Pest Profile: What you need to know about Cockroaches

Cockroaches are amongst the most repulsive of pests, yet they are also one of the of the most prevalent types of pests which can be found in homes, restaurants, shopping centres and commercial buildings.

What Types of Cockroaches are there?

There are four types of cockroaches in Singapore: American (Periplaneta americana), German (Blattella germánica), Australian (Periplaneta australasiae), and brown (Supella longipalpa).

  • The American cockroach is the largest breed, extending to 1.6 inches in length. They are reddish brown, have tri-segmented bodies, are winged, and have antennae on their heads.
  • The German cockroach is shorter, ranging from 1.1 to 1.6 inches in length. Various colors present themselves, going from a pale tan to black. Although it has wings on its back, it cannot fly. Another distinguishing characteristic is two dark lines that run from the base of the head to the beginning of the wings, looking like an equal (=) sign.
  • The Australian cockroach is 0.9-1.4 inches in length. A mask pattern of dark brown and yellow near its head is the most defining feature, and it is able to fly. Its primary diet consists of plants, though it is willing to eat food from kitchens as well.
  • Finally, the brown cockroach is the smallest of the four, growing to roughly 0.5 inches long. It is also a flier, and is recognizable because of its light brown color and two long, brown bands that wrap around its body.

cockroach

All cockroaches are indoor and outdoor pests, although the Australian cockroach prefers the outdoors. Three also prefer warm environments except for the brown cockroach, which likes dry spaces like cabinets.

Signs of Infestation

Cockroach infestations are messy. One sure sign of an infestation is finding cockroach droppings around the home. Nymphs (young cockroaches) will leave feces that are small and hard to detect, looking like pieces of black powder. Droppings from adults are larger and cylindrical.

Other signs are unpleasant odor and finding shell fragments underneath furniture or in hard to reach places. Because they are small, cockroaches can easily slip under floor mats, behind wallpaper, and through cracks in windows, doors, and walls. However, if they come in contact with liquid, they will leave a distinctive, greasy smear along a surface. Since they are nocturnal, seeing a cockroach during the day is another bad sign as it is evidence of an infestation.

In Singapore, cockroaches are commonly found in in kitchens (especially in sing drains and behind appliances) and bin chutes, since they prefer a dark and moist habitat.

What to do if you find a cockroach infestation?

If an infestation is detected, immediate action should be taken. Each breed of cockroach produces 100-200 young from one mating pair, and they reach sexual maturation within a matter of days. It is likely for cockroaches to multiply exponentially into the thousands. People in flats should contact their landlord and pest control providers immediately to prevent the spread of cockroaches to other homes. If in a house, a pest control provider should again be called.

Cockroaches carry many diseases in their feces and on their bodies. Gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, salmonella, listeria, cholera, leprosy, and dysentery can all be found in or on them, making it crucial for people suffering from an infestation to not touch them, their droppings, or any food that might have been contaminated.

How are cockroaches removed?

Our Pest Control Operators (PCOs) will use a variety of techniques to control populations depending on the location of the infestations. For example, in kitchens our PCOs would use gel bait or spraying, outdoors our PCOs would use spraying and fogging.

Cockroach Fogging

Killem Pest has also pioneered a technique of bin chute flush outs for condominiums to ensure that cockroaches do not enter the internal areas of the buildings from bin chutes. Gel bait is a type of toxic gel (targeted specifically at and toxic only to cockroaches) that is applied in cracks and crevices, which are areas cockroaches are attracted to. Cockroaches will feed on the gel bait, return to their nest, and die. When this happens, the other roaches will eat his body and become poisoned themselves, dying and repeating the cycle.

To get in touch with Killem about a cockroach problem, call us or please fill in the form on our cockroach removal page.


The Best Insect Museums in the World

Many people around the world are disgusted and repulsed by insects, but many others find them fascinating. Scientists and philanthropists established museums in different nations so people can learn about and understand them without having to interact with live specimens.

Perhaps the most notable feature of each organization is their continued emphasis on education and research to continue to enhance the world’s understanding of insects, which outnumber humans 200,000,000 to 1.

