Effective monitoring, baiting needed for mouse control

Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 14 May 2014

Mouse damage in the Esperance region

Growers in the Esperance region who need to bait mice should use the full label rate to minimise the chance of costly re-infestations, and continue to monitor paddocks during the growing season.

Local agronomists encourage growers to consult the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Mouse Management Fact Sheet (www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-MouseManagement2012) for information about monitoring and controlling the pests.

Agronomists and the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) have confirmed increased mouse activity on the Esperance sandplain - from Hopetoun to Condingup/Cape Arid - and that numbers warrant control measures in some cases.

There are reports of lower mouse numbers requiring monitoring in the Esperance Mallee region.

Precision Agronomics Australia agronomist Quenten Knight encouraged growers to assess mouse numbers and, if control was warranted, to apply baits at a sufficient rate, in keeping with label instructions.

“Past local grower experience is that if baiting is not done correctly the first time, mouse numbers can quickly bounce back and it is more likely that costly and time-consuming follow up baiting measures are required,” he said.

Mr Knight said the worst affected paddocks he had seen had a feed source – such as barley stubbles where there had been grain head loss.

“Mice in these areas have the potential to damage emerging canola crops in particular,” he said.

South East Agronomy Services agronomist Luke Marquis stressed the importance of continued monitoring following baiting and throughout the growing season.

“Mice present in paddocks can be at different stages of development at any one time, meaning possible re-infestation after baiting,” he said.

The GRDC Mouse Management Fact Sheet includes advice about good baiting practice as well as information on monitoring mouse numbers; mouse control; and economic thresholds.

Key message to growers contained in the resource include:

  • Mouse numbers can change rapidly based on the availability of food and shelter, so monitoring through and between seasons is important;
  • Damage at seeding and flowering causes the greatest yield losses;
  • Hygiene and management can help reduce mice numbers, but baiting is the only feasible in-crop control option;
  • Bait the night of, or within 24 hours of seeding to maximise mice knockdown;
  • Baiting pre-sowing and post-sowing and at crop emergence achieves high levels of control, but re-invasion can occur. Mice can travel 300 metres or more in a night;
  • Monitor crops about seven days after baiting to check for invading mice from adjacent areas. Rebaiting may be necessary;
  • Sow crops to an even depth and as deep as appropriate for each crop type. Sow crops as early as possible;
  • Baiting maturing crops is effective, but kill rates may be lower.

The GRDC, on behalf of growers and the Australian Government, is continuing to invest in a range of mouse-related research, development and extension activities and supports the National Mouse Management Working Group (NMMWG) which was set up in 2011 to co-ordinate actions to counter mouse plagues.

The working group’s WA representative, Ravensthorpe farmer Andrew Chambers, has reported a recent sharp increase in mouse activity on his own farm.

Through a new three-year GRDC-funded study, monitoring and modelling of mouse populations across the grain belt of Australia continues. The project is a collaboration between Landcare Research (New Zealand), CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences and the Invasive Animals CRC.

For interviews

Quenten Knight, PAA
0427 720 004
quenten.knight@precisionag.com.au

Luke Marquis, South East Agronomy Services
0429 367 947
lmarquis@westnet.com.au

GRDC Project Code IAC00001, IAC00002

Region West