Most pest management professionals in the business of handling nuisance wildlife control are aware of devices that can send alerts to them electronically when a trap door closes. But what about alerts for other devices like rat snap traps, mouse snap traps, tube traps and body grip traps used for more common pest scenarios? The possibilities are endless. When choosing to use electronic monitoring for wildlife or other pest control, several considerations should come into play:

Q: Is electronic trap monitoring legal in my state?

A: First, check with your state’s wildlife regulations regarding the use of ETM (electronic trap monitoring). I was fortunate that my state had passed a regulation that allows the use of ETM vs. a 24-hour mandatory trap check. However, different states have taken a variety of positions on the efficacy of these relatively new tools so it’s important to do your research.

If regulations regarding electronic trap checking have not been passed, you still may be able to use the technology but you also may be required to continue daily visual checks of traps to comply with current regulations. For me, even when I had to use a combination of both approaches before the ETM regulation was passed, it was still a benefit because of the reduction of time the animal was in the trap and exposed to the elements or, in some cases, in view of the public.

Now that my own state has officially allowed ETM, it has become a tremendous time saver and worth every penny. For example, when trapping flying squirrels I sometimes use rat snap traps. Now I can set up to 12 traps in an attic and be alerted when I have capture(s). I know exactly what trap(s) and what part of the attic they are in. Again, this is a tremendous time saver.

Q: How can I use electronic trap monitoring for pest control work that is not wildlife control?

A: In an area with rodent activity, I can set up 12 snap traps and place them in drop ceilings, under store shelving units, etc. I can number each snap trap, 1 to 12, and place the monitors on them. I would not need to check these traps until I have received an alert telling me which snap trap has experienced activity. I can then go to that one snap trap, remove the rodent and replace the trap. The time saved in daily trips, lifting entire areas of drop ceiling tiles, removing product off the shelves, etc., is staggering. Of course, this same process can be applied to rat traps as well.

Another example of effective use of ETM is placing 50 to 100 snap traps in an account and reserving ETM monitors for those snap traps that are in the most inaccessible areas, such as under dog food shelving, in locked areas/rooms or above drop ceilings where a ladder would be necessary to inspect the traps. Then, when I do my regular check on the account, I am only checking the traditionally placed snap traps, not those placed in less accessible areas, which will only need to be checked when an alert has been received.

Keep in mind that some accounts you have may require that all devices be electronically scanned or recorded with a handheld device by way of barcodes placed on the devices themselves. EMT may not be the best choice in this circumstance unless the devices that are carrying the monitors will not be bar coded or can be recorded manually. It will be a company and client decision on whether the ETM method could or should be used in those cases.

Q: On what traps can you place monitors?

A: Check with the vendor to see what fits your business model the best and what traps you plan to use. Part of the fun of using ETM is figuring out new ways to use them and different traps in which they could be placed. You may be surprised by how versatile the monitors are.

Q: What is the cost?

A: When choosing an ETM company to use, look at the features, benefits and overall cost before making a decision. Check into all possible vendors and compare what they are offering. When deciding if the cost will fit into your company’s budget, remember to also consider the amount of time saved that can be directed towards your other pest control and wildlife ventures.

Q: What is the future of trap alerts?

A: I have been fortunate to do some beta testing for new technology that will be entering the marketplace soon — prepare to be amazed!

Final Thoughts

When thinking about whether electronic trap monitoring will work for your company, keep an open mind to all the ways you can save valuable time, energy and money. ETM is no longer limited to controlling nuisance wildlife — its potential is huge and it’s up to you how best to leverage the possibilities.

Jim Nase, an Associate Certified Entomologist, is service manager at Moyer Indoor/Outdoor Pest Control, Souderton, Pa. Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America.

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