Nawa Insect Museum

Yasushi Nawa established the Nawa Insect Research Center in 1896, and the organization eventually developed the Nawa Insect Museum so the general public could enjoy their collection. It is located in Gifu, Japan and features an extensive collection of over 300,000 specimens from 12,000 different species.

Each exhibit of insects is organized by species and contains specimens from South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Each owner of the Insect Museum has been a member of the Nawa family, and continues to expand the collection using specimens from primarily hot climates.

The majority of the insects are beetles and butterflies, with additional exhibits featuring termites, moths, hornets, dragonflies, and several arachnids.

Nawa Insect Museum

Image source: http://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-museums/nawa-insect 

Richard M. Bohart Museum of Entomology

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is one of the largest insect collections in the United States and is located on the campus of the University of California in Davis. There are more than seven million specimens in the museum’s collection, and it is used as a public attraction and center for undergraduate and graduate research.

Their specimens come from all over the world, and some of the most important collections available for viewing include: the world’s largest collection of tardigrade water bears; the Ferris-McKenzie scale insect collection; and the H. Tyler swallowtail butterflies. The museum curates travelling exhibits and also features children’s educational programs.

Bohart Entolology Museum

Image source: http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/news-and-events.html 

Insect Science Museum

The Insect Science Museum of the Zhongzheng District in Taipei, Taiwan is perhaps the only comprehensive insect collection to be located at a high school. It was constructed in 1968 and opened to the public in 1971. Like many other museums, education was a priority of its development and it continues to perform numerous services for the community.

Teachers visit the Insect Science Museum to learn how to teach their students about insects and introduce the subject of entomology. It also shows the public many slides and educational films to teach their audiences about special insects and their crucial function in various ecosystems.

Finally, the museum sponsors competitions and academic research related to the insects, and continues to be a powerful feature in the academic community of Taiwan and the larger entomologic field.

Lyman Entomological Museum

The Lyman Entomological Museum houses a collection of over 2.8 million insects and arthropods subdivided into multiple groups based on type. It is a natural history museum in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue in Quebec.

It is part of McGill University and is the largest university collection in Canada. Because Henry Lyman, the founder of the museum, was an avid lepidopterist, the museum hosts a fantastic butterfly collection with many exotic types.

It also possesses over 250,000 specimens of beetle with a large collection of West African scarabs and other species. The general public can visit the museum, and it also fosters intense academic study due to being attached to a college.

Lyman Entomological Museum-species-collection

Image source: https://lymanmuseum.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/why-so-many-specimens/ 

If you have a passion and interest in insects, you now know where to book your next holiday!


Entomology Insects Species Chart

What is Entomophobia?

Entomology

In our previous Interview with Leading Entomologist Dr How, Dr How had given us an introduction to the term ‘entomology’. To recap, entomology is the study of insects, though some people use it to colloquially refer to bugs of all kinds, including spiders. People who study insects are called entomologists. The word is based in Greek, where “entomon” means “insect” and “logia” means “the study of.”

It is an interesting field which often intersects with other academic disciplines, including genetics, physiology, biology, and chemistry.

At present, there are more than 1.3 million species of insect in the world, which makes up 2/3 of the planet’s entire population. Thanks to entomologists, humans understand many things about a type of creature which outnumbers them by a factor of several hundred.

Insect on Leaf

Entomophobia

However, while entomologists enjoy studying insects, many other people are repulsed by them. Worse still, there are some people in the world who suffer from entomophobia, or the intense fear of insects.

People with entomophobia have:

  • An irrational fear of insects and will often take great pains to avoid them.
  • Many sufferers will experience horrific anxiety and terror simply from seeing an insect or thinking about one.
  • It can also be subdivided into additional phobias like myrmecophobia (the fear of ants) and apiphobia (the fear of bees).

It is important to distinguish entomophobia from a general fear of bugs. Many people with entomophobia know that insects pose no real threat to them, but they still experience a persistent sense of anxiety around them.

There have been many cases of a sufferer thinking about an imaginary insect and being thrown into a panic attack. Often, sufferers will go out of their away to avoid encountering an insect: some will completely change their route to work if they see an ant, or will refuse to go outside at all.

Ultimately, the main characteristic of entomophobia is that the fear must be constant, irrational, and debilitating for the sufferer.

