Can BedBugs Cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

In one of our previous posts, “Killem Pest Profile Series: What You Need to Know about Bed Bugs”, we looked bed bugs and how bed bug infestations can be treated. Did you know that bed bugs are capable of causing significant emotional and psychological harm to an individual? Read on to find out more.

What are Bedbugs?

Bedbugs are an extremely common pest which often infest places where many people come into contact with each other. They are known for roosting in the beds of homes, hotels, motels, hostels, cruise ships, and many other places, though they will often also live in other furniture and the walls.

They are small, brown, oval-shaped, and recognizable because of the sweet yet musty odor they produce. Full-grown males are larger than females, and range from 2.5mm to 4.5mm long. Humans frequently develop rashes from their bites, which can lead to greater problems like skin infections.

A bedbug

Bedbugs are parasitic and will feed on the blood of any animals they come in contact with. They are notoriously difficult to eliminate, and it is recommended that anyone facing an infestation call an exterminator to remove them all.

Bedbug bites

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition that a person develops after a traumatic incident or event. Some of the symptoms include severe anxiety, nightmares, lashing out at others when stressed, excessive anger, or uncontrollable thoughts about the person’s source of stress.

One of the most common examples of PTSD is demonstrated by soldiers who returned home from catastrophic wars like WWII. Because of their constant stress and the terrifying nature of the events, many soldiers would suffer flashbacks or panic when they heard something that sounded like gunfire. For example, some former soldiers would tackle their family members and try to protect them because they heard popcorn popping and thought it was shellfire.

How are they related?

So, how is it possible for bedbugs and PTSD to be related? According to recent psychological studies, people dealing with bedbug infestations reported similar symptoms to people with PTSD. People reported severe anxiety, traumatic flashbacks to finding the bugs in their homes, and fitful slumber often characterized by nightmares. The mental health of the people faced with bedbugs was unknown prior to the infestation, but up to 81% in one study experienced similar symptoms to PTSD sufferers.

Human Fear

But what can people do about this high source of stress? There are a few options available, but the three greatest ones are therapy, educating oneself about bedbugs and realizing they do not mean a person is dirty, and regular pest control checkups to ensure they don’t return.

The first option may seem obvious, but is helpful. Speaking to a therapist helps people feel calmer and express their anxiety to a neutral outlet without fear of judgement. Proper education is related to this first option. The more people learn about bedbugs, the more they realize that the pests didn’t invade their home because a person is dirty. Instead, bedbugs are extremely common in cities and have been on the rise in recent decades due to the ease of travel.

One of the biggest causes of bedbug-induced PTSD is the lack of peace of mind. By having regular, thorough inspections, a person is able to see that there are no hidden bedbugs in their home and can start working on their symptoms of anxiety. It is recommended that people pursue this option in addition to counseling to help treat their nerves. Either way, there are many things a person can do to help them cope with bedbug-induced PTSD.

People who have experienced bedbug infestations in Singapore can contact Killem Pest, as we offer professional bedbug control in Singapore and can schedule regular inspections for you.


The Biggest Pest Control Jobs in History

Singapore may be currently experiencing a rise in rodent populations due to an increasing human population (therefore an abundance of food and shelter), however, we should count ourselves as lucky as this is nothing compared to some of the pest control jobs below…

Rooting out the Rats

The Rat Islands; an unappetizing nickname for a place overwhelmed with unsavory creatures. Located in southwest Alaska, the Aleutian Islands were infested by rats after a fishing vessel arrived on the coast and accidentally introduced the population into the ecosystem in 1780.

Alaska Landscape

With few natural predators, the rat population flourished and numbered into the thousands, decimating the local seabird numbers. An invasive pest, rats were recorded by subsequent voyages throughout the 19th century and continued until the 21st. Annoyed by the scourge, the federal government of the United States teamed up with local conservation groups and launched a $2.5 million project that involved state-of-the-art technology and chemical trickery.

Rats are intelligent creatures; if a food seems poisonous, the rest of the population will avoid it. In order to trick the rodents, scientists placed a slow-acting toxin in grain pellets that would take five days to act. Within a few weeks, the rat population died underground in their burrows, restoring the natural ecosystem.

Rat Control

Pests are invasive and, when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on entire islands.

