Montreal’s Winter Woes: Resident Rodents on the Rise Amid Pesticide Bans and Pandemic Shifts


The curtain of summer is gradually descending, and Montreal’s inhabitants are retreating indoors, a beacon for unwelcome household pests. Montreal, with a reputation shaped by its harsh winters, becomes a haven for an assortment of small animals and insects seeking shelter in the warmth of human homes during these biting cold months.

Every Montreal resident holds a tale involving pests, from mice and rats to racoons and a colorful spectrum of bugs. Denny Andrade, a seasoned exterminator, is privy to many such narratives involving rodents.

Surveying an east-Plateau apartment kitchen, Andrade reflects on how a mouse has gnawed portions of the Gyprock inside a cupboard beneath the sink. Evident at the back of the cupboard is a tiny hole, showing enough wear to suggest a mouse’s repeated use. This cupboard, he highlights, is a hub for the mice, indulging in scraps from the trash bin, compost usually hidden under the sink, or savoring water droplets and condensation on pipes.

Depositing poison in a compact trap and closing it, he advances onto the roof, now in search of further potential access points.

Montreal apartments prove to be irresistible dwellings for mice. The fully-attached living quarters enable rodents to freely roam from one home to another. The deteriorating bricks and concrete structures, peppered with pre-existing tunnels just wide enough to allow a mouse’s passage, further facilitate them.

As per Andrade, the frequency of call-outs to address rodent issues has been on a steady upswing recently. There appears to be an escalation in infestations, mice droppings, and harrowing encounters with uninvited animal guests. He attributes this likely surge to the city’s recent ban on approximately 30 variants of fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides. The prohibition has compelled exterminators to resort to milder chemicals and mechanical contrivances.

Agreeing to this, Robert Caron, an area manager with Orkin Canada, a prominent pest control company, adds, “Some of nature’s resources fall short of being adequate.”

Caron notes that, like humans, pests are also driven to seek shelter during winters and lean towards infiltrating homes. Professionals in extermination have also observed that the recent pandemic had nudged rats and mice to abandon their usual habitats near restaurant waste disposal units, sewers, and parks, pushing them to foray into human residences in their quest for food during lockdowns.

Another potential factor underscoring the increment in pest control calls could be climate change. As per an insight shared by researchers with The Associated Press the previous summer, the rise in temperatures has resulted in an increased survival rate among rats and mice during winters.

Despite these multifaceted challenges, definitive measures can be taken to safeguard your house or cabin during the winter.

To stave off potential infestations, experts advocate that while fully pest-proofing one’s home may not be feasible, curtailing access points is a proven preemptive method.

According to Andrade, homeowners should ensure that there are no openings in their window and door screens and that the roof ventilation system is equipped with an anti-rodent mesh in robust condition. It is equally crucial to inspect the home’s bricks and mouldings for gaps – remember, a mouse can pass through a hole as small as a human pinky.

For those bidding adieu to their cottages for the winter, Caron advises storing away damp wood, like fire logs or unused planks, afar from buildings. Moist wood can make a cozy dwelling for insects and subsequently, serve as a highway into your property.

Caron additionally recommends trimming any trees with branches swaying too close to the building, while also emphasizing the importance of switching off the water supply before leaving to prevent burst pipes. Much like damp logs, drenched support beams can equally invite wood-boring pests.


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