Singapore Pest Management Association

FAQs

What are pests?

Pests are living things, which are harmful to humans. But some pests are also called “vectors” because they transmit diseases and cause public health concern.

Why are they pests?

They are pests because they and their presence are responsible for:

  • Annoyance
  • Contravention of legislations
  • Damages
  • Diseases
  • Fear
  • Loss of goodwill

How can I prevent a pest problem?

You must ensure:

  • Proper sanitation/housekeeping.
  • Correct defective engineering/architectural design to prevent pest entry and harbourage.
  • Treatment by licensed and NSRS certified pest management professionals.

If I notice some pest activity (e.g. rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes, insects), what should I do?

If these are the common vectors (i.e. rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies and fleas that are capable of transmitting diseases) you should alert the people who are responsible for managing these pests to have them eliminated quickly and safely, without harming the environment. If you are responsible for this role and need professional help, we suggest that you contact a reliable pest management company immediately. If these are not vectors and you can live with their presence, please leave them alone. Remember we have to share our planet Earth with other living things.

Where can I find more information on the various pests?

Please visit the website of our member companies. Many of them have archives that contain interesting and helpful information. Alternatively, some companies have a help line and can help answer some of your pest concerns.

Are high rise buildings safe from pests?

Unfortunately, no. Pests are extremely adaptable. Cockroaches, house ants and flying insects are still found in many high-rise apartments. Mosquitoes have been found in flats 20 storeys up; rats have been known to damage wires 25 floors up; and even termites can make their way to the 42nd storey. The way high-rise apartments are built explains how pests can gain access. Boxed-in pipe runs, concealed ducts for service conduits, false ceilings, rubbish chutes and built-in cabinets all provide well-concealed highways for cockroaches, rats, ants and termites.

Should I treat my apartment when my neighbour doesn’t treat his?

It depends on the pest involved. A termite inspection and treatment contract for an individual unit is usually useful. Though there is no way to prevent termites moving up the service conduits (unless soil treatment or preventive treatment has been commissioned by the developer or management corporation) the contract can do much to protect you. It will provide for regular inspections, and if termites are present, prompt treatment and extermination. A rodent management contract will involve placement of baiting stations within your premises, whilst a cockroach spray treatment alongside all walls will help to reduce rampant cockroach movements in your premises. Thus, a pest management contract within your own apartment unit is still extremely useful, but can be further enhanced if the common areas are also treated.

Do we have to vacate the premises when treatment is carried out?

No, a pest management job is usually a simple procedure. In most cases, you don’t even need to move out at all. Only when insecticidal gassing or misting is involved it becomes necessary to move out, and that is for just a few hours.

Are all the chemicals that are going to be used on my premises for vector control approved by the National Environment Agency (NEA)?

Only chemicals approved by NEA should be used for vector management services.

What is fumigation?

Fumigation involves the use of a poisonous gas (eg. Methyl Bromide), and as such, it involves stringent safety requirements. The fumigator must be licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Any other form of chemical treatment is not fumigation. (eg. thermal fogging, misting, spraying, etc.)

Are pest management field staff qualified?

In Singapore, all vector management field staff are required to be licensed or certified by the National Environment Agency (NEA). In addition, SPMA strongly recommends that you insist on NSRS-trained staff to service your premises.

How do I go about selecting a pest management company?

As a trade association we recommend that you select any SPMA Members listed in our website. You may wish to call up more than one company and select the one that you are comfortable with based on how they respond to your queries, their track record, the service they offer and, of course, their price.

Would a pest management company be able to respond to my pest problem on the phone?

Dealing with pests requires professional expertise and help cannot be effectively rendered without a site survey or inspection. Simply put, a doctor will never be able to attend to a person’s illness without first seeing the patient. Similarly, to get the best professional help on pests, it would be prudent to select a Pest Management Company to investigate the problem, identify the pest then agree to the method and cost of treatment before the service is rendered.

How do I judge if the price quoted is reasonable?

As with anything, you get what you pay for. Normally if price is important, you should settle for just the basic service of eliminating the pest. But if you expect something more, then you must expect to have to pay more. The decision has to be yours to make, based on your needs and what you are prepared to pay.

I saw a small swarm of insects flying into my house at night and attracted to the fluorescent lights. What should I do?

They are likely to be the termite “alates” or the reproductive forms of termites. They swarm to form new colonies. Depending on species and weather conditions, subterranean termites usually swarm in the early evening – when it is cooler & often right after rain. They are easily attracted by lights and can be seen hovering around street lightings along roadside. They could also attract by light sources at home and enter premises quickly. If you encounter such situation at home, you could quickly destroy them with aerosol insecticide spray. However, if you are living on landed property and do not have any pest management contract, it is advisable to engage a reliable Pest Management Company to conduct check in your premises to ensure that it is free from subterranean termite infestation.