The Argentinean Plagues

Argentina is a South American nation that experiences annual locust problems due to the warm, wet climate and agricultural economy. The locusts breed in the forests, spreading their offspring each year and raiding farms for food. However, previous insurgencies were nothing compared to the epidemic that struck the nation in 2016.

Clouds of locusts ranging from four miles wide to two miles high could be seen across northern Argentina, and boded ill for farmers who soon found their homes surrounded by young. Fumigators in 66 counties spent a month working for Senasa – the Argentinean agricultural agency. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent combatting the plague before it could descend upon farmers, sparing them the loss of crops worth millions.

However, this was not the end for Argentina. Despite their efforts, fumigators missed large chunks of the population. Helicopters were called in to spread pesticides throughout the countryside, adding even more expense to the already costly infestation. Argentina’s problem is a prime example of a simple maxim: do not let a pest population grow out of control.

Locust Swarm

Four Small Pests: One Large Failure

Good intentions can have bad outcomes. In 1958, leader Mao Zedong introduced the “Four Pests” campaign designed to target four creatures that spread disease and damaged crops in China. Mosquitos, rodents, and flies were common pests eliminated through traps and poison.

Sparrows were the fourth “pest” but would have drastic consequences. People would destroy nests and baby sparrows, shoot the birds, or prevent them from sleeping by drumming until they fell dead from the sky. The scale of this operation was enormous – truly one of the greatest pest control jobs in history. Millions of people engaged in competitions to see who could eliminate the most pests; the winners were rewarded.

Sparrow

By 1960, severe ecological damage had been wrought. Rice, the staple crop, withered and was devastated by hordes of insects that no longer had their natural predator, the sparrows. Poor pest control, in combination with misused pesticides and deforestation, led to a famine that killed between 20-40 million people.

One major lesson can be learned here: pest control should be left to the professionals.

If you have a pest infestation that is beyond your control or other pest control providers have not given effective solutions, please get in touch with us. There is a reason our motto is: “When all else fails, Killem prevails”. We are confident that we can provide the most effective and least disruptive solutions to your pest problems.


Industry Inside: Pest Control in Schools and Learning Institutions

University Hall Building

Schools are places of learning, but that does not mean that students and employees will not be plagued by the same pests that affect other buildings. Ants, cockroaches, rodents, and flies are common creatures whose populations will grow out of control unless curbed.

Where can pests be found?

Schools have many places for pests like cockroaches and rodents to hide. Cafeterias are common spots known to become infestation zones because of the abundance of food and the number of hiding places – homes can be established in cabinets, between appliances, and even in the floor and walls.

Lockers are another dangerous area: if a student forgets about snacks left inside, pests can sneak in and then transfer to other lockers in the area or even the student’s home. Gyms, locker rooms, unattended dumpsters, and even buses have hundreds of nooks and crannies that pests would find comfortable.

School Recreation Area

How can pests spread?

In a large institution like a school, it can be difficult to identify all the areas that have become infested. Disease can spread quickly from fecal matter, to one human, and then rapidly to many others that cross paths with the infected.

Small children have less developed immune systems and are more likely to contract and pass illnesses to their peers. It is recommended that children be separated by age so that children over the age of 3 are not exposed to their younger peers, who are more susceptible to disease.

Due to being outdoors, children are also likely to bring pests inside. Even more problematic is that students and teachers can accidentally take pests home in their backpacks and bags, which spreads the problem.

Once a pest infestation is detected, children should be removed from the problematic areas and tested for possible illnesses. Spraying, gelling and misting are quality services that can stop an infestation once it has started, and calling professionals should be the first step rather than school employees trying to use commercial killing products.

How to control pests once there is an infestation?

Professional pest control providers such as Killem Pest can prevent many of the pitfalls of home treatment. With the experience we have, our pest control providers are able to select chemicals that cause the least amount of harm to both the environment and the population of the school. Many novice users will spread the chemicals too far, use too little, or use too much. In these situations, it is possible to make students and employers sick, or even poison them by accident.

Proper disposal is also important, and professionals have the resources and knowledge to remove toxins safely and effectively. They are also trained to detect nests and hiding places, ensuring a thorough job that can prevent pests from returning.

Many people make the mistake of only targeting one area, when pests like cockroaches, ants, flies, and other smaller organisms can spread throughout the entire building. Professionals are more capable of conducting a thorough search and solving the problem.

How to prevent a pest infestation?

