Dengue in Singapore

The Major Threat of Dengue in Singapore

Outbreaks of Dengue in Singapore are very common. 2019 saw several significant Dengue cluster formations. The charts for 2020 predict a continuation of the threat of Dengue in Singapore. The coronavirus outbreak has sparked concern that construction sites may become Dengue hotspots.

Risk of Dengue in Singapore

Dengue is a tropical disease that is caused and transmitted through mosquitoes. Singapore’s hot and humid climate makes it a paradise for mosquito breeding. The threat of Dengue in Singapore is all year round. In recent years, the two most significant Dengue outbreaks occurred at the beginning of the year (2016) and around halfway through the year (2019).

Common Symptoms of Dengue Fever

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

Common symptoms

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

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF)

While the fever usually isn’t fatal, in some cases it progresses to something called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF). Life-threatening complications may then occur.

Symptoms of DHF include:

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

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

Transmission of Dengue

Dengue is transmitted via Aedes mosquitoes. 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 for 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 and the infected human will begin to show symptoms of the disease.

Control of Dengue in Singapore

The control of Dengue focuses on reducing the number of mosquito vectors. The control methods can be categorized into 4 main groups, namely cultural control, physical control, chemical control and biological control.

The National Environment Agency has been promoting the Mozzie Wipeout campaign that encourages the public to eliminate all potential mosquito breeding sites and make the environment less suitable for the mosquitoes’ survival. The Mozzie Wipeout campaign is an example of cultural control.

An example of physical control is the placement of gravitraps (and its predecessor ovitraps) to trap gravid mosquitoes.

Chemical control is the most common among the control methods. They rely on the use of chemical insecticides and is usually done via larviciding, thermal fogging and misting methods.

The biological control is another environmentally friendly approach to control mosquito populations. It involves the use of biological agents such as bacteria to control the mosquito population. Another innovation is the Project Wolbachia which reduces the population of Aedes mosquitoes through the release of sterile male Aedes mosquitoes.

Tips to Reduce Mosquito Bites

Let’s take a moment to look at some ways to reduce the risk of getting bitten mosquitoes.

7 Tips:

  1. Use insect repellents
  2. Wear protective clothing
  3. Avoid peak mosquito hours
  4. Keep air circulating
  5. Sleep under a mosquito net
  6. Get rid of stagnant water
  7. Keep your gardens and home clean

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.

Pest control companies such as Killem Pest play a crucial role in this battle. The team of Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) is experienced, knowledgeable, and equipped with the right tools. Together we can win this battle!


COVID-19 versus Dengue

COVID-19 Versus Dengue: What Do We Need To Know?

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly worldwide. It was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12th. In Singapore, there are 1309 confirmed cases as of April 5th, 2020.

With the outbreak of coronavirus worldwide, another public health concern faces neglection by the public: the Dengue virus (DENV). This life-threatening mosquito-borne disease is highly active in Singapore for years. People may not realize that the rise of dengue fever cases is looming in Singapore. There are 4776 dengue cases recorded as of March 28th, 2020. Twice the number compared to the same period of 2019.

Death cases: COVID-19 versus Dengue

How deadly is COVID-19, and how can Dengue be lethal to us? In Singapore, the total of deaths from COVID-19 rose to 6 death cases on April 4th. However, the Dengue virus took a total of 20 lives in 2019. So far, there are no cases of deaths due to the Dengue virus in 2020.

You may wonder if we can differentiate between the symptoms of COVID-19 and Dengue fever without laboratory testing. Here are some ways to tell the difference:

  • People who are infected with Dengue virus share similar symptoms as those with COVID-19, such as high fever and headache.
  • However, they may also 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 Dengue virus.
  • The spread of COVID-19 is mainly person-to-person.
  • COVID-19 can be passed over to a healthy person by nasal discharge and saliva droplets from coughs and sneezes of a person infected with COVID-19.
  • The virus can easily infect a healthy person if the person uses his or her contaminated hand to rub or touch the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Not surprisingly, the infection of COVID-19 can happen through the inhalation of infected droplets into the lungs.
  • In the case of the Dengue virus, the transmission of the disease is vastly different compared to COVID-19. It is a vector-borne disease that requires the help of Aedes mosquitoes to spread the virus.

Prevention

Dengue

Dengue virus cannot be transmitted directly from one human to another. Instead, it transmits through an insect vector – mosquitoes. By pulling mosquitoes out of the transmission or infection chain, we can stop the transmission of the virus. In other words, avoiding mosquito bites is an essential aspect in the prevention of Dengue. 

