cockroach infestation

The Ultimate Guide to Cockroach Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Cockroaches have been around on earth for more than 300 million years. They are one of the most common insects infesting households. There are more than 4500 cockroach species in the world, but less than 1% of them are known as pests.

Most cockroach species are in the wild. The ones that are associated with human habitats are classified as pests. Cockroaches play essential roles in the natural ecosystem. Some people even regard them as pets.

Types of Cockroaches in Singapore

common types of cockroaches in singapore

As mentioned earlier, only less than 1% of cockroach species are pests. Here are three species commonly found in Singapore:

American cockroach

The American cockroach may be the most commonly seen cockroach in Singapore. It has a reddish-brown body and a yellow band at its pronotum (plate-like structure behind the head). The size of an American cockroach can reach up to 40 to 50mm in length. American cockroaches are active both indoors and outdoors as they infest the sewer system.

German cockroach

German cockroaches are around 20mm big. They have a light brown or tanned colour. Adult German cockroaches can be recognised by the two dark stripes on their back.

These are some places where you'll commonly find German cockroaches:

  • Indoors
  • Kitchen
  • Food preparation areas

Large German cockroach infestations cause nightmares to owners of restaurants and F&B outlets. The control strategies for this species is more challenging compared to the other species. This is due to the development of insecticide resistance and its high reproductive rate.

Brown-banded cockroach

The body size of brown-banded cockroaches is similar to that of German cockroaches. The males are light yellowish or brown, while the females have a darker colour. The brown-banded cockroach gets its name from the transverse stripes that are present on its bodies. This species is also responsible for cockroach infestations in homes and offices.

Life Cycle and Biology

Cockroaches undergo incomplete metamorphosis. They develop from egg and a few instar stages to adulthood. Newly emerged nymphs are miniature wingless adults. They will need to moult several times to reach the adult stage. Different species of cockroaches will have varying development periods and amounts of moults.

Cockroaches like to hide in cracks and crevices.

In common areas, they prefer to move or venture along the side of the wall. An interesting thing about cockroaches is that they feed on almost every organic material, preferably starchy food. They can feed on moist cardboards and even a piece of paper! Cockroaches are often reluctant to forage food far from their nesting area unless being deprived.

facts about cockroaches

Medical Importance

Mechanical vectors of diseases

The living and feeding habits of cockroaches are commonly associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. This exposes them to a wide range of pathogens. They pick up the pathogens with their body and legs and transmit them to food, kitchen utensils and food preparation areas as they crawl past the surfaces.

Cockroaches are known to carry pathogens that cause diseases such as:

  • Food poisoning
  • Salmonellosis
  • Cholera

The pathogens are invisible to the naked eyes so we must eliminate their vectors to avoid being infected by them.

Asthma and allergy

The body parts, excretory waste and even saliva contain allergens that may trigger allergic reactions. Typical allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rash

Cockroach allergies are a common cause of asthma in both adults and children. If you have a cockroach infestation at home, you are at risk of developing prolonged allergic reactions that may lead to other medical problems.

Katsaridaphobia

Katsaridaphobia, or more commonly known as cockroach phobia, is the irrational and extreme fear of cockroaches.

Katsaridaphobia is not the same as being disgusted after seeing a cockroach. People with katsaridaphobia have unwarranted fear towards cockroaches that may cause them to:

  • Stay frozen
  • Have an elevated heart rate
  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Get panic attacks

One of the causes of katsaridaphobia is a bad or traumatic experience with cockroaches in the past. Katsaridaphobia is a mental disorder that can be overcome via psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Signs of Cockroach Infestations

signs of a cockroach infestation

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects, most active at night. During the daytime, they hide in dark and moist areas. Hence, we often don't notice their presence until the infestation becomes severe. Here, we'll describe the tell-tale signs of a cockroach infestation.

1. Droppings

Cockroach droppings look something like black pepper with a cylindrical shape. Their droppings are usually scattered along the wall or at the corners and edges of the cabinets. These are their main pathways and hiding areas.

2. Shed skins

Cockroaches go through moulting to reach a mature stage. Therefore, they will need to shed their skins periodically, around 5 to 8 times. If you see brownish shed skins at the potential areas mentioned above, that's probably the evidence of a cockroach infestation.

3. Oothecae (cockroach eggs)

Oothecae are oval-shaped casings (inside full of multiple eggs), which are bigger and much more evident than cockroach droppings. It is vital to remove the ootheca before it hatched. The hatching of one cockroach ootheca can worsen a cockroach infestation.

4. Unpleasant smell

The scent released by a cockroach is usually undetectable by human beings. However, when it comes to a major cockroach infestation, a musty odour can be present.

How to Prevent Cockroaches from Invading Your Home

tips to prevent and get rid of cockroaches

1. Identify their entry points and hiding places

Inspection is a key activity in identifying the entry points and hiding places of cockroaches. Since cockroaches are nocturnal insects, it would be best if the inspection is carried out at night.

Cracks, crevices or gaps formed around the utility line and pipes are their potential entry points. Silicone-based caulk can be used to seal those entry points found. Besides, remember to inspect, clean and ventilate areas underneath the kitchen sink and refrigerator as these are the humid places which can become cockroach harbourages.

2. Eliminate food and water sources

Food and water are the primary necessities of cockroaches. One of the best ways to prevent cockroaches from entering your property is to remove all available water sources. Maintaining the housekeeping of the house is vital.

We cannot forget to clean stains, grease and food scraps left in the kitchen as these can act as the food and water sources for cockroaches. Furthermore, make sure all stored food is sealed correctly to deny access. Cockroaches can squeeze their bodies through a gap as small as 2mm wide.

3. Clean and organise your home

Messy and cluttered areas, especially those with paper and cardboards, are ideal harbourage and nesting sites of cockroaches. The paper products do not only serve as their hiding place. They also serve as food in case other food sources are not available.

It is essential to keep your home tidy and remove clutters regularly. The use of carton boxes for storage may allow cockroaches to hide in them. Thus, other alternatives, such as plastic boxes, can be used to prevent cockroach infestations.

DIY Methods

Traps can capture and remove cockroaches from your home. The most common method is a sticky trap. These traps can be purchased from regular stores.

You may wonder the effectiveness of using pandan leaves to prevent cockroach entry. Here, we tell you the truth. Pandan leaves release some pleasant smells which may serve as a weak natural repelling agent to deter cockroaches from coming near. However, when the leaves dried out, it can actually turn into a harbouring place for cockroaches! Hence, the use of pandan leaves is not a permanent solution for a cockroach infestation.

Professional Cockroach Treatment

Treating a cockroach infestation is more than just hitting them with your slippers or spraying insecticide aerosols on the cockroaches.

Insect monitoring stations are useful tools to detect the presence of cockroach infestations in Singapore. In premises with cockroach infestations, these stations can provide trained pest management professionals (PMP) with information such as the:

  • Level of infestation
  • Type of cockroach species
  • Location of the nests or breeding sites

This information is important in determining a suitable treatment method. It has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of the control programme.

Residual spraying is the most common method used to eliminate crawling insects, including cockroaches.

The insecticides used in professional cockroach treatments are different from those available to the general public. Residual insecticides offer long-lasting protection against cockroaches. Its effect can last for months after application. Trained PMPs carry out residual spraying at locations where cockroaches are usually found, such as cracks and crevices.

Cockroach baits combine insecticides with food attractants to kill cockroaches. The bait does not kill cockroaches immediately, but it intoxicates the cockroaches once they feed on the bait. The intoxicated cockroaches may leave behind their toxic vomitus, faeces or even their own dead bodies.

Cockroaches feed on the faeces and vomitus of their nestmates.

This behaviour, together with the cannibalising behaviour of cockroaches, make the transfer of toxic bait effective and efficient as cockroaches move back to their nesting site and die off after foraging and feeding on the bait.

Innovation is important in the pest management industry to keep up with increasingly challenging pest issues. Pests, including cockroaches, are continually evolving and developing resistance towards the control methods and insecticides that are used to eliminate them.

One of the latest cockroach treatment methods used in Singapore is dry treatment using Mirakn, a gas cylinder filled with a mixture of carbon dioxide and an active ingredient. There are three types of Mirakn treatments, each with different active ingredients that are suitable for targeting different pests.

The dry treatment has various characteristics. They are:

  • Stainless
  • Residue-less
  • Non-flammable
  • Odourless

Furthermore, the gaseous chemical provides excellent penetration over the other treatments. Dry treatment is a popular cockroach treatment in cars. Cockroaches thrive in cars, but it isn't easy to control them due to the complex internal structures of the car.

Mirakn provides the ideal solution for hard-to-access areas as it can penetrate to all parts of the treated area and leaves no stains. Thus, home and car owners need not worry about the cleaning process.

Killem's team of pest management professionals are trained and experienced in cockroach treatment programmes. Our professional knowledge and experience enable us to formulate a suitable solution to protect your property from cockroaches.


bees in singapore

The Ultimate Guide to Bee Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Bees are one of the most important pollinators. Without bees and other pollinators such as flies, butterflies and beetles, we would not be able to produce enough crops to feed the global population. Having said that, the presence of bees in some occasions may cause inconvenience and disturbance to humans.

Types of Bees in Singapore

common types of bees in singapore

There are more than 20,000 species of bees in the world. The honey bees might be the most famous type of bee. Other species are important to the ecosystem too.

What are some of the common species of bees found in Singapore?

Giant Honey Bees

The giant honey bees (Apis dorsata) get their name from their large size. Giant honey bees can become 17 – 20mm in length. This species usually has their nests built in an exposed area far off the ground.

Giant honey bee nests are commonly spotted on tall trees and building structures. The nests consist of large single combs that can reach up to 1.5m in length and 1m deep. The combs can be seen hanging down tree branches or other structures.

Dwarf Honey Bees

The dwarf honey bees (Apis florea) are small-sized (7 – 10mm long) honey bees. They are commonly found in the tropical region. The dwarf honey bees build single combs as their nests. The combs can be found around small tree branches instead of hanging down the branches as in the case of giant honey bees.

Asian Honey Bees

The Asian honey bees (Apis cerana) are approximately 10mm in length. They are known to nest in empty spaces and cavities so they can be found in attics and roof cavities. Some of the cavities or enclosed openings are unreachable for humans. Thus, it is more difficult to get rid of their nests compared to the nest of outdoor species.

