There are at least 10 invasive termite species found in Malaysia. Some confine their attacks to wooden structures inside a building. Others only attacking plants and wooden structures in the exterior. But some might attack both the interior and exterior structures as well as outdoor trees and plants.
It is possible that more than one species attacking a house but they never cross each other paths. A good understanding of their behaviors are essential for effective control or eliminating the infesting colonies.
With the increase in awareness of pesticides harmfulness to human beings, newer and safer pest control methods have been developed to substitute the out-dated and harmful ones. One of these is Pest Baiting method.
The Pest Baiting method could, to some extent, related to the Kamikaze style of killing our target pest as it relies the pest itself to kill other members of the pest.
This is actually how it does.
The target pests are fed with poisoned foods (baits) that will not immediately kill them but instead allow times for them to bring the baits back to their nests and subsequently feed their nest mates.
This strategy is very effective when applies to social insects like termites and ants where members in a colony (family) are closely related and relying on workers to forage for food and feed others. It is also very effective against some pests like cockroaches that have cannibalism behaviour.
In order to succeed, firstly, the intended bait must be highly palatable (the target pest like to eat).
Secondly, the quantity of pesticide embedded in the bait must be very small so that it would not immediately kill the foraging pests otherwise it would defeat the purpose.
Thirdly, certain pest species might require subsequent baiting rounds to achieve a total control. Thus, progress monitoring is essential for a successful program.
Lastly, these baiting techniques normally require trained operators who have good knowledge in where to apply the bait, how soon a re-baiting round should be done, what species are not susceptible to the bait and so on.
The pest baiting method has in fact revolutionized the whole aspect of pest control which tremendously reduces the quantity of pesticides usage in household pest control.
As the saying goes “There are many ways to skin a cat”.
Similarly, there are many ways to kill household pests. Commercially in household pest control market, regardless what methods are being applied, pesticide is commonly used.
It is also interesting to note that almost all pesticides used in the household market are coming from the agricultural sector.
Whilst the use of pesticides in the agricultural sector is generally under tight control from many governing bodies, the use of pesticides in the household sector is generally more relax.
The household pest control market has also adapted a lot of pesticide application methods from the agricultural sector.
One of these methods are called “Blanket Spraying”, where pesticide solution is sprayed like laying down blankets on surfaces regardless the presence of pests. The whole idea is to kill everything on the surfaces and hopes that the spray residues will take care the rest.
It is undeniable that blanket spraying is the more suitable method when there are pest outbreaks. It is however an exaggeration when used in regular pest control rounds.
The advance of the society has made us more aware about the danger of overuse of pesticides in the household sector. This has led to the development of some safer application methods. One of these is the Target-focused pest baiting method.
Pest Baiting uses pesticide as usual but in very small quantity. It is applied on locations where a particular pest gathers, hides or forages and let the pest feeds on it.
Due to the minute quality of pesticide used, most pest baits would not kill the targeted pests immediately. This would allow pests to bring them back to their nest or hiding places and feed to others. By doing so, total control or elimination of the treated pests could be achieved.
The Target-focused method is not only cutting down the amount of pesticides used, it is a more effective method to control household pests.
Unlike the Blanket-spraying method, the Target-focused baiting method however needs trained operators!
Effective long-term control and management of a household pest require a strategy advocated by the famous Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, some 2,500 years ago.
According to Sun Tzu in his “Art of War”, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles (知彼知己，百战不殆)”.
What he said is very true.
In the context of pest control and management, if one does not have full knowledge of a pest, it cannot be effectively controlled even one has excellent control methods.
Take the American cockroaches for example. They are nocturnal pests where you don’t see them in the daytime but very active at night. In the daytime, they are normally hiding in cool and secluded places like inside manholes, septic tanks or behind and under kitchen appliances (know your enemy).
So, for good control of America cockroaches, it is almost pointless to apply control measures in places other than their hiding places (know yourself).
Termites and ants are social insects. They rely workers to forage for foods for the survival of their close-knit families or colonies. What you see them crawling around on the surface is normally only a small portion of their families (know your enemy).
Tackling those crawling on the surface as well as those unseen members of the families, including the egg-laying queens would definitely give better long-term and effective control if not total elimination of the families (know yourself).
The main advantage of this strategy is a more target-focused product or measure could be deployed that very much reduce the over-relying and extensive use of chemicals for pest control.
Pests (foes) by our definition are organisms that are harmful to us or can cause damages to our properties. This also includes those that annoy us.
Beneficials (friends), on the other hand, are organisms that give benefits to us for example assisting pollination of plants, killing pests and so on.
By looking at the definitions above, we think that it is a straightforward matter. However in actual situation, it is not. Pests and Beneficials are sometimes separated by a thin shear layer.
These are few examples.
Termites are helping to decay organic materials in the forest (friend) but when we convert the forest to become residential or commercial areas, they become pests.
Honey bees produce honey and pollinate flowers (friend), but their sting could be deadly to humans (foe). So, when you are consuming honey or fruits, they are beneficial. However, if they build their nests in your compound, they are pests.
King Cobra was introduced by the British to control rats in the plantations (friend). With many of plantations have already been turned into housing estates, you probably would not want to see them on your door steps (foe).
From these examples, it is clearly shown that definitions are always made to our convenience.
By the way, if we do not like some human beings, for example some leaders or politicians, we also consider them as pests!