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.


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.


Hawker Center

Industry Inside: Pest Control in the Food and Beverage Industry

People have a right to expect that the food and beverages they buy have not been contaminated by pests. Pests of all types need to have sustenance to survive, and when they chance upon a food and beverage outlet, they are not going to give up that land of plenty without a fight.

The Law in Singapore

The National Environment Agency (NEA) regulates the food retail standard industry in Singapore and requires all food retail establishments to be licensed in order to operate. A condition of obtaining this license is to have a ‘pest control contract covering the control of rodents, cockroaches and flies during the year-long licensing period. The inspection frequency of the food shop premises covered in the contract shall be at least once a month to detect any sign of pest infestation.’  

Why Is Pest Control Important in Food and Beverage Outlets?

Food safety is essential. Pests can bring disease with them, and the last thing you need is to have food infested by pests. It cannot be sold and if it is and makes people sick, it will cause serious problems for your business in terms of loss of reputation. If the pests get to the point of infestation, it could mean that you have to close down the business while you are having the problem taken care of by pest control specialists.

Hawker Center

What Is Good Housekeeping?

In any food and beverage establishment there is always a chance for spills to occur. When those spills, large or small, are not cared for properly and cleaned up, it acts as an invitation to all manner of pests. They will find a way into the facility in a range of ways. They can get through vents, cracks, holes, and areas that you would never even notice. By ensuring a very clean facility, it helps to reduce the risk of pests substantially. This does not mean that they will never find their way into the facility. It can and does happen. When this occurs, you will want to contact professional pest control services to help you with your pest problem.

One of the ways that professionals can help is by looking for the various routes that the pests are using to get into the building. They can “close off” those areas to make a recurring infestation less likely.

What Types of Pests Are Commonly Found in Food and Beverage Outlets?

Many types of pests like to get food in food and beverage outlets. Whether it is a warehouse, a manufacturing facility, a grocery store, or an eatery, pests such as flies, ants, roaches, and rodents can be present. They smell the food and they want to have access to free meals. Even birds have the potential to become a problem in these types of outlets, and they can cause some serious damage to the building, as well as the food. It is even possible for them to spread illness, like so many of the other pests out there.

You never want to take chances when it comes to keeping food and beverages safe. If you have a pest problem, get in touch with the professionals as soon as you can. Even if you do not have a noticeable problem, do not forget, you still need to have regular pest control as required by NEA.

Pest Bird on Food

 


How Is Technology Transforming Pest Control?

In the past, extermination and pest control was a relatively simple affair. Those in the business tended to use traps and various sprays that to take care of pest problems. While those methods could be effective, technology over the past few years has helped to improve the quality of pest control markedly.

Today, there are some truly amazing tools being used by pest control specialists in Singapore. They can make the job of providing you with a pest free environment safer, faster, easier, and cleaner than ever before.

Before we look at some of the different technological tools in use by Killem Pest today, it is prudent to note that the focus is now on integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a broad-based approach that focuses on prevention (via regular monitoring) and appropriate control (via the appropriate chemicals and equipment).

Electronic Rodent Bait Stations

Electronic Bait Station

People have finally started building a better mouse trap. These traps work for all rodents (rats and mice). The older traps that had been in use were often ineffective, could cause painful deaths if the animal did not die right away, and they tended to be one-time use traps.

However, the electronic rodent bait stations are more effective. They have an external housing with an area for the rodent to enter when it gets a whiff of the bait placed inside. When they step across sensors in the trap, it will electrocute them. It is a quick and humane death.

These traps can be used repeatedly, as well, which leads to less waste. The bait stations are also programmed to an app to notify the pest control operator that a rodent has been caught and needs to be disposed of. Thus saves time as the pest control operator is straight away directed to the source, and does not have to inspect all other spots.

Drones

Drone for Pest Control

Drones are for more than just taking great aerial shots and racing. Many in the pest control business are now using drones that can fly up and check rooftops and high rafters in buildings. They can get a better idea of the types of pests that could be living in those locations, and they can then formulate a plan to eliminate them.

Sonic Wands

Larvasonic Pest Control Wand

Mosquitoes are a bane, and they carry many different types of diseases, including dengue and the zika virus. The sonic wands that are available today can make controlling the populations much easier. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. This could be a swamp, puddles, and even storage containers for water. The sonic wands utilize sound to kill the larvae in the water. It is a safe technology, and you will not have to worry about chemical treatments that are typically used.