Before a problem begins, schools can also institute preventative measures against pests. Sanitation rules in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as student lockers, can stop the buildup of food that attracts rodents and bugs.

Play spaces should be sanitized each night. Dumpsters and other receptacles should be emptied nightly and stored somewhere away from the building – the garbage is attractive due to its smell and abundance. Sealing leaky pipes and crevices in the walls and floors can reduce water supplies and restrict entrance into the building, making the school an undesirable habitat.

Students should be educated on the pitfalls of storing food in their lockers for excessive periods of time, and designated eating areas can make proper cleanup easier. As buses are more difficult to treat than buildings, students can be encouraged to not eat their breakfast there, and to clean up after themselves.

Another way to control the spread of pests (especially communal organisms like lice) is to keep children separated into groups and prevent interaction with one another, as mentioned above. According to the Ministry of Health, such actions will also stop infectious and bacterial diseases from spreading.

Like any other building, schools are susceptible to infestation and should be treated accordingly. Before, during, and after a problem, preventative measures and professional help are encouraged to keep students and employees safe.

University Hall Building


Killem Pest Profile: How to Identify Rodents such as Rats and Mice and How to Get Rid of Them

In the pest control industry, we use the term ‘rodent’ or ‘rodents’ to refer to both mice and rats. Rodents are becoming a rising concern in Singapore due to a very dense population and therefore an abundance of food and shelter that they can find.

The NEA has even set up a special task force to coordinate and monitor rodent control in Singapore. Below we take a look at the biology and behavior of rats and mice.

How to Identify Mice

Singapore has only nine native rodent species, but animals from other regions have invaded and constitute some major pests. One of the most common species is the house mouse. The average mouse weighs half an ounce and can range from 5.5 to 7.5 inches long.

They come in a variety of colors, ranging from white to brown to grey. Because of their size and natural predators, they have keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing, and are cautious around people.

Example of a Mice Infestation

They also make excellent escape artists, being able to squeeze through holes in the walls, slip under doors, and even climb into cabinets.

Part of what makes them a difficult pest to deal with is their reproductive capacity: one female mouse can have 5-10 litters every year, producing 5-6 offspring each time. In total, this means one pair of mice can have 25-60 children in 12 months.

Although they may appear small and fluffy, mice are not pleasant inside homes or work places. Their fecal matter contains the bacteria necessary to contract salmonella, and they can spread it to food through their feet.

While their diet primarily consists of grains, they will nibble on a wide variety of foods, making them common kitchen pests. Often living in basements, attics, and walls they sneak out from their dens when the homeowners are sleeping and inactive to search for food.

How to Identify Rats

Rats are often confused with mice but are considered a more serious threat. In Singapore, the most common types of rat are the Norway Rat and the Roof Rat. The Norway Rat weighs roughly 1.1 pounds and is usually brown or grey with a scaled tail and ears. They live in underground burrows to breed and often seek out the food sources that can be found in homes, restaurants, shopping centers and commercial buildings.

Their counterpart, the Roof Rat, is slightly smaller at 12 ounces and tends to be black or grey. They also live in underground burrows, but are adept climbers and can roost near roofs, giving them their name. Both rats are longer than mice and are prolific breeders, producing 32-84 offspring a year. Like mice, they are agile and can scurry, jump, hide, and climb through small spaces.

Example of a Rat

One of the key differences between a rat and a mouse are the scales present along rats’ ears and tails, as well as the longer body and higher weight. Rats also possess large teeth which they use to bite; their bites transmit diseases like rat bite fever. Salmonella from fecal matter is also a threat, and rats can host fleas, presenting another pest problem if left unchecked.

Signs of Rodent Infestation and Prevention

One of the first signs to look for is rodent droppings. These should never be touched as they are full of bacteria and can transmit viruses like Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). House mouse droppings are the smallest at one .25 inches with pointed ends.

The Roof Rat’s are also pointed, but are roughly .5 inches long. Finally, the Norway Rat has the largest feces at .75 inches with rounded ends, making them more distinguishable from the other two. If droppings are found in the home, there is likely a habitat nearby. Chew marks on food packaging and furniture is another sign of rodents, as is grease marks near cracks and holes, which indicate that rodents have been using them as entry points. If squeaks and rustling are heard in the walls, that is another hint.

