SINGAPORE - A 61-year-old woman was so shocked to see a cockroach in her car that she lost control of the wheel.
The red Mazda crashed into the base of an overhead bridge staircase and its front bumper was heavily damaged in the accident last Friday (Jan 26). The woman, however, got away with minor injuries.
Netizens were quick to share previous sightings of cockroaches in their own vehicles.
Many of them have also offered ways to keep these pesky insects at bay, including using fresh pandan leaves.
The Straits Times asks pest control experts to share some tips and debunk the myths:
1. Avoid eating in the car
Cockroaches are food-lovers. And leaving food residue or crumbs around are enough to attract them to your vehicles, according to pest control firm Rentokil Singapore.
If eating in the car is something that cannot be avoided, especially for those with children, then it is important to do a thorough clean-up afterwards.
The critters are also attracted to humid environments, so any spills in the car should be wiped away immediately.
2. Clean and de-clutter the car regularly
Cleaning the car regularly is the best way to stave off cockroaches. Some areas that are often neglected and can trap food particles include carpets, in between car seats and the sides of the door.
Besides wiping the surfaces, pest control experts advise motorists to thoroughly vacuum and disinfect their vehicles.
In addition, cockroaches tend to hide and breed in cluttered areas, such as the boot of the car.
Keep items in the boot stored in a hard plastic container with a tight lid to keep them out.
As cockroaches may be transported from other items, such as shopping bags, into the vehicle, it is crucial to do a quick check on the items before placing in the car, said pest control firm PestBusters.
3. Avoid parking near drains or garbage bins
Car owners should refrain from parking near areas where cockroaches thrive, such as drainage openings, sewage drains and garbage bins.
Air conditioning vents in vehicles are one of the main entry points for cockroaches.
Before leaving the car, ensure that windows, doors and air conditioning vents are tightly shut.
4. Be careful when using insecticides
Insecticides work as a quick-fire way to get rid of cockroaches, but they have to be used with care and as a last resort, pest control firm Rentokil Singapore said.
Do not stay inside the car when using insecticides, as the chemical can be flammable. It is also toxic to humans and pets.
On the other hand, insecticide gels tend to dry up due to the air conditioning in the vehicle and may not be as effective.
PestBusters advised car owners to place cockroach traps under the car seats if there has been a cockroach sighting.
5. Dried-up pandan leaves do not repel cockroaches
Many Singaporeans believe that the scent of fresh pandan leaves provides a natural cockroach repellent.
It is common to see car owners here leaving a bundle of pandan leaves in the boot of their vehicle or at the back of the seat.
Rentokil Singapore's medical entomologist, Dr Chan Hiang Hao, addressed this belief on the company's website.
"Cockroaches may avoid it, but they are not killed. Moreover, should these fresh leaves dry up, they could become a food source for cockroaches and other pests," he said.
Besides, doing so does not help to address the root cause of a cockroach infestation, PestBusters added.
6. Cockroach sightings in the day could mean a serious infestation problem
The most serious case encountered by PestBusters involved cockroach sightings and activities recorded even during the day.
"Cockroaches were seen on the seats, at the side of the doors, on the floor mat, and even in the engine area," a spokesman said, adding that they were "literally everywhere".
The spokesman added that cockroaches mostly hunt for food in the night, and if they are seen during the day, "the infestation level is beyond imagination".
Over the past two years, about five to 10 per cent of inquiries received by the firm were related to cockroaches in cars.