Residents told to shut windows, switch on fewer lights as black insect swarms return to Bukit Batok

It is still unclear if the critters harassing residents in Blocks 170, 171 and 172 this year are of the same species as the insects from four years ago.
It is still unclear if the critters harassing residents in Blocks 170, 171 and 172 this year are of the same species as the insects from four years ago.PHOTOS: LIANHE WANBAO READER

SINGAPORE - Residents of several Bukit Batok Housing Board blocks have been told by the town council to shut their windows and switch on as few lights as possible after swarms of black insects plagued their flats in the past few days.

This harked back to 2015, when a similar mystery bug had also emerged in large numbers at blocks in Bukit Batok Avenue 8.

It is still unclear if the critters harassing residents of Blocks 170, 171 and 172 this year are of the same species as the insects from four years ago.

The resurgence of the beetle-like creatures was reported in Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao on Wednesday (Oct 2), which said that the bugs were a nuisance to residents.

According to Wanbao, the insects were found on residents' beds and dining tables, flew into their bottles and even clung to human skin, causing an itch whenever they crawled on people's bodies.

The Straits Times reported in 2015 that the rice grain-sized insects haunting the three blocks that year were harmless beetles that did not bite.

Experts ST spoke to then had identified the winged-insects as Ataenius australasiae, which had no chewing mouth parts.

Dr Paul Skelley, an entomologist, said then: "They do not carry any known disease, are not venomous and cannot harm humans. When numerous, adult beetles are only a nuisance pest."

 
 
 
 

Jurong-Clementi Town Council said on Thursday that measures similar to those adopted in 2015 have been taken, saying: "We are covering the lights at the corridors of the blocks with yellow-tinted paper."

A light trap has also been set up beside Block 170 in an attempt to divert the insects' flight path and lead them away from the residential blocks.

The town council also said that Mr Murali Pillai, MP for Bukit Batok, conducted an inspection on Wednesday evening and that he noted that the number of insects had significantly fallen.

Because the land surrounding the affected blocks belongs to other agencies, the town council said it has contacted the National Parks Board and HDB to check for possible breeding sites of the black insects in these areas.

ST has contacted these agencies for comment.