Thermal Imagery

Termite Detection System

This is another very impressive tool. Thermal imaging cameras can work well for a range of pests. It is possible to see heat signatures of the creatures, and even insect trails on the walls. This will give the pest control specialist a better understanding of the pests they are dealing with, and even the location of the pests. This can be very helpful in many different types of environments.

The technology used in pest control today is truly impressive, and it has made pest control easier and more effective. For more information on the technology we use, visit our Equipment & Technology page.


Killem Pest Interview with Leading Entomologist Dr How Yee Fatt

In the very first interview conducted for The Killem Blog, we are fortunate enough to speak Dr How Yee Fatt, a leading entomologist based in Singapore with Bentz Jaz Singapore Pte Ltd. Read on to find out about Dr How’s exciting career and his thoughts on the pest control industry. 

Dr How - Entomologist

KILLEM PEST: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Many people have not heard of the term ‘entomology’ or ‘entomologist’. Could you please explain what these terms mean?

DR HOW: ‘Ento’ means insects, while ‘logy’ means the study. Therefore to put simply, entomology is the research or study of insects. The related scope consists of the taxonomy (identification and classification of insects), control of insects, insect biology, the importance of insects and others.

KILLEM PEST: What is your educational and professional background?

DR HOW:  I completed my Bachelor of Science and PhD at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. I started a degree in Applied Biology but in my second year, we were required to select our major in several areas such as vectors and parasites, biotechnology, aquatic, agricultural or environmental biology.

I was contemplating pursuing either biotechnology or vectors and parasites (entomology). I was fortunate enough to meet Professor Lee Chow Yang, a leading entomologist in Asia who has since became my mentor. Professor Lee was very helpful and shared a lot about the study of vectors and parasites which made me realise the importance of this study. As a city boy, my only experience of insects was dealing with ants so the study of vectors and parasites offered something completely different for me. Within the vectors and parasites major, I specialised in urban and industrial entomology (rather than economic, agricultural or medical entomology)

During my degree I completed an industry attachment at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur which was very interesting and really opened my eyes and confirmed that an entomologist really is like a doctor to insects. I was involved in facilitating the artificial mating of Anopheles mosquitos and surgically cutting open flies to remove their digestive tract to analyse the level of protein. 

Upon completing my Bachelor degree, I straight went straight into my PhD. USM is a leading university in Asia for the field of entomology and having Professor Lee’s continued mentorship support was important. As I could not decide what to specialise, Professor Lee suggested that the field of bed bugs was in its infancy (at that point in time) and there was an opportunity to be a pioneer in research and study for this insect. So, because of my interest and in wanting to be a pioneer, I decided to study bed bugs.

KILLEM PEST: Does Singapore offer any degrees or courses in entomology?

DR HOW: Entomology is offered as a course / elective in some Singapore universities, but not as a major. I understand that the courses here are focused mostly on molecular entomology (which is checking the classification of insects) and not so much the other fields (particularly Urban and Industrial Entomology).

KILLEM PEST: How long have you been working as an entomologist? How long have you been with Bentz Jaz?

DR HOW: Consider including the work that I carried out during my PhD after my degree graduation, I have been working as an entomologist for around 11 years. I started at Bentz Jaz right after completing my PhD, this was 6 years ago! When I was completing my PhD, there were two options: either continue an academic career or enter the industry. I chose the latter as I wanted to be involved in the practical and commercial side of insect control, rather than continue an academic career of research, publication and teaching.

KILLEM PEST: What has been the most interesting or memorable experience of your career?

DR HOW: For my PhD, I needed to get my own specimens of bed bugs to conduct my research. This proved challenging because I needed an appropriate specimen size, and also I wanted to study bed bugs in a real, practical context and based on the most natural way they feed, which is on real human blood, without any chemicals.  

Since I wanted my results to be accurate, in the name of science, I ‘donated’ my blood to the bed bugs by letting them feed on me. I have to say, I have never donated as much blood as I have during these years of research!

When bed bugs feed on you over time the way they did on me, you can feel your body change. The bit areas become swollen and the bites are extremely itchy, so you are also exercising very strong willpower and control in order to manage the symptoms.  When I started, the bed bugs would feed on me for 2-3 hours per day. After 1 to 2 years, the bed bugs would feed on me for the whole night (12 hours) at least twice a week because I required larger sample size for my extensive research. I will never forget this experience during my PhD! 

