Wildlife in Singapore

How to Handle Wildlife in Singapore

Wildlife in Singapore – The landscape in Singapore is built and maintained such that wildlife co-exist with the people living around their habitat very closely. With limited living spaces, it is not uncommon to find a monitor lizard crawling near concrete buildings that are close to parks and woodland, or for wild boars to be seen crossing roads in quiet residential areas. There are signs in places like parks to ensure that people are warned of probable encounters with wildlife and to stop feeding or disturbing them. These animals forage beyond their homes, lurking near food sources left by people. They may not be the dangerous wild elephants or tigers found in other Asian countries, but wildlife in Singapore can become a threat if encounters are not handled appropriately.

Wildlife in Singapore: Protection and education

Many agencies like Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are dedicated to protecting and educating the community about wildlife. Killem is no stranger to wildlife, working closely with these agencies to ensure that these animals are handled with care and handed over to them. Killem’s Pest Control Officers (PCO) have many run-ins with wild snakes, monitor lizards and many other animals. They are competent in handling any situation, always ready with their protective equipment and abide by the law and acts pertaining to the wildlife in Singapore.

boar wildlife in singapore

Our PCOs are kept updated on any changes and continually attend seminars like the Wildlife Handling Seminar[1] organised by the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA) in June this year. Dr Abraham Mathew, who is a senior veterinarian and wildlife expert from WRS, conducted a meaningful seminar that was attended by 8 of Killem’s representatives. He was very wilful in sharing his thoughts and techniques on handling wildlife in Singapore to ensure the safety of both the people and especially the animals. It was an eye opener for many as we learned that animals are just as afraid of us as we are of them, finding ways to protect themselves in fear of harm. The ways in which people can protect themselves are as simple as moving away and placing space between animals and not making quick or sudden movements.

Wildlife in Singapore: Snakes

One of the more feared and underappreciated animals are snakes but Dr Abraham Mathew was able to place confidence in us with techniques and pointers at handling them. Like many, we were concerned of snake bites as Singapore is home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes. The non-venomous kinds leave a row of bite marks when bitten, evidence that they don’t have venom. Concern rises when it’s a venomous snake that has bitten where the snake leaves two fang punctures and starts to chew. Even though the venom is for digesting its food, people once bitten should get immediate help. Our PCOs realised how the situation can be handled without any stress with the right treatment of the animals.

Dr Abraham Mathew stressed the importance of the strength in gentleness when handling snakes and wildlife alike. It may seem like a daunting task to remain calm in the presence of a snake or when bitten by one but doing just that can help with the situation tremendously. The gentlest movements can put a hyperalert snake at ease to an extent it mistakes its handler’s hand for a tree branch. Proper restraining techniques and equipment should be used as total immobilization of animals or restricting movements will affect animals’ behaviour and activities.

Our PCOs have experience handling snakes[2] and thus are confident in using equipment like snake thongs when restraining them. Other ways snakes can be captured include using towels, bags, pillow cases and dustbins as makeshift snake containment enclosure. Venomous snakes require more caution when handling compared to non-venomous snakes as they differ in terms of movement and behaviour where the former moves its head before moving its body. Snakes should never be restrained at the head or by its sensitive tail. Restrained or temporarily captured venomous snakes should always be labelled, as some can spit venom up to 2m and even chew through the bags they are contained in.

In addition to the presentations done by Dr Abraham Mathew, Mr Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan of ACRES enlightened the attendees on how the drainage structures all over Singapore act as passage ways for snakes and reptiles to move around and as habitation. From time to time, wild animals can cross our paths but to ensure they don’t venture too close to our living spaces, homes should be inspected for holes or gaps, sealing them shut.

Wildlife in Singapore: Policies

The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA)[3] was highlighted, and it was made clear that feeding wildlife in Singapore is illegal. Animals should not be accustomed to food handed from humans as this might alter their behaviour towards human, making them more aggressive. An endearing long-tailed macaque can become a hostile animal with just a flash of teeth from our smiles and laughs as what we assume as a harmless action is deduced as a sign of challenge for a monkey.

monkey wildlife in singapore

There were many concerns raised by the Wild Animals Legislation Review Committee (WALRC) formed by Member of parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng and consisting of various stakeholders from the pest control companies, religious organisations, town councils and nature community on the recent proposals for amendments[4] to the WABA. The WALRC has proposed as one of the amendments, for deployment of traps for all wildlife to be done only by qualified individuals. Animals such as wild boars have reportedly increased in sightings, indicating the ideal living conditions and increase in population. These bans in deploying traps can safe guard animals from illegal poaching and endangerment.