Sanitation can help prevent mice and rats from infesting homes, restaurants, and other buildings, but it does not assure that problems won’t occur. To truly prevent rodents, buildings need to be designed and sealed so the pests cannot access food. Any food should be sealed in tight containers and kept high in cabinets or fridges. Walls should be properly caulked and holes should be filled immediately.

If these methods fail, calling an exterminator to set traps and find nests is the final and most effective option. Pest control providers can use glue boards which will trap the creatures on a sticky surface, snap traps, and rodenticides that will poison the rodents but are kept away from areas accessible by children and pets.

Killem has carved a niche for itself with our rodent maintenance and flush out programs. Do check our rodent pest control page for more information on rodent control.


The Strangest Pest Control Stories Ever Heard

Believe it or not, the pest control industry can throw up some very bizarre stories and anecdotes.

With thousands of different species considered ‘pests’, there have been times in history where some more unconventional pests have cause problems for the local agriculture and ecosystems.

We profile some of the more unusual forms of pest control below:

Killer Snails in Miami

In 2011 the city of Miami, Florida in the United States was plagued by an outbreak of an invasive species: the giant African land snail.

Primarily outdoor pests, these snails are destructive and potential biohazards. They were able to eat every plant grown in Florida as well inhabitants’ walls. They also carried meningitis, the number of cases of which rose significantly.

As of today, the threat has mostly been eradicated with 157,000 snails captured. Because of their numbers, the only way to capture them was for workers wearing rubber gloves to scour the environment and capture the snails in buckets. Today, these same people use plastic bags.

Another control method used was a public information campaign which begged citizens to call a number and report any sightings.

Killer snails

Vineyard Guard Ducks

Crops are a golden target for many garden pests, including those in South Africa. Many varieties of pests eat valuable fields of food. The most common are armyworms, caterpillars, aphids, and species of beetle.

With manpower being so expensive, how do farmers maintain their livelihood? In South Africa, some vineyards and large agricultural sectors have turned to ducks.

Thousands of Indian Runner ducks are trained and cared for in large coops. At the start of each day, workers release them and direct them to designated fields. As time passes, the ducks disperse through the rows, guzzling up any bug that might be unfortunate enough to have tried to find a meal in the crops. Towards late afternoon, workers find the ducks and round them up. When the group is complete, the ducks are herded back into their shelter, where they sleep until morning and can roam the fields again.

Ducks for Pest Control

Pigeon Hunting Falcons

Pigeons come in two varieties: feral and domestic. In countries around the world, pigeons are a major problem in cities because of their tendencies to roost in high places, steal food, and leave messes behind.

In order to combat the large pigeon population in the United Arab Emirates, people have begun using trained falcons. Falcon training has a long history in Arab culture. Due to their excellent vision, they were often used by hunters to spot and kill small prey like mice and other rodents.

Nowadays, as the height and size of cities make it difficult to use traditional pigeon eradication measures, more and more businesses are drawn to falcons. Another reason for its popularity is because falcons hold a high position of status in Arab culture. Being able to afford falcons as laborers demonstrates a business’s wealth and success.

Pest Control Falcon

The Great Emu War

Not all pests are small. Australia took a long time to become populated by farmers during the early twentieth century because of a large and deadly pest: Emus. Emus are the largest living bird species in the world, growing to be between 5 and 6 feet tall. They can also run 30 mph, making them difficult to catch or escape from.

From 1929-1939, farmers in Australia were suffering from the Great Depression and having difficulty selling their wheat crops. Around this time was when 20,000 emus decided to establish their habitat in the farms, destroying crops and driving many farmers bankrupt.

Desperate, they contacted their government and military assistance came. One commander and two soldiers armed with machine guns tried to kill the emus, but the flocks scattered because of rain and the mission was unsuccessful.

A few months later, a second attempt with slightly more manpower occurred, with an estimated death toll of 986 birds. The overall pest control of the birds was unsuccessful. Many farmers were forced to fend for themselves or wait for wandering patrols to find their way to the farms.

Emu Pests

 

No pest or infestation is too strange for Killem to handle. Don’t be shy and feel free to contact us if something is bothering you and we will be sure to find a pest control solution that will work for you.  


Killem Pest Pesticide Profile: Agenda 10SC

In this very first Killem Pest Pesticide Profile, we look at than Agenda 10SC (“Agenda”)?

