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Colder temps may contribute to pest infestations in Alexandria area

Exclusion is always the best bet to prevent infestations from occurring in the first place, said Luke Buggert of Complete Ground Control in Alexandria.

Mouse
A mouse looks out from a hole in the wall.
Irina K. - stock.adobe.com
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ALEXANDRIA — With the recent below-freezing temperatures, residents may be more likely to have some unwelcome visitors in their homes.

"I'd say we probably get 80% of our mouse problem phone calls starting in October, through January," said Luke Buggert of Complete Ground Control, LLC in Alexandria.

A tactic called "exclusion" is always the best bet to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place, he said.

"That's the process of fixing how they might get in," Buggert said. "If there's not a way in, then they can't get in. If somebody has a problem, that's the first thing we would try to do."

The City of St. Paul has a brief list of suggestions to help people from getting pest infestations in their homes. It includes such tips as having garbage cans, keeping garbage and trash picked up, cutting weeds and tall grass, and stacking firewood one foot off the ground.

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The sooner the problem can be dealt with, the better, Buggert said.

"Given time, two mice are going to turn into many mice," he said. "Typically in a home you notice the problem pretty quick … but in a farm or storage shed left unsupervised, those populations can grow and cause damage."

One person who is dealing with just such a situation is Beth Leipholtz, who lives in an old farmhouse near Leaf Valley.

"Recently we started noticing there were little nibbles in the bags in our pantry with little bits of food coming through," Leipholtz said.

Those bags were taken out of the pantry, whereupon Leipholtz found further evidence of mice.

"We threw a lot of stuff away," she said. "We put everything we could in those plastic canisters that they couldn't bite through and set up a couple different kinds of traps."

Despite the effort, Leipholtz said she found more nibbles in other bags, and the traps didn't work.

"We ended up pulling everything out," she said.

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Leipholtz said her house was remodeled after it was purchased, and there was space behind the pantry and refrigerator that didn't have trim and thus had a little gap in it.

Foam has since been sprayed to seal it up, she said.

"That seems to have done it for now," Leipholtz said.

In addition to the furry invaders, another unwelcome pest has seen a population increase in the Alexandria area this year.

"We've got a huge spike in cockroach infestations," Buggert said. "That's something a lot of people don't even know we have around here."

The increase is by as much as 80%, Buggert said, with most of the cockroaches being German cockroaches.

One theory as to why there are more this year has to do with the ongoing supply chain issues, which has seen large shipping containers sit in one place for months at a time.

"They treat those shipping containers when they leave and when they get (to their destinations), but if it sits for a month, two months, three months and those populations are unchecked, they just spike," Buggert said.

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University of Minnesota Extension has a list of tips to help keep cockroaches out of the home. Some of these include:

  • Remove corrugated cardboard boxes, newspapers, bags and other unnecessary clutter.
  • When storing items, leave space between packages.
  • Use caulk to seal spaces and cracks where cockroaches hide. Concentrate on areas where cockroach numbers are the highest.
  • Seal spaces where plumbing or electrical wiring goes through walls with steel wool or other rough material.
  • Put covers (escutcheon plates) on points where plumbing enters the wall, to restrict movement of cockroaches.

For more information, visit extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/cockroaches .

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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