Zika: On the ground

Zika outbreak: Demand surges for pest control services

A pest control staff fumigating the drainage at Macpherson on Aug 31.
A pest control staff fumigating the drainage at Macpherson on Aug 31. PHOTO: AFP

Worried people have been ringing up pest control companies in droves, asking for help in destroying any potential mosquito breeding sites in their homes and offices.

Three pest control companies have seen a surge in the number of inquiries since last Saturday, when news of the locally transmitted Zika infection first broke.

Zika spreads primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, although it can also spread by sexual transmission.

Ikari Services, which has noticed a 50 to 60 per cent spike in calls, said customers have sought advice on how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Those who live in landed properties have asked to bring forward the dates of their homes' pest control inspections, while others wanted more frequent sessions.

"Many of them are asking for more thorough and intensive treatment that searches for and destroys larvae," said its director Declan Ee. This can cost up to several thousand dollars, depending on the property's size. In contrast, the usual treatment involves misting, which kills adult mosquitoes.

 
 

Another firm, Rentokil Initial, has seen a 172 per cent spike in calls, and expects even more in future. The calls come from across Singapore, from both businesses and home owners, said its operations director Lim Min Hui.

At PestBusters, most inquiries have come from construction companies and hotels, said its chief executive Thomas Fernandez.

Upon receiving a call, his staff offer advice on how to prevent mosquito breeding. If there is a need, they go to the site to investigate and recommend solutions, he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline 'Demand surges for pest control services'. Print Edition | Subscribe