Centipedes seen in 12-storey HDB block

A centipede caught in Serangoon North resident Steven Long's bathroom last week. The centipedes spotted are mostly about an inch long.
A centipede caught in Serangoon North resident Steven Long's bathroom last week. The centipedes spotted are mostly about an inch long.PHOTO: STEVEN LONG

Residents worry about being bitten; town council taking steps to tackle problem

A number of residents living in Block 517, Serangoon North Avenue 4, have reported centipedes appearing in their homes in recent weeks. Housewife Linda Lim, who lives on the 10th storey with her husband and two children aged five and nine, said she was even bitten by one in her bedroom on Oct 3. Centipedes bite with a pair of pincer-like hollow legs located at the front of their bodies.

The 43-year-old felt a painful bite on her right hand, which was beneath her pillow.

She turned over the pillow and saw something black scurry to the ground. Upon catching it, she realised it was an inch-long centipede.

Ms Lim had first spotted centipedes in her home in August last year, although they were smaller than the one she saw on Oct 3. She saw an average of one centipede a week from August to December last year, but then they disappeared early this year.

A check with several residents in the 12-storey block last week found that they have seen centipedes in their flats sporadically.

IT manager Steven Long said he has been badly affected. He first saw centipedes in his home when his family moved into the unit in 2013. In the past month, his family has seen an average of three centipedes in the two toilets every week. They are mostly about an inch long, although occasionally there are two-inch ones as well.

"The worry of getting bitten is always there," said the 45-year-old, who lives in the fourth-storey flat with his wife and two sons aged six and eight.

An Ang Mo Kio Town Council spokesman said the council has received feedback about centipedes in Block 517 in 2015 and this year.

The spokesman said a bin chute and sewer stack were identified as the source of the centipede infestation, and pesticides were sprayed on the manholes in the ground-floor common area, the block's main pipes and gully traps of the nine affected units early last week.

Town council staff are visiting the affected units this week and will continue routine bi-annual chemical treatment of the sewer lines and pipes from the roof.

Pest control firms said centipedes are typically found in gardens and it is uncommon for them to appear in high-rise apartment blocks.

Technical manager of PestBusters Sally Yeoh said centipedes can be washed into the sewers through drains when it rains, and could have entered homes through floor traps or toilet bowls. She advised residents to keep general areas clean and dry as a preventive measure.

Mr Sean Yap, an insect researcher at the National University of Singapore's Department of Biological Sciences, said the bites of centipedes found in Singapore can cause pain and swelling.

While usually not lethal, they can still potentially pose a danger to very young children and those who are allergic to them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Centipedes seen in 12-storey HDB block'. Print Edition | Subscribe