Read more: 7 Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Mosquito Bites

Eliminate mosquito breeding in and around your house

Controlling the mosquito population is essential in the fight against Dengue. Aedes mosquitoes breed in clean water found in natural and human-made containers. They can breed in water bodies that are as small as the size of a 20 cents coin, so 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. Change water in vase regularly
  3. Flip flower pot plates
  4. Loosen hardened soil in flowerpots or planter boxes
  5. Clear roof gutter and place biological control (Bti)

Prevent mosquito bites

We can minimize our risk of getting mosquito bites by taking extra precautions when visiting places that are prone to mosquito attacks. Long sleeve tops and long pants offer basic protection against mosquito bites. There are a variety of mosquito repellents that are made of either chemical compounds or natural plant extracts. You may choose any mosquito repellent of your preference, or that is available to you. However, it is essential to follow the instructions and reapply the repellent regularly as they may be rubbed or washed off during activities.

COVID-19

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to the virus as no vaccine is available yet. WHO and CDC recommend some steps to protect you and the others from the virus.

At the top of the list, we need to maintain good hygiene practices. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to properly remove germs from your hands. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content can be used if soap and water are not available. It is also important to avoid touching your face or eyes with unwashed hands.

Social Distancing 

Social distancing plays an integral part in the prevention of COVID-19 as you may pick up someone else’s respiratory droplets if you are standing too close to each other. A distance of at least 1 meter between individuals is recommended to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. Social distancing is even more important in communities where COVID-19 is spreading. Avoid close contact with people who are sick to protect both the person and yourself.

Be socially responsible. Seek medical attention if you are sick or experiencing respiratory symptoms. Follow the doctor’s advice and stay at home to prevent the disease from spreading. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. Lastly, wear a facemask to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets to other people.

Cleaning and disinfection should be carried out on frequently contacted surfaces. The NEA provided a list of household products that can be used for disinfection. Several sources reported that the virus was able to last on various surfaces up to days. Thus, disinfection should be done regularly.

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


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

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.

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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 coloured 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: 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.


Drywood Termites and Subterranean Termites

Drywood termites and subterranean termites are among the common most termite species. An infestation of termites can be destructive. In this article we discuss the signs and treatment methods of termite infestations.

Termites are classified under order Blattodea of which cockroaches are the other members of the order. Ants, on the other hand, are from order Hymenoptera which includes other insects such as bees, wasp and hornets.

Termites are eusocial insects which practice an advanced level of social organization. Unlike many other animals, termites practice division of labor and they live in colonies. Inside each colony, the individuals are divided into different castes, each having their unique duties to play in maintaining a proper functioning colony.

The Termite Society

In a termite colony, there are workers, soldiers, and reproductives which consist of the king, queen and alates. Termite workers are the ones responsible to find food for the other members of the colony so they are the culprits behind the damage we suffer from a termite infestation.

Their other responsibility includes maintaining the proper functioning of the nest, looking after the young ones as well as feeding the other members of the colony. The soldiers are responsible to guard the nest and protect it from intruders. The king and queen are involved in the reproduction of new offspring while alates are termites with wings that venture out to mate and establish a new colony.

Dampwood termites, drywood termites, or subterranean termites?

Termites can be divided into three types based on their behaviors and habitats.

Dampwood termites are termites that rely greatly on moisture to survive. They can be found in damp and decaying timber. Dampwood termites play an important role in the regulation of nutrient cycle in the natural ecosystem.

In contrast to dampwood termites, drywood termites are less dependent on moisture. They build their colonies in wooden structures and furniture and are able to glean water from the wooden materials to meet their needs.

The third type of termites is subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are dependent on moisture so they build their colonies underground or build mounds on soil to derive water from soil.

Among all the different types of termites, subterranean termites and drywood termites have more impacts to humans compared to dampwood termites. Subterranean termites and drywood termites are important urban pests because they can cause serious damages to human properties so they are given more attention by the pest control industry.

What are the signs of termite infestation in your house?

There are some tell-tale signs that indicate a termite infestation. Look out for the following signs of termite infestation to see whether your house is safe from termite infestation.

1) Wood powder near wooden structures or furniture

If you have been noticing fine, sawdust-like wood powder around your house, chances are your house might be infested by wood-boring insects such as wood-boring beetles or drywood termites. The wood powders are in fact the excretory wastes of the insects and they are also known as fecal pellets. The fecal pellets are found when drywood termites push out their feces out from the exit holes that can be found on the surface of the infested items.

2) Mud tubes

Mud tubes are tunnels constructed by subterranean termites to provide a sheltered pathway when they venture out of their nests to forage for food. They protect subterranean termites from desiccation as well as predators by isolating them from the external environment. The presence of mud tubes is an obvious sign of a subterranean termite infestation. When an active mud tube is disturbed, subterranean termite workers and soldiers can be observed.

