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Digital Rodent Management Device Technologies – what are the pros & cons?

Digital rodent monitoring systems are starting to revolutionise the way pest control professionals manage rodent populations. By utilising advanced hardware and software technologies, these systems allow pest management professionals (PMP’s) to remotely monitor rodent activity, track infestation patterns and take proactive measures to prevent infestations.

At first glance many of these systems may appear to be similar, but what are some of the key differences of which PMPs should be aware?

Networking – how remote is remote?

There are various networking technologies in use, but a key distinction is between ‘local’ and ‘wide area’ networking techniques. Bluetooth falls into the first camp and is limited to a transmission distance of around 10m, much like other Bluetooth peripherals connected to your mobile phone. That’s OK if you only want to receive updated data whilst visiting & walking around a site, but it doesn’t offer any remote monitoring and thus the opportunity to proactively respond to activity, or to optimise site visits and servicing schedules.

Conversely, wide area systems will typically be internet connected in some way and offer true remote monitoring from anywhere of what’s happening on site, allowing for more proactive servicing and in some cases remote assessment of the types of pest activity occurring. Many of these systems use what are known as Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) such as LoRaWAN, which offer connectivity of multiple devices through a single gateway device, being more cost efficient than e.g. each snap trap having its own 4G connection. LoRa technologies also offer benefits for device connectivity in locations where it is challenging to achieve reliable wireless communications and a cellular 4G signal may not be available site-wide.

How the gateway on-site connects back to the internet is another consideration, as whilst WiFi networks may be pervasive, there may be no guaranteed service level from whoever is running the network. Similarly, corporate IT departments tend to be security conscious about allowing new connections, so due to this a dedicated, shared cellular 4G connection is often the preferred way to go to ensure uninterrupted service for remote monitoring.

Rodent Monitoring Sensors – what are the options?

Most remote rodent monitoring systems use motion detection sensors in some form, to detect rodent activity. These sensors are typically small and can be placed in areas where rodents are likely to pass through. While motion detection is an effective way to track rodent activity, it does not typically differentiate between rodents & non-target activity. Also the fact that something has happened but there’s no additional information on what specifically has occurred, means that a site visit is needed to diagnose further. Depending upon the location and the likelihood of extraneous activity, this can be inefficient.

Smart snap traps go beyond or are often combined with motion detection, also offering the benefit of instant control including secured capture of the rodent in some cases. Most of these devices are however single use, so as soon as they are tripped they require on-site servicing. It is therefore important to look for snap traps that guard against false positive captures in some way, to minimise unnecessary on-site visits & servicing.

Multi-sensor devices detect environmental factors beyond just motion, providing a more comprehensive understanding of rodent activity. Temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels can reveal conditions that support infestations and help PMP’s prevent them. Vibration sensors can also be included to detect rodent activity on specific surfaces. This approach allows for more targeted pest control strategies, such as placing traps or baits in specific areas. A multi-sensor approach provides a more nuanced understanding of rodent behaviour, enabling PMP’s to more effectively manage infestations.

For instance, PestSense’s multi-sensor approach includes measuring rodenticide consumption. This enables a more detailed profile of rodent activity with accurate insights into the effectiveness of the control program. The ability to support both rodenticide and non-chemical methods also provides maximum flexibility for PMPs, with the ability to utilise non-toxic monitoring baits being a valuable option in sensitive environments and to minimise environmental impacts. Unlike snap traps, bait stations have the benefit of being multi-visit devices, so analytics can remotely inform the PMP as to the type of pest activity and identify when control measures are appropriate.

In conclusion, remote rodent monitoring technologies offer many benefits for PMP’s, including real-time alerts and data analysis which enable proactive measures to prevent infestations. Different technologies have pros and cons which may not be immediately evident but require consideration to ensure that the operational benefits to pest control services providers are maximised. Whilst motion detection sensors and snap traps are popular choices, new devices are now coming onto the market which will provide a different level of remote insights into activity occurring on-site and enable new operational models.


Rob Burley-Jukes is PestSense’s Alliances & Strategy Director

Other related articles in this series may be found in the PestSense blog.


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