Can you tell the difference between flying ants and termites?

Termite alates look a lot like ants reproductive. In fact, homeowners often mistake flying ants for termite swarmers and become alarmed. But look closely and you’ll see several differences.

Termite Alates

  • Straight antennae
  • Two pairs of wings of the same size and shape
  • Broad waist
  • Short leg
Flying Ants

  • Elbowed antennae
  • Two pairs of wings, with rear wings smaller than front wings
  • Narrow or pinched waist
  • Long legs

What are the tell tales signs of subterranean termites?

The common signs of infestation are:

  • Mud shelter tubes.
  • Damaged woodwork or timber-based products.
  • Swarms of alates, especially at dusk just before a rain.

If I find termites (“white ants”) on my property, should I just spray them with a can of insecticide?

Termites look very much like little “white ants”, hence their local name. They look harmless because they do not bite (except for large outdoor Macrotermes species) but they are the most complex insect pest in Singapore. Getting rid of them with a can of insecticide will not eliminate the problem because a mature nest will have at least 1 million inhabitants and what you are eliminating will at most be 200 termites.

Do not disturb the termites. Call in a Pest Management Company immediately to eliminate the nest and its inhabitants.

What should I do if I see ants running in my kitchen?

Unless you could identify the ant nests which are likely to be inside the cracks and crevices on wall tile or floors, it is not advisable to destroy the running ants, or ant trails with a can of aerosol insecticide. This is because some indoor pest ants are sensitive to the presence of repellent insecticide e.g. pyrethroids found in the aerosol spray. This may cause the ant colonies to bud and reproduce even more ants and worsen the infestation. ‘Budding’ is a unique reproduction process of some pest ants by having one or several mated ant queens with group of worker ants carrying the brood leaving original colony to form new nests. It is advisable for you to seek professional advice and engage a reliable Pest Management Company to thoroughly inspect your premise to manage the pest ant problem.

What are the tell tales signs of cockroaches?

The common signs of infestation are:

  • Odour
  • Droppings
  • Egg capsules (othecae)
  • Damaged packaging, especially of food
  • Moulted body shells

Can I get rid of cockroaches easily with a spray?

The household aerosol spray is, at best, a temporary solution. It is not equipped to treat “difficult to reach” areas such as sewer runs, rubbish chutes, manholes or inspection pits where cockroaches harbour and breed. Moreover, being an oil-based spray it should not be used on tiled-floors, planted areas or near open flames. Engage a Pest Management Company for long term solution.

What are the tell tales signs of rodents?

The common signs of infestation are:

  • Droppings and their urine smell.
  • Damage to packaging, especially food.
  • Gnaw marks and marks grease.
  • Burrows and runways.

I experienced mosquito bites from time to time. What should I do to prevent mosquito breeding at home?

There is a possibility of mosquito breeding at your home or neighbourhoods. As the life-cycle of mosquitoes is about a week, you are advised to check your home thoroughly at least once weekly to get rid of any stagnant water in flower vases, potted plants and unwanted receptacles to prevent mosquito breeding. If the nuisance persists, you should feedback to the appropriate Authorities to check and eliminate the nuisance. If you need professional assistance, it is advisable to engage a reliable Pest Management Company to conduct check in your premises to ensure that it is free from mosquito breeding.

I saw some tiny insects resting on walls next to my air conditioning unit. What are these insects and are they harmful?

These are likely to be booklice or psocids. These are small insects and their maximum size ranging from about 1 – 2 mm. They have soft body and look like tiny termite workers. Some of them have four wings but some may be wingless and possess a chewing mouth part. In the indoors, they prefer damp places e.g. toilets, around air-conditioning, damp wall papers/books and flower beds. They do not damage anything or are harmful but are pests by being present in great numbers. As they feed on mould and fungi, the most effective ways of eliminating them is through effective moisture control and ventilation as well as good house keeping. However, if the nuisance persists, it is advisable to seek help from professional Pest Management Company to check and eliminate the nuisance.

How do the professionals keep pest birds from their roosts and perches?

There is a range of devices (both visual and acoustical), chemical repellents, including sticky pastes on ledges and roosts, mechanical barriers, baits and biological control (nest or roost destruction, modification of habitat etc) that the professional can use depending on the circumstances or surroundings of the venue that require the service. It may interest you to know that in Singapore, only the mynahs, pigeons, crows and starlings are considered pest birds.