Graingrowers throughout the wheatbelt have been urged to monitor their paddocks for mice activity, following recent isolated reports from the Geraldton and Esperance regions.
With the start of seeding possibly just weeks away, the Department of Agriculture and Food has advised farmers to carefully assess their paddocks for mice while planning their cropping program.
Invasive species project manager Tim Stevens said mice could be particularly damaging at seeding, as they can eat recently sown grain and/or germinating seedlings.
Mr Stevens said farmers should continue to monitor their paddocks over the next few months, especially if the current mild conditions continue.
“Mouse numbers across a paddock can be patchy so it can be difficult to assess their numbers without examining the whole paddock before deciding if action is required,” he said.
“Mice are most active at night time, so sightings of mice during the day can often indicate high numbers. Another good indicator is increased activity by birds of prey.”
Mouse numbers can build up under favourable conditions, such as a late harvest, mild winter and a relatively warm and dry spring. Roadside verges can be common breeding refuges for house mice.
The department recommended good farm hygiene measures to minimise the risk of mice like cleaning up any mouse refuges, such as rubbish tips, weedy fence lines and any split grain and, where possible, to graze stubbles.
There is also an effective control option available.
“Mouse numbers can be reduced by ground or aerial broadcast of Zinc Phosphide grain bait, available from licensed S7 retailers who can provide farmers with information on its use,” Mr Stevens said.
“Farmers should note there are strict label regulations governing the use of Zinc Phosphide, including a 14 day withholding period prior to harvest.”
For more information on mouse control visit the department’s website www.agric.wa.gov.au and search for ‘mouse control’ or call its Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.