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Debugging Local Myths: Ask the Experts

Debugging local myths on topics like do mosquitoes only bite ‘sweet’ people? And can eggshells help repel lizards in your home? Have some of our local myths debugged by our pest experts especially for household pests close to you.

In addition, find answers to some of the frequently-asked-questions for the best pest control methods and learn new ways to control pests at home or at the workplace.

Trained and majoring in biology, management of vectors and parasites, Dr Chan is the in-house Medical Entomologist of Rentokil Initial who can answer all your questions on any pest.

You are welcome to send in your question to Dr Chan here at [email protected]

Most DIY and self-pest remedies are short-term measures with little to none residual effect or pest infestation control. It works largely by repelling or deterring pests away because of the smell they resist or confusing their sense of navigation. It is important to start resolving pest problems at early stages before they multiply and spread from location to location. There are various pest control options for different pest type species designed with specific treatment methods and service frequencies.

Can a cockroach run into your children's ear?

Dr Chan says: This is possible especially if the person is sleeping in a room with heavy cockroach infestation. Cockroach may move into the ears by chance.

As cockroaches typically emerge at night time, there is higher chance of risk when sleeping.

Does eggshells help to repel home lizards?

Dr Chan says: It is believed by some that lizard is repelled by the smell of eggshells. And others believed that the lizard is led into thinking that the eggshell is the predator’s egg, which scares them away.

Do mosquitoes only bite 'sweet' people?

Dr Chan says: Certain people are more attractive to mosquitoes due to their odour. Some studies suggested that blood types play a role yet the results are not conclusive and often contradict.

In general, mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide that we give out, body odour, heat, movement and contrast.

Can orange oil kill termites?

Dr Chan says: In laboratory study, d-limonene, the major component in orange oil extract, is able to kill termites. However, field study shows that orange oil extract has limited efficacy in termite control, potentially due to its short residual effect.

Do note that orange oil extract is flammable and acidic. It is extracted from the orange peels and should not be confused with orange juice.

Can fresh pandan leaves help deter cockroaches?

Dr Chan says: Placing fresh pandan leaves around is not a "treatment". Cockroaches may avoid it but they are not killed. Moreover should these fresh leaves dry up, they could become a food source for cockroaches.

Cockroaches are widely known as "Pests of Poor Hygiene." They need food, water and shelter to survive. Keeping your home, office or establishment clean keeps them from finding comfortable places to hide and live in.

Can cloves help deter common ants found in homes?

Based on literature, clove contains active ingredients that can repel insects such as mosquitoes, flies, ants, wasps and mites. If the concentration is high enough, it could kill some insects i.e. ants. Usually effective in the form of essential oil or clove extract.

Yet what’s the best way to get rid of ants? ERDM is the best way to get rid of ants in house.

  • Exclusion, by having proper pest proofing
  • Restriction, by removing food and harborages
  • Destruction, through professional ant control
  • Monitoring, to ensure measures are working

Do moth balls prevent moths, cockroaches or rats?

Dr Chan says: Yes, mothballs are able to repel moths and cockroaches, not rats. Mothballs give out a toxic gas to its surroundings. The dangers of use are that it is flammable and toxic to humans. This DIY method must be handled with care especially when kids at home whom may mistakenly eat it.

Myth: Baking soda kills bed bugs

Dr Chan says: There is no scientific evidence that baking soda works in getting rid of bed bugs successfully. In fact, baking soda breaks down when it comes into contact with water therefore the idea of it being able to absorb fluids is questionable. It is not guaranteed to fully remove a bed bug infestation completely.

Read more here

Myth: A clean home definitely means pest-free!

Dr Chan says: Although many pests are attracted to food and water sources, pests can be transported indoors in many ways. For example bed bugs are brought into a home when a person travels on his/hers luggage and clothing. Cockroaches can be brought indoors via shopping bags. And termites which is not a hygiene-related pest, invade homes through underground soil where they nest.

Another factor concerns pest proofing your home, which means sealing off all potential entry, gaps, holes, cracks and crevices so pests do not come in.

Read more here

Myth: Lemongrass is effective against mosquitoes

Dr Chan says: Research has shown that citronella helps to reduce mosquito landing around 40%. Although the natural ingredient provides some form of repellent; however the active ingredient dosage level is not adequate to serve as a mosquito control solution.

Read more here

Myth: Chalk helps to get rid of ants

Dr Chan says: Anything or even water which can disrupt an ant trail is sufficient to temporarily derail the colony. This is because ants depend on the scents. They will come back at work again soon after scents are reestablished.

Read more here

Myth: Bees die after they sting

Dr Chan says: Honey bees actually die after they sting! But this does not mean every bee die after they sting, dependable on various factors such as the victim’s skin thickness, the bee gender and type of bee species.

Be careful! Do not confuse bees with wasps, which can sting multiple times without dying.

Myth: Is home remedy of using vinegar effective against ants?

Vinegar is often used a home remedy for ants, by filling a spray bottle with mixture solution of vinegar and water, and applying at common ant hot spots. This include spaces where food consumed or prepared, quiet and dark corners including cupboards and cabinets. However, the aroma from vinegar masks an ant’s scent trial, thus preventing it from finding food or direction. Once the solution has evaporated, it is longer effective in repelling ants away.

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