Stingless Bees

The stingless bees (Trigona spp.) are very small sized, measuring around 3 – 5mm. They also build their nests in cavities. Sometimes they can be seen entering or exiting the nests through an entrance tube. As their name suggests, a stingless bee cannot sting, but it can still bite when it feels threatened.

Carpenter Bees

The carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) are the largest in Singapore. They are about 20 – 30mm in length and are usually dark-coloured. The carpenter bees form their nests by creating burrows in solid wood which branch out into parallel passageways. Carpenter bees are solitary bees which live singly or in small groups and they do not form colonies. Although the sight of these bees can be intimidating due to their large size, they are relatively harmless unless disturbed.

Signs of Bee Infestations

signs of a bee infestation

1. Sighting of Live Bees

Sighting of bees is one of the most obvious signs that indicate an infestation. Seeing bees flying in or around your house may indicate that their hive is nearby. Follow the path of their flight and you might be able to trace their nests.

2. Sighting of Beehives

The presence of a beehive indicates that your house is infested with bees. The hive is located on the branches of the plants in your home. In some cases, the hive is concealed in empty spaces in the building. A large number of bees surrounds a beehive. Thus, it is not difficult to identify a hive once you have spotted it.

3. Buzzing Bees

In some cases, house owners may not be able to spot bees. This is because bees build their nest high up from the ground. However, due to their large number, the buzzing sound that they produce may lead you to their nests.

4. Presence of Holes on Wooden Structures

Carpenter bees create burrows in wooden structures and leave a hole on the surface of the wood. If you have been noticing holes on your furniture or wooden decorations, you might be having carpenter bees in your house.

Life Cycle and Biology

Most bees are social insects that live in colonies and practice division of labour. The three functional castes in a bee colony are the:

  • Queen
  • Workers
  • Drones

The queen's primary function is to reproduce and maintain the unity of the colony.

The workers are responsible for maintaining the nest, tending to the young ones and the queen, protecting the nest as well as foraging for food.

Drones are males whose primary function is to mate with an unfertilised queen. They die shortly after mating.

If the queen dies, a new queen gets selected. The new queen is fed with royal jelly (a nutrient-dense substance that is essential for the development of a queen bee) by the workers.

Bees undergo complete metamorphosis. Their life-cycle consists of four stages:

  • Eggs
  • Larvae
  • Pupae
  • Adulthood

In a honey bee colony, a queen bee can produce thousands of eggs per day in the hexagonal cells that form the honeycomb. Fertilised eggs will hatch into female workers. Unfertilised eggs will become males (drones).

The bee larvae are white, legless and require the workers to feed them. The larvae grow into pupae. During this stage, the wings, legs and eyes form, transforming the white coloured worms into the bee that we know. During the pupal stage, the bees do not eat so they depend on all the nutrients stored when they are in the larval stage.

Adult bees then emerge from the wax cells to fulfil their tasks as a member of the colony.

facts about bees

Hazards

Pain Caused by Bee Stings

One major reason that many people fear or detest bees is their ability to sting. Bee stings can be painful and annoying. Bees sting to protect the colony when they feel threatened, and for honeybees, they lose their lives doing so.

When a honey bee stings a human, it is not able to pull out its stinger, so when it tries to escape after stinging, it will break off the rear part of its body and damage its internal organ.

Other species of bees have a smooth stinger that can be removed from human skin after getting stung, causing them to be able to sting more than once in their lifetime.

Warning: Allergic Reaction to Bee Stings

To most people, bee stings cause pain that goes away after a few days or even hours. However, to people that are allergic to bee stings, the reaction can be lethal in severe conditions.

Severe allergic reactions do affect not only the skin but also cause swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and loss of consciousness. In most cases, medical attention is not required for a bee sting. If severe allergic reactions develop, you should seek medical care immediately.

Structural Damage Caused by Carpenter Bees

The carpenter bees get their name from the fact that they affect wooden structures. They do not consume the wood, but they create burrows and nest inside the wood. Carpenter bees create passageways and tunnels to make space for their eggs and young ones. They cause damage to the aesthetics of the wooden structures by forming holes on the surface of the structures. In doing so, they cause risks to the stability of the structure.

Tips to Prevent and Get Rid of Bees

tips to get rid of bees

1. Seal off potential entry points

Bees can access a hole with only a quarter of an inch, approximately 0.6cm. We recommended inspecting your premise for any possible entry points for bees. The entry points found can be sealed up using durable materials such as caulk-based silicone, metal screen or hardware cloth. However, this method needs to be carried out before a bee swarm is present.

2. Reduce outdoor clutter

Remove or reduce clutter around the house can prevent bees from nesting in the yard. Unused items, appliances and lawn equipment around the house can attract bees to build their hive. What's the reason for that? Unused materials and equipment can provide shelter for bees to thrive, especially when the house is surrounded with plants and flowers (presence of food source).

3. Remove honeycomb in and around your estate

Make sure there is no honeycomb left in and around your house. The presence of honeycomb left by previous beehives will release pheromone scent that can attract newcomers. Honeycombs are usually located inside inaccessible areas such as attics and roof eaves. Hence, sometimes we may need to repair a roof portion after removing the honeycomb.

4. Avoid planting colourful and high-scented flowers

Flowers that are blue, violet, purple, yellow and white can attract bees to come and thrive. Also, planting high-scented blooms will further lure them into coming over to your garden.

If you wish to have beautiful and colourful flowers in your yard but do not want them to become one of the bees' favourites, you can opt to plant trumpet-shaped flowers such as morning glory and narcissus. These trumpet-shaped flowers do not look much appealing to bees as it is difficult for bees to reach for the nectar.

DIY Methods

There are some methods to deter bees from nesting around your house without killing them. These methods make use of the strong smells released from substances or plants. For example, mothballs. Bees do not like the odour of mothballs.

You can hang mothballs around areas where bees are active. This will help keep bees away. You can also plant the following:

  • Mint
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus

These three act as strong bee repellents. Mint, citronella and eucalyptus are easy to grow and help enrich your garden.

If it is too late to deter bees (if they have already built their nest in your house), you can try to scatter some cinnamon around their nest. The strong smell released by cinnamon can make bees relocate to another place for nesting.

Professional Bee Treatment

Chemical treatment effectively handles the infestation of bees. Pest management professionals are adequately equipped with personal protective equipment to prevent bee stings. Insecticides act on the bees to eliminate the entire colony. The beehives quickly get removed from the site.

Bees that we commonly encounter are generally non-aggressive. However, their presence may worry some people as they can sting when provoked. Killem's team of trained pest management professionals can help you to get rid of your worries and make you feel safe again.

 


How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

The Ultimate Guide to Bed Bugs Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Have you been getting unbearably itchy bed bugs bites causing sleepless nights? Or have you been noticing skin rashes that pop up from nowhere when you wake up every morning? If the answer is yes, then you might be facing a bed bug infestation.

You might be wondering what the source of a bed bug infestation is? And where do the bugs come from? The answer may surprise you. Humans bring in bed bug infestations, so we need to take some responsibility. Someone may pick up bed bugs from a hotel room, theatre, a plane or even from public transport. They climb onto your clothes or sneak into your luggage bags. Eventually, the beg bugs find a way into your home.

A bed bug infestation may be a headache to a lot of people. However, with some understanding, you can prevent or get rid of bed bugs infestations.

Types of Bed Bugs in Singapore

common types of bed bugs in singapore

There are two commonly found species of bed bugs in Singapore:

Cimex lectularius has a worldwide distribution, especially in temperate regions. Cimex hemipterus is a common species found in tropical and subtropical areas including Singapore. Both species feed on human blood and are important pests to the travel and hospitality industries.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

  • Oval-shaped body
  • Reddish-brown colour

Life Cycle and Biology

A female bed bug can lay 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime and the eggs hatch in 6 to 10 days. The life cycle of a bed bug can be completed in as little as three weeks.

Bed bug larva undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. It takes five stages before a larva matures into an adult bed bug. A blood meal is needed each time before a nymph moults into the next stage. Bed bugs are opportunistic feeders. They consume as much blood as possible from you until they are fully engorged.

A tropical bed bug can live for up to 100 days while a common bed bug can live for up to 1 year. As much as they need blood meals for growth, bed bugs were found to be able to survive a long period without blood meals.

Have you ever wondered how a tiny bed bug can find its way to you? Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide and body heat given off by human bodies. A higher concentration of carbon dioxide due to human presence stimulates bed bugs to feed. As they approach the human host, they are attracted by the body heat of the host.

bed bug tips

Hazards

Unlike many other pests, bed bugs do not transmit diseases to humans nor cause structural damage to buildings. However, bed bugs feed on human blood. Their presence can still have severe impacts on humans.

1. Allergic reactions

Bed bug bites are not harmful to humans. Some people do not even develop reactions towards the bites. However, people that develop allergic reactions to bed bug bites may have painful swelling or intense itching around the bites. In this scenario, medical attention will be needed to ease the symptoms of allergy.

2. Effect on mental health

Bed bug bites can be extremely itchy to some people. The itch from the bites can cause insomnia and even anxiety in cases of heavy infestations. Bed bugs may cause an affected individual to have sleepless nights, and the lack of sleep can further affect the mental health and the ability to carry out normal daily activities.

3. Property damage

Bed bugs do not cause structural damages like termites and rats, but they can cause cosmetic damages to the property. In a heavily infested unit, blood speckles and the droppings of bed bugs can be found all over the unit including the mattresses, bed frames and walls. Owners need to replace the items if the stains are not removable. Also, repainting the walls can be costly.

4. Economic and reputation damage

Bed bugs are a serious threat to the hospitality industry as well as the transport industry. Hotels suffer a loss when the bed bug infestation decreases their capacity to accept guests. The cost to treat bed bug infestations is usually a significant amount that can badly affect a company.

Besides hotel rooms, bed bugs can also be found on planes, buses and trains, causing significant losses to the businesses. A business' reputation can be badly affected by bed bugs. Numerous lawsuits may also come from bed bug infestations.

Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

signs of a bed bugs infestation

Here are some signs that tell you that you have a bed bug infestation.

