Preventing Rodents in the Greenhouse
Rodent damage prevention is just one of the many functions of integrated pest management (IPM) for greenhouses. Crops and seeds are a welcome feast for hungry rodents. Rodents can cause damage from feeding on the crops, chewing holes in plastics and pots, and tunneling in growth medium. Growers cultivating consumable crops must be especially vigilant of rodents because of the added health and safety risks they present. FDA food safety regulations for rodent control will also apply to food crops.
4 Step Greenhouse Rodent Control and Prevention
- Exclusion is the first step in preventing rodents. They can enter greenhouses through openings as small as ¼” so sealing cracks and holes is important. A fine mesh screen can be placed around the greenhouse perimeter. The screen should be 6” wide and bend out at a 90° angle from the greenhouse to help deter rodents.
- Sanitation is the next step in rodent prevention. Removing vegetation and debris around the greenhouse is important. Keeping trash covered helps as well. Avoid keeping firewood, animal feed, and birdseed in or around the greenhouse.
- Traps and baits can be used if a few rodents have been spotted in the greenhouse. Traps like glue traps and snap traps are good for use near crops because they are non-toxic. Wear gloves when placing traps to keep them from smelling like a human, and bait them with peanut butter for mice or apple for voles. Traps are best placed along a run. Rodents are prone to taking the same paths, so identifying their paths and setting traps along it will improve the chances of catching them.
- Rodenticides are toxic chemical rodent baits that should be used as a last resort. They are highly effective in reducing rodent populations but introduce the risk of toxic chemicals contaminating crops. Identifying the type of rodents will help to choose baits that are most effective in trapping them.