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Protecting Your Fruit Trees in Melbourne, Florida

Fruit trees provide a large contribution to Florida’s economy… and to roof rats.  Our weather is perfect for growing a wide variety of fruit tree species, including citrus, peaches, fig and avocados.  It also is the prime habitat for a large variety of insects.  Both are prime food sources for this destructive species of omnivorous rodent.  Learning what to watch for and how to get rid of roof rats can help prevent your fruit and your attic from being overtaken.

Signs of Roof Rats

These arboreal rodents are very fond of fruit that grows on trees.  Given our lush supply of easily grown fruit, even in your own backyard, it is important to know how to identify a potential roof rat infestation early on.  Since they can travel up to 150 yards from their den to locate your fresh yummies, you may not know they have chosen your trees until much of the fruit has been destroyed.  Being vigilant during harvest times can ensure you catch them early on.

* Look for holes in the fruit. These holes will be roughly the size of a half dollar coin, but the fruit will have been hollowed out.  They eat the fruit before it falls to the ground, so don’t forget to look up!

* Watch for their droppings. They are black and up to ½ inch long and shaped like small bananas.

* Roof rats will leave a grease trail along their most favorite traveling routes. This will look like a dark discoloration along tree trunks and branches.

Fruit Rats in the Attic

The key to removing roof rats, aka: fruit rats, is to locate and destroy the den or nest.  Your pest control exterminator can help ensure the proper identification of the species and begin the removal process.  Because roof rats are such excellent climbers, they prefer to nest up high in hollow trees, palm fronds and of course, attics.  Methods such as trapping or poisons are effective removal tactics.

Taking Preventative Measures

Once the roof rats have been removed, it is important to ensure they cannot come back.  All entry or exit ways along the eaves of your roof need to be sealed up.  Tree guards can be purchased to wrap around the tree trunk to prevent the rats from climbing up.  Also, ensure all branches are trimmed so as not to hang over the roof or along fence lines.  For persistent cases, bait stations may be placed by your pest control servicer to ensure you stay one step ahead.

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