The Enhanced Ecosystem Monitoring, Management and Control (E2M2C™) Program

— This informational article by Jerry Cates (initiating author) and Adette Quintana (editor & contributing biologist) was first published on 30 April 2019, and last revised and expanded on 16 May 2021. Copyright Bugsinthenews Vol. 18:05(01)

This article began, in April of 2019, by describing the tentative improvements EntomoBiotics Inc. was introducing to better serve its commercial and residential clients. Its focus, then and now, was the prevention and control of one of the greatest threats to human health. That threat is posed by infestations of commensal rodents in residential and commercial venues.

Great strides have been made since this article was first published. Not only have our methodologies and devices improved, but important additions have also been made to our personnel. Our lab manager, Tony Smith, came aboard in June of 2019, and is the driving force behind the fabrication of all our devices. He also directs the service programs we perform to keep those devices sanitized and properly provisioned. Adette Quintana, a biologist with special skills and an undying fondness for mankind’s companion pets, joined EntomoBiotics Inc. in mid-2020, and has been an inspiration to us all. She oversees all our field operations, and ensures our clients are serviced promptly.

With each step forward, the content provided here has been revised to reflect the art, as we carry it out, in its present form. There is no better way to portray that than to use real-life examples. What you will see, below, are the details of how we handled challenging commensal rodent infestations in (1) the scattered attics of a relatively new Texas home, and (2) the retail spaces and employee break rooms of two non-food venues at an established and somewhat aging Texas shopping center anchored by a modern supermarket. We do not identify where these are located, to protect the privacy of residential and commercial home and business owners.

These two cases illustrate the intricacies involved with remedying major pest management issues. The permanent solutions described here solved the rodent-and-insect-pest-related incursions at each site by placing and regularly servicing the EntomoBiotics Inc. E2M2C™ program.

The EntomoBiotics Inc. E2M2C™ program uses, for rodent and general insect control, the proprietary pest neutralization device shown above. This device, which looks like a limestone boulder on a pedestal, is never sold, but remains the property of Entomobiotics Inc. Several thousand of these have now been placed throughout Texas around the perimeters of homes and businesses, and enjoy unprecedented success at resolving difficult rodent infestations. 

The device consists of a hard plastic shell on a weatherized wooden platform. In the EntomoBiotics Inc. Laboratory, the shell and its interior components — manufactured by and purchased from another company — get a major overhaul before being deployed as part of the E2M2C(TM) program. Over 150 proprietary modifications are performed to (1) make it essentially child- proof, (2) improve ease of entry and exit by foraging rats, mice, and insects wherever it is placed, (3) prevent dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, and most* other non-target animals from getting inside and contacting or consuming its pest control products, (4) keep its perishable contents fresh for up to six months or longer, by protecting them from the elements even when deployed under harsh weather conditions, (5) sequesters its insect control products so that insect pests such as ants, roaches, and crickets, are only attracted to control products targeting them, preventing them from contaminating the device’s rodent control products, (6) enable it to control all commensal rodents and reduce the number of most insect pests around homes and businesses, and (7) make it all but impossible to shake its pest control products out of the shell.

*Pet rats, mice, and ferrets cannot be effectively excluded from the E2M2C™ stations at the moment. For pet rats and mice the reasons why are obvious, but they’re not so obvious for ferrets. The smallest ferrets — which are domesticated animals in the Mustelidae (weasel) family — weigh three times as much as adult rats. This alone suggests there should be a way to prevent them from entering portals that permit the passage of rats. Still, because the ferret head is not much larger than that of an adult rat, and their bodies are so long and flexible, designing an enclosure that will admit rats but not ferrets poses significant challenges. So, if you happen to be walking your pet ferret in the vicinity of one of our E2M2C™ stations, don’t turn your ferret loose anywhere near it (most harnesses used to walk ferrets will probably prevent the ferret from getting inside, but sans such a harness, all bets are off). We’ve made great strides toward designing this device to be as rat-and-mouse-specific as possible, and we’re still working hard to keep loose ferrets out, but we’ve not gotten there quite yet. 

Besides the device described above, and other devices used alongside it, the EntomoBiotics Inc. E2M2C™ program also uses a unique, proprietary service protocol that is as important as the device itself. That protocol is constantly honed and refined to reduce the epidemiological risks — specifically the medical issues associated with microbial and parasitic loadings — that commonly attend rodent and insect pest infestations. Furthermore, when applied to a neighborhood or business enterprise zone as part of a comprehensive ecosystem management and control project, that protocol protects raptors and other animals that prey on rodents and large insects from the risks associated with secondary poisoning.

One of the unique features of that protocol involves the way the proprietary pest neutralization device shown above is serviced. These units are never opened at the customer’s location. Instead they are swapped out with freshly sanitized, re-provisioned devices. Each used device is then sealed in a special sanitizing enclosure and returned to the EntomoBiotics Inc. laboratory. The sanitizing enclosure immediately begins the job of neutralizing microbials like bacteria and viruses, as well as any mites, fleas, ticks, or other live organisms that are in the device while it is being transported to the lab. That ensures our laboratory personnel are not exposed to those organisms when they open each device up. Once at the lab, the device’s residual pest control products are removed, labeled, and archived. Then the device is given a thorough cleansing before it is reprovisioned with fresh rodenticides and insect control products and placed back into inventory.

Sometimes a client requests information on the rodenticide consumption that occurred in a device that had earlier been placed at their site. We assay the site, but not the stations, for reasons explained in another artiicle.

Each residence and business participating in the E2M2C™ program contributes to our rodent ethology (behavior) research project. That project assembles the data collected from each service event, along with environmental details pertinent to each site, to identify factors that influence commensal rodent activity. We then apply that information to each new residence or business as a means of determining the number of stations to place, and the kinds and quantities of pest products with which to provision them.

For many, the two examples we use here may seem trivial, because the harm caused by rats and mice to humans and our pets is generally underrated. Ordinary people on the street, the world over, typically consider rats and mice as minor annoyances. This fact is reflected in the title of a satirical novel, written over 65 years ago by the Irish American author Leonard Wibberly, whose theme is as fresh today as when it was first penned. Both its title, “The Mouse that Roared,” and the thrust of its plotline — that the most minuscule nation of humans on earth can rightly be compared to a mouse — receives general acceptance even today. We tend to think of mice and rats just that way: they’re small, rarely seen, and — like all the other diminutive, practically invisible things in life — that makes them seem entirely non-threatening…

Published in the midst of the Cold War, the book was both a comedy and a polemic attack on then-current global politics. As such it touched on the nuclear arms race, nuclear arms in general, and the state of the American political system. Later the same author wrote a prequel, published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1958 entitled “Beware of the Mouse.” This was then followed by three sequels, “The Mouse on the Moon” (1962), “The Mouse on Wall Street” (1969), and “The Mouse that Saved the West” (1981). In each of these satires, a tiny nation is pitted against forces many times more powerful than itself and wins.

In 1959 the novel was made into a film by the same title. It followed the “Ban the Bomb” theme in vogue at the time, and its story began with the smallest country in the world, the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick, being forced into bankruptcy. That nation’s sole export had been a much-sought-after wine that previously had made their little country filthy rich. That wine, though, had just lost out to a cheap imitation produced by an American firm.

Starring Peter Sellers (cast in three different roles), the film portrays the fictional Duchy waging a sham war against America. The basic plot, cooked up by the nation’s leaders, had the Duchy declare war, whereupon its “army” of 20 or so soldiers armed with nothing but longbows, booked passage on a tramp steamer to New York. On arrival, this ragtag crew carried out a mock invasion of New York harbor. Before their “invasion” resulted in casualties, however, they were supposed to throw down their arms, accept defeat, and surrender.

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick knew what should happen next. America had a reputation for treating the once-belligerent nations it had defeated in the past with unfettered compassion. The soon-to-be-vanquished Duchy expected its tiny Alpine country to be flooded with millions of dollars in foreign aid. America’s generosity would, they believed, quickly save them from their then-disastrous financial condition.

As the story unfolds, a series of comic errors takes things in unexpected directions. The Grand Fenwick soldiers arrive in the middle of an air-raid drill. Nobody in authority, not even the police, can be found. This gives the fictional Duchy’s curious and naive soldiers temporary run of the city. Things escalate from there, nearly bringing the United States to its knees. This absurd turn of events results from vulnerabilities that lead American authorities to underestimate the power a mouse-like army can wield, particularly when, by accident, it comes into possession of a football-sized bomb (the cause behind the air-raid drill in the first place), capable of destroying an entire continent.

Truth and fiction are never far apart…

Fiction often mirrors reality. In this particular case the analogies are almost too numerous to mention. Wibberly’s mouse-like nation gains free-run over one of the most populous of America’s cities, essentially unseen by its inhabitants. Soon — through no fault of its own — its tiny army carries with it an enormous threat to life and limb capable of mass destruction. In the process it practically whips the most powerful nation on earth.

Throughout human history, mice and rats have — albeit unintentionally — done the very same thing, the world over, time and time again. And still, most tend to think them to be only minor annoyances when we spy them in our yards

With rats and mice in today’s America, the most crucial facts you need to know are at least two-fold. First, wild commensal rodents are present in large numbers in practically all American neighborhoods. Yet, though they are all over the place, we are scarcely aware of their presence. Second, because we rarely connect their presence with the maladies they carry and spread, the negative influences they have on our lives are seldom appreciated, even by those who are most affected.

Even most pest control firms treat rodent control as the ugly step-sister of the pest management industry. Because of the way regularly scheduled rodent control is usually carried out, it is a nasty, physically difficult, and thankless job. Most pest control technicians would rather walk around spraying an entire yard with pesticide than squat down and service rodent stations. Most client locations have several of these stations, magnifying the nastiness of the work.

Imagine this: most of the rodent bait stations placed around homes and businesses today soon become contaminated with rodent pellets and urine. Rats and mice usually defecate and urinate while feeding. Because rodents are typically infested with mites, ticks and fleas (each of which is often infected with pathogens capable of sickening humans and our pets), a few of those parasites may get left behind when the rodent departs. Though these loose parasites usually stay inside the station, and cannot live very long without a live host, while alive they eagerly await the next warm body that comes near — e.g., the servicing technician that opens the station up — to parasitize.

The majority of rodent stations also allow moisture to collect and pool inside them, often leading to putrefying, moldy, foul-smelling bait products. In other words, just opening one of these stations exposes the technician to all kinds of nasty stuff, some of which can jeopardize the technician’s health. Sanitizing such stations in the field is a practically impossible task, so — as a rule — sanitizing never takes place.

“Fortunately” for the technician, the client rarely has a key to these stations, and few clients even care to know what the stations look like inside. Such clients have no reason to question if those stations are contaminated with rodent feces, urine, or rodent parasites, or even if they are provisioned with rodent bait product in a form that rodents are willing to consume. Thus — in general — the client is almost never the wiser if these stations quickly become useless as rodent control devices. Our research has shown that, in many cases, 75-100% of the stations used for rodent control cease to function in that role within days or weeks after being deployed in the field. Yet, to the pest management companies servicing them, that disability is not a serious cause for concern. When rats and mice start being seen in the yards, or heard in the attics and walls of homes or businesses that have these stations around them, the typical client’s reaction is “Well, that happens…,” followed by a service call to the pest control company servicing the stations. That call then results in a special rodent extermination at additional cost that should never have been needed.

If rodent control is being performed properly, rodents should almost never be seen outside. Further, they should never be present in sufficient numbers that cause them to gain access to a home’s or business’s attics, subfloors, or walls.

This truth is of utmost importance. The risks attending these small, seemingly harmless furry animals are anything but trivial. They pose the gravest risks to humans and our companion pets of all the wild animals, snakes, spiders, and insects we encounter in life. Those risks emanate from the long list of dangerous diseases they carry, both directly in their flesh and blood, and indirectly in the ectoparasites that inhabit their bodies.

Rats and Mice Don’t Want to Harm The Hands That Feed Them…

It should probably be said, somewhere in this narrative, that rats and mice don’t do us harm out of malice. They don’t necessarily want to be our friends, but neither do they want to cause us misery. It is crucial to their commensal success that we be as unconcerned about them as possible, because if we knew the dangers they pose, we’d work harder to keep them at bay. So, it is in their best interests to appear to be as benign a feature of our environment as they possibly can be. Unfortunately for us and them, though they seem that way, genuine benignity isn’t their forte. Mother Nature just happened to endow their furry little bodies with the ability to harbor a long list of pathogen-laden parasites, and gave them nimble limbs and strong muscles so they can go just about anywhere humans can be found. Just as bad, their flesh and blood naturally possess an uncanny ability to carry a long list of dangerous microbes capable of sickening, maiming, and even killing humans and our companion pets. 

In fact, because their blood streams have this unusual quality, domesticated versions of wild rats and mice have been bred for use, in the laboratory, to study the microbes that harm humanity. It is not a stretch to say that the contributions these laboratory animals have made to the advancement of medical science have saved countless lives just in the past 150 years. Still, the death toll from rodent-borne diseases over the past two millennia — which runs into the millions — is so high that, on balance, the lives saved by advances aided by the use of lab rats comes nowhere near the number of human lives their wild relatives have destroyed in the past and are continuing to destroy today.

One thing is certain. In today’s American neighborhoods, wild commensal rodents still pose a greater risk to human health than practically anything else in our environment. Their propensity, for carrying and transmitting so many zoonotic diseases, explains why their presence in our yards, homes, and businesses is so problematic. Ironically, though, the fact that we usually are unaware of their presence, coupled with the fact that the diseases they carry are propagated by even tinier organisms — bacteria and viruses that cannot be viewed except under the most powerful of microscopes — causes many of us to ignore or downplay the risks they pose.

