Public awareness of pests could be far better in most countries. People either have a general perception that pests are bad for health or disgusting to look at, but in most cases that’s about it.
Interestingly the tolerance for pests is very low and the knowledge about pests is higher in places where there are lesser pests. It is my personal perception that the tolerance towards certain pests is a direct effect of exposure. This might not be true in all cases, but I noticed that if people are almost never exposed to certain pests, they tend to freak out much more.
The tropic/ subtropic climate of India is conducive for a large range of pests. Cockroaches, for instance, are a very common sight in “hotter” countries and people in general are quite tolerant towards cockroaches.
One pest that the public is very well educated about is mosquitoes, mainly because they transmit a wide range of diseases, e.g. Chikungunya, Dengue and Malaria. However, other lesser-known pest species are similarly injurious to our health and the public is yet to be made aware of these pests. To give an example, rodents are frequently the cause for outbreaks of Leptospirosis (or Weil’s disease); cockroaches are triggers for allergies and asthma and food poisoning; flies transmit Cholera, Dysentery and many more.
Children are most sensitive to contaminations and health risks posed by pests. At the same time children are quite alert and receptive for new knowledge. Furthermore, children, as future thought leaders, will play an important role in pest and disease prevention, if they are made aware of these topics.
In an effort to increase public awareness we initiated pest awareness programs for schools. An interactive presentation introduced children into the world of pests and taught them some basic behavioural guide lines to keep pests out of their homes. The schools were very supportive of this kind of activity and the overall reception was very good. The entire team that helped and conducted the seminars enjoyed the activity of explaining the work we do and educating others about pests.
It is always better to know the enemy in order to prevent health risks and damage to your property. Keeping friends close, but enemies closer, does not apply here though.