People have responded in favour of stronger penalties and protection for wildlife in Singapore through the discussions and surveys conducted by WALRC. The proposed amendments aim to fill any gaps in the WABA, protecting wildlife all the same, regardless of whether they are in protected national park areas or beyond.

Our PCOs are trained to refrain from unnecessary disruption to wildlife, respecting each being and handing over to the respective authorities when its beyond their means. Wildlife in Singapore, however small, will be a part of our living spaces from time to time. Killem aims to pursue more humane ways when handling wildlife and playing its part to ensure the safety of the public and not forgetting the animals.

[1] SPMA Wildlife Handling Seminar 2018

[2] Killem Pest Profile: The 6 Common Snakes in Singapore

[3] Wild Animals and Birds Act, Revised Edition 2000

[4] Channel News Asia, Strong support for tougher wildlife protection laws in Singapore: Survey


Predators as pest control method

Predators as a Pest Control Method

Predators – Pests can be difficult to deal with and sometimes people decide to fight fire with fire. Instead of relying on chemical repellents, humans have decided to return to a natural method: They introduce a predator into an environment in which it will eat pests.

Sometimes, this action works out great. In the majority of cases, however, the introduction of a foreign animal creates an invasive species. These creatures are animals who have entered a new environment where they themselves lack natural predators or weaknesses to help keep their population in check. Below are some of the best known examples of this form of pest control as well as the outcome of each decision.

 

Predators: Pets for Pests

There is evidence that animals like cats have lived alongside humans for almost 10,000 years. Cats are an excellent form of pest control because they eat nuisances like rats and mice. In medieval times, it was popular for cats to be used as mousers or to live in barns and granaries to stop pests from feasting on the local food supplies. During the Age of Discovery, felines were taken along on voyages and kept as shipcats to stop stowaway rodents from eating all of the supplies.

Other domesticated rodent killers were dogs and weasels. Many breeds of canine were trained to hunt mice, rats, groundhogs, and other creatures that could dig up gardens and crops. This subset of dogs are frequently known as terriers, although they are not used as regularly in modern times. Weasels are an older form of pest control which dates back to Ancient Europe, Rome, and Greece. Weasels were trained and kept around households as another form of rodent removal.

Indian Runner Ducks

Ducks are found around the world but haven’t been used as a form of pest control until recently. In South Africa, some farms and vineyards have trained Indian Runner Ducks to parade from their rooms each morning and enter the fields. The ducks spend all day eating insects, snails, and slugs that grow on the vines. These bugs feed on the leaves of the plants as well as the edible crops, posing a considerable problem for farmers. The ducks stop these pests while allowing the crops to grow. Alongside the ducks are other trained waterfowl, including geese.

Duck

The Cane Toad

The saga of the cane toads is perhaps the most well-known example of a predator used to fight pests. In the early 20th century, Australia was known for its sugar production and many farmers and scientists wanted to combat cane beetles, which were destroying crops. The Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations brought over cane toads from Hawaii and released over 100 of them in the wild. The toads reproduced rapidly and now number over 200 million across the continent.

Cane Toad

Unfortunately, the toads were not interested in the beetles and started to eat other native species instead. Because the cane toad naturally produces a toxin to defend against enemies, it has also started to kill other animals who try to ingest it. The situation with the cane toads constitutes an ecological emergency. Today, scientists have tried to come up with new pest control methods to control the invasive species. Some want to release sterile males in the environment to compete for resources, while others want to use a gene to change the females so they only produce males, limiting the population. Another method is releasing a virus which the toads are susceptible to, but this can harm native species.

This failed example of predators as pest control demonstrates some of the drawbacks of this method.


pest control lawsuits

The Largest Pest Control Lawsuits

No industry would be complete without legal repercussions. In pest control, lawsuits come in different varieties. Pest management companies can be sued for using the wrong pesticides and chemicals. Hotels, motels, and hostels can face reputation issues if they fail to keep a pest-free environment. Considering the potential issues insects, rodents, and other nuisance animals can create, it should be no surprise that the associated lawsuits can result in payouts in the millions.

 

Termite Termination

The United States features a thriving pest control industry worth billions of dollars each year. One of the largest pest management companies is Orkin, which specializes in residential exterminations. Recently, one of its employees by the name of Robert Still filed a whistleblower lawsuit. A whistleblower case is when a company insider brings to light ethical and legal problems within the business with evidence of obvious wrongdoing.