Agenda is known as the king of termiticides and Killem Pest is one of only five Agenda Authorised Applicators in Singapore.

In one of our previous blog post: Killem Pest Profile Series: What you need to know about Termites we mentioned that termites are the most economically destructive pests, causing worldwide damage of US$30 billion in damage to crops and manmade structures.

In another of our blog posts: What Pest Control Treatment Methods Can You Use To Eradicate Pests? we outlined that there are three ways to combat termite infestations: baiting, dusting and soil treatment. 

What is Agenda?

Agenda was created by Bayer, the healthcare and agricultural giant, as a non-repellent termiticide (kills termites that enter treated soil) that provides comprehensive colony management. Agenda is also the first non-repellent termiticide to obtain ‘Green Label’ in Singapore under the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme. This means that it has the seal of approval as being environmentally friendly.

Green Label Singapore

The active ingredient in Agenda is fipronil and when applied appropriately, it remains effective in the soil for a minimum of 7 years, thus affording 7 years of structure protection, the longest offered from a normal soil treatment. Fipronil is used commonly in pesticides and has a proven success in controlling not just termites, but also ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, weevils and other inspects.

Agenda 10SC Termicide Treatment

The Colony Management Effect

Agenda works by killing termites that ingest or come into contact with it, but not until the termites have had a chance to go back to their colony and unknowingly pass it on to others in the termite colony. Thus, Agenda works as a non-repellent termiticide as termites are not repelled and willingly enter Agenda treated soil. The process of the transfer of food among social pests such as termites is known as trophallaxis.

The Use of Agenda 10SC in Singapore

Since Agenda was introduced in Singapore in 2001, more than 5,000 premises or more than 2,860,260 linear meters have been treated with Agenda! Killem alone has treated hundreds of these premises that include residential areas, condominiums, schools, warehouses and commercial offices.

Use of Agenda 10SC by Killem

Killem has been part of the original group of five Agenda Authorised Applicators in Singapore. Last year Bayer celebrated 15 years of success with Agenda at Pest Summit 2016 which was held in Singapore. As of today, Killem’s call back rate for Agenda is 0%. We would like to think that this is due both to the efficacy of the termiticide as well as the correct application method by our Pest Control Operators. Killem continually trains our staff on the appropriate and safe use of pesticides. We were fortunate enough for representatives from Bayer to come down directly to our office to conduct a special session on Agenda!

Bayer Training Session

For more information on how Killem can help eliminate your Termite problems please visit our termite control page.


Outside Garden

What Common Pests Are Found in Your Garden?

You may love spending time in your backyard and tending to your garden. Your children and pets also enjoy playing outside. Perhaps you grow flowers, or vegetables and fruit for you and the family to eat. However, many different types of pests enjoy the garden just as much as you do, and that can be a problem. Let’s take a look at some of the most common pests that like to hang out in the garden.

Bees and Wasps

If you see a bee or two in your garden, it’s not usually a sign to worry. In fact, bees are essential for pollination, and they can do your garden, and the rest of the gardens in the area, a favor. However, when it comes to wasps, or if you have too many bees that are causing problems, you may want to contact a bee or wasp removal specialist to have them removed because the stings are not only painful, but may also be fatal to people that are allergic to bee and wasp stings.

Bee on Flower

Snakes

Most people hate seeing snakes in the garden, and they do have the potential to be a problem. If you have non-venomous snakes that are small and not overly aggressive, they can help to control the rodent population, which is another garden pest we will discuss. However, if the snakes are venomous, if it is very big, if you are unsure about them, or if you simply have a fear and dislike for snakes, you should have them removed as soon as possible. This is an especially good idea if you have children or pets.

Garden Snake

Termites

If you notice termite mounds in your garden, this is a very bad sign and an indication that you already have an infestation. While those termites will not be interested in the flowers and vegetables you are growing, they will be interested in marching to your house so they can start eating the wood so get a termite control specialist in to remove them as soon as possible.

Termite Mound by Tree

Rodents

Rodents in the garden can be very destructive. They may start to eat at the items you are growing, and they are disease carriers. Nothing good comes from having rodents in the garden, and they may also decide to move inside your home where they can get at even more food and cause more issues.

Mouse

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are very dangerous, not just annoying. These pests carry diseases, such as the Zika Virus and Dengue. They breed in areas of standing water, which could be a bird feeder, a puddle, or a water collection bin. It is always a good idea to have someone take care of the mosquitoes before they become a problem.