1. Bites

One of the most apparent signs that indicate a bed bug infestation is the presence of bite signs. It might be difficult to differentiate between the bites caused by bed bugs and other insects such as mosquitoes.

A bed bug usually bites more than once, so it is likely to leave numerous bites that cluster around several exposed parts of the body such as face, neck, arms and legs.

2. Blood speckles on bedding and wall

Bed bugs hide in the corners and edges of a mattress, as well as other locations with cracks and crevices, including the wall. During the night, as bed bugs leave their hiding place to forage, you might accidentally crush them during your sleep. Crushing them causes their bodies to rupture, leaving behind blood stains on the mattress or wall.

3. Dark spots on mattress and wall

The droppings of bed bugs consist of digested blood which resembles black pepper flakes. They are commonly found near the hiding sites of the bed bugs so be sure to check the corners and edges of your mattresses and bed frames if you suspect a bed bug infestation.

4. Sickly sweet odour in the room

In places heavily infested with bed bugs, a pungent smell can be detected. People can have a different perception of how the odour smells. The odour is caused by the pheromones released by the bed bugs. Thus, the odour intensifies as the number of bed bugs present increases.

5. Cast skins of bed bugs

As mentioned earlier, bed bugs need to moult (cast off their skin) to grow. The sighting of cast skins (also known as exoskeletons) indicates the presence of bed bug infestations. The sightings of live bed bugs are also possible.

Tips to Prevent and Get Rid of Bed Bugs

prevent and get rid of bed bugs

1. Check your bed and sofa

While bed bugs are mostly found around your bed, they can hide around other locations such as the sofa too. Bed bugs locate themselves near the seams and zippers of mattresses and cushions.

They can also infest the gaps between cushions as well as the frames of beds and sofas. Inspecting the beds and sofas helps to detect bed bug infestations. This allows early action before the infestations worsen.

2. Check your luggage

Another major source of bed bug infestation is infested accommodation. As you are enjoying your vacation in resorts or hotels, bed bugs from an infested room may climb into your luggage and follow you back home. Inspect your luggage as you are unpacking them may help you prevent a bed bug infestation.

3. Be mindful when using shared laundry services

Launderettes and shared laundry services are convenient for people living far from home. However, the convenience does come with a risk of exposing yourself to bed bug infestations. Bed bugs may hide in the shared equipment, so do check your washed clothes for signs of bed bugs after using shared laundry services.

4. Check secondhand furniture and clothes

Buying pre-loved items are a great way to save costs and care for the environment. However, sometimes you are getting more than what you wish for as bed bugs may hide in items such as furniture, clothing and even stuffed toys.

Bed bugs can survive without a blood meal for up to 4 months, so they can even be found in items that have been left unattended. Make sure you check the items before you use them again to prevent bed bug infestations at home.

DIY Methods

Getting rid of bed bugs on your own is not an easy task. However, some methods can reduce their presence or even remove them entirely in cases of light infestations.

1. Wash and dry in high temperature

Bed bugs can be killed when exposed to temperatures higher than 60°C. Washing or drying your mattress linen and clothes at high temperature is one of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs.

2. Vacuuming

Vacuuming can remove the adult bed bugs, the nymphs and even the eggs. Focus on the potential hiding spots of bed bugs such as wall joints, cracks and crevices. Thoroughly vacuum the bed, including mattresses and bed frames to remove bed bugs.

Vacuuming together with washing linens in high temperature may help to eliminate the bed bugs. However, if the situation does not improve, professional pest treatment is required to help solve your problem.

3. Use bed bug-proof encasements

Bed bug-proof encasements restrict the movements of bed bugs, thus preventing new infestations as well as trapping existing bed bugs. They are available in the market and work well to keep bed bugs off your bed as long as you install them correctly.

Professional Bed Bug Treatment

Residual insecticidal treatment is one of the treatment methods to get rid of bed bugs. The chemicals and products used by pest management professionals are different from those that are available over the counter (less effective). The application of residual insecticides targets the areas where bed bugs are most likely to hide and reside, such as:

  • Seams of beds
  • Folds of sofas
  • Wall crevices

Killem Pest has employed steaming treatment as an alternative solution for bed bug control.

It is an environmentally friendly solution as it resolves and eliminates bed bugs and their eggs without the use of any insecticide.

The superheated dry steam from the specially designed appliance can be steamed up to 180°C, which directly kills the bed bugs and eggs upon contact. The steam generated will not cause damage to any surface or fabric. Instead, it can help to eradicate viruses, bacteria, germ and fungi on the treated surface.

Bed bug problems should not be underestimated. They are best solved before they become much more severe. In the case of a serious bed bug infestation, treatment methods may vary and can become more challenging. It is vital to identify the root cause of bed bug problems, recognize the source to avoid continuously bringing them back from outside. Lastly, help from a professional pest control company is strongly advised.


How to Get Rid of Ants

The Ultimate Guide to Ant Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Have you ever walked into the kitchen only to find ants feasting on the cakes that you forgot to place in the fridge? Or you found the carcasses of ants in the drinks that you were just about to finish? These scenarios are familiar to most of us. The presence of ants may be a sign of a larger ant infestation. Ant infestations are relatively harmless in most cases. Severe ant infestations may cause problems and badly affect the quality of life.

Types of Ants in Singapore

ant species in singapore

Some of the most commonly found ants in Singapore are:

These ants may enter homes searching for food and shelter. Buildings appeal to ants since they offer protection from weather and predators.

Ghost ants

Ghost ants - also known as sugar ants - love moist environments. They are usually active in kitchens. For example, inside cabinets, under the sink or behind the fridge.

Characteristics of ghost ants:

  • 1.3 to 1.5mm big
  • Dark heads
  • Translucent bodies
  • They love sweet and sugar-rich foods as they contain carbs to feed the colonies

Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants are a real nuisance. They can be hard to handle. Pharaoh ants are relatively resistant to pesticides. If you spray pesticides, their colony will break and move into new territories. This makes it challenging to eliminate pharaoh ants. Also, pharaoh ants tend to bite when threatened.

The characteristics of pharaoh ants include:

  • 2mm big
  • Distinctive golden or brown colour
  • They enjoy oily and protein-rich foods
  • Queens can live anywhere from 4 to 12 years

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants, as their name implies, live in wooden structures. Though they do not eat wood, they will create an area for their colony with their mouths. Hence, carpenter ants are sometimes thought to be termites.

Characteristics of carpenter ants:

  • 15 to 17mm big
  • Black and reddish-brown
  • They love eating honeydew and dead insects
  • Often found in moist-rich areas such as bathrooms

Crazy ants

Last on this list is the crazy ants. Their name relates to their defence techniques. Once disturbed, crazy ants will swiftly move in all directions. This makes it challenging to eliminate them.

Characteristics of crazy ants:

  • 2 to 3mm big
  • Long legs
  • Black or dark red colour
  • Antennae
  • They love sugary foods (hence they will occupy similar places as ghost ants)

Signs of an Ant Infestation

signs of an ant infestation in singapore

 

Ants from the external surroundings may enter your house occasionally as they forage for food. Thus, you should not have to worry when you see one or two ants in the house. However, there are some tell-tale signs indicating that you might be having an ant infestation around your home.

1. Live ants

One of the most apparent signs indicating an ant infestation is the sightings of a large number of live ants. They are usually present around food and food preparation areas as they forage for food.

2. Ant trails

Ants leave a trail of pheromone as they forage. This allows other members of the colony can follow. An ant trail forms as ants travel on the same path with the pheromone. Following the ant trail may lead you to their nest.

3. Presence of sawdust

The presence of sawdust may indicate the presence of carpenter ants. Carpenter ants do not consume the wood that they infest. Instead, they expel the wood from the tunnels they make, leaving behind piles or trails of sawdust.

Life Cycle and Biology

Similar to insects like mosquitoes and butterflies, ants undergo a complete metamorphosis. Their life stages consist of:

  • Eggs
  • Larvae
  • Pupae
  • Adulthood

Ants are also social insects that practice a caste system. Thus, the normal function of a colony is maintained through the division of labour by different castes. An ant colony consists of a queen, alates, workers, pupae, larvae and eggs.

Reproducing

The queen is the largest individual in a colony. Her primary function is to reproduce and grow the colony. The queen only mates once but continues to reproduce throughout its entire lifespan.

A male’s sole function is to mate, and it dies after its task is accomplished.

The alates are the winged individuals that fly off to form new colonies. New colonies can also be created through a process known as budding, whereby the queen ant leaves the nest to start a new colony in another location.

Workers

The worker is the most common caste which encompasses the ants that we see in the surrounding. The tasks of the workers include:

  • Foraging for food
  • Feeding the workers
  • Guarding and tending to the nest

Some species of ants have workers that are dimorphic. This means that the workers are further classified into:

  • Major workers: larger
  • Minor workers: smaller

The larvae are fragile and legless, so they need nursing from the workers.

Hazards

Ants are not important vectors of diseases, so they pose little medical concerns. However, the presence of ants still poses risks to homeowners.

1. Nuisance

The sight of ants around your house may be unpleasant. Ants are an eyesore to people who hate insects. They may also climb onto your body unnoticed and cause irritation.

2. Structural damage

Severe infestation by carpenter ants may hollow out wooden structures, causing the structures to weaken. In turn, this increases the risk of collapsing.

3. Occurrence of other pests

The presence of ants may cause other entomophagic pests such as spiders and geckos to thrive. Ants serve as a food source of these pests. Thus, the increase in food supply would undoubtedly benefit their predators.

Tips to Prevent and Get Rid of Ants

prevent and get rid of ants

 

6 ways to prevent and get rid of ants in Singapore:

1. Identify and close entry points

How do ants find their way into your home? Understanding this will allow you to block ants from entering. Usually, ants enter through cracks in the walls, floors, ceilings, windows and pipelines. Even the tiniest of spaces is enough for ants to enter. Prevention is key, thus your first task is to find and seal all possible entry points.

2. Remove water leaks

Water is one of the sources that ants thrive on. Ants also nest in moist areas. Therefore, water leaks are an attraction for ants. If you see ants in your house, there may well be a water leak somewhere. We recommended you to inspect your home for leaking pipes.

