By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — In the war against rodents, New York-based entrepreneur James Dussich has a secret weapon: mint.
Dussich is one of the founders of trash bag manufacturer Mint-X, which claims their first-of-a-kind EPA-certified mint-infused bags can safely and effectively keep rats at bay.
It has long been suggested that rats and other rodents despise the overpowering scent of mint. Numerous how-to websites, such as eHow, advise the rodent-plagued to leave peppermint-oil-soaked cotton balls around their homes and fumigate with solutions of strong tea made from mint leaves.
Mint-X's newest line of rat repellent trash bags, which hit the market last October, are manufactured with a scented mint resin that makes them smell like Altoids or Vicks VapoRub, Dussich said.
The idea is that rats, offended by the smell, won't want to tear into the minty trash bags and will move on to less pungent (and baited) pastures — which would be welcome news to residents across Manhattan, where rats have become a growing problem after the city made cuts to its pest control budget.
"For rodents, human trash is their main source of food," Dussich said. "You’re essentially cutting off the food source."
But so far, reviews for the product have been mixed.
Wally Sandoval, 55, who manages a 250-family building at 505 East 79th Street, credits the bags for saving his tenants from an infestation in the building's garbage room.
He's been using earlier models of the bags for two years, and said that since he started, he's seen rodent activity disappear.
"They're fantastic," he said. "Ever since the bags, we have no rodents in the basement."
He also prefers the smell. "It don't smell like a rose garden, but it's much more pleasant than before," he said.
But the New York City Housing Authority has had no such luck.
It's been testing the bags on a pilot basis at the Pink House development in Brooklyn, but staff staff there have noticed no difference. Rodents eat straight through the bags just like any other, spokeswoman Myriam Ayala said.
Still, Dussich has approached the MTA and said he hopes to meet soon to discuss using the bags to drive rats from the subways.
Dussich said the bags also work on raccoons, which have been plaguing Central Park in recent months.
Mint-X bags cost about the same as the non-scented kind. They are currently available online and are expected to hit local hardware stores within the next month, Dussich said.