Zoonotic diseases: diseases passed from animals to humans. They are caused by infectious pathogens, carried by non-human animals, that are transmitted by those animals to humans. Transmission may be direct — by biting or other means of close contact — or indirect — via contact with their urine, feces, and/or their ectoparasitic fleas, mites, and ticks.

Only bats carry more zoonotic diseases than rats and mice. Unlike rats and mice, however, bat/human contact is limited. Rat/human and mouse/human contact is so common, by comparison, that the lives of all Americans, today, have likely been touched in a negative way by rats and/or mice, most as recently as within the past 72 hours.

Microbial loading: a measure of the volume of generally pathological microbes (bacteria, viruses, microbial parasites and fungi) present in a product or within certain zones of established ecosystems. The presence of rats and mice in the grounds of a residential home or a business contributes, by the constant shedding of microbes in their urine and fecal pellets, to the microbial loading of those locales in ways few other organisms can. In the process, by allowing populations of these animals to rise and remain high there, human health is put at risk to a degree practically unrivaled by any of the other environmental concerns humans and their pets encounter.

Lessons from the Marshall Islands…

FACT: The most recent research confirms that rats and mice efficiently carry and transmit over 55 pathogens affecting humans and our pets. Eliminating the risks posed by these animals is challenging, partly because they are — at their core — adept at surviving practically everything nature, with the help of their most persistent nemesis, humanity, puts in their way.

That truth is nowhere more poignantly illustrated than in the Marshall Islands. There, over a period of nearly two decades the United States tested most of its nuclear weapons, beginning in the late 1940’s, and continuing through much of the 1960’s. Of all the mammals that were surveyed on the islands affected by those blasts and the high-levels of residual radioactivity they left behind, only rats managed to maintain a near-constant presence.

Eliminating Commensal Rodents Entirely…

It is true that examples can be found of isolated spots on planet Earth where commensal rodents (house mice, Norway rats, and roof rats) have been completely eliminated. For example, the entire province of Alberta, Canada is one of those.

The entire Canadian province of Alberta is considered essentially free of commensal rodents, owing to a strenuous effort by authorities there, begun in 1950, which is aided by citizens who report sightings of rats and mice so they can be neutralized by special rodent extermination teams. Fortunately, incursions of these rodents into Alberta from surrounding areas are relatively uncommon.

So, too, is Native Island, in Southland, New Zealand.

Native Island, in Southland, New Zealand, is a small inshore island positioned only 240 feet from nearby Stewart Island, just southeast of Ringaringa Passage. In 2011 a coordinated rodent and opossum control program was instituted here to exterminate both opossums and rats. In the next twelve months, that program achieved its goal. To keep them from returning the eradication program has been kept in place, and must be serviced on a regular basis.

In both, strenuous efforts were taken to locate and exterminate every rat that could be found. Owing to the presence of natural barriers and climatic conditions that enabled the unique programs devised in each locale to succeed, both have been at least nominally rat-free for some time now. New arrivals of commensal rodents do occur regularly in both places, but rigorous programs remain in place to ensure they are swiftly neutralized.

Little of the North American continent below Canada is amenable to either of the rodent control methods that work in Alberta or at Native Island. While commensal rodent populations can be reduced, eliminating them entirely is beyond our present capabilities. They reproduce prodigiously. A single mating pair, in an environment supplied with ample food and nests, can produce — with the help of their equally fertile offspring — thousands of new rats in a single year. Worse, they do this while remaining largely invisible to their human hosts.

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers that Commensal Rodents Pose…

The dangers commensal rodents pose to us and our pets deserve both our attention and respect. Those dangers are almost impossible to avoid entirely, except in the few locales on our planet where they cannot survive, such as the frigid environments of the arctic and antarctic subcontinents. Even in those rare places like Native Island and Alberta, where authorities claim they’ve been eradicated, they remain rat-free only as long as diligent surveillance and reporting, coupled with fast-working, efficient neutralizing programs, are kept in place and rigorously carried out. Frankly, knowing how well commensal rodents hide their presence, it is likely that — regardless of the candid claims being made for those locales — a few commensal rodents have escaped notice and are multiplying, unseen, even now.

Still, where rats and mice cannot be eliminated entirely, and even in places where their populations are unusually high — such as Chicago, New York City, Houston, Austin, and Dallas — the risks they pose can be mitigated, even to the point where those risks are practically nil. The goal of the E2M2C™ program, as applied to rodent-borne disease risk management, is to reduce the potentiation of zoonotic infections spread by rats and mice, in individual homes and businesses, to a level at or below that posed, on average, by all the other environmental dangers the inhabitants of those cities and their suburbs face.

Simple Economics: Keep Costs As Low As Possible…

It is imperative to realize how impossible it is to reach that goal without using economical methods and devices. The costs, to home and business owners alike, must fall within the budgetary constraints of average Americans, small businesses, and cash-strapped municipalities. No matter how important any goal may be, it must first be affordable or it cannot be reached. At the same time, effectiveness must not be sacrificed for economy’s sake. If quality is cheapened in the bargain, the result is not worth the effort, so a balance must be struck that secures both.

Making effective rodent control affordable has been the focus of the rodent-management work carried out by EntomoBiotics Inc. over the past decade. Our answer, the E2M2C™ program, allows us — in cooperation with our clients — to overcome all the challenges commensal rodent infestations represent. Furthermore, it does this more quickly, and at a lower cost than all the other traditional rodent control methods we know of. The E2M2C™ program’s track record tells the story well. This program does not have to be pitched; it sells itself, based on solid results, without a trace of hyperbole.

Let’s have a look, then, at the nuts and bolts of the rodent control challenge. To do that right we’ll have to dig into the details of rodent biology — with an emphasis on rodent behavior — along with pertinent elements of the environment, and ways that rodents can and should be neutralized without harming non-target organisms.

The Greek root οἶκος, and its derivatives…

First, the environment…

We all live, work, visit and play within unusually complex ecosystems. That’s easy to say, but what does it mean? We’ll explain below, but first notice that this article uses at least a little scientific terminology. It does so for precision and expressivity. The initiating author is often told he uses scientific terms so much that some readers might become exasperated and stop reading. Maybe that’s true, but then again, maybe it’s not… Besides believing you are smarter than that, this author knows those who read on will be rewarded, in important ways that a less rigorous approach cannot provide.

Next you need to know, up front, that while the truths we discuss here are important they are also, in many cases, counter-intuitive. In other words, they sometimes buck traditional beliefs of long standing. Whenever that happens, you deserve to know why. Explaining the “why” using everyday terminology usually won’t work. Certain elements behind the “why” may even require you to suspend disbelief, at least temporarily. This is because some of what we’ve been told all our lives about rats and mice simply isn’t true. Many so-called scientific truths about rodent behavior, some of which have been taken for granted for centuries, are simply incorrect. You’ve probably heard some or all of these untruths since childhood, so getting past them to the real story of how rodents behave may be difficult. Still, we do our best, here, to make your transition from myth to reality as easy as possible, but we don’t want to gloss over the facts, and ask you to go on faith alone. Instead we make this paper as readable as we can, by providing genuine, real-life illustrations that back up our conclusions.

So, what follows may contain a few scientific terms that are unfamiliar. In this narrative we explain each term’s meaning, and how to pronounce it as well, in a way that attempts to avoid insulting your intelligence in the process. We mention taxonomical names, in addition to common names, and provide a suggested pronunciation. Keep in mind, however, that taxonomy is a written language, not a spoken one, so pronunciation often varies from one source to another, and few of those variants are considered sacrosanct. In other words, you can generally pronounce a taxonomical term any way you wish, so be brave and never allow the multisyllabic terms you encounter intimidate you. Understanding all these words, and being able to say them out loud gives you ownership over them. That turns each one into a valuable guide to a deeper understanding, and makes this exercise in learning more powerful.

Let’s start, then, with the word ecosystem. It’s prefaced by an anglicized version of the Greek root οἶκος, (pronounced EE-kose), which can be loosely interpreted as the English word “house.” To the ancient Greeks, the meaning of οἶκος extends well beyond the structure one occupies, to include its associated appurtenances that, together, make it fully livable. Today we’d call that the environment, embracing not only the yard and its landscape, but the nearby surroundings as well.

Fig. 1A. A Texas Home with a Rodent Infestation. The family living in this home, located somewhere in Texas (the exact location is not disclosed, out of respect for the privacy of the owners and their neighbors), had been hearing noises coming from the home’s attic. An inspection of the attic void confirmed the presence of rodents, as evidenced by fresh fecal pellets left by roof rats (Rattus rattus), recently made paw prints, and fresh rub marks.

Sometimes rodent control is very straightforward and uncomplicated. Not here, however… (and not in the majority of cases either; this example is not an outlier, but is, in fact, one that we often encounter). The current homeowner bought this home several months earlier from a seller who explained that although rats were once a problem here, they had been fully exterminated. Thus, the seller opined, there was no need to worry, even in the least, about rats at this home. Believing that was the buyer’s first mistake.

Eliminating Maternity Nests Is Job #1…

One of the first tasks in proper rodent control is to eliminate all the maternity nests from which fresh rodent young emerge. Evidently that was done at one time at this home, at least for the home’s attic. That imperative is crucial, but it shouldn’t be the end of the story. It must be followed by an on-going program that extends beyond the attic to the yard, and that prevents new maternity nests from being established anywhere on the property. This is true simply because it is impossible to fully exterminate (i.e., once and for all time) all of the commensal rodents that impinge upon the yards of most homes from their surrounding neighborhoods.

Commensal rats (both roof rats and Norway rats) tend to forage within a home range of 25-100 feet, provided that range is found to contain sufficient food to keep them well-fed. Whenever a paucity of nutriment occurs within that range, however, commensal rats do not hesitate to extend their home range as far as 500 feet, or nearly 1/10th of a mile, from their nests to acquire sufficient food supplies. Those nests regularly produce fresh progeny, as female commensal rats typically produce litters of 4-8 pups per litter for roof rats, and 8-9 pups per litter for Norway rats. Many females of both species produce fresh litters every six weeks or so. Young from those maternity nests are weaned about a month after birth and become sexually mature two to three months later. At that point they start their own maternity nests, perpetuating the birthing cycle and adding more rats to the community. It is easy to see how, at any given birthing site, overpopulation can rapidly occur. 

Defining what constitutes overpopulation of rats within a given birthing community (which is multi-family in nature for Norway rats, but strictly familial for roof rats) varies according to (1) the availability of habitat, i.e., the amount of space where maternity nests can be constructed, and (2) the potential visibility of the rat population to the humans occupying the homes that the habitat surrounds. That latter factor usually comes into play when the younger members of the community start foraging during the day. Rats are normally nocturnally active, but when populations soar, some members are forced to look for food while the sun is out, and that creates severe risks to the rodent community that are unacceptable.

Genetics and Learning Work Together to Mold Rodent Behavior…

Genetics and learning both play a part in determining when the dominant adult rats begin to force the younger members to move away. At some point the number of rats becomes so large that they can no longer remain hidden from view. When that happens, retribution can be swift. Once humans begin to notice rats in their yards, they often take immediate steps intended to exterminate them. Natural selection, over the millennia that rats and humans have coexisted, has been unkind to rats that ignored this risk, but favored those with an inborn disposition that abhors high concentrations of their kind in one locale. That disposition, which likely dominates today’s rat genome, leads dominant males to encourage younger members to leave the community for greener pastures once the communal elbow room gets too tight.

Where the genome falls short, learning takes over. Rats are intelligent animals capable of reasoning from cause to effect. This ability, tested and studied in university labs the world over, has led to the use of rats as subjects for the study of learning in general, producing results that have proved useful in studies of the human brain. That may sound implausible. Yet, to cite but one example, scientists at the University of Richmond recently taught rats to drive small motorized vehicles fashioned from plastic containers. The more the rats drove, the better they became at maneuvering the vehicles in tight places. Surprisingly, their mental and physical health improved the more they learned, because they — just like us — become healthier just by exercising their brain power in novel ways. From this and other experiments, the Richmond University scientists confirmed once more what scores of scientists had earlier discovered, namely that the rat brain is an appropriate model for studies of the human brain. Humans and rats are more alike than we tend to believe. We share similar morphological areas of our brains, and we use nearly identical neurochemicals to make our brains function. Though the human brain is more complex, studies of the rat brain still teach us important, universal truths regarding the ways they and other organisms interact with their environments to optimize each organism’s mental and physical health.

We could cite a host of other examples, but from the foregoing alone it is not hard to see how rats are able to react favorably to positive stimuli, and unfavorably to negative ones. Regarding the subject at hand, consider the case of a dominant male rat that is, by nature, inclined to let communal populations get out of hand. When the daytime soirees of younger members are observed by humans, and are soon followed by the setting of traps in areas where those soirees are taking place, the dominant rat takes notice. On connecting the dots, he is soon moved to chase the younger members away, as a means of protecting the community from further harm. 

So, genetics and learning work together to ensure each given maternity site does not become overpopulated. And that means rats are forced, by the environment and their natural constitutions, to disperse in a constant effort to ensure their safety and the propagation of their species. In most American neighborhoods, the availability of food is never a problem, so rodent dispersal is often dictated by the need to keep local nesting populations in check. Thus the progeny of every primary maternity site within a given ecosystem is forced to search for nearby less-populated ecosystems on a regular basis.