3. Keep proper sanitation

All creatures need food to survive. It is important to keep your home clean at all times. By doing so, you will not attract ants. Make it a habit to clean your home thoroughly, including counters, tables, floors and especially all parts of the kitchen. Regularly throwing out the garbage also helps a lot in preventing ants.

4. Store food in airtight containers

Food storages are great attractions for ants. Their tiny bodies can usually squeeze through any narrow gaps in search for crumbs and other food rests. Thus, we recommend using airtight storage containers for your food. Also, consider storing fresh items such as fruit in the fridge.

5. Take good care of indoor potted plants

Even if you follow the first steps rigidly, there is still a chance of an ant infestation. Our next tip addresses plants. As plants need water, so do ants. Thus ants are often attracted to indoor potted plants. They may even build a colony inside a pot. Hence, carefully check around plant pots for signs of ants.

6. Trim trees and keep shrubbery away from home’s exteriors

Taking care of your garden is our final tip. Why take care of the outdoors? Because this where the ants are coming from. If you want to get rid of ants, start in the outdoors. Examples include trimming tree branches and keeping things neat and tidy.

DIY methods

Ants are sensitive creatures, not only able to sense sweet stuff but also capable to detect the smells they hate. Home remedies such as cinnamon, lemon juice and peppermint can act as natural ant deterrents to prevent their access to our homes. The home remedies can be sprayed at doorways, windowsills, and potential entry points to help in deterring them away.

Professional Ant Treatment

ant tips

Residual spraying is the most common method used to treat ants. However, it does not always work for all species. It is usually used when we can detect and access the ant nest. Or, the ants will not be shaken by the insecticide, which can worsen the infestation. Residual chemical can also be sprayed at the entrance or potential entry point if we want to prevent garden species from coming into our premise.

Some species of ants are hard to handle. They are eliminated but then re-appear. Some ants cannot be eradicated with insecticide spray. Thus it is important to identify the type of ant infestation.

The baiting method is preferable, especially when dealing with ants indoors. The bait that we use is a mix of an insecticide and some food attractants. It is non-repellent and slow-acting, which does not kill ants quickly. The bait will be placed at multiple locations where their activity is identified. The slow-acting nature of the bait works when the workers carry the bait back to their nest and feed it to the brood, nest mates and queen. Subsequently, the nest is eliminated.

Notice any ants? Remain calm and contact a professional to prevent further spread of ants. Our staff are licensed and certified with the National Environment Agency (NEA). Our service technicians understand the habits of different types of ants and will provide the correct type of treatment.


The Ultimate Guide to Mosquito Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Mosquitoes are tiny creatures. Without their wing’s buzzing sounds, we might not be aware of their presence. Nevertheless, they feed on humans and animals, leaving itchy, annoying bites on the flesh that can cause excessive irritation and infection. Mosquitoes cause annoyance with their uncanny ability to detect humans’ presence, taking blood and disappearing before a fatal swat.

Types of mosquitoes in Singapore

Numerous species of mosquitoes are active in Singapore. Some of the species are uncommon or seldom pose a threat to public health.

Mosquito and dengue in singapore

The primary mosquito species of concern in Singapore are:

  • Aedes aegypti
  • Aedes albopitus
  • Culex quinquefasciatus
  • Anopheles sundaicus
  • Anopheles maculatus.

Aedes Mosquitoes

Aedes mosquitoes exist in urban and suburban areas. They are black with white stripes on their body and legs. They are the so-called container breeders that prefer to breed in stagnant water, including natural and artificial containers.

Aedes Aegypti

Aedes aegypti is an indoor species that tends to breed and rest in cool dark places.

Aedes Albopitus

Aedes albopitus mosquitoes prefer to breed outdoor, especially in areas with vegetation.

Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes

Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes are night biters. Most of them are brown. Culex mosquitoes tend to breed in polluted water while Anopheles mosquitoes breed in brackish water (depending on the species).

Signs of Mosquito Infestations

A mosquito infestation in premises is most easily detected through mosquito bites.

These bites leave itchy bumps on people’s skin.

Besides mosquito bites, you may also notice an irritating buzzing sound as mosquitoes fly near your head. It is common to spot flying adult mosquitoes around the infested premises. Their larvae and pupae may be found in water bodies such as vase and flowerpot plates.

aedes mosquito and dengue

Life Cycle and Biology

The life cycle of Aedes Mosquitoes (from eggs to adults) takes around one week under favourable conditions. The tropical climate in Singapore provides mosquitoes with optimum temperature for their growth. Compared to other countries outside the tropical region, mosquitoes require less time to complete their life cycle in Singapore.

A female mosquito generally can lay about 100 to 200 eggs per time.

Also, it can lay eggs up to 5 times in its lifetime. Hence, a viable female mosquito produces a thousand eggs. One terrible fact about Aedes mosquitoes’ eggs is that they can resist dehydration for more than 6 months. In other words, the eggs can survive in a dry condition for up to 6 months or more and hatch once they are exposed to water.

The hatching of eggs takes about 2 to 3 days. The larvae formed have four developmental stages. They grow from one stage to another, moult in water and get bigger. It usually takes about 4 to 5 days for a larva to become a pupa.

As they grow to become pupae, this is a stage where they do not feed at all. They will usually rest at the water surface and wait for their emergence of becoming adult mosquitoes. This process only takes 1 to 2 days.

For adult mosquitoes, females will suck blood to provide nutrients for their eggs. However, male mosquitoes will only feed on nectar or plant juices. Both sexes prefer to stay in cool and dark places.

Medical Importance

Beyond the nuisance factors, mosquitoes are vectors of some deadly diseases, including Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Zika, Japanese Encephalitis, and Malaria. Among these diseases, Dengue Fever is one of the most severe vector-borne diseases affecting our community in Singapore.

Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopitus are the two main species of Aedes mosquito that can transmit Dengue fever in Singapore.

The most common mode of transmission starts when an Aedes mosquito bites a person infected with Dengue virus. The virus then undergoes an extrinsic incubation period in the mosquito. It takes about 8-12 days before granting the mosquito the ability to transmit the virus for the rest of its life. The infectious mosquito then transmits the virus to humans via its bite. The intrinsic incubation period in humans can take up to 10 days. An infected human will then begin to show symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of Diseases

symptoms of dengue

If someone is infected with Dengue fever, they may only show few or no signs of the disease. This is called asymptomatic. Some people may experience symptoms a few days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.

The common symptoms of Dengue fever are:

  • Recurring fever
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Bone pain
  • Severe headache
  • Skin rash with red spots

While the fever is usually not fatal, it can progress to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF). Life-threatening complications may then occur.

The symptoms of DHF include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Bruising
  • Uncontrolled bleeding

Finally, DHF can also lead to a high fever (lasting between 2 to 7 days) and Dengue Shock Syndrome.

Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Singapore’s hot and humid climate makes it a paradise for mosquitoes to breed. The threat of Dengue in Singapore is all year round. However, there are still no vaccines or drugs that can effectively treat or prevent dengue fever. Hence, reducing the risk of getting mosquito bites will lower the chances of having dengue fever. Several factors can affect the attraction of female mosquitoes towards a blood meal, namely carbon dioxide, body odour and the heat emitted by animals and human. Here are some ways to prevent mosquito bites:

1. Use insect repellents

Apply insect repellent to bare skin when going outdoors. Repellents containing DEET (the common active ingredient in insect repellents) are the most widely available insect repellents in the world. A great deal of testing has been done on DEET insect repellents. They are proven to be safe to use.

2. Wear protective clothing

Vision is one thing mosquitoes use to search for their blood meal. Black or dark coloured clothes are proven to be more attractive than light coloured clothes for mosquitoes. However, mosquitoes can bite through clothing that is made of thin materials like tights. Hence, long-sleeved thick clothing is advisable as mosquitoes might find it difficult to bite through.

3. Avoid peak mosquito hours

To avoid mosquito bites, you might need to plan any outdoor activities when mosquitoes are less active. Although different species have different active hours, mosquitoes are generally more active during dawn and dusk.

4. Keep air circulating

Mosquitoes are weak fliers, which means they are not that efficient at flying and are not able to handle strong wind. Use of electric fans for outdoor activities and gatherings can prevent you and your family from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes usually fly at the lower half of our bodies and near the ground. Therefore, aim fans towards that area.

5. Sleep under a mosquito net

If you notice mosquito bites on your body after hours of sleeping, using a mosquito net would be a good idea.

6. Get rid of stagnant water

Any puddles of water around your home can become a potential breeding source for mosquitoes. Always be mindful to empty water from flowerpots, plates, pet food, WC pan collar, buckets, barrels and cans at least once or twice a week as mosquitoes’ life cycle can be completed within a week. Always cap the bamboo pole holders when not in use to prevent rainwater from splashing into the holders.

7. Keep your landscapes and home clean

Remember to keep the gully traps, scupper drains, and roof gutters clean. Thinning dense vegetation will help to improve air circulation. You can avoid getting mosquito bites by making your environment less desirable or appealing to them.

mosquito tips

How to Prevent Mosquito Breeding In and Around your Home

Controlling and preventing mosquitoes in Singapore is a real challenge. As mentioned, the climate offers an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. However, public awareness, preventive methods, and collective efforts are crucial in the battle against Dengue in Singapore.

Aedes mosquitoes can breed in water bodies that are as small as the size of a 20 cents coin. Thus, all stagnant water must be eliminated to prevent mosquito breeding.

Practice the following 5-step Mozzie Wipeout recommended by the National Environment Agency:

  1. Turn any unused pails
  2. Regularly change the water in vases
  3. Flip flowerpot plates
  4. Loosen hardened soil in flowerpots or planter boxes
  5. Clear roof gutter and place biological control (Bti)

Other than the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout, we must also do a thorough check-up and prevention including:

  1. Cover rarely used gully traps/ install anti-mosquito valves
  2. Cover all containers storing water
  3. Clear water from dish rack trays
  4. Cover bamboo pole holders
  5. Keep drains free from obstructions such as dry leaves and tree branches
  6. Seal up tree holes in gardens using sand or cement to prevent the collection of stagnant water
  7. Seal up gaps around covers using a silicone-based caulk
  8. Remove unwanted receptacles to avoid the accumulation of rainwater
  9. Repair outside leaks
  10. Consider poking a tiny hole with a pin in leaf axils (between the leaves and the stem) for proper drainage as those areas are likely to collect water.

