lesson? No matter where you may live in Texas, preparation for future rodent problems is always a good bit of advice. If you live anywhere in the lower 48 U.S. states, there’s only one way to prevent commensal rodents from spreading the diseases they carry to you, your family, and your business associates. That way invariably involves implementing an on-going, effective rodent control program the very moment you see evidence that rats or mice are present. Homeowners who lived in Travis Country in the 1970’s and 1980’s rarely found such evidence at their homes, but that idyllic condition did not last.

Weather Forecast for Fall and Winter 2023-24:

Despite an unusually hot summer in 2023, the coming fall is predicted by the Farmer’s Almanac to begin with a lot of rainfall and end with temperatures that are unusually cold. The predicted rainfall will revive the grasses and weeds in vacant lots and meadows, producing habitat and food for commensals that are being driven into the peripheries of heavily-populated areas. These animals nest, mate, and produce fresh litters of young every 8-12 weeks in those peripheral areas. The adults feed opportunistically in the dumpsters, trash cans, overflowing pet dishes, and bird-feeders of the nearby commercial and residential venues. In drought-stricken times, when weeds and grasses are not in good supply, their freshly weaned young do not survive in large numbers, but when rainfall produces lush vegetation these youngsters can consume near their nests, practically all of the litter matures to forage with their adult brethren.

If this forecast is correct, expect huge populations of rats and mice to descend on the commercial and residential neighborhoods once cold weather arrives. 

We’ve been there before, right? The winter of 2021-22, preceded by heavy rainfall in the early fall, comes to mind, but it was repeated in December 2022, when we experienced similar conditions followed by some of the coldest temperatures in Texas for December than we’ve seen in many years. The ice-megeddon we experienced in late January and early February 2023 only exacerbated our issues with rats and mice throughout Texas. Expect that to recur in the winter of 2023-24 if the above forecast turns out to be even minimally correct.

Rat and mouse populations that explode, largely unseen, during the spring, summer and early fall, have to frantically search for warm places to nest inside homes and businesses, where temperatures were higher than outdoors. In 2022, smart home and business owners contacted us the minute they saw evidence of rodent activity. Since then, during the early months of 2023, we had lots of rainfall, extensive weed growth in vacant lots, borrow ditches, and wilderness areas that produced tons of seeds favored by developing rats and mice. So, the existing rodent population, already high, has soared to even greater heights. We have seen no evidence this population has diminished. 

Snooze and Lose…

Most of those who contact us for help have already paid dearly for “rodent control,” yet they still have rats and mice in their homes, offices, warehouses, and grounds. They’re being told that “nobody” can get rid of those critters entirely. Thus many accept the idea that “a certain amount of rats and mice” at their homes or businesses is “just inevitable.”

That isn’t true, but you’d never believe it by checking with supposedly “authoritative” sources.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that rats and mice cannot be effectively eliminated from food processing centers. 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.

According to the FDA Food Defect Levels Handbook, 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…

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 each  five pound bag (weighing 2,268 grams), has as many as 90 rodent hairs and 45 fragments of rodent excreta.

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, apparently that’s what the FDA believes.

Well, it’s not true. You don’t have to live with rats, mice, or with rodent hairs or feces (rather, per the FDA, mammalian excreta). 

The E2M2C™ program continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to bring wild rat and mouse infestations to a stop, quickly and permanently. 

Our most recent placement sites, including those where we were called out to install the E2M2C™ program just before and immediately after Snowmageddon II (early 2022), and just before Icemegaddon 2023 hit, are — almost without exception — now reporting that their rodent problems have already been resolved. That mirrors our experiences in 2021, 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 of that year. Even during the worst of the early 2021-2022 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. 

But don’t misunderstand. We cannot claim to be entirely perfect, because we 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 current 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?

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 involve 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, changing how pets are fed so pet-feeding doesn’t feed the rats and mice along with the dogs and cats, securing food sources the rats are exploiting in rodent-proof containers, and cleaning up sources of food before rats can get to them, every day, without fail. 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 chronicled, in January and February of 2022, 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 a report from the year 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. 

Imagine that! $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, in spades.

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.

But — and this is very important — don’t just become a “reporter,” (some would say, a “tattler”), but also take positive steps on your own to become part of the solution. Make sure your area of responsibility is kept clear of accessible food items. Clean up your work space. Figure out how to secure food items in ways rats cannot get to them, then implement that approach without delay. If you need approval from management to obtain rat-resistant containers, don’t delay asking for that approval. If your work involves the use of pieces of equipment — from such things as dustpans that get clogged with food particles and waste containers with food scraps, to deep-fat-fryers with oil filtration systems that leave solid waste behind once the oil has been filtered — make sure none of that food is left behind when your shift is over. Dustpans and waste containers have to be cleansed of edible food matter every day. Frying oil filter pans have to be emptied of solid food waste as soon as the oil has been filtered. Compactors have to be closed and latched, and if they are accessible by the public, they should probably be locked up at night. Leaving food out all night for rats to eat is the greatest contributor to rodent infestations imaginable, so if you are letting that happen, you are part of the problem, not of the solution. Don’t blame management if you are not doing what you should be doing to keep rats out of your workspace.

When rodents show up, dire consequences are around the corner if serious remedial action isn’t taken right away, not just by the homeowner, business owner, and company employees — who must do their part to ensure the rodents don’t have access to food — but by professionals with special skills in the field of rodent control. Don’t try to eradicate a rodent infestation on your own. In-house rodent control measures, carried out by those who are not thoroughly experienced in rodent control, are fraught with a number of serious risks and almost never work. The Family Dollar employees found that out the hard way. 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, 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 shopping center, residential complex, 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 medical and commercial enterprises in this state. Government and municipal facilities, too — including Federal, State, and Local Government and municipal 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. Why? Most likely because of how difficult it is for regulators to regulate themselves. Big kudos to those who can and do, few and far between as they may be… Still, 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’re aware of such infestations in a number of places, right here, smack in the middle of 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 venues where they’d recently worked. 

The lesson? 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 truly 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 shopping centers, residential complexes, stand-alone stores, goods distribution centers, single and multi-family residences and all kinds of other places to a halt, decisively and permanently.

Just as important, because of the meticulous way we service and monitor the E2M2C™ program, 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.

But, we’re not ashamed to tell you we still have a lot to learn. 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 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, 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 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. 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.

We Soon Knew Better…

I was shocked to discover that 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 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…

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. 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 2022, 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 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.

We’re still 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. 


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