If newly arriving rats are allowed to forage unimpeded — i.e., which happens if those yards do not have an on-going, effective rodent control program in place, whether that yard has food for them to eat or not — the interlopers from nearby yards soon build new maternity nests. This is especially true in yards where rats are presently fewer in number. This little-known fact about rat behavior is surprising to some, because we’ve been taught to believe that rats always nest close to where food can be found close at hand. That leads to the naive belief that simply by eliminating local sources of food, one can keep rats away. It is important, of course, to reduce the food supplies available to rats and mice in our yards, but that is not  enough to keep rats at bay. Researchers have found, time and again, that rats often nest quite some distance from their nutrient supplies. 

Two Points Every Texan Should Take to to Heart…

In summary, then, from the foregoing we find two points that should be taken to heart by every home and business owner in Texas. First, there are practically no places within our urban and suburban subdivisions and business enterprise zones where rats do not exist. Furthermore, the populations of rats within those places is in a constant state of flux, growing larger here and fewer there for a while, then reversing in an uninterrupted, never ending cycle. Rural areas, with homes, livestock pens, chicken coops, and grain storage silos separated from each other by 500 feet or more are rare, but those rarified places sometimes find themselves free of commensal rodents for at least some period of time. Still, even in such locales rats are easily imported in from other areas in bales of hay, stores of grain, etc. As a consequence, throughout America in general, and Texas in particular, no locale is truly safe from regular incursions by commensal rodents.

The second point — one which has already been repeated in various ways in this paper, practically ad nauseum — is the fact that commensal rodents go to great lengths to hide their presence from us. Just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there. If we inspect our yards, and our front and back porches carefully, we can often see the pellets they leave behind. Even then, because those minuscule specks of evidence often mimic a lot of other things found in nature, it is easy to see them as anything but what they are. In general, the only time we will ever see rats is when their population has grown so large that some members of their rodent community are forced to forage when and where they might be seen. As long as their populations remain below that level — at numbers that can still be relatively high as long as abundant food exists for them to eat within 500 feet of their nests — many if not most of the humans with whom they coexist will have no clue they are living in their midst.

Unfortunately, this new homeowner had not yet been exposed to these truths.

The presence, throughout this home’s attic, of older rodent pellets and urine stains testified to a lengthy history of rodent activity. Fresh droppings confirmed that rats still lived “up there.” The attics’ collection of old rat-traps, most of them tripped, but several still set with remnants of bait on their triggers, belied a vigorous attempt to exterminate rodents in the past. We won’t criticize the previous owners… It is likely they really believed the rats at this home had been fully eliminated, but that issue was now moot. The present evidence made it clear that a robust family of roof rats was now nesting and reproducing in this home’s attic spaces.

We’re used to dealing with rodents in attics. The usual solution is to place a series of the specialized rodenticide dispensing devices, described earlier as part of our E2M2C™ program, on the perimeter of the home. The rodents in the typically food-free attic — which, owing to the absence of food where they are nesting, have no choice but to venture out of the attic daily to find something to eat — soon encounter and enter the rodenticide dispensers and shortly consume a neutralizing dose. In the summertime, the effectiveness of this program is typically confirmed when all evidence of rodent activity in the attic ceases within 3-7 days. In the wintertime, when foraging for food is not as vigorous or far-ranging as in the summer, owing to the cold, it can take up to 30-45 days for attic activity to cease.

At this home, eight E2M2C™ program stations were immediately placed around the outside of the home once our inspection was complete. Although we were certain the rats were using a specific open port we’d found in the outside wall, at ground level, to enter and exit the attic, we left that port open for the time being. Closing it before we’d neutralized the rats would have caused them to create a new way out of the attic, possibly one we’d have a lot of trouble finding later. Instead, we waited in expectation that all the rats in the attic would soon be neutralized — which usually takes place outside the attic, avoiding a foul odor there from decomposition — before closing up the port.

We then told the homeowner to keep us appraised of things, and proceeded to our next appointment.

What Happens When Rats are Habituated to Dedicated Sources of Nutriment…

A week later, we were advised that the noises in the attic were as loud as ever. Evidently, though the rats were leaving the attic daily for food, not enough of them were entering the E2M2C™ program devices to bring the infestation to a halt. This usually means the dominant adult rats were habituated to a dedicated food source, off site, that they made a bee-line toward once out of the attic. Sometimes we can find a trail in the grass toward that off-site source, but at other times it isn’t obvious, particularly if the path is across concrete, packed earth, or through leaves that get rearranged regularly by the winds. Here, the supposed trail — leading from the egress port at the HVAC compressor — would have led through a packed earth section of yard to the neighboring home, and could not be clearly discerned. But there were other possibilities, too, which made this home’s infestation particularly complicated, as described in the narratives that follow later in this article.

To properly deal with this and similar challenges, the ecosystem in which the home is immersed — including not only the house and its yard, but the neighborhood’s storm sewer infrastructure and the homes and yards nearby — have to be carefully examined. The contributing conditions each supply have to be taken into account. That, combined with a thorough understanding of rodent behavior in both the technical and experiential senses, is used to recommend the selection and application of specific tactics, devices, and products. And all that, together, should enable success. Anything short would court failure. This home — along with many others like it — had seen enough of that already.

Taking all the available evidence into account, we placed several wildlife cameras near the port where we suspected the rats were entering and leaving the home’s attic (the HVAC port into the wall at ground level). Based on what those cameras revealed, we then re-positioned the E2M2C™ program devices so that they straddled the pathway being used by the rats as they traveled to and from their dedicated food source. As expected, within a few days all rodent activity had ceased at this home…

Fig. 1B. A Texas Shopping Center with a Rodent Infestation. This shopping center (whose exact location, somewhere in Texas, is intentionally concealed to protect the privacy of the owners, shopkeepers, vendors, and their commercial and residential neighbors) has been in operation since the very early 1970’s. When first developed, the residential lots on its border, though already occupied by dwellings, were less cluttered with sheds and large trees, and the residents were mostly homeowners. Today, nearly 50 years later, many of those homes are tenant occupied, which may mean they are not being maintained as well as owner-occupied dwellings would be. The majority have pier & beam foundations, many with skirts now breached in multiple places by missing vents and other ports, allowing wild animals, including rodents, to enter their crawl spaces for harborage. Some have backyard sheds with accessible voids underneath, adding even more wildlife habitat to the mix. Some also supply abundant rodent nutrient in the form of bird and pet feeders, and a few sport chicken coops, whose hens are typically fed via broadcasted scratch. In short, the rats and mice at many of these homes are provided food and harborage that allows their populations to thrive and multiply throughout the year.

The shopping center’s infrastructure, for the complex in the left half of the photo, is well worn and in want of at least the most basic kinds of plant maintenance. A huge maintenance & storage room is stacked with trash and miscellaneous junk, providing harborage for rats.  Most of the cast-iron drain caps atop the roof are defective, and though some have been replaced, the replacement caps are of lightweight plastic easily manipulated by rodents seeking access to the roof. The cast iron caps are intended to screen the rainwater through a set of grates in their sides and tops whose slits admit water but — while intact — omit the passage of animals. Since the iron strips on the sides were broken on many of these caps, gaps had opened up that were large enough for rats, climbing up the drain pipes from the storm sewer and grounds, to pass through. Once free on the roof, the rats could then exploit the multiple breaches in the roof structure (e.g., via gaps around the large, coffin-like roof access ports) that granted them unfettered rein of the common interior vendor docks, maintenance rooms, and employee passageways.

Ground level storm sewer grates and portals surround the entire shopping center structures. These appendages and nodes reside within a vast network of underground pipes that presumably serve both the center and its nearby residential sectors That storm sewer infrastructure, intended primarily to drain rainwater outflows and prevent flooding, provides an additional, wholly unintended utility. Its interconnected subterranean labyrinth provides a wonderful subway for a long list of wild animals, including rats and mice. Within its confines, unimpeded and invisible to terrestrial humanity, these denizens of the deep, dark, and dank have practically unlimited access to at least the yards of all of those residences, as well as to the heart of the shopping center itself.

Half of This Center is Virtually Nutriment Free, the Other Half is Nutriment Rich…

The large structure on the right side of this complex, sporting an impressive array of solar panels on its roof, is a modern, well-constructed supermarket. Originally the underlying structure had hosted several retail stores, but a few decades ago the spaces leased to those stores were consolidated and taken over by the supermarket as it thrived and expanded its reach. That consolidated space is leased by a gargantuan supermarket chain known to be one of the most efficient, progressive and well-run organizations of its kind. Though separate from the older complex on the left, this particular supermarket is physically attached to that older structure via a small pair of conjoined stores, positioned in the lower middle. One of these is a technology retailer; the other sells cosmetics and personal care products.

A huge fitness center occupies the upper half of the older complex on the left, and two other stores make up its lower half. One of these — the store in the lower right of the left-most structure and the smaller of the two — carries packaged foodstuffs that rats would certainly find attractive, and even sells live animals in the form of fish, reptiles, and… yes… even domesticated rats and mice. The larger store on its left sells a variety of spirits, cigars, wines, and brews. All the other stores in this building, including the two in the small structure connecting it to the supermarket, sell strictly inedible goods.

The regional manager of the store occupying the lower left quadrant of the older complex on the left called us to ask for help with a rat problem there. Employees had recently noticed rats inside the store, even though none of the goods they sell are edible or otherwise attractive to rodents. Since we’d never serviced this particular store before we made an appointment to inspect it, along with the rest of the shopping center and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Later, while conducting that inspection, we coincidentally received a call from one of the two stores occupying the small building connecting the left and right halves of the complex. Though unaware we were right next door at that very moment, they had called — apparently out of the blue from their northeast U.S. offices — asking for help with a rat problem at their store here. Again, nothing sold at that store was edible, but rats were terrorizing their employees in the back room, behind their retail space.

Our inspection of each of the two complaining stores revealed that small amounts of personal snacks and other food items were being brought in by store employees and kept in the store’s employee break room. Though very little food was involved, it was unsecured and left out, in the open, throughout the work day and often overnight, after the store was closed and everyone had left. This is a common observance, by the way. It stems, we think, from a belief that though the retail space must be kept clean, the employee break-room space can be maintained in unkempt condition, sort of as a consolation for requiring strict cleanliness where the customers shop. In truth, as this example demonstrates so well, the entire store should always be kept in an immaculate condition, throughout.

In both stores a minor lapse in sanitation in the break room was just enough to attract wild commensal rats. But this would only be a problem if wild rats were present in the shopping center in general. This begs the question of where those rats came from. Later, on inspecting the store that sold both domesticated rats and mice and packaged foods for those animals to eat, we found — to our surprise — that the entire store was unusually clean, and that their employee break room was immaculate. On discussing our findings with the store’s management, we discovered why. After experiencing a series of rodent incursions some two years previously, they’d since practiced strict sanitary discipline in their employee break room, and throughout the store’s retail space. As a result, they’d not seen any rodent activity in over a year. From all indications, then, the wild commensal rats were not being attracted to that store.

A full inspection was then conducted of all the other stores in the entire shopping center, including the supermarket. All those stores, with the exception of the supermarket, had immaculate break rooms with no food in sight, eliminating them as the likely source of the wild rats in the two complaining stores.

The supermarket, for its part, was as clean as a supermarket could be expected to be. Of course, a huge inventory of fresh food constantly passes from the docks, through the warehouse, into the retail space, and out the front doors. In the process considerable amounts of natural, partially edible waste, is generated. Rats do not require much food to survive, so even small amounts of edible waste keeps them going. Sequestering all the edible waste thus produced, at all times, would be practically impossible. Hence, even a clean, well-run, essentially sanitary supermarket usually provides conditions attractive to rodents.

Recognizing and Accepting Reality…

No doubt this supermarket, simply by being what it was, constitutes the largest attractant of rodents of all the stores in this center. That being said, it should also be added that, on every one of our inspections, we found this store to be as sanitary and clean as a grocery supermarket could possibly be. Still, it remained the largest, most prolific rodent attractant around. That’s not the store’s fault. It cannot be helped. How the store addresses that fact, on the other hand, matters greatly.

We run into this kind of situation often. With large, popular restaurants, for example, the natural operation of its faculties is bound to attract rodents. We sit down with management of the restaurants we service and explain to them how important it is to the homes and businesses nearby that they execute and maintain an effective, on-going rodent control program. The health and welfare of their neighbors — business and residential — depends on it. Failing that translates into a failure to operate their business in a responsible manner.

Today, most businesses vigorously carry out their responsibilities to their neighbors they are aware of, though in many cases the nuances of those responsibilities may not be plainly visible. We’re pleased to report that all the businesses we service take their neighborly responsibilities very seriously, especially once we educate them on the fine points involved. Those fine points are not always easy to discern, and once discerned can take additional time to process, so the educative process rarely produces overnight results. Once they put everything together, though, the part they need to play becomes clear, and they quickly follow through with flying colors.

They realize that if they do not do their part to keep rodent infestations down at their stores, they become part of the problem, rather than chief of the solution. That matters, and — once properly appraised of the total picture — they never shrink from doing the right thing. 

Even small businesses whose products are not edible, but whose small employee break rooms attract rodents from nearby rodent attractors (such as supermarkets, etc.) can quickly become contributors to the neighborhood’s rodent problems. We make a point of explaining to such clients how their sanitation measures — even when conducted on the small scale needed to keep rats out of their break rooms — ripple through the surrounding neighborhood in a positive way. Once this is understood, the importance of every small step they take to maximize cleanliness comes into sharp focus.