He accused Orkin of forcing employees to disregard pest management safety protocol and spray termite pesticides on wet ground. In the United States, it is against federal, state, and local law to do so because of the potential danger and how it weakens the chemicals. After working for 19 years with the company, he reported the issue to his supervisor. The supervisor told him to ignore the violation. Shortly afterwards, he was suspended from his job and then fired.

Still discovered that unlicensed employees were being asked to perform similar dangerous violations. He exposed his former employers after his termination for all of these actions. What resulted was the largest whistleblower verdict in the state of New Jersey. The jury awarded Stills $5 million and Orkin faced penalties for its mismanagement of resources and endangerment.

Armadillo Worm Bug Insect

 

The Bugs Bite Back

Bed bugs are considered the most numerous pest in the world and have seen a rise in population over the last decade. With their increasing numbers, more and more businesses have found it difficult to curb their presence in hotels and areas to rest.

In the United States and many other nations, it’s considered negligent for people in the hospitality industry to subject their customers to bed bugs. People who have been bitten while staying the night have been able to bring lawsuits against the companies for damages and emotional distress from the bites. It has gotten to the point where many lawyers and law firms specialize in bed bug cases. As of 2018, businesses have been forced to pay over $2 million to customers who were bugged by bed bugs.

 

Beware the Geese

Geese are terrifying. Geese during mating season are even worse. Perhaps the strangest type of pest control lawsuit occurs when these waterfowl come into town and start building their nests.

Flock of Geese

One of the most aggressive birds is the Canadian Goose, which travels and lives throughout North America. In many locations throughout Canada and the United States, properties can be and are frequently sued for failing to manage aggressive nesting geese. When they think their nests and goslings are being threatened, geese attack. Most of these attacks don’t result in injuries, but the ones that do can be serious. Many companies and properties have been forced to pay millions of dollars as compensation.


history of pest control

The History of Pest Control

As long as humans have been around, so have the pests that plague them. A history of how humans have battled pests throughout the years.

Pest Control in the BC Years

People have been developing methods to keep pests away from themselves and significant food sources since at least 2500 BC, when the first documented instances of pest management have been found.

In ancient Sumer, doctors developed methods of treating insect bites such as the application of sulfur to soothe irritation. Other cultures like the Greeks and Romans mandated certain times of the year when members of the population were required to go out and capture and kill as many locusts as possible to defend crops.

Pest control has also been around as long as agriculture. For many ancient farmers during the BC era, this could be as simple as planting extra seeds to try to accommodate for the amount of food that menaces like birds, beetles, and locusts would eat during any given year. By 1500 BC, they had learned to time the planting of crops to avoid pest reproductive cycles. In 300 BC, records were found of Chinese farmers who had noted when pests were likely to appear and had also adjusted their planting cycles.

Close Up Of A Tick

 

Before the 20th Century

While a lot of knowledge was lost during the early AD years, humans managed to build upon old pest control methods to develop increasingly intricate methods.

The Chinese introduced mites into ecosystems to handle more damaging pests; this action is one of the first written instances of humans using a predator to handle nuisance creatures. Asian farmers additionally learned by 400 AD that if they applied arsenic around the base and roots of their crops in rice paddies, they could prevent infestations that would damage the supply of the main staple food in the area.

When Asia entered the Middle Ages (476-1450 AD), people had learned that they could apply natural concoctions like lemon oil and wormwood to their skin to stop mosquitoes and mites from biting them.

Europe did not fare as well as other regions when it came to pest management. It wasn’t until the Renaissance (1300-1700 AD) that efficient pest control methods developed. One of the main reasons for this failure to create treatments was Christianity.

Many Europeans believed that pests and disease were a punishment sent from God and therefore refused to find ways to handle nuisances. After the Black Plague decimated 25% of the population during the 14th century, people began to kill rodents in an attempt to stop the spread of disease. By the 1800s, humans were using copper and nicotine on their crops and around their homes to kill pests.

 

Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management

The 19th and 20th centuries were the time of the pesticide.

Fogging

Humans began to realize that the use of chemicals was one of the most effective ways to stop pests from eating crops and spreading disease. Inorganic compounds became the popular choice for farmers and gardeners, and the span of the 1940s and 1950s became known as the “pesticide era” because of the plentiful number of products available. The number of pesticides increased by a factor of 50, and scientists began to bring them to developing countries to try solve pest problems like locusts and mosquitoes.

Many of these products contained DDT, a tasteless, colorless, and odorless chlorine-based pesticide. This product had been used extensively during WWII and trips to other nations to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes and continued to be people’s first choice against pests.

The World Health Organization additionally used DDT to curb malaria around the world, targeting areas in Asia where it was rampant. Unfortunately, it was soon discovered in the 1960s that DDT was highly toxic and caused numerous ecological problems, including birth defects, the sterility of animals, and death. Many countries around the world started to ban its use, including Singapore in 1984.

