Count your mice for national census week

Graph of Australia showing low mice numbers in most areas but orange (moderate) on the Adelaide Plains and Yorke Peninsula, and the Eyre Peninsula. Red (high) dots on the west of the Eyre Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula

Mouse abundance graph (April 2015). Source: Peter Brown

It is National Mouse Census Week and growers are encouraged to report mouse activity using the GRDC-supported tool MouseAlert.

CSIRO ecologist Dr Peter Brown says present reports suggest mouse activity is low in Victoria and New South Wales, but has increased in South Australia with higher than normal numbers in some areas.

“We’ve seen a spike in mouse activity of the Adelaide Plains, and have received reports of moderate mouse activity on the Yorke Peninsula and for some areas on the Eyre Peninsula (Ceduna and Buckleboo). Damage at sowing is possible in these areas and growers should remain vigilant,” he said.

Previous monitoring in September 2014 had shown a decline in numbers of mice in SA, but increasing numbers of mice in Victoria.

“Luckily for Victorian growers, mouse numbers have dropped and are generally low across the state. Our monitoring site at Walpeup and general reports from the Mallee and Wimmera regions show that the mouse activity is not higher than normal coming into seeding,” Dr Brown said.

“During the national mouse census, we would like as many growers as possible to record mouse activity on their property, so we can produce better forecasts of the likelihood of mouse plagues in their region. The more growers who record mice using MouseAlert, the more accurate our advice will be. Reports on an absence of mice can be as important as reports of high levels of activity; both types of information will improve forecasts.”

CSIRO forecasts use data from intensive trapping at some sites, other easy to use measures such as mouse chew cards, as well as direct reports from agronomists and growers using MouseAlert.

Where mice present a risk, Dr Brown recommends growers work with their neighbours on a 1000-hectare scale for optimal mouse control, and start control straight after seeding.

“If growers work on a smaller scale, it is likely mice will just move back in, so it is important to ensure that growers team up and cover that whole 1000 hectares, so that they can get a good level of control. While the best timing for bait application is not yet clear, there is anecdotal evidence that mice are more inquisitive after seeding and show an increased interest in bait,” he said.

Zinc phosphide is the only chemical registered for in-crop mouse baiting and can be applied by fertiliser spreader or aeroplane.

Farmers can find MouseAlert at the website or download the new MouseAlert App at the iTunes store (see Resources). These mouse-monitoring programs are funded by the GRDC in collaboration with Landcare Research New Zealand, CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Invasive Animals CRC.


More information:


Peter Brown, 02 6246 4086, peter.brown@csiro.au


Resources:


Find MouseAlert on the website or at the iTunes store

Follow MouseAlert updates on Twitter @MouseAlert

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