Supermarkets, in particular, must learn this lesson. That done, they must let what they’ve learned dictate how they carry out their sanitary and pest management duties. Yes, “duties” is the appropriate word. Duties befalling all good stewards of those “gardens wherein they are planted.” Those that do, bloom. Those that don’t, wither…

Neighboring stores and residences likely don’t automatically link this particular supermarket to the important role it plays in the rising population of rats and mice in the area. In fact, as we soon learned, the management of that supermarket had no idea that its presence, simply because of the nutritive waste it produces, almost certainly attracts rodents in greater numbers than any other enterprise there. Regardless, ignorance of this fact is no excuse. Both supermarkets and restaurants should, as good neighbors, readily accept responsibility for bringing their contribution to the neighborhood rodent population under control. They should welcome inputs from any and all sources that point to the need for better rodent control measures.

Once being made aware of their role in rodent proliferation, the store should hold its pest management providers’ feet to the fire to ensure they carry out their responsibilities to their customers. That can only be done by using the most complete and effective rodent control programs available. If this means paying more for rodent control services, so be it. Still — as a rule — the cost of good rodent control measures should almost never be greater than the pest management fees those venues are already paying.

There is one big exception to this rule. Some pest management service providers are part of a larger conglomerate that performs a host of services in addition to pest control. Much of the time, when this is the case, the pest management arm is a minor contributor to the firm’s overall revenue base. Because the profit margins on those ancillary services are comparatively high, they charge less than their competitors for pest management, likely as a means of securing as much of the client’s business as possible. Yet, because the resulting profit margins for pest management are comparatively low, the quality of that sector suffers, to the detriment of their customers and the neighborhood itself.

It can be argued that pest management should never be treated this way. That it so often is, however, is as much the fault of the pest management industry as anything else. When those engaged in this work treat it as less than worthy of the the highest degree of professionalism, the industry as a whole pays a heavy price. Unfortunately, many in the pest management field have too little respect for the importance of the work they perform.

This Store’s Mid-Level Managers Were Aware Rodent Issues Exist…

A department manager we spoke with at this supermarket informed us, off the cuff, that a visible rodent problem had recently surfaced there. This confirmed, as expected, that an invisible rodent problem had long been endemic here, likely for as long as the supermarket has been in operation. Acting on this confirmation, we carried out a series of inspections of the supermarket and the remainder of the shopping center, paying particular attention to the exterior of the buildings, where the first line of defense against rodents should always be in force.

We noted, from those inspections, that no functional rodent control devices existed on the perimeter of the older building on the left. From all indications, however, this structure was not attracting rodents to its venues with nutriment, but was simply providing nesting space for rodents attracted to the supermarket as a source of food. It is natural for such venues to think they do not need to carry out a serious rodent control program. If they knew, however, that their structures provide habitat for rodents to nest in, they’d think differently.

By way of contrast, the supermarket itself was ringed with a series of ostensibly tamper-resistant rodenticide dispensers that — as previously noted — were being serviced, under contract, by a large, highly-reputable, nationwide pest management firm. However, the rodenticide dispensers deployed here, each of which was permanently anchored to the concrete where it was placed, were old and dilapidated.

Several of these rodenticide dispensers were positioned near the front of the supermarket where customers entered and exited. That’s good, because we’ve found that rats prefer to forage near the front and back doors of the residences and businesses they are attracted to. However, a few of these dispensers had been damaged by repeated traumatic collisions with shopping and vendor carts. This had deformed their shells and, for some, had even destroyed their locking mechanisms.

As we could open these broken rodenticide dispensers by merely lifting their lids, we peered inside. Most were littered with environmental debris, and each held several packets of soft rodenticide bait packaged in flexible vinyl envelopes. None of the baits had been so much as nibbled by rodents. The record kept inside each station indicated they were serviced monthly and had last been serviced only a few weeks earlier, despite apparently having been damaged as long as several months ago.

The rodenticide inside these stations was the same for each of the stations that were damaged and open. Some of the other stations, though not visibly damaged, were missing their locking mechanisms and opened without so much as a tug. One was positioned in a place that was no longer accessible (behind a permanently installed steel cage to hold propane bottles) and could not have been serviced since the cage went up.

All the rodenticide dispensers that we surveyed here contained service notes indicating they had been serviced within the past few weeks, and all held several packets of rodenticide. The notable absence of rodent consumption, though, indicated that rodents either (1) were not visiting and entering those stations, (2) visited but did not enter, or (3) both visited and entered them, but found the bait so unattractive that they chose not to eat it.

Still, Nothing Unusual Here…

This is a common observation we’ve made throughout Texas and — most likely — is one that persists throughout the U.S. in general, at large venues like this supermarket. Though rodent issues are constantly present at such places, the rodenticides in the stations around the venues’ perimeters only infrequently show evidence of rodent nibbles. Oftentimes the rodenticides inside the stations are old and discolored, indicating they were placed in the stations long, long ago. Yet — even with an active rodent infestation at the site — rodents were not getting inside and eating the bait. Could it be that the rodents were behaving like those at the residence described earlier in this paper? Certainly they had a good food source, in the nutritive waste the supermarket was producing in abundance.

But, no, that is unlikely to be the case here. At the residence described earlier, indications were that the rats had first habituated to a preferred food source, then had started nesting inside the home’s attic. They had dispersed to keep spatial population densities down, not because food was scarce. Here, by contrast, rats were arriving from surrounding areas, probably via the storm sewers from maternity nests at surrounding homes, then were foraging for food and creating maternity nests in the older part of the center.

Rodenticide dispensers should be placed around a supermarket’s perimeter in sufficient numbers. Those dispensers should be so designed as to be inviting to foraging rodents, and well-stocked with rodenticide provisions of a quality and quantity irresistible to foraging rodents. Wherever that is done, rodent populations never would be attracted to the nutritious waste the supermarket produces. Under the ideal conditions just described, not only would the supermarket never face overt rodent activity, neither would their neighboring businesses. 

FACT: Rats Are Finicky About Their Dining Spots And The Foods They Eat…

Our research over the past decade shows that rodents are finicky about the places they enter and the foods they eat. We discuss elsewhere how many rodent biologists in academia, as well as world-class rodent control experts claim that rodents will go anywhere for food, and will eat anything edible they find there. We have not found that to be generally true.

Of course, when any species of animal is starving and has no other choice of nutriment they, just like humans, would be expected to be less picky than normal. Here in Texas, though, rats have lots of choices, and filthy dining spots provisioned with rotten, foul smelling goo is way down on their list of choice dining tables. So long as they are getting good, clean food nearby, in fresh, clean surroundings, they have no interest in venturing into, much less feeding within, dilapidated, foul-smelling rodenticide dispensers loaded with stale, moldy bait.

Furthermore, food preferences vary from rat to rat, much as from human to human. A bait that one rat finds extremely tasty may be shunned by another rat, just because that rat prefers to eat something with a different flavor and/or consistency. Grocery stores provide whole racks of different foods for human consumption for a reason. Some people love one subset of that assembly of food products, but dislike or just aren’t interested in the rest.

Rats & Humans Have Lots in Common…

Rodents are not that much different from humans when it comes to food choices. Our research shows that when rodents are given alternative food sources within each of the devices we place at our client locations, some rats will feed exclusively on only one of those choices, while other rats that feed in nearby devices, will often choose another. Consequently, we place several different kinds of bait in each device to enable each device a fighting chance of neutralizing every rat that drops by.

The rodenticide dispensers at this supermarket — which, as already stated, were placed and being serviced by a nationwide pest management firm of high repute — contained only one kind of bait. Each was loaded with various kinds of trash, including spider webbing and insects, dirt, grime, and a long list of environmental detritus. Worse, none of the dispensers we checked showed any signs of rodent consumption. Not one of the baits was nibbled in the stations we could inspect.

Finally, the number of rodent control stations we counted here was far fewer than that prescribed by rodenticide manufacturers for venues of this size. Almost four times as many stations should be deployed around the perimeters of such structures, simply to meet the standards set forth in their EPA-approved label instructions. Of course, just adding more dispensers would likely not have much effect, as long as the rodenticides in those dispensers had no chance of competing with the more inviting food being produced by the supermarket. Still, bringing the number of dispensers up to the level recommended by the rodenticide manufacturers would definitely be a good start in the right direction.

To some pest management companies, though, adding more rodenticide dispensers is anathema. Pest control technicians generally have a passionate dislike for servicing rodenticide dispensers in place for reasons mentioned earlier in this paper. The work is a form of generally unwelcome drudgery, because it requires squatting down, opening the station, assessing its contents, and either adding more bait or concluding the bait in the station needn’t be replaced at the moment. Worse, that clearly onerous process is even more complicated than it appears, if done right.

Traditional Rodent Control Measures “Done Right” vs. “Done Just For Show”…

Since replacing existing bait provisions requires removing the old and replacing it with new provisions, the old bait has to be disposed of in a manner approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the rodenticide manufacturer. That generally means the technician has to carry a special bait disposal container in which to collect the stale product, one that is separate from the container holding fresh product.

Ideally, on each service visit, we have come to believe the technician should cleanse each station of environmental debris and rodent feces, then sanitize it to destroy any mites, ticks, or fleas that visiting rodents have left behind. For all this to be done, the technician’s kit has to include a key, a disposal container for stale bait and another for trash, several products with which to cleanse the station — avoiding cleansers whose odor might repel rodents — and a container of fresh product.

Then, the technician must lug that weighty kit about in the course of traveling a path that visits all the rodenticide stations at the customer’s site. At each station, the technician must perform at least nine distinct operations. These require the tech to (1) pause and kneel down, (2) key the station open, (3) cleanse it of environmental and rodent-deposited contaminants using sterile technique, (4) place those contaminants in the trash container, (5) remove the old bait, (6) place it in the rodenticide disposal container, (7) stock the station with fresh product, (8) mark the station’s service record to show it was serviced for that service interval and, finally, (9) close and lock up the station before heading to the next one in line.   

We Tried Doing It That Way For Years… 

That, in our opinion, is then only acceptable way to carry out traditional rodent control that uses traditional rodent stations serviced in the traditional manner. At EntomoBiotics Inc., we did our best to adhere to that rubric for years, at great cost. That’s how we discovered why nobody else does it that way. It costs more than the client is willing to pay, because most pest control companies — our honorable competitors — charge only nominal fees for rodent control services, usually as a small add-on to their normal pest management contract. Those fees generally pay for a bare minimum of labor, alone, with a small, marginal markup. Doing it right is costly, both in labor and in materials…

Pest management companies have found they can still make a profit, though, with their traditional rodent control programs. To do so, they have to use inexpensive rodent dispensers. Then they have to stock those dispensers with a limited supply of rodenticides that rats don’t find particularly attractive. They must also employ a simple service ritual that merely involves opening each station, confirming the rodenticide is still there, locking the station up, and marching quickly to the next one. It isn’t particularly effective, but it keeps the lights on.

The only reason we could do it the right way without going under was by subsidizing our rodent control program with funds from other pest management projects. Our CPA thought we were nuts, but we knew better. What we were actually doing was investing in an education, one that eventually taught us how to do things right without losing money in the process. More on that later…

The net of this is that many pest control companies service their customers’ rodent stations more for show than for effect. This is not to criticize their approach, as they may not have a choice if they want to stay in business. Some companies don’t have the luxury of channeling funds from more profitable projects to those that would be huge money pits if done right. We sacrificed dearly to claim that luxury. We used the best, most expensive stations we could find, and changed out the bait with fresh product on every inspection, while only charging the going rate for the service we provided. We couldn’t charge more, or our customers would switch to another company. And though we lost money doing it the right way, the alternative was even worse: conducting rodent control as a farcical act. 

Two Additional Vexatious Issues…

Besides the cost, though, a second issue kept coming up too, one that was particularly vexatious because no matter how hard we worked to do this job right, that issue kept it from working as “right” as it should. The problem was that all the stations on the market — including the most expensive ones we were using — failed to keep the rodenticides we put in them truly palatable between servicing visits.

In the cooler half of the year, we’d open the stations up, and much of the time their lower regions would be full of a foul-smelling, stagnant, debris-laden soup. Though the rodenticides were elevated slightly above that nasty stuff, the humid environment endemic within the station left the rodenticides covered with mold, mildew, and other forms of fungi. That reduced them to a smelly, pitiful mess no self-respecting rat would dare eat.

In the hot summertime, the stations were dry, but full of cockroaches, crickets, and ants that took turns chomping on, and contaminating, the station’s rodenticide provisions. In the process, those insects so disfigured the bait that rats found it unattractive. So, no matter what the time of year, Mother Nature seemed determined to lessen the palatability of the rodenticides we placed in the stations to the point rats and mice would turn up their noses. 

And… not that the two issues already discussed were bad enough, a third one was ever-present as well. It, too, was unusually problematic because, on the surface, there seemed no way to surmount it.

Two imperatives in the design of rodenticide dispensers have always been in fierce conflict with one another. On the one hand, the traditional approach to servicing them demanded that they should be easily accessible by the technician. The time and effort required to service each station should, ideally, not be worsened by complicated, hard to open locking mechanisms.

On the other hand, simplistic, easily opened locking mechanisms typically result in stations that can be accessed by animals and people who need to be kept out of them. The EPA recognizes this quandary by only requiring that rodent stations be classified as “tamper-resistant” rather than as “tamper-proof.” Further, the definition of “tamper-resistant” is simplified to mean that they should be so constructed that a child of six years or younger not be able to forcibly open them. Who defines what a child of six can or cannot open? We know some children of that age who can open just about anything they get their hands on. A rodent station, closed with one or two mechanical locks and nothing more, would not deter them. Some of our clients are day-care centers, kindergartens, and other venues where small children play.