Ants

Depending on the types of ants in the garden, it might not be a problem. Smaller ants can help with the pollination as they are crawling around the garden, and they can also help to keep caterpillars and other types of pests at bay. They do not generally cause issues by eating anything in the garden, but if you have a lot of ants, they could always decide to head inside. It might still be a good idea to contact pest control.

What Should You Do?

If you have pests in the garden, the best way to get rid of them is to call a professional for help. They can come and look at your problem, and then determine the best way to proceed and to provide you with a pest free environment.

If you would like more information on how Killem can help you keep your garden pest free, visit our residential pest control services page.


Hawker Center

Industry Inside: Pest Control in the Food and Beverage Industry

People have a right to expect that the food and beverages they buy have not been contaminated by pests. Pests of all types need to have sustenance to survive, and when they chance upon a food and beverage outlet, they are not going to give up that land of plenty without a fight.

The Law in Singapore

The National Environment Agency (NEA) regulates the food retail standard industry in Singapore and requires all food retail establishments to be licensed in order to operate. A condition of obtaining this license is to have a ‘pest control contract covering the control of rodents, cockroaches and flies during the year-long licensing period. The inspection frequency of the food shop premises covered in the contract shall be at least once a month to detect any sign of pest infestation.’  

Why Is Pest Control Important in Food and Beverage Outlets?

Food safety is essential. Pests can bring disease with them, and the last thing you need is to have food infested by pests. It cannot be sold and if it is and makes people sick, it will cause serious problems for your business in terms of loss of reputation. If the pests get to the point of infestation, it could mean that you have to close down the business while you are having the problem taken care of by pest control specialists.

Hawker Center

What Is Good Housekeeping?

In any food and beverage establishment there is always a chance for spills to occur. When those spills, large or small, are not cared for properly and cleaned up, it acts as an invitation to all manner of pests. They will find a way into the facility in a range of ways. They can get through vents, cracks, holes, and areas that you would never even notice. By ensuring a very clean facility, it helps to reduce the risk of pests substantially. This does not mean that they will never find their way into the facility. It can and does happen. When this occurs, you will want to contact professional pest control services to help you with your pest problem.

One of the ways that professionals can help is by looking for the various routes that the pests are using to get into the building. They can “close off” those areas to make a recurring infestation less likely.

What Types of Pests Are Commonly Found in Food and Beverage Outlets?

Many types of pests like to get food in food and beverage outlets. Whether it is a warehouse, a manufacturing facility, a grocery store, or an eatery, pests such as flies, ants, roaches, and rodents can be present. They smell the food and they want to have access to free meals. Even birds have the potential to become a problem in these types of outlets, and they can cause some serious damage to the building, as well as the food. It is even possible for them to spread illness, like so many of the other pests out there.

You never want to take chances when it comes to keeping food and beverages safe. If you have a pest problem, get in touch with the professionals as soon as you can. Even if you do not have a noticeable problem, do not forget, you still need to have regular pest control as required by NEA.

Pest Bird on Food

 


How Is Technology Transforming Pest Control?

In the past, extermination and pest control was a relatively simple affair. Those in the business tended to use traps and various sprays that to take care of pest problems. While those methods could be effective, technology over the past few years has helped to improve the quality of pest control markedly.

Today, there are some truly amazing tools being used by pest control specialists in Singapore. They can make the job of providing you with a pest free environment safer, faster, easier, and cleaner than ever before.

Before we look at some of the different technological tools in use by Killem Pest today, it is prudent to note that the focus is now on integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a broad-based approach that focuses on prevention (via regular monitoring) and appropriate control (via the appropriate chemicals and equipment).

Electronic Rodent Bait Stations

Electronic Bait Station

People have finally started building a better mouse trap. These traps work for all rodents (rats and mice). The older traps that had been in use were often ineffective, could cause painful deaths if the animal did not die right away, and they tended to be one-time use traps.

However, the electronic rodent bait stations are more effective. They have an external housing with an area for the rodent to enter when it gets a whiff of the bait placed inside. When they step across sensors in the trap, it will electrocute them. It is a quick and humane death.

These traps can be used repeatedly, as well, which leads to less waste. The bait stations are also programmed to an app to notify the pest control operator that a rodent has been caught and needs to be disposed of. Thus saves time as the pest control operator is straight away directed to the source, and does not have to inspect all other spots.