Following the age of pesticides came the era of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This practice combined numerous approaches to pest control to stop infestations before they started and develop healthy living environments. IPM encourages people to maintain clean buildings and seal away food and other resources that can attract pests. It advocates the use of pesticides and other harsh measures only as needed and focuses on controlling pest populations so humans no longer have to worry about the negative effects of pesticides and their toxic compounds.


famous buildings with pest control problems

Famous Buildings With Pest Control Problems

Not even famous places are safe from pests. Sometimes creatures typically considered a nuisance are invited into the space. More often than not, though, pests invite themselves. Recent developments in environments across the globe make the areas where famous buildings are located more attractive to pests by providing resources and shelter.

Climate change is a large culprit because some regions have become warmer and more humid, providing ideal conditions for invasive insects. Below are some of the most famous buildings around the world and their struggles with pests.

Rat Worship

Temple Prayer

The prospect of 25,000 rats in a building is not an appetizing concept to many people, but that is the situation with the Karni Mata Temple in India. The temple was inspired by the story of Karni Mata, a man who was resurrected as a rat after drowning in a pool of water. People come from all across the country to feed and interact with the rats. The few white rats who live on the property are considered exceptionally holy and lucky, and encountering one is thought to be a blessing.

The Karni Mata Temple is located in Deshnoke and hasn’t seen a decline in visitors since its creation, even during disease outbreaks. Indeed, many people visit the location to be healed of their ailments. The primary inhabitants are black rats, which are common throughout the world. These rodents are not to be harmed by visitors or locals, and are given everything they need to survive and thrive in their environment.

Tourist Traps

Eiffel Tower

Unlike the Karni Mata Temple, there are many famous buildings where rats aren’t invited guests. The White House in the United States and the Eiffel Tower in France are two popular tourist destinations, significant cultural monuments, and two areas plagued by infestations of rats.

The White House is the presidential home for the U.S. and has recently filed hundreds of pest control requests to deal with a growing population of insects and rodents which have found their way into the stately manor. Rats have been sighted in the kitchen, outside of politicians’ and officials’ offices, and even in the infamous Situation Room.

Meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower has been forced to close several times over the last two years as the city of Paris struggles to manage a growing rodent threat. Paris is a massive city which has struggled with rats for many centuries. Due to the large population and the number of tourists who visit each year, the environment features all of the conditions rats need to thrive.

The Eiffel Tower is a popular destination for rodents because people leave behind food and drinks while the buildings and sewer system in the surrounding area provide adequate shelter. The government has increased the number of pest management services available, but results have been limited.

Climate Change for Termites

Scientists have noticed the effects of climate change for several decades, including its effects on local pest populations. As certain regions across the globe develop warmer, more humid climates, certain species are able to thrive.

In Korea, a shift in the standard temperature and humidity has resulted in the spread of termites. Termites only lived in a few areas of the peninsula, but they have now spread to almost every location. These pests create problems for numerous buildings, including ancient Korean temples constructed of wood.

Professionals discovered termite populations in several significant cultural locations like the Gyeongju Hyanggo. This temple is listed as one of South Korea’s cultural heritage sites and faces severe consequences if termite populations continue to grow.

Because many of the old temples are constructed entirely out of wood, termites can weaken the structure and possibly cause collapse. Pest control operatives trained dogs to recognize insect hormones and have been using them to regularly check the region for termites and other wood-dwelling insects. The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea recognizes the termite problem and has dedicated increased time and resources to trying to preserve temples.


pest control stories

Killem Encounters: Strange Pest Control Stories

The pest control industry has seen many developments in eradicating pests that carry deadly diseases and preventing further infestations. In Singapore, maintaining high standards of sanitation is important as this stops the spread of diseases and ensures that the health of its citizens is protected. The Singapore government is also uncompromising when the people’s health and safety are in question, making sure to educate the public with steps on preventing pest infestations and enforcing rules and regulations on individuals and business entities.

The importance is not lost on the people living in Singapore butsome may have taken extreme measures just to be sure. What follows is a series of events that have unfolded in the careers of Killem’s Pest Control Officers (PCOs) to be out of the ordinary, some even strange.

Encounter 1: The bird that wouldn’t fly (away)

In Singapore, common bird species such as the Sparrow and Mynah are less of a nuisance than rodents or cockroaches; nevertheless they may still be a pest and nuisance as they can feedon human food and their droppings are toxic. They can be found near food and beverage (F&B) establishments, especially open-air restaurants and hawker centres. When they do cause a problem however, it is best to call a professional. One such call was attended by Killem and it was rightfully dealt with.

