Home pest control7 common house pests, and what to do besides scream

The Singaporean’s Guide to House Pest Control

Upon lifting the toilet lid at home, she was horrified to find a huge centipede reclined (as they do) on the toilet porcelain like Odessa by the lake. There was screaming. There was a moment of silence as she gathered her wits, scattered like spilled rice on the toilet floor. There was the obligatory photo, WhatsApped to all other members of the household. And then followed three flushes, only the last successfully purging the worm from sight. Not as paralysing as finding a snake (arguably), but a pretty shocking experience nonetheless. And perhaps you’ll agree – she’s not alone. Pests are a pretty big deal in Singapore, given that many households go through infestations at one point or another. Ants in the kitchen (or bedroom!), termites in your furniture, elusive mosquitoes in your living room, or silverfish in your old books? We’ll teach you how to manage common Singaporean house pests. Read on for our take!

Ants

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There are probably more ants in Singapore than there are people in the world. If this thought doesn’t gross you out, then you must be an ecologist, a seasoned exterminator, or a very interesting person. Ants are the most industrious pests we know – they find their way into everything, including sealed plastic bags of food. They seem to believe there is food in the non-kitchen parts of your home, which can lead to uncomfortable surprises.

While ants are most commonly dealt with through the ‘find and squish’ method, a more effective remedy to an ant infestation is ant poison. The colourless liquid comes in a tube and is equally enticing as it is poisonous to ants. Beyond affecting the ants that consume it, the effectiveness of ant poison comes from exploring ants taking — what they believe to be — the good stuff home to share… and now we feel a bit bad.

If your conscience and the severity of the problem forecloses this method, then more traditional types of extermination could be an option. Companies like Rentokill and Origin Exterminators employ sophisticated procedures to identify the species of ant and type of infestation, which helps in ensuring they can effectively eradicate the colonies involved without risking harm to the inhabitants of your home. For example, using conventional insecticide can worsen a pharaoh ant infestation.

For everyday ant-control, you may also consider the anti-ant tray. The feet of the dish are difficult to navigate and can confuse ants, keeping the food on the dish safe. These are available and affordably priced on online shops like Qoo10 and Amazon.

Rodents

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Especially for apartment residents on lower floors, rodent invasions can become a huge nuisance to home life. Singapore being a food haven, rats have a field day, every day, chowing down on discarded food waste and scraps in public food centres. Sounds fine, except that the rat droppings and parasites are prone to transmit diseases.

The unfortunate news: rats aren’t just a ‘you’ problem. Incredibly mobile on land as in water, rats are capable of traversing long distances from the food court in Bukit Batok to your home in Serangoon, so there’s not a lot you can do to rule a rat invasion out completely. Our advice: if you see more rats than you can tahan in your neighbourhood, #callTownCouncil.

Termites

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Singapore’s humidity is the defenseless culprit for the propagation of subterranean termites, who are in turn responsible for the degradation of wooden furniture. Most commonly found in soil, these termites can be identified by the presence of mud shelter tubes, which are tunnels the termites fashion to travel longer distances safely. Making their way through the tubes and into your furniture, the rapidly multiplying termites can hollow out wooden components and even cause cabinets to sag. What’s worse: if much of your furniture is wooden, then the infestation can spread between furniture.

It may be difficult to identify on your own whether your home is termite infested, but a pest control agency can conduct thermal imaging to ascertain the severity of your problem, whereupon fumigation is a common treatment.

#TiqOurWord Did you know? Tiq Home Insurance offers 24-hour Emergency Home Assistance (EHA) that covers four common home emergencies – pest control, plumbing, electricity and locksmith. We’ll even get in touch with pest control experts on your behalf and see the problem out the door with you… literally! Also, the cheque’s on us! Terms apply.

Silverfish

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What’s a fish that’s not a fish, and that eats books? Silverfish love carbohydrates, which is why they can be found in the pantry among your dry grains, or stuffing themselves silly with dextrin from the glue in your books.

You can seal your food, but Ziploc-ing all your reading material sounds both impossible and completely bonkers. Enter: Diatomaceous Earth (DE). This magical white crumbly powder is the fossilised remains of diatoms, a class of algae. When in contact with DE, the protective coatings on silverfish disintegrate, causing them to dry out and eventually die. A light sprinkle at night, since silverfish are nocturnal, should rein in the problem quickly.

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Mosquitoes

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With the recent dengue outbreaks, mosquitoes have risen once again to become Singapore’s Public Enemy Number One. One is inclined to wonder why these insufferable beings even exist, and what purpose they must serve in the ecosystem that was THIS important to preserve. Whatever your conclusion, and to whichever levels your hate for them extends, mosquitoes are among the most dangerous pests to have at home, albeit one of the most common.

The typical preventive measures recommended by town councils and the National Health Board include overturning unused pails, replacing water in vases regularly, emptying the dishes under potted plants, ensuring the water you pour on soil is fully absorbed and placing insecticide in roof gutters. These should work, if only to remove stagnant water that mosquitoes need to breed.

But failing this, and conceding that mosquitoes can enter your home from the outside, electric nets and the good ol’ newspaper roll are good ways to keep these pests at bay.

Cockroaches

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#TFW the wings emerge – we’re dying too. Everyone has encountered cockroaches at home once in their lives. The omnivorous insect is as hardy as is it gross. They can survive a week without their head and only dying of thirst, and can survive up to a half-hour submerged in water — all adaptations that contribute to its 280 million-year survival, just so they can frighten you on the pavement at night.

But enough TMI. If you’re looking to keep these critters out of your home, store your food carefully and keep your home dry, as much as possible. Cockroaches are attracted to moisture, so fixing leaky pipes and getting rid of mould on ceilings and walls can help. To get rid of cockroaches, insecticide spray is usually pretty effective, but they can be harmful to young children. An effective homemade repellent is boric acid, mixed with flour and cocoa.

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House centipede

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Your parents have repeated at every family gathering, the story of a misjudged barefoot walk around the kampong and the ensuing centipede bite. Where in the past centipedes may have been a common sight, such stories are now disproportionately disgusting to the average listener. How, now in developed, hygiene-obsessed Singapore, are we still finding centipedes in our bathrooms?

The reason: humidity, again. Centipedes seek moist places to hide, since they don’t retain moisture well. A possible explanation for your bathroom surprise is: the centipede had hunkered down in your pipes when an unexpected wave washed it out and into your toilet.

A good majority of reported centipede sightings in Singapore happen in ground-floor units, a reasonable statistic given that lower residences are generally more prone to pests. Other instances of local infestation have been linked to poorly maintained bin chutes and sewer stacks, easily solved with chemical treatment. The good news: centipedes are otherwise uncommon in homes, and they won’t kill you. Their venom may cause allergic reactions in young children, but the venom-tipped claws of house centipedes are much too small to pierce adult skin and would otherwise cause minor pain and swelling, at most! TL;DR: they’re harmless, just hold the flush.

Pest practices

More so for those who live close to ground level, house pests can be difficult to eliminate completely. That said, there’s always something to be done. Our advice: store your food tightly to keep from attracting unwanted visitors into your home, and keep up with day-to-day maintenance to prevent leaky pipes and mouldy walls from getting the better of your peace. And if ever you don’t have the stomach to deal with the pests yourself, Tiq’s Emergency Home Assistance is just a call away.

Information is accurate as at 11 September 2019. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.

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