Drones

Drone for Pest Control

Drones are for more than just taking great aerial shots and racing. Many in the pest control business are now using drones that can fly up and check rooftops and high rafters in buildings. They can get a better idea of the types of pests that could be living in those locations, and they can then formulate a plan to eliminate them.

Sonic Wands

Larvasonic Pest Control Wand

Mosquitoes are a bane, and they carry many different types of diseases, including dengue and the zika virus. The sonic wands that are available today can make controlling the populations much easier. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. This could be a swamp, puddles, and even storage containers for water. The sonic wands utilize sound to kill the larvae in the water. It is a safe technology, and you will not have to worry about chemical treatments that are typically used.

Thermal Imagery

Termite Detection System

This is another very impressive tool. Thermal imaging cameras can work well for a range of pests. It is possible to see heat signatures of the creatures, and even insect trails on the walls. This will give the pest control specialist a better understanding of the pests they are dealing with, and even the location of the pests. This can be very helpful in many different types of environments.

The technology used in pest control today is truly impressive, and it has made pest control easier and more effective. For more information on the technology we use, visit our Equipment & Technology page.


Killem Pest Interview with Leading Entomologist Dr How Yee Fatt

In the very first interview conducted for The Killem Blog, we are fortunate enough to speak Dr How Yee Fatt, a leading entomologist based in Singapore with Bentz Jaz Singapore Pte Ltd. Read on to find out about Dr How’s exciting career and his thoughts on the pest control industry. 

Dr How - Entomologist

KILLEM PEST: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Many people have not heard of the term ‘entomology’ or ‘entomologist’. Could you please explain what these terms mean?

DR HOW: ‘Ento’ means insects, while ‘logy’ means the study. Therefore to put simply, entomology is the research or study of insects. The related scope consists of the taxonomy (identification and classification of insects), control of insects, insect biology, the importance of insects and others.

KILLEM PEST: What is your educational and professional background?

DR HOW:  I completed my Bachelor of Science and PhD at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. I started a degree in Applied Biology but in my second year, we were required to select our major in several areas such as vectors and parasites, biotechnology, aquatic, agricultural or environmental biology.

I was contemplating pursuing either biotechnology or vectors and parasites (entomology). I was fortunate enough to meet Professor Lee Chow Yang, a leading entomologist in Asia who has since became my mentor. Professor Lee was very helpful and shared a lot about the study of vectors and parasites which made me realise the importance of this study. As a city boy, my only experience of insects was dealing with ants so the study of vectors and parasites offered something completely different for me. Within the vectors and parasites major, I specialised in urban and industrial entomology (rather than economic, agricultural or medical entomology)

During my degree I completed an industry attachment at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur which was very interesting and really opened my eyes and confirmed that an entomologist really is like a doctor to insects. I was involved in facilitating the artificial mating of Anopheles mosquitos and surgically cutting open flies to remove their digestive tract to analyse the level of protein. 

Upon completing my Bachelor degree, I straight went straight into my PhD. USM is a leading university in Asia for the field of entomology and having Professor Lee’s continued mentorship support was important. As I could not decide what to specialise, Professor Lee suggested that the field of bed bugs was in its infancy (at that point in time) and there was an opportunity to be a pioneer in research and study for this insect. So, because of my interest and in wanting to be a pioneer, I decided to study bed bugs.

KILLEM PEST: Does Singapore offer any degrees or courses in entomology?

DR HOW: Entomology is offered as a course / elective in some Singapore universities, but not as a major. I understand that the courses here are focused mostly on molecular entomology (which is checking the classification of insects) and not so much the other fields (particularly Urban and Industrial Entomology).

KILLEM PEST: How long have you been working as an entomologist? How long have you been with Bentz Jaz?

DR HOW: Consider including the work that I carried out during my PhD after my degree graduation, I have been working as an entomologist for around 11 years. I started at Bentz Jaz right after completing my PhD, this was 6 years ago! When I was completing my PhD, there were two options: either continue an academic career or enter the industry. I chose the latter as I wanted to be involved in the practical and commercial side of insect control, rather than continue an academic career of research, publication and teaching.

KILLEM PEST: What has been the most interesting or memorable experience of your career?