KILLEM PEST: Pests are a nuisance and they can carry disease or cause economic damage, yet they also play an important part in our ecosystem. Is it possible to completely get rid of them?

DR HOW: I will quote what my mentor, Professor Lee, said during the first entomology course: ‘pests are defined by humans’. Not all 6-legged insects are pests, it really depends on the human lifestyle, for example,  ants are a pest in Singapore, however in other countries they are a part of everyday life. It is important to know what the client’s objectives are in wanting to eliminate pests, and then managing those expectations.  

KILLEM PEST: Over the last few years, pest control has undergone significant changes, especially with the increased use of technology like electronic rodent monitoring bait stations and drones. What else do you think we can expect to see in the near future in terms of technology? 

DR HOW: Many multinational life science and chemical companies such as Bayer and Sumitomo are inventing new active ingredients that are not yet introduced in the market. These new active ingredients are designed to work towards greener and more environmentally friendly pesticide usage.

There has also been a shift from oil-based fogging to water-based fogging to control mosquitoes and other flying insects. The benefits of this is that the latter allows for odourless treatment that does not stain the area that is treated. Water-based insecticides are also lighter and so disperse quicker.  On the point of mosquitoes, devices such as the ultrasonic can control mosquito larvae though non-chemical means.

Other equipment, such as the termatrac, have also evolved dramatically. The termatrac has revolutionised termite inspection practices by providing a 3-in-1 termite detection unit which includes the thermal sensor, moisture sensor and termite detection radar in one device.

Pest management software is also becoming more popular, especially in the US. These cloud-based systems eliminate the need for physical service reports because technicians can refer to the history of the client’s premises via cloud. This allows them to refer to previous images, comments and use of chemicals easy and quickly, and reduces the amount of paper we use.  

Bentz Jaz Pest Control Products
Bentz Jaz Pest Control Products

KILLEM PEST: Pest control plays a key role in public health. How do you think professional pest control providers like Killem Pest, and suppliers like Bentz Jaz can work together to ensure that pest control remains a key focus in public health?

DR HOW: We need to keep upgrading industry practices, standard operating procedures, improve the education of the public and improve on the safety, quality and delivery of services.

A critical point to highlight to clients is that the focus should be on long term pest management rather than on ad hoc services. A one day, one time treatment will not solve any pest problems, it is a remedy but not a cure. Integrated pest management is about customising the perfect solution for the client, which takes into account any concerns they might have, for example having pets or small children at home.  

Bentz Jaz will continue sourcing for new active ingredients or application methods and working with providers of services such as Killem Pest in the application and implementation of the said methods.   In order to achieve this, transparency between parties such as Bentz Jaz, Killem Pest and the client are very important.

KILLEM PEST: Bentz Jaz has been involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives as well as trying to bring awareness about the industry, products and treatment methods to the public. What are some of the past events held and future events that we can look forward to?

DR HOW: This year we replaced our annual Dinner & Dance with a ‘Plant-A-Tree-Programme’ at Kranji Marsh. In total, Bentz Jaz and our partners donated and planted a total of 50 trees. We have also held educational programs for the public with workshops on explaining pests and how to deal with them. We want to continue organising events so that the public can understand the industry better.

KILLEM PEST: Thank you very much for your time. Do you have any closing remarks that you would like to share with the public?

DR HOW: Insect and pest management is not as simple as people may think and we really have to make an effort to understand insects. After all, you can only conquer your enemy when you know it well! How many different of species are there in the world? More than a million, so there is a lot that we do not know yet.   


Killem Pest Profile Series: What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are some of the most difficult pests to remove once they have taken a hold in your home. Unlike other pests like mosquitoes or rodents, bed bugs do not actually spread disease. However, they are a very big nuisance because bits from bed bugs cause itching, which can lead to excessive scratching and thereby skin infection. Being bitten by beg bugs at night also causes a loss of sleep.

They can get into the linen on the beds, which is how they got their name. However, you should not be fooled into believing that they only infest beds. They can also get into the carpets, curtains, and even clothing.

The Biology of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have a brownish color before they have fed. After feeding, on blood of animals and people, they turn a red color. The baby bed bugs are very difficult to see, as they do not have much color to them at all.

