A Rodent Uprising: The Denver Pest Report

August 21, 2018

With the temperatures in Denver rising this summer so has rodent activity in the region.

Kolbin Bertilson, Sprague's service center manager in Denver, says rodents – particularly Norway rats – have been prevalent this summer – a trend he sees continuing.

“For three years in a row we have seen increasing levels of rodent activity based on client calls, catch data and sightings in the Denver metro area and toward Colorado Springs,” says Bertilson. 

Rodents can introduce serious health and structural damage threats to a wide array of commercial clients from food processing and distribution facilities to healthcare and hospitality venues. 

Rats and mice can transmit harmful bacteria including E. coli and salmonella. They contaminate and spoil processed and unprocessed food and food preparation surfaces. They also chew through wiring in wall and ceiling voids increasing the risk of an electrical fire.

What is causing this spike in rodent activity?

Bertilson points to Denver’s property development boom – there are currently 35 projects under construction or planned which will add more than 700 hotel rooms, 4,500 residential units and nearly 3 million square feet of office space in downtown Denver alone – as one reason for the continued upward trend in rodent activity.

“The flourishing construction has physically displaced rodent nesting sites above and below ground, forcing rodents to find new places to live and new food sources,” says Bertilson. 

While construction can disrupt rodents’ habitats and force them to try and gain access to nearby structures, the influx of more people also leads to more waste and trash – two things rodents thrive on.

According to a report by the Downtown Denver partnership, downtown Denver’s workforce of over 130,000 people has grown at a rate of 20 percent since 2010. Combine that with the addition of thousands of new downtown residents and you have lots more people producing lots more conducive conditions for rodents to multiply.

Bertilson says the rodent experts at Sprague use multiple approaches to control these Norway rats in commercial properties, including methods like baiting and trapping but also IPM-based exclusion, cultural and sanitation practices.

“We don’t see the rodent pressure lessening so we are thinking like a rat would and developing schemes to mitigate their impact on commercial facilities,” says Bertilson. “We want to make structures less attractive to rodents.”

Other pests that are making their mark this summer include flies and mosquitoes. A mild winter, wet spring and hot summer have promoted favorable conditions for both these pests that are known carriers of disease.

Large flies, including blow and house flies, are attracted to waste found in dumpsters and outdoor areas, and will try and gain access to structures through broken screens and open doors.

Dumpsters that collect excess moisture are also prime attractants for mosquitoes. With heightened awareness about the health threats – West Nile and Zika viruses - mosquitoes pose, property managers want these pests controlled.

Sprague deploys the latest technology to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and knockdown adult mosquitoes to mitigate the threat.

Fall Expectations

What does Denver’s fall pest outlook look like? According to Bertilson, another species of rodent – mice – might be problematic for clients.

Mice, deer mice in particular, will be looking to move from their outside nesting locations as temperatures drop and food sources become scarcer. 

Occasional invaders such as boxelder bugs – which nest high in trees and access structures through attic and roof vents, and the flashing around windows and doors – are more of a nuisance than a threat. To an auditor however, the presence of any pest in a food processing facility is a bad thing.

The fall season also brings increased stinging insects pressure as nest sizes increase and inhabitants forage aggressively for food.

Have questions on how to best prepare your facility to prevent pest incursions? Our pest prevention specialists can help design or update your pest management programs that halt pests access and keep your facilities pest-free. 

Call 855.805.0755 or e-mail us  to find out how our innovative pest management and food safety solutions can work for your company.

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