So, we worried about children, but there’s more. Besides chidren, we also worried about dogs, cats, raccoons, ringtails, and squirrels. Not one of those animals should be able to get to the station’s bait provisions. 

All together, these three problems seemed destined to spell doom for the future of our on-going rodent control program.

Our Most Enduring Philosophy: “Do It Right, Or Don’t Do It At All”…

One of our most enduring theories about life, besides “Never Give Up,” is that, if doing things right by following a traditional methodology doesn’t seem to work, the worst thing you can do is to practice fakery in its place. Some say that biting the bullet and doggedly insisting on doing it the right way, despite the cost, is insanity. We know better. Paying that heavy price causes your inner self to work, both consciously and unconsciously, on finding a better way that does work. In fact, we’ve noticed that the harder it is to do something right the old way, the more diligently our mind labors to divine a better approach… a new way. Though costly in time and money, this kind of forced intellectual investment has always turned out to be a wonderful strategy that — to those who persevere — works miracles.

And that is how the E2M2C™ program came into being. It is our workable alternative to carrying out traditional rodent control the way it should be done, modified in a way that keeps all the good parts but fixes all the bad ones.

To solve the three problems mentioned above, two things had to come together at once. First we had to establish a methodology that removed the epidemiological risks, reduced labor expense, and eliminated the drudgery of the traditional approach. That done, we still had to create a new rodenticide dispensing device that would be practically impossible for non-targets to open, that made it easy for targets to enter, and that kept its rodenticide provisions fresh as a daisy for lengthy periods of time by protecting them from the elements and insects.

Once we perfected both the methodology and the device, not only did the resulting program keep us on the bright side of the work, it multiplied the efficacy of the process to a surprising degree. No, it still is costly, and our margins are lower than those of competitors who use traditional methods and products. But we see light at the end of the tunnel, and that light gets brighter day by day.

But, back to this particular supermarket and its rodent problem…

Supermarkets and similar commercial entities — like fast food retailers and traditional restaurants — usually represent the second greatest risk of rodent infestations within a municipality. The first greatest risk, by the way, is the municipal landfill. Third in line, but close behind if not practically at the same level as the foregoing are residences with outside pets, bird feeders, and chicken coops. In many, if not most locales, it seems clear from this fact that residences should be in the number two spot along with supermarkets, fast food retailers, and traditional restaurants.

Still, even where that is demonstrably so, from the standpoint of practicality alone, nearby residential sites should probably always be third in line. It is next to impossible to get even a few, much less all the homes in a residential community to cooperate in an organized rodent control program. By contrast, commercial entities generally are required by law to do so.

Who Should Call The Shots?

That being said, with large entities such as this supermarket, it is not the in-place commercial entity itself that has to take the lead in executing a strong rodent control program. That old saying “The Customer Is
Always Right” just isn’t so. Customers like this supermarket naturally prefer to take the least expensive route where pest management is concerned, especially if the pest management firm they hire does not require them to meet their pest control responsibilities. They need to be informed, in clear and unwavering language, when it is obvious that — whether they were aware of it or not — they are not living up to their responsibilities to the communities they serve.

Instead of letting the supermarket tell pest control how to do its job, it is the pest management firm under contract to them — the reputedly genuine experts in the pest management business — that should be calling the shots. Failing that, the supermarket that pest management firm services unknowingly becomes a host for a series of rodent problems afflicting all the stores nearby. Just as bad, it also becomes a serious secondary contributor to the rodent issues at the residences peripheral to the shopping center itself. 

No Place In Texas Is Safe From Rodents…

Pardon the repetition, but we know of almost no place in Texas where rats and mice cannot be found, throughout the year, year after year, in relatively large numbers. This argues for the use of highly attractive rodenticides, dispensed via a methodology that poses as low a risk of secondary infection to service personnel, and secondary poisoning to non-target organisms, as possible. Those rodenticides must be dispensed in clean, well-maintained, demonstrably tamper-resistant if not genuinely tamper-proof stations, in a sufficient number of dispensers to ensure that all the rodents visiting this site will quickly find, enter, and consume neutralizing dosages from the rodenticide dispensers there.

It is generally true, too, that large venues like this supermarket tend to think of pest management in general, and preventive rodent control in particular, to be strictly a background concern. In the foreground is the exciting, even exhilarating job of providing the customer with high-quality food products that bring customers back, again and again. Behind the scenes of all this is the much-less-glamorous work of keeping pests at bay. The very idea of controlling pests is something better not mentioned, much less thought of.

Putting The Blame Where It Belongs…

Rodents, in particular, are perfect examples of things that are “Out of sight, thus out of mind.” Why pay a lot of money to prevent something that never happens or only rears its ugly head a few times a year? And, in particular, why throw money at something that, from the perspective of the business owner, “cannot be improved upon?”

Most venues like large restaurant and supermarket chains have learned from a succession of bad experiences that “nothing can be done” to prevent those “several times a year” events like a rat running across a floor in the warehouse or in the customer area, from taking place. They’ve bought into programs promising to keep that from happening, before, and learned too late that those programs never work as advertised. 

Because preventive rodent control is so often considered a background issue, large venues like supermarkets are wary of paying for supposedly-effective rodent prevention programs that do not work. Who can blame them? As mentioned above, they’ve “been there, done that” in the past, without satisfaction. No matter how much they’d paid for prevention, those several times a year rodent sightings still take place.

Knowing how reticent such venues are to take on rodent preventive programs, some pest management firms skirt the issue altogether, just to stay profitable. They know that rodent-prevention programs are likely to give them a bad reputation, because most such programs fail to work. Instead of offering such programs, then, they provide something that looks like it ought to have at least a nominal impact on the rodent population (like the rodent station placements at this supermarket), at a relatively low price, and service it with technicians who adhere to the limited set of rules described earlier.

They may not realize that rodents will inevitably become more numerous under such lax control methods, but that doesn’t really affect their bottom line. When a rat runs across the warehouse floor, or in an aisle in the customer area, they are immediately called in to take care of that problem, usually at extra cost to the client. Then they wait for the next rodent emergency to take place. For them, this is a winning strategy regardless of the outcome. In some respects, though a gamble, it can also be a winning strategy for the supermarket, as it allows for a low cost, though substandard pest management program that may or may not incur extra costs later on.

Distinguishing Winners From Losers…

The ultimate losers here are, first, the pest management firm’s business client (the supermarket, who may incur significant extra emergency control costs not budgeted for), and the consumers who may be subjected to contaminated goods that can convey pathogens to their homes and businesses. Still, if customers later become sick from those pathogens, they have no way to connect the dots to the source, so the root cause may never be corrected. In other words, the real losers never know how much they’ve lost. Life is like that, sometimes. Some problems have no easy solutions.

That aside, how can the two stores we were called to deal with rodent problems likely caused by a large nearby supermarket whose pest management is deficient? In short, simply by doubling up on sanitation where they can, and conducting their own rodent control program in stellar mode. Under circumstances like these, mediocre rodent control won’t work. It has to be top of the line, of the character and quality of the E2M2C™ program, or a string of rodent incursion relapses will haunt the site.

What We Did Here…

So, we did what we could. First, we discussed our inspection results in detail with the management of each of the two stores that called us in. As part of that discussion, we recommended that they counsel their staff to practice better sanitation in their break rooms, and never allow food items to be kept out, in the open, at any time. Then, with their permission to do so, we deployed the E2M2C™ program at both stores, using a set of specially constructed, well-provisioned, nearly tamper-proof rodenticide dispensing stations. We placed the prescribed number recommended by the rodenticide manufacturers whose baits we use, on the perimeters of the stores we were asked to service.

As expected, the rodent infestation at both stores immediately came to a halt, and should remain in full remission as long as the E2M2C™ program we have in place continues, but with the proviso that the supermarket next door does its part to keep the rodents it attracts under control. Permanent solutions, in rodent control, require the permanent deployment of rodent control devices that are serviced and sanitized regularly, and that are provisioned with the most effective and attractive rodenticides available, in a manner that does not pose secondary poisoning to non-target animals, including raptors (birds of prey).

In addition, we have recommended that the property manager at this shopping center take steps to replace all the defective rooftop drain caps throughout the shopping center, that their maintenance rooms be overhauled to remove clutter and debris, and that all the roof access ports be repaired to make them impervious to rodents.

Informing The Supermarket Didn’t Go Well…

We then discussed the currently deficient rodent control program in place at the supermarket with the management of that store. Unfortunately, however, the store’s general manager — a bright young woman whose demeanor bespoke a clear sense of authority — denied that a rodent problem existed. Further, she refused to discuss the situation with us futher. When asked if we could provide her with a copy of our written findings, we were told she had no intention of reading anything we provided. “Pest management here,” she said, “is handled at the corporate level, not at the store itself.” But, when asked who we should talk to at the corporate level, she refused to provide a reference.

We do not intend the above to reflect negatively on the unidentified supermarket involved in this example. We were providing that store’s general manager with unwanted and unsolicited advice. She most likely questioned our motives for doing so. If so, her reaction probably followed company guidelines to the letter, and by doing so she was was simply being a good employee. That’s what she is paid to do.

As mentioned earlier, we never blame the commercial entity involved when their pest management contractor fails to deliver the superior service they should be receiving. But, in this case, we cannot blame this pest management contractor, either. Like the supermarket’s general manager, they are simply following guidelines and traditions commonly used by most American pest management firms. We would be surprised if any of the other pest management companies that regularly service supermarkets and similar commercial venues anywhere in the United States are doing a better job anywhere than is being done here. 

But Not All Was In Vain…

As a side note, we soon discovered, after making recommendations to the property manager of the shopping center, that the pest management firm under contract to them (for the building on the left) had finally placed a set of rodenticide dispensers around the older portion of the shopping center, which previously had not been serviced for rodent abatement.
Fig. 1B(1). One of the drain screens on the roof of the shopping center structure on the right half in the image at Fig. 1B. Note that this screen, which is made of cast iron and is more than 12 inches in diameter, has several sections missing on its side. Even large rodents crawling up the drain pipe leading to this screen from the storm sewer will immediately be able to access the roof by passing through the hole left by the missing sections. Once on the roof, the rodent can access the structure through a number of open ports there.

A modern derivative of οἶκος, ecology (ee-KOLL-uh-gee), is defined as the study of compact three-dimensional spaces within which plants and animals — including humans — live and interact. Such studies make use of the 4th dimension, time, to learn how specific interactions ripple through various ecosystems within certain temporal (that is, time-related) intervals.

Based on the foregoing, it is easy to see most of the meaning of that other modern οἶκος derivative, mentioned earlier: ecosystem. It’s like ecology, on steroids, since it refers to a number of three-dimensional spaces, together, that contain plants, animals and inanimate matter. That collection comprises a system, i.e., in the form of a somewhat arbitrary assemblage of such spaces.

Figures 1A, above, illustrates both an ecological zone (the home and its yard), and an ecosystem (the home, its yard, and some or all of the immediate neighborhood). Sometimes the ecological zone is its own ecosystem, but in this example, as explained later, the challenge faced here required consideration of much more than the home and its yard alone.

What are ecosystems, and why do they matter?

You may not consider yourself an ecologist, a forensic investigator, or — better still — a combination of the two known as a forensic ecologist. Yet, you probably observe the world around you with some degree of specificity. From time to time, you can’t help but notice how even small — but important — changes in one place, with one or more of the things located there, often appear to cause consequential changes in other places and the things located over there. If you then consciously take that evidence and use it to figure out how the two observed changes are related, you are definitely thinking and acting like an ecologist.

Fig. 2A. Rodents entering a home at the HVAC coolant lines. At a residential home in Round Rock, Texas, three rats were imaged by a wildlife camera entering the subfloor and attic via the HVAC coolant line port. In this case the open port in the home’s wall had been sealed in the past by an unknown individual using metalized mesh (seen below the port on the ground). Evidently rats were present in the home’s attic at the time the port was sealed, and later succeeded in pushing the seal out of the port. Had they not been able to do that, they would simply have created a new exit hole, somewhere else. This knowledge enforces the imperative that rodent infestations in attics and other parts of a structure be exterminated before egress ports are sealed.

This particular case was complicated by what was surmised — but not confirmed — to be the presence of a well-stocked, highly-attractive food source nearby that was not under the control of the homeowner. Roof rats typically forage for food within a distance not far from their nests, and rarely travel more than 500 feet to obtain nutriment. The attic at this home held no food supplies, and the rats had no direct access to the home’s living space beyond the attic. Thus the attic was used solely for resting and maternity nests, and the rats had to exit to the yard daily for food. Typically this would result in a foraging activity that would lead them to any rodenticide provisions placed in the home’s yard. In this case, however, they appeared never to forage randomly, as the rodenticide provisions provided on the perimeter of this home, when inspected two weeks after they were put in place, showed no consumption. Noises in the attic continued, however, confirming that the rodent infestation proceeded unabated.

Instead of foraging randomly for nutriment on their daily sojourns, the rats at this particular home appeared to travel directly — via a well-worn pathway through the grass — to a nearby but undiscovered food supply, as soon as they exited the home. They then returned via the same path, carrying food for their young, as soon as they’d eaten their fill. Since neither we nor the homeowner could not locate the off-site food supply, nothing could be done about it. Often, even when the off-site food source is discovered, those responsible refuse to cooperate and cannot be forced to do so. Despite this impediment, it is usually possible to identify the pathways used by the rodents to travel to and from the off-site food source so that rodenticide provisions, in climate-protected, tamper-resistant containers, can be placed directly on the route being traveled. At the home depicted in Fig. 2A, once this was done, the rodents began feeding from the alternative, equally attractive source of nutriment provided by those stations even though, unbeknownst to them, that food was laced with lethal rodenticides.