These six-legged creatures can reach up to a quarter of an inch long when they are adults. They will mature in about 21 days, and they can live for several months without feeding. Females of the species can lay one to five eggs each day, and this is how they can spread and infest an area so quickly.

Bed Bugs Close Up

How to Check for a Bed Bug Infestation

How do you know if you have a bed bug infestation? Some of the most common signs are:

  • Your children wake up and have skin that itches
  • You might also notice that there are small blood stains on your pillow cases and sheets from when the bed bugs have fed
  • You may see the shed skin and eggs from the bed bugs
  • You may even see the adults, even though they typically come out to feed on blood at night

Bed Bug Bites

What to Do When You Have a Bed Bug Infestation

Getting rid of bed bugs by yourself can result in many failed attempts. It is extremely difficult to do, and you would be much better served by having professionals in Singapore come in with the right equipment to take care of things.

There are several proven methods that can be used for treating an infestation and getting rid of the bed bugs.

Spray and Gas Treatment

A very popular and effective option is to use spray and gas treatment. This utilises dual spraying action, and it makes it possible to cover a large area in a short period. It can eliminate the bed bugs, as well as the eggs they have already laid.

Steaming

Another option is steaming. One of the benefits of this method is that the steaming can occur even if there are people and pets in the home at the time. This makes it a fast and efficient option, and it also happens to be environmentally friendly.

If you have signs of a bed bug infestation, do not wait to get the help you need. Get effective and professional bed bug control from Killem as we can take care of the problem right away.


Outside Garden

How to Carry Out Safe Pest Control with Children and Pets in Your Home

Let’s be honest, no one wants to have pests in or near your home, especially when you have children or pets.

Infants and babies may be exposed to more pesticides than adults because they often spend more time closer to the ground, touching furniture bases or playing in the gardens where pesticides may have been applied. Infants and babies are also more likely to put fingers, toys and other objects that may have come into contact with pesticides into their mouths.

There are many different types of pests that can cause serious problems if they get out of hand, and you need to find ways that you can control those pests safely and efficiently, without compromising the health and safety of your children and pets.

You can do some basic things that will help to keep the pests out of your home, but there might come a time when you need to call in the professionals.

What Are the Most Common Types of Pests?

While there are many different types of pests that could be plaguing your home, some of the most common and intrusive include:

Ants

Cockroaches

Mosquitos

Rodents

Termites

Pests have the potential to destroy your home, get into your food and carry diseases. You should never have to live with pests. You should find ways to eradicate them.

What Are Safe Pesticides?

When it comes to choosing pesticides that you want, or you want your professional provider to use in and around your home, you need to be very careful. Many brands on the market are full of chemicals that could harm your children and your pets if it were ingested.

When you are choosing pesticides that you can use to deal better with the pests that you find, you should look for those that are organic and that do not have toxic chemicals in them.

One of the best things about working with Killem Pest for your pest control needs is that we use original, non-generic chemicals that are environmentally friendly and they have a low mammalian toxicity. This means that even if children or pets accidentally ingest the pesticide, they would not become ill.

In addition, you can do other things that will help to keep your children and pets safe. If you are putting out bait for rodents, for example, never leave it in an area where your children or pets could have access to it. They could put it in their mouth. Instead, put the bait into a locked bait station or in an area that cannot be opened or reached by children or pets so that only rodents can access it.

If the pest control company has come and sprayed, make sure that any of the residual spraying has dried before allowing children or pets into the area. Make sure your animals are not licking the plants or the walls where the chemicals were sprayed, too.

You should also always make sure your children wash their hands after they have been playing outdoors, and stress the importance of not touching any bait stations that you might have.

Pet Pest Control Safety
Child Pest Control Safety

How to Keep Pests Away

The following are some very simple and basic tips that can help you to control some of the pests in and around your home:

  • Keeping your food in airtight containers can help to control the influx of ants, as well as rodents and roaches.
  • If you have fruit that is left out on the counter, check it regularly to see if there are any bad spots on it, as this can draw fruit flies and other types of pests.
  • A natural type of pesticide that you can make at home is citrus oil. You can use equal parts orange peels and water, and simmer them. Remove the peels and put the water into a spray containers and then spray around the windows, doors, and other areas where pests might be getting into the property.

Call in the Professionals

Of course, when it comes to pest problems, sometimes, the DIY home pest control methods are simply not enough. You need to call in the professionals that can provide you with a thorough service and remove those pests for good no matter what type they might be.