DIY methods

The use of essential oils to repel mosquitoes is not a new thing. The essential oils extracted from some plants such as lemongrass and peppermint contain chemical constituents that are proven to be effective mosquito repellents. If you cannot stand the smell and smoke of mosquito coils, you may consider using essential oils since they are derived from natural plants while also packed with other benefits to the human body.

One of the most effective ways of preventing mosquito bites is by keeping them out of your house.

You can do this by using insect screens. This method is simple, chemical-free yet effective since you can protect your home from the invasion of mosquitoes and other pests.

Professional mosquito treatment

Adoption of permanent measures is strongly advised to address and eliminate the root cause of mosquito breeding. The DIY methods are recommended if the level of mosquito activity is low, and if our only aim is to repel them. The common ways of reducing the number of adult mosquitoes and eliminating the breeding source are thermal fogging, misting and larviciding.

Thermal Fogging

Thermal fogging is widely used in Singapore. It is a method used to kill adult mosquitoes. The hand-carried fogger runs by heating mixed solution with gasoline from the combustion chamber. The insecticide will be pumped via a delivery valve and injected to the fog head or nozzle. From there, insecticide liquid will be vaporized into hot gas and released into the target places.

Thermal fogging provides a better penetration of aerosol insecticide, which the insecticide can reach target areas more effectively. However, the duration of its residual effect is short, which can only kill adult mosquitoes present during the treatment.

Misting

Misting is a motor-driven ULV unit that targets flying insects, especially mosquito species. This method sprays fine mist of insecticide into the air. The gasoline-driven engine is used to pressure and force the formulation from the insecticide container to produce the high-volume insecticide mists through the nozzles. Misting leaves behind insecticide droplets and creates residual chemical effect on the treated surface to kill adult mosquitoes upon contact. However, the droplets can be washed off by rainwater.

Larviciding

Larviciding is used to eliminate the larvae found in a water body, and to prevent the breeding of mosquito larvae before it takes place. Some of the most common larvicides used are larvicidal oils, chemical insecticides and biological larvicide such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti).

Larvicidal oils have a physical mode of action whereby they act as surfactants that prevent mosquito larvae and pupae from rising to the water surface for respiration, causing them to drown. Chemical larvicides usually kill larvae and pupae by affecting their nervous system. Bti is a microbe that will be ingested by the larvae, and their toxins will be activated in the larvae’s midgut, paralyzing and damaging their digestive systems, thus killing them.

Vehicle Mounted Fogging & Misting

Killem Pest is one of the few pest control companies in Singapore that uses the vehicle-mounted fogger and mister. The fogger is a large version of the common hand-carried fogger and has a higher performance because of its faster application rate.

On the other hand, the vehicle-mounted mister provides a better application compared to the normal hand-carried mister. The adjustable aerosol nozzles allow a better variation of misting direction and ensure wider distribution of insecticides towards the treated areas.

Controlling the population of mosquitoes in Singapore is not an easy challenge, but we are certainly taking it on. Early detection facilitates the prevention of their breeding and management of their population. With more research and knowledge about the insects, we will be able to keep their populations under control.


Pest Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry plays a significant role in defining human health, so they are subjected to strict governance and regulations. The presence of pests at any stage of the production process may cause severe economic losses. Besides the production areas, pests may contaminate the raw materials, storage areas, laboratories, packaging areas, and finished products.

The presence of pests in a pharmaceutical facility can cause severe consequences to the company, such as:

  • Damage to brand and reputation
  • Loss of trust from customers
  • Financial loss for damaged products and batch recalls
  • Revenue loss due to cessation of production
  • Claims for compensation by customers and consumers
  • Legal action by regulatory bodies and public health authorities

Common Pests in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pests that may be present in and cause threats to a pharmaceutical facility include cockroachesfliesrodents and stored product pests.

  • Cockroaches and flies are mechanical vectors for various diseases. Their droppings and other excretory waste can contaminate and stain the facility. Other potential contaminants include body parts, shed skins and egg cases.
  • Rats and mice also pose risks to the building, contaminate equipment as well as the products. Their gnawing behavior causes fire hazards as they chew through wire insulation, exposing the inner wire, which may lead to short circuit and fire.
  • Stored product pests (beetles, weevils, moths and mites) depend on raw materials and herbs for food in pharmaceutical facilities. Infestation by stored product pests can be difficult to detect and they can contaminate the product if they enter the production process.

Modern Pest Management Program

Pest management today is no more a one-size-fits-all approach; it has become a uniquely designed program customized to fit the facility it is used in. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most vulnerable sectors that rely on pest management companies to protect and maintain the high quality of their products. It differs from some other sectors, which mainly concern about the existence of mosquito breeding. The pest management program used in pharmaceutical facilities is known as IPM (Integrated Pest Management).

An IPM is tailor-made to different types of facilities and needs as there is no silver bullet to control pests. The IPM program aims to address the root of a pest problem and use pest management tools on practical plans. A pest management service provider should conduct a site survey and offer a suitable plan for a pharmaceutical facility.

Traditional Pest Management VS Integrated Pest Management for the Pharmaceutical Industry

One significant difference between the two is that traditional pest management is often reactive rather than proactive. In a traditional pest management program, action is taken only when pests are sighted, whereas in an IPM program, monitoring plays an integral part. Through monitoring, pest activities and their trend can be detected so early actions can be taken to prevent pest infestations.

Many traditional pest management programs rely on regular treatments to control the population of pests. However, in an IPM program, monitoring is more important and treatments will only be carried out when the pest population exceeds the threshold. This avoids unnecessary use of pesticides, thus preventing contamination.

Pest identification is an essential part of IPM. It allows you to target the correct species by knowing its biology, behavior, life cycle, and feeding habits. Knowing what pests you are dealing with allows you to be aware of the potential damage they can cause and determine the suitable control methods to be used. Pest identification also allows the source of infestation to be traced, whether it is introduced from the supply chain or is caused by a structural defect.

While the main focus of a traditional pest management program may be killing pests and reducing their numbers, an IPM program strives to prevent them from establishing infestations. Pests may enter a pharmaceutical facility through a leaking pipe, introduced from incoming shipments, or other sources that might be overlooked. An IPM program aims to identify these causes and resolve the problem, preventing future infestations.

Ways to Prevent Pests in Pharmaceutical Facilities

Beside pest management, pharmaceutical facilities should also take note of the other aspects:

  • Exclusion

Keeping doors, shutters and windows closed to keep flies and birds out. Structural defects such as cracks and leaks should be fixed to prevent rodents and cockroaches. Pest proofing the building by filling up gaps and holes prevents pests from entering.

  • Practice good housekeeping

Food, water and shelter are the basic needs of pests. Strategic placements of rubbish bins and good sanitation help to keep pests away.

  • Practice proper storage methods

Avoid using cardboard to store items as they are ideal harborage sites of cockroaches. Proper arrangement of goods helps prevent rodent infestations.

  • Utilize monitoring tools such as stations and traps

The advancement of technology allows monitoring to be done 24/7 via sensors and traps connected to the internet. This allows immediate actions to be taken once an activity is detected.

Choosing the Right Pest Management Vendor

When choosing a pest management service provider for a pharmaceutical facility, one may need to consider more criteria besides choosing a reputable company. With 27 years of experience in the pest management industry, Killem is supported by well-experienced pest management professionals. Nevertheless, we are always ready to embrace novel innovations to increase pest management programs’ effectiveness and efficiency.

Our quality assurance department provides technical support internally and for our clients while keeping our services under check. We take pride in making sure our clients are worry-free when it comes to pest-related issues and none of our clients have never failed any audits conducted both internally and externally.


termite infestations

The Ultimate Guide to Termite Pest Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Termites are tiny insects that are well-known to the public for their ability to feed on and damage timber. To many homeowners or individuals who have experience dealing with termites, they can probably relate a termite infestation to one of their worst nightmares if not handled properly.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

This is a famous quote from the great military strategist Sun Tzu. It is an advice for us to understand more about an opponent or a problem we are facing. The goal is to come out with effective ways or solutions to conquer the problem. In this case, by knowing more about termites, we should be able to manage a termite infestation.

Types of Termites in Singapore

There are more than 3000 living and fossil species of termites around the world. Termites are classified under three main groups: Subterranean termites, drywood termites and dampwood termites.

types of termites in singapore

All three groups of termites live in Singapore. Subterranean termites and drywood termite are the ones of most significant concern to humans. In contrast, the dampwood termite plays a vital role in the ecosystem as a decomposer, especially in forested areas.

Subterranean Termites

As their name implies, most subterranean termites live underground. They look for areas free of human disturbances. Subterranean termites rely greatly on moisture in the soil. They have an excellent ability to build mud tubes to travel above ground. Mud tubes are tunnels made of soil, cellulose and other particulate matters. This helps termites prevent water loss as they travel above ground.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are not dependent on the moisture in the soil, so they live inside wood. They house themselves in structures made of dry wood such as doors, walls, furniture shelves and cabinets.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites infest wood materials with high moisture content. They often live in decaying logs in the forest. Dampwood termites require a constant supply of water sources. For that reason, the termites usually house themselves in forested areas with fallen trees and decaying timbers.

What Causes Termites?

  • Presence of wood
  • Moist environment
  • Poor maintenance

Life Cycle and Biology

One of the most fascinating behaviors in the world of insects is eusociality. Termites are eusocial insects that live in multigenerational families, practice cooperative brood care and division of labor.

In a termite colony, individuals are divided into three castes: reproductives, workers and soldiers.

termites in singapore

Reproductives

In a termite colony, the reproductives are the only ones capable of giving birth to new offsprings. The winged termites that are often seen swarming around light sources are reproductive termites. They are called alates or swarmers. Winged termites leave their nests to form a new colony. They find their mates through swarming and search for suitable nesting sites upon successful pairing. These termites form the king and queen of the new nest.

The queen lays more than 1000 eggs per day and they can live for more than 20 years.

A termite colony may continue to survive after the death of the king and queen. There are secondary reproductives that can take over their duty.

Soldiers

The soldiers have large mandibles that serve as pincers. They use these pincers to protect the colony when threatened and some species can secrete white latex from their head for defense purposes. The large mandibles hinder the ability of the soldiers to feed. There, they have to rely on the workers for feeding.