Within days of placing the rodenticide-provisioned stations directly on the pathway leading to their off-site food source, all noises in the attic ceased, and wildlife cameras confirmed that all rodent movement into and out of the HVAC port had come to a halt. This port was permanently sealed a few days later, once it was clear no rodents remained inside the home.
Fig. 2B. Rodent Egress at the HVAC coolant lines. On inspecting the home in Central Texas depicted in Fig. 1A, an active egress port into and out of the home’s exterior wall near the ground level HVAC compressor unit was discovered. Rodents had chewed the insulation and wrapping away, enabling them to travel up the tunnel thus afforded into the attic space to nest. This and the example in Fig. 2A are but two of the many similar cases we have observed where rodents used defectively sealed HVAC coolant line ports to gain access to the interiors of residential homes and commercial structures.

Most observant, sentient people find themselves constantly making logical connections between disparate events as they go through life. Some even take it further. If you go to the trouble of collecting, recording, and measuring everything you can see, hear, and uncover evident that seems relevant to those changes — in both of of the places involved — you are not a victim of OCD, but are simply thinking and acting like a forensic (foh-REHN-sik) ecologist. And, yes, though we just used the term OCD in a jocular way, in this line of work it is likely that a modicum of non-clinical obsession may actually be a job requirement.

While on the subject of word meanings, let’s explore the definition of that other term, forensic, in some detail…

You might be surprised to see “forensics” used in the pedestrian manner applied here. A more common application — across all the forms of the popular media we are exposed to daily — namely to the analysis of crime scenes, leads most people to the automatic linkage of forensics to criminal investigations. That is neither the only, nor the best way the term can or should be used.

“Forensic” is derived from a Latin root that means “to the forum.” In proper usage, it broadly refers to the collection and assembly of verifiable evidence in a special, but — when done right — unbiased way. It’s a piece of a puzzle. Once it is studied, so that all the connections and loose ends are well-defined, the resulting analysis either supports, denies, or offers no more than a neutral opinion with respect to the narrow hypothesis it addresses.

Here’s another word we should explain: A hypothesis (hye-PAW-thuh-sus) is a tentative explanation for an observation, a phenomenon, or a problem whose cause is under investigation. It’s a theory about what might be a yet undiscovered causation, and is created for the sole purpose of testing to see if the evidence points toward, or away from that theory.

When confronted with a vexatious problem wanting a solution, one of the first things a scientist does is construct a hypothetical explanation for it. Not to pretend to know the answer, of course, but to pose a possible one that can be tested. The initial explanation may be quite ridiculous, but even one of that nature can be useful, simply because it offers a target at which to throw darts (in the form of collected evidence) to see if anything sticks.

As darts get thrown, some will miss by a mile, while others might angle — either slightly or more directly — toward the bulls-eye. In the process the initial hypothesis gets modified to conform to what the evidence seems to suggest. Ideally the weight of the accumulating evidence and the legitimacy of the evolving hypothesis converge. This often directs the investigator to collect additional evidence relating to specific issues of concern until, finally, the emerging hypothesis is either confirmed, debunked, or brought to a stalemate.

The support, denial, or neutrality that the assembled evidence provides with respect to a given hypothesis must be logically connected. These connections must be amenable to articulation in a manner that can be defended before a court of authority. Which court? Well, it just may be the highest legal authority of the realm. More often, though — especially for us — it is a worried home or business owner with concerns about conditions taking place where he or she lives, works, visits or plays.

The Arbitrary Assemblage…

We noted, above, that an ecosystem comprises a somewhat arbitrary assembly of ecological spaces. Perhaps now it is easier to understand the generally arbitrary nature of those assemblages. They are arbitrary because they’re not natural assemblages likely to be useful for other purposes. Instead, each has been assembled for a singular use, and once that sought-for utility is achieved and reported, the value of the assemblage expires.

In other words, we have important things happening in one ecological space over here, which seemingly affect what happens in another ecological space over there. We attempt to connect the two, usually including all of the ecological spaces between them, to focus our study and get to the bottom of how those interactions took, and are taking, place. If those changes turn out, in fact, to be connected, we eventually uncover the “how” and the “why” of the connections. If they are not connected, but are only coincidental, we learn from that, as well, often as a prelude to reorienting our investigation to seek alternative conclusions.

In the example shown in figures 1A & 2, the changes we observed consisted of (1) noises in the attic that were not present in the first few weeks after the home-buyer moved in, plus the presence of fresh rodent pellets in the same attic space that were not there earlier, and (2) a noticeable amount of damage to the newly installed insulation and wrap covering the HVAC high and low pressure lines where those lines entered the outside wall of the home. The conjunction of these two bodies of evidence, collected from two separate ecological zones, appear conclusive: rats have invaded the attic, and they did so by exploiting a weakness at the HVAC compressor unit, outside.

It would have been natural to think the attic-based rodent infestation at that home in Central Texas would be easy to resolve in only two steps: (1) simply eradicate the rodents, and (2) seal the active port at the HVAC compressor. Were that true, the only ecological zones of concern would be the attic, and the tunnel from the ground-level HVAC compressor into the home’s exterior wall.

Those two zones, together, comprise a limited ecosystem that would cease to be of concern once the two steps described above had been carried out. That’s the way some pest management firms perform rodent control. Sometimes it works, at least for a while.

Most of the time, however, it fails. This is true even for homes and businesses where $thousands have been paid for professional wildlife exclusion work, but it is also true of cases where the homeowner tries to tackle the job as a DIY project, usually employing the same logic some pest control companies apply. The example of presented here — involving rodents in the attic of a home in Central Texas — is instructive of this kind of failure, though we are not sure who was involved in the earlier rodent control project.

Viewing the existential rodent infestation in this home’s attic as the primary and only issue typified that earlier rodent control program. The previous owner, possibly with the assistance of a pest management firm, had concluded that the previous rodent infestation there had been halted. New evidence has surfaced, however, to indicate that conclusion was premature. Now what? Since the steps previously taken were somewhat in keeping with established pest management protocols, the usual response to a failure of this nature is to redouble the effort, repeating the same two steps again, and again, and again.

The Definition of Insanity, at Work…

We at EntomoBiotics Inc. are often called to homes and businesses where those two iterative steps have been repeated for years, without ever solving the underlying conditions. In some cases a previous exterminator had informed the home or business owner that nothing more, beyond repeatedly carrying out the temporary-relief measures of the past, would now be possible.

Some infestations, they exclaim, cannot be fully cured… and since the regular incursion of rats and mice into that home or business “cannot be helped,” the home or business owner will just have to “live with it” while continuing with the old, prescriptive process now in use, ad infinitum.

Numquam renuntiabit!

Some home and business owners think they have little choice but to accept that verdict when it is rendered, but isn’t that a popular definition of insanity? It is, but more seriously, it is just a sign of giving up. Lots do that. Others, the smarter ones in particular, never give up. Those with a background in Latin might be heard to exclaim Non Deficere! or Numquam renuntiabit! (as a testament to the characters displayed by the ancient Romans, there are lots of ways to say Never Give Up in Latin). We try to be their undying champions.

Still, many home and business owners just avoid ever being told their rat issues cannot be helped, or that they have to live with having rats in their attics from time to time. Those who call us first, before getting trapped in an endless series of unsuccessful rodent exclusion projects, trapping exercises, or rodent poisoning episodes, fall into that category. The expressions “It cannot be helped,” and “Live with it” are not included in our lexicon, period.

Once our E2M2C™ program is in place, most existing rodent infestations are cured, in the summertime, in 3-7 days. Sometimes it takes a few days longer, but rarely does it take more than a month, though in the cold of winter it can take up to 45 days. Then we keep things that way, for as long as the home or business owner wants us to do so.

How Long Is Forever?

For as long as the home or business owner wants us to do so… that’s how long forever is. But, isn’t that really … well … forever?

It should be.

To the uninitiated, that seems like a self-serving statement. The longer the E2M2C™ program is kept in place, the more we collect in on-going service fees. But that’s not why we push so hard for continuity. Our clients who take the time to study the problems that ensue when the E2M2C™ program is brought to a halt know the real reasons, and they never let that happen. The problem is, getting to that understanding is not an easy task. It takes time, dedication, a serious love of the environment, and of the vulnerable, beneficial creatures within that environment.

Thinking like rats and mice…

Understanding rodent biology teaches us how to think like they do. That’s the first step in finding a solution to infestations caused by any pest organism, and it goes double for rodents. That may sound preposterous. How could a human ever think like a rat? Ask Robert Sullivan. He wrote the book “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants,” published in 2004. Here would be his reply, as expressed so well on pages 1 & 2 of the first edition of his book, in paperback:

“Rats live in the world precisely where man lives, which is, needless to say, where I live. Rats have conquered every continent that humans have conquered, mostly with the humans’ aid, and the not-so-epic-seeming story of rats is close to one version of the epic story of man: when they arrive as immigrants to a newfound land, rats push out the creatures that have preceded them, multiply to such an extent as to stretch resources to the limit, consume their way toward famine — a point at which they decline, until, once again, they are forced to fight, wander, or die. Rats live in man’s parallel universe, surviving on the effluvia of human society; they eat our garbage. I think of rats as our mirror species, reversed but similar, thriving or suffering in the very cities where we do the same. If the presence of a grizzly bear is an indicator of the wildness of an area, the range of unsettled habitat, then a rat is an indicator of the presence of man…”

Perhaps, then, it is not all that difficult for man to think like a rat. We and they are a lot alike, in many ways… So, assuming the marriage of rat and human thought lies somewhat within the realm of possibility, how would we, by thinking like a rat, deal with the situation at the house in Fig. 1A?

To begin with, we’d have to recognize the ubiquity of rodent life in our midst. On doing so we’d realize that merely carrying out the two prescriptive procedures described above (exterminating the presently existing rodents, and sealing the entry port) does not fix that home’s rat problem. That would only resolve the acute infestation in the attic, and ignores the chronic infestation in the yard, which would be a mistake of grievous proportions. Unless the rodents in the yard are also brought under perpetual control, rats in the attic will never be permanently eradicated.

The Conditional Permanence Provided by the E2M2C™ Program…

A temporary fix of that kind is almost inevitably followed by a constant series of vexing relapses. To us, that kind of fix is a terrible waste.

The E2M2C™ program, when used properly, provides a permanent cure to rodent infestations. However, like liberty, its permanence is conditional. If you wonder how so, hear what the Irish lawyer and politician John Philpot Curran said on 10 July 1790 The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”

Many if not most rodent control programs are conceived and executed in an incomplete fashion. Even the manufacturers of most modern rodenticides miss this point, because the label instructions for their products propose applications of rodenticides to a rat infestation for no more than a certain number of days (usually 15) and, once the immediate evidence of rat activity has ceased, the work of the exterminator is done.

Fortunately, a few lines later in the label, they usually add this pithy advice: “Where a continuous source of infestation is present, establish permanent bait stations and replenish as needed…” As if there exist places where a continuous source of rat infestation is not present. Frankly, we don’t know of any.

Rat Infestations are Not Like House Fires…

So, those who believe such places exist see wisdom in killing your rats without fixing your rodent problem. Who thinks like that? Not just those who manufacture rodenticides… Many home and business owners, and sometimes even the exterminators they hire, tend to think rodent infestations are in the same category as house fires. Put out the fire (kill the rats) and voila! The crisis is over.

But, no house fire is really out until all the embers are extinguished. Ensuring all, including every hidden ember in the burned-out debris, are out is a process known as overhauling the fire scene. Members of every good fire department practice rigorous overhauling techniques, carried out by a special crew that springs into action after the visible fire is out. Its job is to carefully inspect for and quench every hidden ember at the scene. Those embers constitute a finite set of risks that experienced overhaulers know how to find and extingish. Once that work is done, the overhaul crew heads back to the station, confident the fire cannot re-start after they have gone.

Finite Embers, Infinite Rats & Mice…

Similarly, though permanent rodent control starts with exterminating the rodents in an all-out effort to bring the immediate crisis to a halt, it cannot stop there. Like overhauling a house fire, it continues until all traces of the infestation have been addressed, but that’s where the similarity to a house fire stops. Like embers, the neighboring mice and rats are hidden nearby, ready to invade, but — unlike burning embers — they are not present in finite numbers.

Commensal rodents are always close at hand, in the surrounding neighborhood, constantly expanding their numbers and threatening to contaminate our immediate environment. They sneak into our midst with stealth, and then — unless measures are perpetually in place to automatically neutralize them — they multiply right there, until their numbers overflow into our homes and businesses.

The E2M2C™ program automatically neutralizes every rat and mouse that ventures into your yard. Non-target wild animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, opossums and skunks are not affected. Furthermore, having the E2M2C™ program in place at a home or business provides protection against rodent-borne diseases, guarding the health and well-being of the humans and their pets that visit, live, work, or play there.

The Example used here is More Common Than Many Believe…

A number of environmental variables affected the nature of the rat infestation at the home used as an example in fig. 1. It is customary to refer to examples like this as unusual, but in fact they are somewhat typical. Rat infestations in homes and businesses are more complicated than they appear on the surface.

