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.


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.  


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.


Killem Pest Profile Series: What you need to know about Termites

The Most Economically Destructive Pest

In our previous posts, we mentioned the different treatments that can be carried out to prevent termite infestations. Some of the more common methods include soil treatment, corrective soil treatment, rodding, baiting and dusting.

Common Questions About Termites

Are termites harmful?

Termites are the most economically destructive pests. In the US alone, it is estimated that termite infestations cause US$30 billion in damage to crops and manmade structures. In addition to the high economic costs involved with termite damage, the structural damage caused to buildings, ceilings and furniture is also a danger to humans. 

Will termites bite humans?

Following on from above, termites feed on cellulose and are not known to bite humans or even other insects (although ants are the natural enemy of termites). Nevertheless, if the termite colony has no other sources of food or if the colony is threatened, termites may on the rare occasion bite humans. The bite is like a pinch, but the pinches are not believed to result in any illnesses or disease in humans

Can termites eat through concrete?

Termites feed on cellulose, which is an organic compound in the cell walls of plants and that wood is made off. Termites do not eat concrete, however they are very resourceful and will squeeze through tiny cracks and thus opening up poor quality concrete for more termites to get through. Once termites are inside, they build tunnels which get wider over time and therefore it appears like they have eaten through the concrete.

What are the main types of termites?

There are 3 main types of termites that can be found in Singapore: subterranean termites, drywood termites and dampwood termites. It is important to note that treatment varies depending on the type of termite.   

Lifecycle of Termites

There are few physical differences between the workers and nymphs of the different species. As such, termite identification is based on the soldiers or alates as well as the damage that is left behind.

Dampwood soldiers can be as large as 20mm and have large mouthparts on the front.

Drywood soldiers have large mouthparts with teeth and are larger than those of subterranean colonies.

 Subterranean soldiers are creamy white in colour, but their head is often brown. They do not have wings and have large mouthparts.

Termite Species  

Drywood Termites – These termites do not like moisture and typically live in wood such as dead trees, structural timbers of hardwood floors. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not need contact with the soil as wood is sufficient.  

Dampwood Termites – These termites live in wood with high moisture content such as decaying wood and trees that can be found on the ground.

Subterranean Termites – These are the most common species of termites in Singapore and require three things: food (wood or cellulose material), a consistent source of moisture and a moderate to tropical environment. They can be found in structural timbers in buildings and in soil greenery outdoors. These termites will build their nests underground.

Below are examples of the kind of damage Subterranean Termites can cause:

Subterranean Termite Infestation Wall Pipe
Subterranean Termite Infestation Wall Pipe

Tenacious Termites

Termites are social insects and live in colonies. There are many ways that termites can enter a property. Some of these include coming in:

  • Through construction joints
  • Through wall joints and cracks
  • Through floor cracks and slab penetrations
  • Through plumbing and electricals

From our experience, we have even found termite trails at the 43rd story of a building!

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