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!


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.


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.