Workers

The workers fetch food and feed the colony members. They take care of the young ones by building and maintaining the nest. Workers are the ones responsible for the damages done. In some colonies, the workers also consist of the immatures. These can further develop into reproductives or soldiers when necessary.

Signs of Termite Infestations

signs of termite infestations

One of the most obvious signs of termite infestations is the sighting of damaged wood. Termites usually feed underneath the surface of wood. Their damages cause the surface to appear bubbly. Damages caused by subterranean termites sometimes resemble water damage.

The mud tubes constructed by subterranean termites for traveling above ground serve as another distinct sign of a termite infestation.

A large number of mud tubes are commonly found in areas with heavy infestations.

Termites feed on the interior of wooden structures. This empties the structures and gives off hollow sounds when they hit their heads.

Termites can communicate by sound. Termite soldiers hit their heads against the tunnels to alert the other colony members when disturbed. When this happens, a tapping sound often comes from the infested wood.

Flying termites are a nuisance. The wings they shed is unsightly especially when in large numbers. The presence of a large number of flying termites and discarded wings might indicate the presence of a termite colony nearby.

Drywood termite infestations are detected through the presence of their fecal pellets that resemble wood dust. The fecal pellets are found near infested wooden structures. These pellets push through exit holes that are visible on the surface of the infested wood.

Last but not least, a termite infestation can be confirmed when live termites are spotted. Although it is not common, termites can be detected when their mud tubes or infested wood are accidentally disturbed.

Damage

Termites can cause severe damage. The colony size of a subterranean termite can easily reach 1-2 million in total. It would only take less than 6 months for them to finish a 2×4 wooden beam.

Structural Damage

The most significant damage caused by termites is on buildings and structures.

They feed on cellulose materials in wood. By hollowing it out, they cause wooden structures to weaken and become frail. They weaken the wooden structures like beams, pillars and ceiling. In turn, this eventually leads to the collapse of the structures.

Safety Concerns

Timbers were the primary materials used in the construction of older buildings. Some of the wooden structures are preserved for modern use. Termites can hollow out roof truss, beams and pillars. This causes the roof or the entire building to collapse when they can no longer sustain the structures’ weight.

Aesthetic Damage

Besides causing structural damages, termites can also affect the aesthetics of a building. Chipping paint, uneven surfaces, grooves on wood and mud tubes are some sights that one might notice in an infested home.

Fire Hazard

Subterranean termites are known to infest the electrical components such as circuit boxes and wire trunkings, which are rarely accessed by humans. They may damage the electrical elements, causing short circuit and even fire.

Health Concerns

Termites are not of medical importance as they do not transmit diseases to humans. However, due to the moist and humid environment in which they reside, they are usually accompanied by mold and fungi. The spores released by the molds and fungi may have adverse effects on people with allergies or asthma.

Damage and Repair Costs

When termites severely infest an object or structure, money is needed to repair or replace them. More often than not, termite infestations require homeowners to repair or replace more than one item. For example, termites infesting the wooden parquets and skirting require the replacement of both items.

The Best Ways to Get Rid of Termites – What You Can Do

Pest management professionals in Singapore may carry out inspections during their visits to your house. You can rely on them to keep tabs on termite activities. However, if you do not have a contract with one, you will have to get rid of termites yourself.

Where to Spot Them

1. Flooring and skirting 

Damaged or raised portions of wooden flooring and skirting are indications of termite infestations. Mud tubes are visible on corners and edges where the wall and floor meet.

2. Storerooms 

Termites are spotted at storerooms, especially if human movements are infrequent or if there are hidden corners that are hard to access.

3. Pipes

Areas around pipes usually have higher humidity, which termites prefer. Moisture content can also be high if there is leakage. This makes the area around pipes a hotspot for termite infestations.

4. Exterior wall 

Mud tubes can be seen on exterior walls as termites make their way into your house.

5. Outdoor area 

Termites can hide among the unused building materials piled outside of your home. The tree stumps in your garden can be infested with termites if not removed quickly.

6. Wooden door and window frames 

Wooden door frames are present in most homes and they can become infested with termites. Look for signs such as mud tubes or exit holes and fecal pellets when you clean your windows and doors for early detection of termites.

What to Do When You Spot Them

If you come across any sign of a termite infestation, it is important to remember that termites are unlikely to cause any devastating damage overnight. Therefore, do not panic and do not use conventional insecticide aerosols to spray the affected area! You may snap a photo of the affected area so that your pest management service provider can identify the type of termite infestation you are facing. It is important to not disturb the affected area.

Some homeowners may try to clear any mud tube or infested wood. It is not advisable to do so unless recommended by the pest management professionals.

This is because it may make the control of termites more difficult when a colony is disturbed. Contact a local pest management professional in Singapore so that they can provide you with useful advice and control measures.

termite treatment in singapore

DIY Termite Treatments That Cost Less Than 10$

While the execution of termite treatments generally requires professional knowledge and training, there is something you can do to get rid of the annoying flying termites. All you need is soapy water and a light source.

Like many other insects, flying termites get drawn to light sources, so when water is placed under a light source, termites can get confused and are drawn to the reflection of light in the water, causing them to drown in the water.

The Best Ways to Get Rid of Termites

As mentioned earlier, subterranean termite colonies live underground. Only a small portion of the colony members move above the ground. Therefore, treatment is ineffective unless it can target the underground colony or the nest. This is why we do not recommend homeowners to carry out any procedure on their own.

Professional Termite Treatment: Baiting

To target the underground colony, baiting treatment is the most suitable method. The bait used by pest management professionals is specifically designed only to target subterranean termites. The bait consists of cellulosic material impregnated with an insect growth regulator. The cellulosic material serves as a food attractant while the insect growth regulator acts as a slow-acting toxicant.

After the termite workers consume the bait, other termite colony members receive the toxicant. Baiting treatment usually takes 1 to 2 months to suppress a whole termite colony. It might seem like a long treatment period, but it is the best method to prevent re-infestation from the same termite colony.

Professional Termite Treatment: Soil Treatment

However, baiting is not a panacea. Some other subterranean termite species are less likely to be affected by baiting. They are the fungus-growing higher termites that have alternative food storing in the fungus comb besides having wood as the primary source. The transfer of toxicants will be slowed down, especially if the target colony size is big. In this case, soil treatment replaces baiting.

Soil treatment is an approach that applies Green-label certified liquid termiticides to create a chemical barrier in the soil under or around the foundation of a building. The termiticides can prevent the invasion of subterranean termites for years.

Professional Termite Treatment: Dusting

Also, one of the most conventional methods in managing termites is dusting. This method is the least expensive treatment. It is used to puff an insecticidal dust into the mud tube of termites. The foraging termites, which have been puffed by the dust, are expected to pass the toxicant to their nestmates by social interaction.

The success of dusting depends on the skill and technique of the pest management professional. If too much dust puffs into the mud tube, the treated termites will die before they pass on the toxicant.

Different Treatment Methods for Termite Pest Prevention

The treatment methods for drywood termites are different from the treatments used to control subterranean termites. As previously mentioned, they have a different biology and behavior.

Drywood termites do not need soil and moisture to build their colony. Infested wood with drywood termites transport to everywhere. Since the whole colony of drywood termites can live within a piece of timber structure, we should inspect and treat wood before we use or move the wood into our home.

Wood can be pre-treated with chemicals to stop termites from digesting inside the wood. Then, varnishing the wood or applying a fresh coat of paint helps prevent the attack of drywood termites in the future.

It is often too late to perform any prevention once you have noticed the presence of fecal pellets. There are several ways to treat drywood termites, but the most common method is a wood replacement. The reason behind this is to remove the entire termite colony in the infested timber.

Some pest management professionals may provide fumigation for drywood termites treatment, while others may offer the foaming method if there is only a mild infestation. However, the success of treatments for drywood termites is often unpredictable. Therefore, prevention is better than cure.

In general, cooperation between you and your pest management professional is the major key to the success of termite treatment. If you would like more information on how Killem Pest can help you from termite infestation, get in touch or call us now!


Coronavirus in Singapore

What Role Can The Pest Control Industry Play in Fighting Off Coronavirus in Singapore?

The year 2020 started with the uncertainties caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which include those that cause the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

SARS-CoV is a well-known coronavirus in Singapore as its outbreak in 2003 killed 33 people while leaving various social and economic impacts.

Although COVID-19 is more contagious compared to SARS and MERS, it is less fatal than the two, meaning that it is less likely to kill.

How active is the Coronavirus in Singapore?

There are 85 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Singapore as of 21 Feb 2020. Moreover, there are currently 5 clusters in Singapore, with the Grace Assembly of God Church being the largest cluster. Most of the cases are linked to one another, but the emergence of cases without any known links to other cases caused Singapore to raise DORSCON level to orange.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The initial stage or main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

It is hard to differentiate between COVID-19 and common cold without other indicators such as the recent travel record to mainland China or close contact with other confirmed cases.

In most cases, the symptoms will appear within 5 to 6 days. However, the duration of the period between infection and the onset of symptoms can be as long as 14 days.

How can the symptoms of the Coronavirus be confused with dengue? Are the symptoms of dengue and the Coronavirus similar? 

The patient infected with dengue virus shares similar symptoms as those with COVID-19, such as high fever and headache. However, the one who has dengue virus may develop other symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, rashes of the skin, and mild bleeding from nose and gum. Respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, and breathing difficulties are not common in the case of dengue virus.

In Singapore, a 57-year-old lady who was first admitted as a dengue patient turned out to test positive for COVID-19 on 18 Feb 2020.

After several laboratory testing, MOH (Ministry of Health) had confirmed that this lady is the only known person in Singapore who is infected with both dengue and COVID-19.

Now, there is a deep concern of the laboratory tests of COVID-19, which show negative results initially but ended up diagnosed as COVID-19 in the final examination. It may take more than one test to confirm a COVID-19 case as the viral material collected in the initial test sample may be too little for the test to detect the virus.

COVID-19 in Singapore

What animals carry coronaviruses?

