Mouse trouble sneaks up on Western Pennsylvania homeowners during winter
For the first 13 years Chris Bosko lived in her Butler County house, mice were infrequent and unfortunate visitors.
A mouse would creep into the basement, her cat, Mocha, would hear it, “and that would be it,” she said.
At the end of October, however, mice started entering her house in force.
“They were under the stove, under the sink,” said Bosko, 59, of Butler. “They had chewed three holes in the living room wall.”
The seven-county Pittsburgh metro area had the fourth-highest percentage of homes reporting signs of mice in the 2011 American Housing Survey results that the Census Bureau released in February. Overall, about 12.3 percent of homes in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties reported signs of mice.
The results covered the 29 largest metro areas in the country. The Providence, R.I., area had the highest rate, with 14 percent of homes reporting mouse signs. The metro area that includes Phoenix had the lowest rate, with 1.5 percent of homes reporting signs of mice.
One fact supporting Pittsburgh's mice problem is that the city had the second-oldest housing stock, with a median age of 58 years, the survey showed. The median housing age in the Providence metro area was 51 years, and the median for the Phoenix metro area was 26 years.
Mice can push through a hole or crack as small as a quarter-inch wide, and older homes tend to have more holes and cracks that size.
Chad Gore, a local entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control, said mice often can even squeeze between the door and door frame on outside doors in older homes, and few people think about how much space there is around their garage doors.
“Really, the best place to start is outside” when it comes to deterring the four-legged house guests, he said.
Dave Trozzo of Slippery Rock Pest Control said a lot of older homes also have openings underneath.
“We have old sandstone basements, clay tile basements, block basements,” he said.
Everyone agreed that winter is the most likely time for mice.
Ian Ferguson, owner of Critter Control in Ross, said that between December and February, calls about mice account for about 90 percent of his calls. The other 10 percent pertain to squirrels.
Both mice and squirrels seek warm nesting areas when temperatures drop, and a surprising number of calls about squirrels in an attic turn out to be mice in the attic, he said.
“The most common place for mice to get in is the attic,” Ferguson said.
Bill Todaro, an entomologist with the Allegheny County Health Department, said boxes of papers and clothes sitting in basements and attics are attractive nesting places.
“If you give them a quiet closet or basements with lots of boxes, then all it takes is one female to get in there,” he said.
By the time people see a mouse, they're probably seeing offspring who are foraging farther out for food, he said. The chief mistake is to concentrate on them, he said.
Surprisingly, a cat's food dish is often a key source of food for mice because pet owners keep it filled.
“Mice fill up the walls with cat food,” Todaro said. “They fill up the furniture with cat food. Mice are very good at filling up their cheeks with food and squirreling it away.”
Bosko said she found that out when Trozzo started finding Mocha's cat food stashed away in several parts of her house.
“You have to change your way of life,” Bosko said. “You have to make sure that there's absolutely nothing around that they would like to eat.”
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Memorial Day service in National Cemetery of the Alleghenies grows each year
- Journalist Burzynski found place in public relations, military
- Man shot while driving through Liberty Tunnel
- Pa. gaming industry’s growth amplifies siren call for addicts
- Newsmaker: John F. Alcorn
- Lowly job likely awaits former Pittsburgh police chief after prison
- Little Free Libraries catching on in Pittsburgh region
- Grand jury investigating Plum sex scandal involving possibly 8 students
- 9 juveniles charged in connection with opening day disturbance at Kennywood
- BNY Mellon ‘repeatedly misled clients’