At this home, without investigating the entirety of its yard, the neighbor’s home and yard, and the subdivision’s storm sewer with its connecting infrastructure, rodent infestations in its yard and attic would have continued, at some level, long after the known rats were eliminated and the obvious egress port at the HVAC compressor was sealed.

The home’s owner would not have noticed the infestation’s continuance at once, because most rat infestations are, by their very nature, cryptic and difficult to detect. But it would have remained, nonetheless, under the radar.

Fig. 3. A view of the neighbor’s backyard deck, through a gap in the fence. The home under investigation in Fig. 1 had no rodent or wild animal habitat in its yard at ground level. Furthermore, there were no obvious sources of rodent nutriment anywhere in the yard, yet a large number of rats were living in the attic, and had to be getting nourishment somewhere close by. This observation caused two questions to come to the fore:

(1) Why were rodents attracted to this home in the first place? One possible answer, taken from field observations, is that typically they arrive as overflow from a larger population nearby. On peering through a gap in the privacy fence separating this home from its next door neighbor, a large outdoor deck could be observed attached to that home’s back patio. Under that deck was an open void whose entrance appeared to be well-worn, as though it might be subject to constant use by animals. Such voids offer rats and mice protected space in which to breed in large numbers.

(2) The preceding supposition implies the presence of a reliable food supply close by, so where were these rodents getting nourishment? One possible answer is that, though the home under investigation had no food in its yard, field observations have shown that many, if not most homes unwittingly (or, in some cases, intentionally) provide wild animals with generous amounts of food; it is typical, for example, to find well-stocked pet food dishes placed outside, and for many back yards to contain bird feeders filled to overflowing with seeds and nuts. These, alone, can keep rodents well-fed in most locales.

Assuming these possibilities may apply here, the supposed rodent population under the neighbor’s backyard deck will continue to grow. Eventually it becomes too full for comfort. This leads the dominant males to force younger members to depart in search of new nesting sites. Finding none in the yard of the home under investigation, alternatively they might try to access the home itself. If the home is so secure those attempts fail, additional options would be tried. Here, however, rodents did manage to enter this home’s attic by opening the tunnel depicted in fig. 2. Once secure in that nesting void — and assuming they’d come from one or more neighboring yards — they’d be expected to continue to feed as before, from the same food sources they’d used while nesting under that neighbor’s deck, or under another neighbor’s shed, etc.

But remember, these speculations are based on facts not in evidence, and wise investigators refuse to base conclusions on speculation alone. Credible evidence based on observations that embrace the full extent of the home’s ecosystem must be gathered first.

As we study specific environmental challenges — like the example we’re using here — we refer to the assembly of ecological spaces we’ve put together as an ecosystem. If we are concerned about a different set of interactions, the specific set of ecological spaces we put together to study might be quite different. That can occur simply because we are limiting our study to those ecological spaces associated with the focus of our concerns.

Ecologists, Forensic Analysts, and Forensic Ecologists…

Who are the “we” in this drama? At least two kinds of students are involved, though both kinds may occupy the same human bodies. Those humans, working as ecologists, conduct exhaustive studies of the communities of living plants and animals (biotics), interacting together, within a common environment made up of non-living chemicals, gasses, liquids and solids (abiotics).

In the example cited here, the relevant biotics include not only the rodents, but their wild animal predators. Wherever rodents thrive, so — at least in Texas — also thrive such animals as coyotes, feral cats, raccoons, ringtails, opossums, skunks, fox, rabbits, and armadillos.

Most of those rodent predators occupy and nest somewhere within the same voids used by the rodents they prey upon. Some may even be present in surprisingly large numbers, yet exist there entirely unseen by their human hosts (see fig. 5). All carry one or more members of a long list of ectoparasites, including fleas, mites and ticks, that escape their bodies and hunt down fresh hosts (including humans, pet dogs, and pet cats).

All of these animals deposit feces and urine containing pathological bacteria, viruses, and parasitic fauna. Most, if not all of these latter organisms are capable of directly or indirectly causing disease in humans and our companion pets. Many of those diseases are life-threatening. Practically all are life-changing in terms of the lasting effects they have on their victims.

Figures 4A, 4B, and 4C. Three species of Wild Animals nesting in a Single Void. This Austin, Texas home (not the home depicted in Fig. 1) is situated in a high-density residential area, and has at least three different animal species — raccoons (top, 4A), rats (middle, 4B), and opossums (bottom, 4C) — nesting in the same void under a deck in the home’s back yard. This situation poses serious epidemiological risks to the humans living there, as raccoons are often infected with the raccoon-specific nematode, Baylisascaris procyonis which is passed in their feces and, when ingested by humans (typically children with pica who consume contaminated dirt) suffer serious, even fatal medical consequences; rodents carry a long list of serious diseases that afflict humans and our companion pets; and opossums are efficient flea reservoirs whose infested nests efficiently transfer fleas to humans, pet dogs and pet cats (fleaborne diseases in the United States include plague, murine typhus, cat scratch disease, and tapeworms).

Next, while acting in the roles of forensic investigators and analysts, those same humans may take precise measurements of the evidence these interactions leave behind, and apply those measurements as a means of drawing defensible conclusions. Ecologists who perform such analyses are forensic ecologists.

All the field personnel at EntomoBiotics Inc. are, at their core, forensic ecologists. Further, our laboratory personnel function as forensic analysts, collecting and recording data gleaned from investigative devices that are retrieved from client sites for laboratory analysis. When confronted with an environmental challenge that threatens a client’s health and well-being, our focus is on grasping the big picture, and understanding the causes beyond the visible scene, as a first step towards arriving at the safest, most expedient, effective, and long-lasting solution possible.

Students Who Never Stop Learning…

Environmental biotics and abiotics together, within a well-delineated collection of 3-dimensional spaces, comprise the specific ecosystem included within a given study. How that ecosystem is delineated depends on the needs of a particular case or client’s needs. For that study to bear useful fruit, both forensic investigations and ecological studies must be carried out to document the causes behind the important interactions of concern.

Those properly engaged in that work are, as previously described, students, in every sense of the word, who never stop learning. A student, as you know, is an individual engaged in an organized course of study, undergoing a learning process, with the goal of acquiring academic and practical knowledge in the development and furtherance of a particular field.

Fig. 5. Three Raccoons together… In the back yard at this Round Rock, Texas home, up to six raccoons could often be imaged simultaneously, though not one of them was ever seen by the homeowners or their children because (1) the raccoons always visited in the late evening or early morning hours, when most humans are fast asleep, and (2) the raccoons’ keen hearing would warn them the humans were awake, so they could scurry out of sight at the slightest indication someone was coming outside.

The next door neighbor was known to place raw meat, dog food, and other food materials in the backyard of that neighbor’s home, enticing wildlife there for the homeowner’s entertainment. Large numbers of raccoons, opossums, coyotes, skunks, and rats attracted to the food nested in nearby wilderness areas and regularly raided all the residential yards, depositing scat contaminated with whatever microbials (bacteria, viruses, and parasitic worms) they carried. Thus, unknown to most of the human inhabitants here the “kindness” of one homeowner had the effect of exposing everyone to a long list of pathogens capable of causing disease and, in some cases, even death.

The E2M2C(TM) program being conducted at one of these homes, next door to where the wild animals were being treated to a smorgasbord of food, included a number of devices specifically intended to control rodents. These were thought — incorrectly, it turned out — to prevent raccoons from accessing them. When it was learned raccoons were not always excluded (one particularly gnarly raccoon managed to defeat the device’s raccoon exclusionary architecture soon after it was placed in the yard, removing and consumintg all its rodenticide provisions), a series of remedial revisions were instituted in the lab and tested in this home’s back yard. Eventually, using images captured by wildlife cameras, it was confirmed that certain of these changes denyied access to even the most determined raccoon, without impeding rodent egress.
Fig. 6A. Open Sewer Clean-out Plug. At the home under investigation in fig. 1, further inspections found, among other things, a sewer clean-out plug near the left front corner of the home whose cap had been sheared off, presumably by a lawn mower. The hole in this plug was large enough to permit passage of even large rats, into and out of the sanitary sewer to which the home was connected. Rats and sewers (both sanitary sewers and storm sewers) go together, a fact known and accepted from antiquity, but one of which most home and business owners are not aware. Could this, rather than the neighbor’s backyard deck, be the true source of the rats at this home? Clearly it could be one source of rodents, and it might even be the only source. In any case, its relevance to the investigation cannot be discounted. Unlike the egress port into the home’s wall at the HVAC, this port can and should be closed at the earliest practical opportunity.
Fig. 6B. Replacement Sewer Clean-out Plug. The damaged plug in Fig 6A was replaced with this superior plug soon after it was discovered. Flat-headed sanitary-sewer clean out plugs are available at some hardware stores, and can also be purchased on-line. They are not as vulnerable to lawn-mower damage, but are slightly more difficult to screw and unscrew, as a special tool must be used and — if the plug is not lubricated with a silicon grease before installing — they may not budge easily during a later removal attempt. If properly lubricated at installation they can be superior to the standard plug, avoiding the risk of having openings, in the yard, that bring rats to your yard from the sanitary sewer.

When conducting a forensic ecology investigation, it is crucial to maintain a high degree of academic scholarship. Professional forensic ecologists constantly connect the theoretical implications of what is learned from each practical exercise they conduct. They then apply those implications, broadly, to similar cases under study, to keep their analyses on track. At the same time, the practical implications involved must be taken into immediate account, to ensure that the data collected is applied narrowly to the specific observations within the ecosystem under examination.

Fig. 7. A Defective Downspout Drain. Near the open sewer clean-out plug depicted in fig. 6 was found a rainwater downspout that emptied into a corrugated pipe that was damaged near its base. The damage consisted of open holes in the pipe large enough for large rodents to pass through. The corrugated pipe was buried in the soil, but a further inspection failed to locate where it emptied into the landscape below grade. Checking the other downspouts at this home (all of which terminated in corrugated pipes buried in the soil) produced identical observations. None of the corrugated pipes emptied into the landscape below grade. Still, the rainwater they conveyed off the roof has to go somewhere, which implied they all emptied into the subdivision’s storm sewer system.
Fig. 8. Storm Sewer Drains at The Curb. Directly in front of this home, at the curb, rainwater from the street empties into the storm sewer on both sides of the street. That is, the rainwater enters the sewer via this port (depicted above) and a second port directly in front of the home across the street. Storm sewers are spaced and positioned within a residential community according to local, state, and federal standards. Those standards dictate the size, number and positioning of sewer inlets and stormwater conveyance pipes. In many locales the minimum diameter of new stormwater conveyance pipes (at the right of way) is 24 inches.

Storm sewers provide cavernous tunnels interconnected through large pipes that crisscross the sections of the subdivisions they serve. As such they unintentionally provide all kinds of wild animals, including rodents, with a cryptic means of rapid transport over long distances, 24 hours a day. Storm sewer inlets are among the most expensive components of each storm sewer system, and they are spaced parsimoniously for that reason. Individual homes in a subdivision served by a storm sewer system generally have somewhere between a 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 chance of having a storm sewer inlet at the curb. Our observations indicate convincingly that homes closest to storm sewer curb drains suffer significantly more rodent infestations than their counterparts located more distant from those drains. At this home, not only are two ports provided at the street, they also provide direct routes — from the storm sewer and onto the roof — at each downspout via the underground corrugated pipes connecting the downspouts to the storm sewer.

Consider the home in Central Texas with rats in the attic, depicted in fig. 1. Even what appear to be simple ecosystems tend to be more complex than at first glance. It is often difficult to quickly tie down, and take into consideration, all the influences that figure into a given set of observed interactions. The experienced forensic ecologist must draw upon a well of knowledge, acquired from a host of studies, in order to reach responsible, worthwhile conclusions.

Specialized Ecosystem Delineations…

In some cases an ecosystem is delineated for analysis because negative changes or issues occurring outside that ecosystem are suspected to be caused by conditions within it. When this is done, the usual object of the investigation is to determine if, within an acceptable degree of certainty, the suspected effect can be traced back to that ecosystem. It should be clear that the analyst who renders a judgment on such matters ought to do so only on the basis of indisputable facts.

If the evidence leads to an affirmative conclusion, those responsible for conditions within that ecosystem can be appraised of the investigation’s findings, usually accompanied by recommendations having a high expectation of mitigating the specific conditions the study uncovered.

Trivial ecosystems may contain only a few relatively simple things, like a small enclosed office with a desk, a chair, and a book. More complex ecosystems contain so many things that the list of components can hardly be counted; think, for example, of every connected room within an ordinary home’s interior, and the abiotic and biotic components within each room. Often, the things within a particular ecosystem are too numerous to quantify. Those kinds of ecosystems are all around us; consider, for example, the entirety of a typical home with its rooms, attics and subfloors, its garage and crawlspace, along with its yard and landscape, all together.

Regardless of the complexity of the delineated ecosystem, assigned ecologists and forensic analysts focus on only those components therein that appear to be logically linked to the conditions of concern. Learning to do this comes with experience and practice.

For example, a home or business infested with rats comprises, in its structure, grounds, and the environmental surroundings proximate to that home or business, a highly complex ecosystem. However, insofar as the prime concern is limited to an infestation of rats, only a few components in that ecosystem need be studied in depth.

One of these is typically the quantity, quality, and spatial placements of habitat suitable for rodents. Another is the quantity, quality, and placement of accessible nutrients and water.