The pest in question was a sparrow that had made a well-known fast food establishment its home for almost a year. Before Killem got involved, many methods were used to get the sparrow away from the premises. None of the methods proved to be successful. 50 glue boards and bird repellent had been placed by the previous pest control company, in the hopes of capturing the sparrow, but to no avail.

Killem’s PCOs had accessed the situation quickly and structured a solution based on previous experiences. Target pest specific pesticides were placed to capture the sparrow alive. In less than a month, the sparrow had been caught alive and the establishment free of potential hazards brought about by the sparrow. What still remains a question though is how the sparrow had escaped the countless glue boards with baits and the other PCO’s for a year.

Strange Pest Control Stories_Sparrow

Encounter 2: Unsettled Settlers| Pest Paranoia | Pest Phobia| Entomophobia: The Fear of Insects | Fear of Pests: On a Subconscious Level

Not everyone is fond of insects and other creatures that are considered as pests. In extreme cases, where people develop a fear of these pests or even subconsciously have an aversion to them, many avoid leaving their house or even believe that they constantly have pests crawling on them. Refer to our previous blog post on Entomophobia and Bed Bugs PTSD for more information on such conditions.

Understanding the needs and dilemmas of a client is as or even more important than the solution itself. Pests are dealt with by using equipment and pesticides based on past experience and knowledge. Clients, however, are a completely different case and one such client had given the PCOs at Killem a unique experience as well.

Strange Pest Control Stories_Stressed

An eye opening experience it was when one of Killem’s PCOs attended to a pest control service call engaged by an expatriate from South America who had just moved to Singapore. She had mentioned during her initial call to Killem that in her new home, she had already seen many cockroaches running around the house. When the PCOs arrived at the site, they were greeted at the premises with one dead American cockroach. Upon further investigation, they were unable to find any other cockroaches but carried out a precautionary treatment.

The client later mentioned that though the PCO was unable to find more cockroaches, she constantly felt as though giant cockroaches were chasing her with the intention of eating her alive. The client painted a very vivid picture to the PCO, one they claim they are still unable to forget.

Strange Pest Control Stories_Roach

Our clients’ well being is of utmost concern so our PCO reassured the client that there were no other cockroaches to be found and she could safely set aside her fears. They also made sure to ask if she knew someone in Singapore so that she had someone to talk to and if she had any further pest concerns, Killem would always try its best to address and deal with them.

Pest infestations have known to cause mental health issues, from paranoia to depression. It is best to treat such cases with as much importance as with a case of actual pest infestation.

Encounter 3: The Bed Bugs that Didn’t Bite

Most people know that bed bugs are notorious in causing very itchy bites. They prey on human blood and leave red bite marks on those sleeping on infested mattresses. For bed bugs to survive and reach maturity, they require a blood source. For more information on bed bugs, check out our bed bugs page and previous blog interviewing Dr How Yee Fatt who provided us with insights on bed bugs. So is it possible for someone to sleep on an infested bed and not get bitten?

The PCOs at Killem once came across a client who claimed that he was never once bitten by the bed bugs that infested his mattress. After taking one look at the said mattress, the PCOs thought otherwise.

Killem were tasked to perform general pest control services and inspection of a dormitory unit for foreign workers. The unit housed a few hundred people of different nationalities living under one roof, each with their own bed. Upon inspection of one of the beds, a PCO had found, what he believed were more than a hundred bed bugs all over the mattress. The person sleeping on the mattress was surprisingly also shocked at the revelation. The PCO began to question the person who slept on the bed, asking how he was able to sleep without being interrupted with bites or itches. The person simply replied that he was never once bitten by the bed bugs.

Bedbug Removal on Bed

This brought about some discussions among the roommates and our PCOs as to how someone can be unbitten and oblivious to bed bugs of that quantity. After further research undertaken by Killem, it turns out that it is possible that someone shows no signs of bed bug bites. If the person bitten has no allergic reaction, it is still extremely unlikely that someone sharing a mattress with 100 other bed bugs is not bitten at all.

Strange as it may seem or sound, pest problems should not be underestimated or mistaken to be a minor issue. They are best solved in the form of prevention methods even before they take form to be much more serious. At Killem, we take our PCOs, clients and what they have to say, seriously, even if they sound rather peculiar.


pest control history

The Biggest Jobs in Pest Control History

Pest control 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.

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.


strangest pest control stories

The Strangest Pest Control Stories Ever Heard

Strangest pest control stories – 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.