Insect Close Up

Exit Strategies

Thankfully, modern medicine and psychology have developed coping strategies for people who have entomophobia. One of the most common methods is systematic desensitization, where somebody slowly exposes themselves to their fear.

Some examples would be a person who looks at a photo of an insect one week. Next week, they work up the courage to touch the picture. A week later, they visit a zoo and watch the insect move around. Possibly the week after that, they could touch the insect and see it means them no harm.

Some people try to do this method themselves, but it is frequently recommended that a person receive help from a therapist so they do not try to do too much at once.

Another, less common, method that can be used is hypnosis. During hypnosis, a person is placed into a trancelike state by a trained professional. The hypnotist then talks to the patient to determine the source of their fear, and can begin to help them cope.

Often a hypnotist will start small by suggesting to their patient that they do not have a reason to be afraid of insects. They can then implant the thought that when the patient awakens, they will no longer have entomophobia. They will face their fears head on and will no longer be afraid. For this method to work, a person needs to believe in hypnosis, and it often takes many sessions.

Either way, patients can use both methods to help them overcome entomophobia, a real condition which can cause unnecessary strain on its sufferers.


How Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used in the Pest Control Industry

The job of a Pest Control Officer (PCO) at times, involve more risk than one might assume. In their line of work, they are constantly exposed to chemicals and use equipment that require a certain level of skill to operate.

Though Killem Pest uses environmentally friendly and target pest specific pesticides that are not harmful to humans, proper health and safety measures still have to be adopted to protect our PCOs. The use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the most important measures.

What is PPE?

It is important that all PCOs are equipped with a set of PPE as this protects individuals not only from pesticides but also from work place injuries. Pesticides can come in contact with the PCOs by entering through their eyes, mouth, and skin or by inhalation.

To limit the exposure of these substances, at Killem Pest, our PCOs are adorned with protective gear from head to toe. Its starts with a safety helmet, goggles, ear muffs, respiratory mask, safety gloves and safety boots. They are required to wear long sleeved shirts and trousers during their working hours. They may, from time to time, require additional protective gears depending on the scope of the job assigned. In some cases, our PCOs will be required to wear a bee suit, for protection or a safety harness, when working at height.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Infographic

Safety Helmet

(Prevents from head injuries due to falling objects and falls)

In an environment where chemicals, falling of unpredictable objects and impacts to the head come into existence, a safety helmet is mandatory. It prevents head injuries and should be worn at all times. During certain services, PCOs may be at places such as construction sites or places with perilous objects.

To maximise the efficacy of a safety helmet, it should be worn the right way. The headband within the safety helmet should be adjusted such that the helmet sits on each individual’s head perfectly. A chin strap should also be used to prevent the helmet from falling off the head.

PPE Helmet

Safety Goggles

(Protects the eyes and surrounding area from chemicals and unwanted particles)

Every PCO is exposed to pesticides, however little to no level of toxicity they contain. Pesticides are used in various ways, one of which is by using a sprayer or mister. In situations where pesticides have to be sprayed or dispersed, there is a risk of getting these pesticides in contact with the eyes.

Safety goggles prevent this and any other unwanted objects from coming into contact with the eyes and the areas surrounding them. They should be worn tight enough and adjusted to fit each individual perfectly.

PPE Goggles

Respiratory Mask

(Filters out unwanted particles and limits absorption of pesticide vapours and fumes)

Vital organs can be in risk of damage if the right equipment is not used to protect it. The lungs and the respiratory system are some of the important organs that will need protection in the line of work of a PCO. To limit the absorption of pesticide vapours, fumes and other unwanted particles, a respiratory mask should be worn.

Treatment methods such as fogging use petrol and diesel to function and produce fog. Fogging releases droplets smaller than a hair particle that only affects pests (and within a short range). The mask is however a necessary equipment for the applicators as they are in the closest proximity to the fog and are constantly exposed to the particles.

At Killem Pest, the half-mask respirators and filtration cartridges are issued to the PCOs. The half-masks offer protection and coverage of the nose, mouth and chin area. It is adjustable and has a cushioned fit so that it sits comfortably on the face. The filtration cartridges filter out unwanted particles in the air such that the wearer is able to breath in clean and fresh air. The half-masks also protect the wearer from ingestion of the pesticides.

