Innovative contact formulation solution used to treat rat infestation at food production site

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A successful animal feed production site situated next to a canal in the north of England, with a pronounced rat infestation, has seen the problem treated with the only foam-based rodenticide on the market, as part of a trial run by Envu.

The feed company tried a number of contracted pest controllers, who were unable to tackle the problem due to the availability of an alternative ample food source, making conventional bait unsuitable.

Harvey Environmental came on board just over a year ago, to find a particularly high levels of rodent activity. “To survive and thrive, there are three main requirements a rodent needs: food, water and harbourage, and due to the location and the nature of the business, the rat problem was severe. Finished product was being damaged by rats and sightings were regular, and this has significant implications for the businesses reputation and regulatory status,” says Martin Harvey, managing director of Harvey Environmental Services.

“We worked with Richard Moseley from the Pest Solutions Team at Envu, who recommended the contact rodenticide Racumin® Foam. It’s pretty much the only contact-acting preparation (ingested by grooming rather than feeding) that’s available to us.

“We were attracted by its mode of action, because it suited the site and the location of the problem areas. Envu supported us with technical assistance and Richard made several site visits to help us with the initial application but also to check progress and to provide further support.

“With liquid and contact dust formulations being removed from our armoury, Racumin® Foam has proved to be a very good product to control this difficult infestation,” says Martin. “It’s versatile in the way it can be applied to hard to reach places that rats frequent and to rat runways. The product covers the rat’s coat when it runs through the foam, and appeals to the pests’ grooming habits. When the rat licks itself clean, the active is ingested.”

Martin believes that contact formulations are vital to pest controllers who want to do a ‘proper job’ of rodent control. “One of our mantras is to ‘take the pesticide to the pest’ rather than letting the pest hopefully find a bait box or bait tray (and then hope once again that they eat what is inside it). This also forces the technician to look carefully for where the rodent harbourage is located.”

Using contact preparations requires an understanding of the pest. “When we went to the site we did a thorough survey, and this meant getting down on our hands and knees, inspecting nooks and crannies and analysing the rodent behaviour, so we could locate the rat runways and apply the foam accordingly,” he says.

The Harvey Environmental team started with visits twice a week, then weekly, then fortnightly and now they are achieving control with monthly routine inspections, and the call-outs that were a very regular occurrence at this site have now dropped dramatically. “The rat problem has improved no end and this is largely down to the use of Racumin® Foam,” says Martin.

“The product has been extremely effective - we believe this is down to the fact that we have been able to employ the use of a contact formulation. The mode of application meant we could use the product in areas that we could not have previously used contact dust. The team reported to me that the applicator straw on the top of the Racumin® Foam canister allowed them to accurately reach alcoves and cavities, which is good for safety because the treatment has to be hidden from non-targets as much as possible.

“We have learned that there are more areas on the site that had rodent problems than we thought in the first place. Foam has given us indicators of activity, when we see traces of it, whereas we may not have picked this up through conventional means,” adds Martin.

The technical manager from the feed production site is working towards a BRC Global Standards accreditation and is happy the rodent problem is contained. “Responsible rodent control and accurate reporting forms a major part of BRC stipulations and what I can say is that reports of rats are now at an all-time low. It’s very rare to get anything reported inside the buildings at all.

“I’ve seen the foam strategically placed in locations inside the building and there is evidence of high efficacy - because the foam is being depleted by the rats running through it, so we know it’s working. We have also proofed the building externally, as advised by the pest control team, and we’re very pleased with the overall results,” he adds.

For this particular site, the rodent behaviour had to be monitored in order to achieve control and this means consideration for the correct use of the product and observation is crucial. Also highly important are cultural practices such as sealing or obstructing external holes and cavities to deny rodents access.

Richard Moseley from the Envu Pest Solutions Team recommended the product to Martin, and is clear that working closely with pest controllers to find solutions is of utmost importance. “We’re always willing to get involved with difficult sites, and with this one we visited it a number of times to help establish the best method of treatment.”

“In using Racumin® Foam an understanding of the biology of the pest is required. Rats groom extensively and spend up to 20% of their time cleaning and licking their fur and feet, and on a site where ample food source is available, traditional baiting isn’t always a viable option.

“With the Foam the pest controller has to monitor the rodent’s behaviour – find out exactly where their runways are, so that it can be accurately applied to ensure the rats are guaranteed to run through it,” adds Richard.

When faced with situations where traditional baiting methods are not effective, Racumin® Foam can be used as part of the rodent defence armoury as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach - it’s a first generation active containing the active ingredient coumatetralyl - giving professionals more choice.

Get in touch with the Envu Pest Solutions Team for more information e:  t: 00800 1214 9451.