There are many coronaviruses known to circulate among animals and birds in the world. Nonetheless, only seven of them are capable of causing disease in humans. Some animals that are closely related to coronaviruses include bats, camels, and cats. The animal source of the COVID-19 virus has not yet been identified.

An animal from the live animal market in China may have caused the first reported human infections. Let’s look at the case of SARS coronavirus. The common perception is that it originated from bats that transmitted it to humans directly. Instead, it jumped to infect humans via civet cats. Furthermore, MERS coronavirus was also believed to have originated from bats but jumped to infect humans via camels.

Can pests carry Coronavirus?

In view of WHO (World Health Organization), there is no evidence at present to show COVID-19 can infect pests or spread through pests. Currently, it spreads only by infected people.

Can pest control prevent Coronavirus?

While pests may not spread COVID-19, controlling the population of pests around you reduces the number of disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes and rodents.

Some of the pest control companies provide disinfection service that can effectively kill various germs, including coronaviruses.

Pest management professionals are equipped with the necessary chemicals and equipment to eliminate harmful pathogens.

What does Killem Pest do to protect ourselves and our clients from Coronavirus in Singapore?

In light of recent events with regards to COVID-19, Killem has been adhering to measures put in place by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation. All our staff are

  • To have their body temperatures checked and recorded twice a day
  • Required to wear masks when entering client sites
  • Must see a doctor and stay away from work for at least 5 days if they are unwell

Our Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) receive a thermometer per vehicle to ensure this, and they use hand sanitizer before and after each job.

It is our responsibility and duty to protect our family and friends from the Coronavirus in Singapore.

Avoid COVID-19 by taking necessary actions.

A good practice of respiratory hygiene is the staple step in preventing the spread of it. Notably, disinfection is vital to ensure our living and working environments are free of germs and viruses.

For the last 27 years, Killem has been at the forefront of protecting Singapore from vector-borne diseases such as Zika and Dengue. Right now, we are doing our part to curb the spread of the contagious Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), so please contact us if you need our assistance in the fight against the disease. We offer a Home Disinfection Service and a Disinfectant Spray.


Types of Flies in Singapore

Most Common Types of Flies in Singapore

The most common types of flies in Singapore are:

  • Housefly (Musca domestica)
  • Fruit fly (Drosophila)
  • Bluebottle fly (Calliphora vomitoria)
  • Flesh fly (Sarcophagidae)
  • Sandfly (Phlebotominae)
  • Drain fly (Psychodidae)
  • Horsefly (Tabanidae)
  • Phorid fly (Megaselia)
  • Small dung fly (Leptocera)

If you are experiencing an infestation of flies, you may want to consider a fly inspection and fly control, removal, and extermination services.

Contact us

Let’s take a closer look at the common types of fly species in Singapore and what you can do to prevent and remove them.

Types of Flies in Singapore

1. Housefly

house fly in singapore

The housefly can be a real annoyance. Houseflies are carriers of diseases. They can settle into all kinds of premises, especially if there is food available. Thus it is essential to keep flies away by not allowing access to food.

The main characteristics of house flies are:

  • Colour: Grey thorax and yellow abdomen
  • Length: 5-8mm
  • Wide field of vision

2. Fruit fly

fruit fly

Fruit flies are, not surprisingly, usually found near fruit, fruit gardens, and vegetable gardens. They can be a nuisance all year round. Fruit flies are predominantly attracted to tomatoes, melons, squash, and grapes.

The main characteristics of fruit flies are:

  • Colour: Yellow and brown with bright red eyes
  • Length: 3mm
  • Fruit flies like to hover in the air

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies?

  • Store fruit in the fridge
  • Do not leave bread crumbs behind
  • Make a fly trap using apple cider vinegar and soap

3. Bluebottle fly

bluebottle fly

Another common type of fly in Singapore is the bluebottle fly. They hover around dust bins searching for food, but also pet feces and dead animals. That’s what makes them a carrier of diseases.

The main characteristics of bluebottle flies are:

  • Colour: Blue
  • Length: 6-12mm
  • Bluebottle flies usually breed in meat derived substances

4. Flesh fly

flesh fly

The flesh fly can be a threat to humans since they are attracted to human foods, wastes, and excrements. Flesh flies mostly feed on nectar, sweet foods, and liquids from dead animal bodies.

The main characteristics of flesh flies are:

  • Colour: Grey
  • Length: 6-14mm
  • Flesh flies have a life cycle of 2-4 weeks

5. Sandfly

Sandflies are next on our list of flies in Singapore. The sandfly is mostly active from April to September. They locate themselves near damp places such as riverbanks.

The main characteristics of sandflies are:

  • Colour: Grey with brown eyes and dark red legs
  • Length: 10-11mm
  • Sandfly larvae can take up to 2 years to develop

6. Drain fly

drain fly

drain fly is a small insect that is that feeds on organic matter, as they are usually associated with sewage beds. Hence they are sometimes also referred to as sewage flies.

The main characteristics of drain flies are:

  • Colour: Grey
  • Length: 2mm
  • Wings covered with hair

7. Horsefly

horsefly in singapore

The horsefly is a real nuisance to animals in particular. Female horseflies can bite so much that animals lose weight as a result! Male horseflies are less of a problem and are more active in the daytime. They are pollen and nectar feeders.

The main characteristics of horseflies are:

  • Colour: Black or dark brown with green or black eyes
  • Length: up to 25mm
  • Bites from horseflies can be very painful

8. Phorid fly

phorid fly

Phorid flies are somewhat less common in Singapore, but we still need to keep an eye on them. These flies feed on many types of substances. Look out for rotting bags of potatoes, onions, or other stored tubers.

The main characteristics of phorid flies are:

  • Colour: Light brown or yellow
  • Length: 3mm
  • They can survive for 1-2 months

9. Small dung fly

small dung fly

Small dung flies are attracted to damp substances and rotten organic matter. That’s also where they lay their eggs.

The main characteristics of small dung flies are:

  • Colour: Dark brown
  • Length: Up to 5mm
  • Small dung flies only fly short distances

What can you do to prevent an infestation of flies?

It is vital to identify the breeding spots of flies. The most important thing is to seal all possible entry points, such as the windows. Keep your house clean and adequately cover and store food. If these actions don’t prevent the problem, you may want to consider pest control services for all types of flies in Singapore.


How to Get Rid of Midges

7 Tips on How to Get Rid of Midges

In this article we’ll discuss 7 ways of how to get rid of midges. Over many years, the presence of non-biting midge swarms at Bedok Reservoir and Pandan Reservoir have been recorded in July, August and September. This hot and rainy time of the year makes the environment conducive for their multiplication.

The insect is not a new guest to Singapore but the spike in their numbers has caused more problems to us than before.

The appearance of non-biting midges is similar to that of mosquitoes. However, if you look closely, you will notice some distinctive features such as the absence of proboscis (needle-like sucking mouthparts) and the more slender and longer body present in midges.

As their name implies, non-biting midges do not bite. Also, they do not transmit diseases. They are nuisance pests because they often appear in large swarms and the encounter with them can be annoying to some people.

How to get rid of midges? It is almost impossible to eliminate them completely as they are part of nutrient rich aquatic habitats. Nonetheless, we can prevent or reduce their breeding habitats.

7 Tips of How to Get Rid of Midges

1. Use insect repellent

Repellents do not kill midges but can repel them from staying close to you. You may be concerned about the chemical laden repellents that would harm your skin. However, the recent release of natural insect repellents in the market using natural occurring substances such as tea tree or citronella oil perhaps can help to put this thought aside.

Although non-biting midges will not harm us, they may cause nuisance, ruin our perfect outdoor lunch or dinner, and disrupt our workout routine.

Applying insect repellent on your body will be the best natural way of how to get rid of midges.

2. Keep doors and windows tightly closed or screened

Remind yourself to always keep doors and windows tightly closed to prevent midges from gaining access into your home. You can screen your windows with fine mesh and make sure the holes are small enough to block midges (body length: 5 to 8mm) from flying in.

Doors are the most susceptible entry points for flying midges. Make sure the doors or windows are closed during dusk and dawn as these are the most active time for both midges and Aedes mosquitoes. Curtains can be installed to lower the chance for midges from entering.

3. Minimize the use of bright lights

Insects such as bees, flying ants and flying termites are attracted to lights because they use light to navigate their flight or simply because of the warmth given off by the lights. Midges are highly attracted to bright light. It is advisable to use yellow light bulbs or dim light especially at the main door to keep midges away from your home.

Relocate the bright lights that are located at entrances to other places or tint the light bulbs to pink or orange colour. One of the most recommended ways to keep midges away from your home is to switch off the lights that are not in use or reduce the use of lights at your home exteriors.

4. Prevent stagnant or slow-flowing water

Like mosquitoes, the life cycle of midges involves aquatic and terrestrial stages. The larvae and pupae of midges are found in water bodies such as lakes, ponds, water reservoirs, as well as any other stagnant or slow-moving water. One of the locations where pests are commonly found at home revolves around plants and greenery.

Over-watering of plants often causes the formation of stagnant water on the soil and planter boxes.

The nutrients in the soil further facilitate the growth and development of midges. Avoid over-watering plants and loosen the soil regularly to prevent the formation of ponding water.

Drains with slow-flowing water are also ideal breeding sites of midges. The immature stages are able to withstand the weak water current in the drain and are constantly supplied with nutrients required for development. We can make the environment less conducive by improving the flow of drain water through the removal of blockages.

5. Reduce the use of fertilizer

As discussed earlier, midges prefer to breed in nutrient rich habitats. Fertilizers are meant to promote the growth of healthy plants but they can also provide nutrients to other organisms found in the garden such as millipedes and insects. Excessive use of fertilizer causes fertilizer runoff in the soil to nearer ponds or streams, supplying the water bodies with ample nutrients which then contribute to the development of midges.

Proper use of fertilizer and nutrient management should be employed to reduce the potential breeding sources for midges. Remember to always check and fertilize your plants according to the guidelines and directions of use. This does not only help to reduce midge population but also promotes the growth of healthy plants.

6.  Biological approach (Bti/ mosquito dunk)

You might have heard of a mosquito dunk (donut-shaped larvicide that slowly dissolves and kills mosquitoes). It contains a bacterium known as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) which infects the guts (stomach) of the larvae. Bti is an environmentally friendly control agent as it does not affect non-target organisms.