PPE Mask

Ear muffs

(Noise absorbing pads that protect the ears from excessive noise and foreign objects)

Ear protection in the form of ear muffs is necessary because our PCOs may use equipment that produce high levels of noise as they are affixed with motors. Some of these include foggers, blowers and when carrying out construction soil treatment and drilling. Prolonged periods of exposure to loud noises can damage the ear drums.

Ear muffs should be worn tight enough that it sits comfortably around the top of the head with cushioned pads around the ear and head. The materials absorb the noise and cover the ear from unwanted particles entering. When used together with the safety helmet, the ear muffs are further protected from falling off the head.

PPE Ear Muffs

Long Sleeved Shirt and Trousers

(Acts as protection for the skin from pests, pesticides and injuries)

PCOs should always wear long sleeved shirts and trousers as they are prone to exposure of pesticides. When their job requires them to spray pesticide especially, wearing fully covered clothing can help with avoiding contact with the skin. They also help to keep pests from biting or attaching themselves to the skin. Pests such as cockroaches are quick to find ways to escape during extermination. To avoid contact with cockroaches, PCOs can tuck their pants into their safety boots and sleeves into their safety gloves such that no entity can find its way through the pants openings.

Sometimes the job requires our PCOs to be constantly exposed to the sun for long hours and wearing fully covered clothing helps keep exposure to a minimum. Treatments such as fogging also releases fog that is of oil-based particles and can distribute itself onto the applicator’s skin. In very rare cases, the fogger can explode or catch fire. The long sleeves and trousers in such cases act as a layer of protection from burns.

Safety Gloves

(Protects the hands from pesticide contact and injuries from equipment)

Machines or other equipment are usually used during pest control services but the hands should be protected as there are still risks of contact with pesticides. Especially when preparing chemicals during services, safety gloves should be worn to limit the exposure to pesticides. Safety gloves also act as protection against injuries when handling equipment. The use of gloves can be maximised by tucking in the openings into the shirt sleeves as this will leave little to no gap for pests or pesticides to enter.

PPE Boots

Safety Boots

(Protects the feet from pesticide spills, falling objects and punctures from below)

This is one of the most essential PPE that all PCOs should have and wear at all times. Safety boots not only protect the feet from falling objects but also protect the sole of the feet from punctures from below. Pesticides are often sprayed and in such cases, limiting the exposure or protection from spills can be achieved by wearing ankle high safety boots.

PCOs are inevitably exposed to pesticides, different equipment and at times, dangerous environments such as construction sites or work at height. Though they can be careful when performing their duties, the best prevention would be to be in their PPE, at all times.

PPE Boots


Can BedBugs Cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

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

What are Bedbugs?

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

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

A bedbug

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

Bedbug bites

What is PTSD?

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

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

How are they related?

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

Human Fear

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

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

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

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


The Biggest Pest Control Jobs in History

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

Rooting out the Rats

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

Alaska Landscape

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

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

Rat Control

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

The Argentinean Plagues

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

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

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

Locust Swarm

Four Small Pests: One Large Failure

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

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

Sparrow

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

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

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


Industry Inside: Pest Control in Schools and Learning Institutions

University Hall Building

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

Where can pests be found?

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

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

School Recreation Area

How can pests spread?

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

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

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

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

How to control pests once there is an infestation?

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

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

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

How to prevent a pest infestation?

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

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

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

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

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

University Hall Building


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

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

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

How to Identify Mice

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

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

Example of a Mice Infestation

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

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

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

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

How to Identify Rats

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

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

Example of a Rat

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

Signs of Rodent Infestation and Prevention

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

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

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

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

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


The Strangest Pest Control Stories Ever Heard

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

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

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

Killer Snails in Miami

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

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

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

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

Killer snails

Vineyard Guard Ducks

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

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

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

Ducks for Pest Control

Pigeon Hunting Falcons

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

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

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

Pest Control Falcon

The Great Emu War

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

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

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

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

Emu Pests

 

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


Killem Pest Pesticide Profile: Agenda 10SC

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

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

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

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

What is Agenda?

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

Green Label Singapore

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

Agenda 10SC Termicide Treatment

The Colony Management Effect

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

The Use of Agenda 10SC in Singapore

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

Use of Agenda 10SC by Killem

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

Bayer Training Session

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