x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Summer alert for bugs and beasties

Public health officials issue a warning as warm weather creates fertile breeding conditions for rodents, insects and other unwelcome visitors.

DUBAI // Cockroaches, ants, rats, termites and bed bugs … yes, it's that time of year again.

Household pests love the summer, and health officials urged residents yesterday to be on high alert and take preventive measures to keep the bugs at bay.

Keep your home clean and watch out for the signs of infestation to avoid unwittingly creating a breeding ground for unwanted visitors, advised Motahar Hussain, pest management specialist at the Public Health Pest Control Section Section of Dubai Municipality.

To avoid pests such as cockroaches, Mr Hussain advises against bringing cartons from supermarkets into the house after shopping. Instead, leave the boxes outside and bring your groceries in separately.

"If you keep the kitchen hygienic, tidy and clean then you can avoid pests. Leftover food should be placed in a rubbish bag - close it and throw it out to prevent infestation in kitchens from cockroaches and rats"

If you are buying second-hand furniture, allow a pest-control company to check it before bringing it into your home, because there is a chance the furniture could contain bed bugs, he said.

"Also, anyone coming from public places should check their clothing for bed bugs before entering the house. These are nocturnal creatures that come out when people are ready to sleep," Mr Hussain said.

Although the UAE was officially declared free of malaria in 2007, mosquitos can still be a nuisance - especially when people who spend the summer abroad leave their homes and swimming pools unattended.

"If you have a swimming pool, empty it or have someone maintain it when you leave for a holiday, because mosquitos feed on blood and seek water afterwards, so it could be a breeding ground," Mr Hussain said.

Dinesh Ramachandran, technical director for National Pest Control in Dubai, said bed bugs were a global problem. He is in the UK researching a new product to combat the insects that he hopes to introduce to Dubai.

"The product is an alternative to using chemicals so it will be non-toxic and environmentally friendly," Mr Ramachandran said. "But we need commitment from clients otherwise treatment will not be successful."

Termites are also on the rise during summer but residents often realise only when it's too late, he said. "Termites hide in the soil and climb into wooden structures of buildings and can create a lot of damage. It's advisable to contact a pest-control company for inspection if one has not been carried out."

Hisham Abdulrahman al Yahya, head of the Pest Control Section, said they received about 30,000 pest complaints from Emiratis every year.

Officials divide the complaints they receive from expatriates among 95 specialised pest-control companies that they license and monitor.

In the first four months of this year there were 14,327 complaints, compared to 14,881 for the same period last year.

Mr al Yahya said public awareness was important. "This year we modified the complaint forms by adding advice on how to safeguard your home from pests and rodents, and how to keep your house clean."

He cautioned against employing any pest-control company not authorised by the municipality because some are believed still to be operating illegally in Dubai. They are not monitored and may use dangerous chemicals in your home.

"Residents can request a list of licensed companies from the municipality, and when a pest control technician arrives the client should ask for their municipality identification," he said.