In that case, it is safe to use Bti in the presence of aquatic animals such as fish and it does not kill beneficial insects such as honey bees.

Besides using mosquito dunks to treat mosquito breeding, it can also be used to control the populations of other aquatic insects including midges.

You can place a mosquito dunk in potential breeding sites of midges such as ponds or gutters and the larvicide will slowly release the Bti to kill the larvae in the water bodies.

7. How to get rid of midges: Seek help from professional

The recommended measures discussed above prevent midges from disturbing your life. However, their presence is often inevitable in uncontrollable situations or specific environments. Adoption of permanent measures is strongly advised to address and eliminate the root cause of midges. To help combat this pesky pest, you may seek help from our expert team.


Midges in Singapore

Are There Midges in Singapore?

Yes, there are midges in Singapore. They can cause a lot of problems. A patron of an eatery in Teban Gardens recounted her experience with midges in Singapore:

“It was a fine afternoon and I was sitting at the corner of a bustling eatery, trying to fill my stomach after a morning of hard work. Set lunch was the perfect choice for a hungry soul. However, when I was about to start the lunch break with a sip of soup, I found that a bug was taking a nice warm dip in the soup. ‘Maybe I’ll skip the soup and let you have it.’ I told myself, and the bug. I was about to dig in when a swarm of bugs invaded my personal space and turned my peaceful lunch break into a horrifying experience that I will never forget.”

You may hear similar stories from people who live or work near Pandan Reservoir where tiny insects known as midges give the residents and local authorities serious headaches.

There are two main groups of midges in Singapore, namely biting midges and non-biting midges.

Biting midges are insects in the order Ceratopogonidae. They are more commonly known as sand flies and some call them “No-See-Ums”. Adult biting midges feed on blood so they leave painful bites on humans as well as other animals. On the other hand, as the name suggests, non-biting midges do not bite as the adults do not feed.

Habitat and Life Cycle

Non-biting midges are in the order Chironomidae which houses more than 10,000 species. Their life cycles are similar to that of mosquitoes and flies which undergo 4 developmental stages, namely egg, larval, pupal and adult stages.

Midges in Singapore can be found in stagnant or slow-flowing water bodies such as drains, ponds, lakes and water reservoir.

Female midges lay eggs on water surface, in masses which contain up to 3000 eggs. After 2 to 3 days, the eggs sink to the bottom of water where they hatch into larvae. They feed on sediments and organic matters that are found at the bottom of the water.

The larvae of certain species are well-known as “bloodworms” which are used as bait or fish food. After 2 weeks of larval development, the midges spends 3 more days in the pupal stage before they emerge as adults. Adult midges do not feed and they spend the only 2 days of their lives entirely for mating and continuing the family line.

The high reproductive capability of midges causes a large number of eggs to be laid, and adults will emerge at the same time forming large swarms. Favourable conditions such as optimal temperature and the presence of ample food and breeding sites facilitate the emergence of large number of midges in Singapore during certain times of the year.

Mosquitoes vs Midges in Singapore

Midges are often mistaken as mosquitoes for their similar appearance. However, their differences can be recognised upon close examination. Firstly, as adult midges do not eat or drink, they do not possess proboscis. Proboscis is a needle-like mouthpart found on insects such as mosquitoes and butterflies that is used to suck liquids such as nectar and blood.

Another distinct physical appearance of midges is that their bodies are usually longer and more slender than that of mosquitoes.

One of the most commonly found midges in Singapore has a distinct green colored body.

Unlike mosquitoes, midges do not transmit diseases and they are classified as nuisance pests.

How Do We Control Midges in Singapore?

Although non-biting midges are harmless and do not bite humans, a large number of them are a nuisance and can interfere with outdoor activities. It is almost impossible to eliminate them completely as they are part of nutrient rich aquatic habitats. However, tackling them using drastic measures are sufficient to control them under the threshold level. Controlling non-biting midges in Singapore can be divided into insecticidal, biological and physical controls.

The substantial number of non-biting midges present in Bedok and Pandan reservoirs of Singapore has led to the increase of fogging frequency to twice daily by PUB (Public Utilities Board). The reason for this is to target the most active time of non-biting midges in Singapore so that they will be interfered with the treated zone during their swarming activities.

Fogging is carried out as a “quick fix” solution to those flying adult non-biting midges. The chemical used is permethrin, which is certified and recognised by both WHO (World Health Organization) and NEA (National Environment Agency). Reservoir dykes, drains, and surrounding vegetation at Bedok and Pandan are the focal point for treatment as those are the breeding sources of midges in Singapore.

Biological approach of using Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) larvicide to kill midge larvae is another environmentally friendly practice used by the government of Singapore.

Bti is a naturally occurring bacterium in soil that is capable of producing toxins which only specify in targeting the larva of aquatic insects.

Hence, it is safe as it does not pose any risk and toxicity to humans and animals. More importantly, water quality is not affected by Bti application. PUB of Singapore is doing well in applying and increasing the dosage of Bti to the bottom of the reservoir to prevent the larvae from hatching into the adult stage.

On the other hand, inspection and removal of breeding sources are also carried out to reduce the midge population. The method: physical removal of midge eggs floating on the surface of the reservoir. A 3 metres high netting has been placed along the edges of the reservoir to prevent the adult midges from being blown from the reservoirs to the residential areas (midges are weak fliers, easily blown by wind).

Furthermore, to attract adult midges from keeping within the reservoirs, strong spotlights at pumping stations of reservoirs remain on from 7am to 7pm. Recently, thousands of fish, guppies, mollies and swordtails, were introduced and released into Pandan Reservoir. The strategy is to target the pupae of midge, which act as the prey of those released fish.

Controlling the population of midges in Singapore is not an easy challenge but we are certainly taking it on. With more research and knowledge about the insects, we will be able to come up with new innovative measures to keep their populations under check.


Fly traps

Fly Traps: Are They Worth It?

Ever heard of fly traps? Do you want to know if they are worth having? Then it’s time to read on.

Do you know that house flies taste food with their feet? That is the reason why they keep on landing on your food while you are trying to enjoy your lunch. Flies are insects in the order Diptera which consists of various species. Examples of flies include house flies, blow flies, flesh flies, phorid flies, drain flies and fruit flies.

One of the most common fly species that can be found around us is the house fly.

Besides being a nuisance, house flies are carriers of pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) so they are capable of spreading diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and cholera. For that reason, the population of flies and their activities should always be under control.

While the most important method in controlling flies lies in the identification and removal of breeding sources, other efforts are needed to reduce the number of adult flies. Another method of controlling adult flies is the chemical method. Spraying of residual chemicals on wall surfaces kills flies that land and rest on the wall. Besides spraying of chemicals, granular baits have also been used to control adult flies.

Trapping

In addition to chemical control, trapping is one of the physical methods that can be used to control the population of flies. Fly traps are effective weapons against flies. The fly traps that are available conventionally can be divided into two main types, namely food-baited traps and Ultra-Violet (UV) light traps.

Food-baited traps lure flies with baits made of food then trap the flies using containers or glue boards. On the other hand, UV light traps utilize the fact that flies are attracted to lights within the wavelength of 315 – 400nm (UV-A range). UV light traps work by attracting flies with ultraviolet radiation then trap them inside a container, on a sticky glue board or electrocute them using high voltage.

There are various types of fly traps available on the market.

Some of them can be used by simply placing them at locations where flies are active, while some may require you to drill holes on the wall. Not only do they differ in terms of ease of use, they also come in different prices. That being the case, one might wonder: are they really worth it? Before we come to the conclusion, let us discuss some of the benefits of using fly traps.

1) Fly traps are target specific

Since fly traps are usually comprised of two basic elements: attractant and trap, the attractant can be chosen or formulated based on the type of flies that we are targeting. For instance, if you have problems with fruit flies, you will be able to find traps that have attractants that are specially formulated to attract fruit flies.

Besides that, UV light traps mainly target insects that are attracted to the UV light so other insects such as moth and beetles may sometimes be found in the traps. Compared to other methods such as aerosol spraying and residual spraying, fly traps do not affect other non-target organisms so this means that we can make sure that we and our pets are safe from the exposure of chemicals.

2) Fly traps help avoid contamination

Ungoverned exposure towards insecticides may put human health at risk. Fly traps not only can avoid contamination of food by insecticides but they also prevent the dead bodies of the flies from remaining in the environment.

Fly traps hold trapped flies in captivity, preventing them from flying around to spread diseases and other problems.

However, one should refrain from using electric fly zappers in areas where food is exposed. This is because when flies come in contact with the zapper, the high voltage may cause their body to rupture and break into small pieces. The ruptured pieces may then be dispersed by the wind and may contaminate our food as the pieces land on the food.

3) Fly traps are more environmentally friendly compared to other control methods

As mentioned earlier, fly traps have little to no effect on the environment as they do not affect other organisms and do not cause contamination. One problem that the use of insecticides causes is that their residues may linger in the surroundings. If not properly handled, the residues can be harmful to the environment and other living organisms. In contrast, fly traps do not release any harmful substances and so they are more environmentally friendly.

Despite having all the benefits mentioned above, there are a few shortcomings of fly traps that we should be aware of.

1) Not all flies are impressed by the same fly trap

Fly traps are not designed or formulated to target all types of flies. For example, fruit flies are not attracted towards UV light traps and they need to be trapped using other attractant. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for the control of flies. With that in mind, we have to know what type of flies we are dealing with before we can strategize and solve the issue.

2) Treatment using fly traps is passive

Patience is a virtue. There is nothing much we can do after installing a fly trap besides waiting.

We have to wait patiently for flies to visit the traps and be captured before we can remove them from the traps.

If you are looking for a more proactive way to solve the problem or you just simply lack the patience, you might need to look for other alternatives.

3) The traps need to be serviced regularly

This is not a very serious issue but one needs to make some effort for the maintenance of fly traps. Once a trap captures a certain number of flies, they need to be cleared in order to be used again. The light bulb of UV light traps also needs to be checked regularly to make sure that the trap is functioning properly.

Are fly traps worth it? Well, I will leave the verdict to you. Nonetheless, they are among the most commonly utilized methods in the control of flies. Our experts can provide you with the solutions that are tailor-made for your flies’ problems.