DR HOW: For my PhD, I needed to get my own specimens of bed bugs to conduct my research. This proved challenging because I needed an appropriate specimen size, and also I wanted to study bed bugs in a real, practical context and based on the most natural way they feed, which is on real human blood, without any chemicals.  

Since I wanted my results to be accurate, in the name of science, I ‘donated’ my blood to the bed bugs by letting them feed on me. I have to say, I have never donated as much blood as I have during these years of research!

When bed bugs feed on you over time the way they did on me, you can feel your body change. The bit areas become swollen and the bites are extremely itchy, so you are also exercising very strong willpower and control in order to manage the symptoms.  When I started, the bed bugs would feed on me for 2-3 hours per day. After 1 to 2 years, the bed bugs would feed on me for the whole night (12 hours) at least twice a week because I required larger sample size for my extensive research. I will never forget this experience during my PhD! 

KILLEM PEST: Pests are a nuisance and they can carry disease or cause economic damage, yet they also play an important part in our ecosystem. Is it possible to completely get rid of them?

DR HOW: I will quote what my mentor, Professor Lee, said during the first entomology course: ‘pests are defined by humans’. Not all 6-legged insects are pests, it really depends on the human lifestyle, for example,  ants are a pest in Singapore, however in other countries they are a part of everyday life. It is important to know what the client’s objectives are in wanting to eliminate pests, and then managing those expectations.  

KILLEM PEST: Over the last few years, pest control has undergone significant changes, especially with the increased use of technology like electronic rodent monitoring bait stations and drones. What else do you think we can expect to see in the near future in terms of technology? 

DR HOW: Many multinational life science and chemical companies such as Bayer and Sumitomo are inventing new active ingredients that are not yet introduced in the market. These new active ingredients are designed to work towards greener and more environmentally friendly pesticide usage.

There has also been a shift from oil-based fogging to water-based fogging to control mosquitoes and other flying insects. The benefits of this is that the latter allows for odourless treatment that does not stain the area that is treated. Water-based insecticides are also lighter and so disperse quicker.  On the point of mosquitoes, devices such as the ultrasonic can control mosquito larvae though non-chemical means.

Other equipment, such as the termatrac, have also evolved dramatically. The termatrac has revolutionised termite inspection practices by providing a 3-in-1 termite detection unit which includes the thermal sensor, moisture sensor and termite detection radar in one device.

Pest management software is also becoming more popular, especially in the US. These cloud-based systems eliminate the need for physical service reports because technicians can refer to the history of the client’s premises via cloud. This allows them to refer to previous images, comments and use of chemicals easy and quickly, and reduces the amount of paper we use.  

Bentz Jaz Pest Control Products
Bentz Jaz Pest Control Products

KILLEM PEST: Pest control plays a key role in public health. How do you think professional pest control providers like Killem Pest, and suppliers like Bentz Jaz can work together to ensure that pest control remains a key focus in public health?

DR HOW: We need to keep upgrading industry practices, standard operating procedures, improve the education of the public and improve on the safety, quality and delivery of services.

A critical point to highlight to clients is that the focus should be on long term pest management rather than on ad hoc services. A one day, one time treatment will not solve any pest problems, it is a remedy but not a cure. Integrated pest management is about customising the perfect solution for the client, which takes into account any concerns they might have, for example having pets or small children at home.  

Bentz Jaz will continue sourcing for new active ingredients or application methods and working with providers of services such as Killem Pest in the application and implementation of the said methods.   In order to achieve this, transparency between parties such as Bentz Jaz, Killem Pest and the client are very important.

KILLEM PEST: Bentz Jaz has been involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives as well as trying to bring awareness about the industry, products and treatment methods to the public. What are some of the past events held and future events that we can look forward to?

DR HOW: This year we replaced our annual Dinner & Dance with a ‘Plant-A-Tree-Programme’ at Kranji Marsh. In total, Bentz Jaz and our partners donated and planted a total of 50 trees. We have also held educational programs for the public with workshops on explaining pests and how to deal with them. We want to continue organising events so that the public can understand the industry better.

KILLEM PEST: Thank you very much for your time. Do you have any closing remarks that you would like to share with the public?

DR HOW: Insect and pest management is not as simple as people may think and we really have to make an effort to understand insects. After all, you can only conquer your enemy when you know it well! How many different of species are there in the world? More than a million, so there is a lot that we do not know yet.