3) Flying termites

Alates or swarmers are termites with wings. The wings enable them to fly out of their nests to mate. Subterranean termite swarms are larger and contain more individuals compared to that of drywood termites. Once an alate finds its “life partner”, they will settle down and establish a new colony. Termite swarms are one of the most obvious signs of termite infestations.

How to treat termite infestations?

What are some of the most effective treatment methods for termite infestations?

1) Baiting

As mentioned earlier, worker termites are the only ones in a termite colony that are able to forage for food. They feed and share their food with the other nest mates through a process known as trophallaxis. Baiting is used in the management of the subterranean termite infestations because it is able to eliminate the entire colony of subterranean termites. It involves feeding subterranean termites with baits that contains active ingredients that kills them. The entire colony collapses as baits are passed around the colony members, causing them to die.

2) Soil Treatment

To eliminate a subterranean termite colony, its nest, which is located underground, must be targeted. Soil treatment is usually done by injecting termiticides into the soil. Depending on the type of termiticide used, soil treatment is able to kill or repel termites that come into contact with the treated soil. Non-repellent termiticides are effective in eliminating subterranean termites while repellent termiticides create barriers that subterranean termites shun.

3) Treating the Infested Wood

Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites cannot be treated using baiting and soil treatment as their colonies are located inside the affected wood and not underground. Drywood termite colonies are usually smaller compared to that of subterranean termites and are found inside infested timbers. When treating an infested timber by soaking them in or injecting them with termiticide, you may get rid of the termite colony. The best way to prevent the spread of drywood termite infestation is by discarding the infested items or timbers.

Termite infestations are destructive so they must be taken seriously. While there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of termite infestations, early detection of termite activities and proper treatment methods will minimize the damages cause by termites.


Fumigation Treatment

Fumigation Treatment: All You Need to Know

Fumigation treatment – The never-ending battle between humans and pests has led to the rapid development of pest management services in Singapore. The wide-ranging pests and their nature of behaviour can interfere with human activities. The difficulties of controlling pests – due to the limitation on certain treatments’ application – has led us to using fumigation treatment to deal with severe pest issues.

Fumigation treatment in Singapore is usually carried out in the freight, shipping, storage and food manufacturing industries. All fumigators must apply for training and licence from the NEA (National Environmental Agency). Beyond that, pest management companies are also responsible for the application of fumigation permits before they are allowed to carry out fumigation treatments in Singapore.

Fumigants in Singapore

Fumigation treatment is a unique form of action for pest management. It is usually adopted by pest management companies and clients when there are no other feasible forms of control to the target pest. However, most fumigants such as hydrogen cyanide, methyl bromide and hydrogen phosphide are toxic to pests as well as humans. Nevertheless, fumigation treatment has effective killing effects and has become an inevitable pest management method in Singapore.

Mode of action of fumigation treatment

Fumigation treatment is a process of release or dispersal of toxic chemicals onto the targeted pests. It can be very fast as the volatile nature of fumigants is able to pass through inaccessible spaces. It has almost no limit to penetrate any object as long as tiny pores are present on the surface of the treated object.  In other words, the entire structure is secured with the fumigation treatment. The toxic chemicals enter the pest body mainly through its breathing system.

Target pests in fumigation treatment

In general, fumigation treatment is helpful in dealing with all types of pests including stored product pests, wood borers, subterranean and drywood termites, bed bugs, cockroaches and even rats. It is often carried out in enclosed shipping containers, vessels and warehouses.

Fumigation on smaller structures such as infested wood and furniture is usually done for targeting drywood termites and wood borers. In this case, infested wood has to be removed and placed in an air-tight space to allow the proceeding of fumigation treatment.

Disadvantages of fumigation

One main disadvantage of using fumigation treatment is that there is no residual effect on the treated structure. Therefore, no residues remain in the treated spaces once the areas have been ventilated and cleaned properly. Hence, it does not help in protecting the treated structure from future pest infestations.

Since the knockdown effect of target pests depends on its respiration rate, low temperature of the treated environment may make the pest less susceptible. This is due to the fact that the lower the temperature of the surrounding, the lower the respiration rate of the pest.

Factors contributing to fumigation failure

Fumigation failures are common. It can be due to the improper application and pest resistance. In addition, inappropriate choice of fumigants and loss of fumigant through leakage in treated spaces can also affect the effectiveness of the treatment. Hence, a leak detector is sometimes utilized before the treatment.