A third component common to such ecosystems tends, in many cases, to be more difficult to pin down. Here we refer to the ability and willingness of management or ownership at the site to cooperate in making needed corrections and improvements. That cooperation typically involves enforcement of existing laws and rules, along with formulating new procedures regarding the handling of waste nutrients, the storage of food products in situ and transit, the cleansing of man-made debris, and the proper maintenance of natural habitat to eliminate dense ground cover and weed overgrowth.

In most cases rules alone do not suffice, but must be augmented with additional infrastructure and expendables. Think here of commercial compactors supplemented with deodorizing accessories, lockable steel cabinets in which to store sacks of flour, and hard plastic containers with snap-closable lids in which to secure packages of rodent attractants, such as cookies, chips, and grain-based cereals, out of harm’s way.

Why Ecologists and Forensic Analysts Do What They Do…

The ecosystems in which we live, work and play affect, in important ways, how we enjoy, utilize, and benefit from the time we spend there. Those effects can be uniformly good, egregiously harmful, or — as usually is the case — somewhere in between. Ideally the ecosystems we frequent will provide maximum utility for their intended purposes, while causing little or no harm in the process. Moving mankind closer to that ideal is the object that drives the forensic ecologists at EntomoBiotics Inc. to do what they do.

To be a legitimate forensic analyst, one must first be dedicated to the fastidious collection of pertinent evidentiary matter regarding the subjects under study. Beyond that, the analyst must insist on, and capable of, conducting an objective analysis of that information.

Not everyone can handle this work. In today’s culture, sadly, lying, prevarication, and fabrication of bogus “evidence” out of thin air have all become elevated to the status of an art-form. None of that can ever be allowed to infiltrate the work we do at EntomoBiotics Inc. Our ecologists and forensic analysts must be endowed with well-developed and non-negotiable moral and ethical underpinnings. These traits must then be combined with a competent grasp of deductive logic. Together, all are necessary prerequisites of an ingrained mindset that, ultimately, enables the analyst to put aside preconceived notions, take nothing for granted, and finally, allow the assembled evidence, and that alone, to lead onward to the formation of reasonable, responsible, and defensible conclusions.

If sufficient evidence is wanting, the analyst must admit the presence of gaps, and must have the courage to recognize when those gaps preclude formulation of a judgment. Speculation cannot be offered as a consolation, but must be avoided altogether. Induction is never acceptable, because it obviates objectivity, and disincentivizes the search for further evidence that should, in due time, fill important gaps to the point that a defensible judgement can be made.

Those who fail to heed this advice soon regret it. They not only reap bitter, lasting lessons, but are prematurely drawn away from the purity of the investigative process. We know, from hard-won and sometimes painful experience, that process to be the only means of achieving honest, lasting, and truthful conclusions. Judgments of that character are seldom overturned, even as new evidence surfaces — as it usually does — over time. Speculations not supported with experiential knowledge, by comparison, are either soon consigned to the trash, or have the nasty effect of leading others astray, sometimes for years.

The Conclusions We Seek…

We seek conclusions that lead us to formulate a proper management and control scheme within specific ecosystems. It is common for an unmanaged or mismanaged ecosystem to fail to deliver on one or more of the goals we described earlier. In fact, most ecosystems that are not properly managed are prone — by their very nature — to cause its human occupants discomfort, make them sick, distract them from productive work, and waste their precious time and resources.

Often, those failings are stoically viewed as “part of the territory,” and so the human occupants shrug their shoulders and carry on despite them. That’s understandable, though — if it is possible to mitigate some if not all those failings economically — it is a terrible waste not to do so the moment the need is realized. Just as often, though, those involved don’t recognize the failings for what they are, much less for the damage they cause. Again, this is why ecologists and forensic analysts do what they do. What many people cannot see, we recognize at once as the source of vexing problems that seem to the uninitiated to be unrelated.

Proper Ecosystem Management Can Be, and Often is, Quick & Easy…

If the foregoing leads you to think that what we do is super complicated, unusually expensive, and probably beyond the budgets of ordinary home or business owners, rest easy. Most ecosystems are plain vanilla copies of scores that came before. As such, they require nothing out of the ordinary to bring them into compliance with the needs of their occupants. Those cases are handled like regular pest control services, but at less cost to the client than is charged for typical pest management programs. In most cases, you will see us only once in a while, when we come by to swap out our monitoring and management devices (typically only three times a year).

At other times, in other ecosystems, special complications enter the picture that do lead to higher costs. Some require placements of extra monitoring and management devices, in addition to those already placed there. In other cases specialized devices and monitors not needed in ordinary ecosystems have to be deployed. We explain why these re needed when that happens, and you decide if it makes sense, with your budget and expectations, to continue going forward with our program.

In every case, though, the object is to ensure your ecosystem is made into the most effective, comfortable, safe and useful living, working or playing venue possible. We go out of our way to show you why the data we have collected has led us to the conclusions we present for your judgment.

Again, that’s why the ecologists and forensic analysts at EntomoBiotics Inc. do what they do. The more we research the complex interactions taking place within the various ecosystems for which we are responsible, the more we learn about serious but esoteric consequences that escape the scrutiny of the common homo sapien. When those consequences can be eliminated by changing the ways the various “things” within the ecosystem are allowed to interact, everybody benefits.

That’s what truly dedicated ecologists and forensic analysts dream about. But getting there is not easy. To grease the skids, so to speak, a lot of research must first be done. To do that, we need specialized tools and methodologies that can be trusted to collect and record the complex interactions going on.

The EntomoBiotics Inc. Raison d’etre…

The management and staff personnel at EntomoBiotics Inc. are not simply pest management professionals. Oh, yes, they are experienced in the pest management field. Some have been licensed in that field for decades. They have also amassed a wealth of experience in entomology (the study of insects), mammology (the study of most wild animals in general), rodentology (the study of rats and mice in particular), arachnology (the study of spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks), and herpetology (the study of snakes). Furthermore, they know how to eradicate the bad ones, and preserve the good ones in each of those categories.

But pest management is not their first love. Ecosystem management is, and performing the work of ecologists and forensic analysts is how we get there. That’s where the real rubber meets the road, because our research consistently reveals that today’s typical pest management program actually causes more pests than it prevents.

Typical Pest Prevention Tactics Actually result in Pest Creation…

When the typical pest management firm promises to prevent pests from getting into your home or business, be very careful. Though not usually their intent, most of the time the tactics they propose have the effect of killing more beneficial organisms (that are already keeping pests down in your grounds) than anything else. Once that happens, actual pests of every stripe will have carte blanche to wreak havoc everywhere. it may not happen at once, but in most cases it’s only a matter of time. If, in fact, they do manage to “kill all your bugs” to the point that you never see one, maybe you should be worried about how they’ve performed that “miraculous” feat.

It does no good to never have to see a bug if your health is risked in the bargain. Unfortunately, wherever pesticides are applied, that risk can never be fully ruled out. We realize that, for some people — especially those who suffer from entomophobia (an unusually robust fear of bugs) — only a pest management program that claims to “kill all your bugs so you never see another one as long as we service your account” will do. For such people, we try to make it clear that we never make that claim. For those who must have that done, our service will not fit your needs. We prioritize preservation of your health, and that of your family, employees, and visitors, above all other considerations, and killing every bug in your environment does the exact opposite.

Pesticide Avoidance to Achieve Genuine Pest Prevention…

Based on that priority, we do everything we can to avoid using pesticides anywhere except when and where they are absolutely necessary. In the process we practice what could be called genuine pest prevention. That, in our judgment, focuses on pesticide avoidance whenever possible, because it protects all the beneficial organisms around you. Done right, it helps them — the beneficial organisms in our environment — to do their job even better.

Doing that right focuses first on ecosystem monitoring, management, and control. It is not performed by exterminators, but by forensic ecologists who rely, first and foremost, on monitoring the ecosystems where you live, work, and play. We apply pesticides only as a last resort, so your ecosystems can deliver on their promises to protect, entertain, and comfort you and yours.

To do that effectively, our forensic ecologists must have the right tools with which to collect and analyze pertinent information about your ecosystems. What is needed is hardware, to collect and assemble the information, and a methodology that ensures the right data is collected, and that, once collected, that it is properly analyzed. That’s where the EntomoBiotics Inc. E2M2C™ program comes into play.

The E2M2C™ program…

The E2M2C™ program uses specialized devices and methods to monitor, manage and control a specific ecosystem’s habitats and the organisms it hosts. It does this via professional consultations, client involvement and cooperation, habitat modification, and the deployment of specialized E2M2C™ devices.

All these components work in concert. Within the ecosystems where the E2M2C™ program is conducted, the safe and healthy enjoyment of homes, places of work, and all the scattered nooks where people and their companion pets visit, rest and relax is maximized.

A New Paradigm for Human Safety and Comfort...

The ecosystems humans frequent often are impinged upon — sometimes temporarily, at other times on a semi-permanent basis — by a wide range of unfriendly organisms. Some merely annoy, but others bite, sting, contaminate food and other articles, damage infrastructure, or spread disease. These organisms come and go based on a variety of factors, many unique to the ecosystem involved. When out of control, they limit our enjoyment of life’s gifts in important ways.

Fortunately, healthy ecosystems host a variety of friendly, beneficial organisms that keep their unfriendly counterparts in check. Besides the friendly organisms that nature provides, others can be added by man. Natural conditions that help the “friendlies” thrive can be preserved and improved. Further, habitats can be modified, and new habitats created, to boost an ecosystem’s natural ability to magnify the range and number of its beneficial organisms.

Maintaining and Improving an EcoSystem’s Natural Health…

The E2M2C™ program works to facilitate an optimal balance of the friendly and unfriendly organisms within the ecosystems it serves. As a result, the general health of the ecosystem is enhanced, and the humans who live, work, visit and play there benefit the most.

In the past, attempts to accomplish this kind of balance came with a high price tag. This results because those offering such services tend to follow a model that does not require the direct involvement of their clients. Often the client insists on being left out of the picture, which explains why that model, though unworkable for most ecosystems, has managed to survive to the present. Our research has shown that model to be unsustainable for all but the most highly capitalized clientele. For all the rest — which comprise more than 99% of our clients — sustainability is effected by bringing the client into the picture in important ways.

E2M2C™ clients become, themselves, crucial components of the E2M2C™ program. As a result it costs them much less, not lots more. EntomoBiotics Inc. was founded on the philosophy that the only workable approach to ecosystem management keeps things real, manageable, economical, and effective. The reasoning behind this philosophy is imminently practical: No matter how hard we try, no other model actually works. The E2M2C™ program not only embraces that model, it exemplifies it. Our residential and commercial clients cheerfully attest to that fact.

What This Means to You…

When you find a site where the E2M2C™ program is in place, rest assured. The homeowner, manager, business professional or proprietor responsible for that site cares deeply for the safety and comfort of all who tarry there. Their concern is not mere lip-service; it is genuine and sincere.

The E2M2C™ program is not deployed just anywhere. E2M2C™ clients must surmount a high bar to be accepted into the program. This is because, having responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the ecosystems involved, they are active participants in its success.

Much of what makes up the E2M2C™ program is invisible to the casual observer. What may be visible — e.g., the E2M2C™ devices you can see — are only a small part of the overall E2M2C™ program.

Empowering Nature in Special Ways…

All the various E2M2C™ devices in use with this program — some in plain sight, others unnoticed or out of sight — function according to a comprehensive, science-based plan. That plan is based on the accumulation of decades of environmentally-focused research.

That research, for its part, has been tested and proven through a covey of field trials and evaluations. The conclusions we reached from that work led us to focus on doing everything we could to free up and empower the natural components of each ecosystem in a special way: enabling nature, itself, to work tirelessly for one purpose, to further mankind’s safety and health without causing harm…

You may recognize the connection between this philosophy and one of the principle precepts of bioethics. That precept, embodied throughout the language of the Hippocratic Oath, is succinctly expressed by the Latin phrase Primum non nocere, which means “First do no harm.”

The E2M2C™ program takes the language of the Hippocratic Oath one step further. For reasons that made sense in his day and time but are considered less plausible today, Hippocrates sought to keep the healing arts secret and taught only to a few. By contrast, the E2M2C™ program teaches its clients everything they need to know to become active participants in its success.

Understanding the E2M2C™ Program Devices You Can See…

If you arrived here by seeing an E2M2C™ device in place somewhere, please note that each device is digitally serialized. Its unique identification number is recorded in our database. That database contains historical information that tells us where that device has been in the past. it also tells us where it is supposed to be now.

No E2M2C™ program devices are ever sold; all remain the property of EntomoBiotics Inc. at all times, forever, without fail. All devices deployed in the E2M2C™ program are inspected, assayed, and serviced on a regular basis by professionals at EntomoBiotics Inc. During each service event each device is professionally cleansed and sanitized. The assay tells us how well the device is functioning within the ecosystem it serves, and guides the proper re-provisioning of its contents for maximum effect. Sanitizing removes accumulations of environmental contaminants.

Each E2M2C™ program device is physically and digitally secured against unauthorized tampering. A security label is placed over the keyway of the device’s physical locking mechanism each time it is serviced. When you see this security label in place you can be assured the device you see has not been tampered with.

Remember, as mentioned above, E2M2C™ program devices are never sold to the clients within whose ecosystems they have been placed, but remain the property of EntomoBiotics Inc. They are serviced, assayed, sanitized, and re-provisioned solely by licensed professionals employed by EntomoBiotics Inc. and cannot be utilized outside of that program.

Contact Us…

Call us at once at 512-331-1111 to report an E2M2C™ device that appears to have been stolen, misused, vandalized, or discarded. Do not disturb, touch, pick up, manipulate, or otherwise handle any E2M2C™ device.


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