Final note

Fumigation treatment, while seen to be effective because of its volatile and gaseous nature to target pests, can actually be harmful to human and pets. The excessive use and misuse of the fumigants not only pose harmful effects on human’s health but cause adverse effects on the treated commodity and property.

The use of it must be handled by trained and certified fumigators as they will have enough knowledge on its application and precaution steps before and after the treatment. Careful planning and application must be adopted before the treatment is carried out. The appropriate choice and use of fumigants are vital as it may cause fumigation failures and hazards to the environment.


cockroach infestation

Cockroach Infestation: What are the Signs and Prevention Methods?

There’s nothing worse than a cockroach infestation. Just think about it: what is the most terrifying insect you may see in your house? We believe most people would answer a cockroach! The cockroach is always described or depicted as a disgusting creature. Its existence often gives an indication of dirt or decay. The presence of it in food and beverage outlets poses health issues.  In fact, it is very rare to encounter someone who sees a cockroach as an adorable or lovable insect.

Most people who live in urban or city areas cannot withstand the existence of a cockroach infestation in their house. Some may even get depressed.  Indeed, controlling cockroaches requires knowledge and technique. Here we will look at the signs of a cockroach infestation before making treatment decision.

Signs of a cockroach infestation:

1. Unpleasant smell

Do cockroaches carry a smell? Yes! Scent from cockroaches is normally undetectable by humans. However, when it comes from a big cockroach infestation, the smell will be present. The smell is considered stinky for most people but when it comes to cockroaches, it carries important means!

2. Cockroach droppings

You may wonder how cockroach droppings look like? Well, the appearance of cockroach droppings resembles black pepper with a dark colour and cylindrical shape. Their droppings are usually gathered around the corners and edges of cabinets as those places are their common hiding areas and pathways.

3. Cockroach eggs (ootheca)

Cockroach droppings and egg cases

When it comes to comparing the size of droppings and eggs, their eggs are bigger and more obvious than their droppings. A scary fact is that one ootheca can incubate more than 20 cockroaches inside! Therefore, if you find an empty ootheca in your house, you may have to accept the fact that cockroaches have already built its family inside your home.

4. Shed skins

Cockroaches moult just like other insects. Moulting is a step in their growing process to reach the mature stage. Hence, if you see their skins shed inside your property, you must start taking controlled action against them.

The best way to prevent them from harbouring is keeping your house clean. Other aspects such as techniques of storing food and structural defects inside a property cannot be neglected.

Prevention tips:

1. Identify hiding places and entry points

Inspection is a critical step in controlling cockroach infestations. It would be best if you can carry out the inspection at night as cockroaches are nocturnal insects. Get yourself a torchlight and search for signs of their activities as mentioned above.

Furthermore, you should also check cracks or crevices and gaps formed around the utility lines or pipes to reduce potential entry points for cockroaches. You may use silicone-based caulk to seal those entry points.

2. Make the infested area less conducive

After the inspection, keep in mind to remove, vacuum or wipe areas where cockroach eggs (ootheca), droppings and their carcasses were found. Remember one egg case can harbour 20 cockroaches inside, so remove it before it hatches to prevent a cockroach infestation.

You might not believe that cockroaches eat their own or nestmates’ droppings. Female cockroach droppings were seen highly attractive to nymph. The droppings also release pheromone (chemical substance used to affect cockroach behaviour and physiology).

3. Eliminate food and water sources

The main necessities for cockroaches to thrive are food, water and housing. Removing all these available sources for them is the best way to prevent them from entering your property. Cockroaches are able to squeeze their bodies through a gap of only 2mm wide. Hence, make sure your food is properly sealed.

Stains, grease or food debris are other important food sources for them so we cannot forget to clean these up. In addition, some humid areas such as underneath the kitchen sink or refrigerator are potential nesting areas for cockroaches. So remember to inspect, clean and ventilate these areas to prevent a cockroach infestation.

4. Organize your stores

Cockroaches like to move and hide in cluttered areas, especially the areas packed with newspapers and cupboards as these materials act as their housing and food. Cockroaches are general feeders. So, it is normal for them to feed on paper if there are no alternative food sources for them. Always remind yourself to remove clutter in your home, keep things clean and tidy so that your home can be inspected regularly.

5. Seek professional help

It would be an exhausting task to deal with a major cockroach infestation. Fear of cockroaches is the first barrier that most people will face. To deal with them, you may need to have plenty of time to fight. However, this is almost impossible for most people.

The short life cycle and high reproductive potential of cockroaches even make the control effort difficult. Hence, it would be easier to hand over this task to pest control professionals as they are more familiar with your enemy and has the best technique to manage the pest.