Pest control is important for residential homes and commercial spaces in Singapore. Pest populations when unchecked or unmonitored endanger the health and safety of the people affected by potentially spreading diseases, damaging property, and disrupting business operations.
But with traditional chemical pesticides being used to control infestations, it can be toxic and harmful to human health and also to the environment. We need safer, more eco-friendly methods of managing common household pests and occasional invaders in our properties.
Issues with Traditional Chemical Pest Control Methods
Chemical pesticides have been the go-to solution for managing pests for decades, but these traditional methods come with the following downsides.
Toxicity to Humans and Pets
Many common pesticide ingredients like organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids are associated with acute and chronic health effects in humans. Symptoms and illnesses linked to pesticide exposure range from headaches, nausea, and rashes in the short-term to increased cancer risks, reproductive damage, and neurological effects with long-term exposure.
Children are especially vulnerable. Pesticide residues can also be harmful to pets and other non-target animals.
Studies have detected pesticide residues far from the site of application, indicating they can move through air, water, and soil to contaminate broader ecosystems. This includes contamination of groundwater and marine environments. Chemical pesticides have been implicated in pollinator decline and loss of biodiversity.
Repeated use of certain synthetic insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides often results in pests evolving resistance. It reduces the efficacy of treatments over time. Resistant bed bugs, roaches, and other pests render chemical pesticides ineffective.
Many broad-spectrum chemical pesticides are non-selective and do not differentiate between harmful pests and beneficial species like bees, butterflies, and spiders. An unfortunate result would be disruption of natural biocontrol and worse infestations.
Strict Regulatory Measures
Governmental organisations like EPA, EU, and WHO have banned or restricted high-risk pesticides. However, some pesticides banned in other countries are still used in Singapore but carefully regulated. Because of the growing calls to limit high-hazard pesticides, hazardous chemicals are continuously being strictly regulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
When doing chemical applications, home occupants and employees are required to vacate the treated buildings for quite some time. It is disruptive and reduces your access to your home, school, offices, and other treated facilities or properties after spraying.
Benefits of Eco-friendly Pest Control
Eco-friendly pest control has numerous advantages over conventional chemical methods.
- Safer for People, Pets, and the Environment
Green pest control products derived from plants, microbes, and minerals have low toxicity for humans. Techniques like physical traps get rid of pests without leaving behind toxic residues. The result is a safer home and work environment for occupants and employees. Eco-friendly methods also reduce risks of contamination for sensitive ecosystems.
- Prevent Pest Resistance
Botanical pesticides, microbials, and biological controls utilise a diverse array of active ingredients and attack pests in different ways, so it is guaranteed that pest resistance is prevented. These varied modes of action keep pests vulnerable.
- Protect Biodiversity
Narrow spectrum botanical insecticides, microbials, and biologicals target specific pests and spare many beneficial species like native bees and butterflies that are important to the natural ecosystem.
- Often just as Effective
Studies show that properly implemented eco-friendly pest control can control populations just as well as synthetic pesticides. A combo of strategies may do the trick. For instance, rotational use of botanicals, careful sanitation, and physical control can manage infestations without chemicals.
- Targeted Solutions Available
Pest control methods like pheromones and lures control pests by altering their mating and feeding behaviours. As a result, there are no adverse effects on kids, pets, and other insects. This approach avoids broad harm to the environment.
- Enables Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
An IPM plan using low-risk biological, physical, and least-toxic products is ideal for long-term sustainable pest control. Eco-friendly options make this plan achievable.
Eco-friendly Methods and Products
There are many effective eco-friendly pest control techniques and products that are available in the market:
- Traps – humane traps and glue boards physically capture pests like rodents, cockroaches, and flies without using toxic chemicals.
- Barriers – metal mesh, sand barriers, and sealants block termite and ant entry points into structures.
- Vacuuming – directly removing pests like fleas, bed bugs, and spiders with vacuums.
- Predators – ladybugs, green lacewings, and other natural predators feed on plant pests.
- Parasites – miniature wasps can be introduced to parasitise and kill pest insects.
- Pathogens – bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that kills caterpillars when ingested but is safe for humans.
- Pyrethrum – derived from chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethrum insecticide has low toxicity.
- Neem oil – pressing neem seeds produces an oil-based insecticide that attacks many pest life stages.
- Bt – different strains control mosquitos, fungus gnats, caterpillars, and beetles.
- Spinosad – produced by a soil microbe, spinosad attacks insects through ingestion and contact.
Pheromones and Lures
- Sex pheromones confuse the mating behaviours of pests like moths.
- Food lures attract pests to traps and contained bait stations.
The sharp silica particles in this powder dehydrate soft-bodied pests like bed bugs upon contact.
Oils from cloves, thyme, and other plants deter pests with their strong aromas.
Potassium salts of fatty acids disrupt insect membranes and control soft plan pests like aphids.
Horticultural oils smother eggs and suffocate soft-bodied pests. Canola oil bait traps ants and cockroaches.
Autocidal gravid traps attract and kill pregnant mosquitoes, thereby stopping reproduction.
Examples of Eco-friendly Pest Control in Action
Environmentally friendly methods can be implemented in various ways to manage/control common pests.
Termites are controlled through bait systems containing slow-acting toxins that spread through their colonies and non-toxic physical barriers. Borate-treated wood applied during construction repels termites. Durable stainless steel mesh installed around foundation walls and slabs block termite entry. Orange oil and botanical treatments also deter termites.
Both larval and adult mosquito stages are targeted. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is applied to breeding waters like fountains and drains to kill larvae. Traps containing pheromone lures attract and capture adult mosquitoes. Bug zappers also provide non-chemical control of adult mosquitoes.
Bed Bug Control
Bed bug infestations are eliminated through heat treatments where portable heaters raise room temperatures high enough to kill all life stages. Desiccant dusts like diatomaceous earth, silica aerogel, and fossil shell flour applied into wall voids and around bed frames dehydrate and kill bed bugs upon contact while offering residual activity.
Outdoor ant nests can be flooded with boiling water. Indoors, ant baits containing slow-acting growth regulators, essential oils, and boric acid offer control. Perimeter insecticide sprays around foundations are limited to products containing natural pyrethrins derived from chrysanthemum flowers and have low toxicity.
Boric acid powder, diatomaceous earth dust, and silica gel function as long-lasting stomach poisons when roaches groom the particles off their bodies and digest them. Botanical insecticides like pyrethrin aerosol sprays provide quick knockdown of roaches. Gentler baits contain hydrated silica gel and/or essential oils that kill cockroaches more slowly.
Non-toxic fly traps draw in flies with pheromone lures, ultraviolet light, and bait. Sticky boards then capture flies once inside the traps. Parasitic wasps and flies are natural fly predators that can be purchased and released. Baits and pheromone traps control breeding by killing fly larvae and interrupting fly reproduction.
Rodent exclusion through sealing up entry points is the first priority. Snap traps then provide mechanical control without chemicals. Electronic traps administer a lethal shock and humanely kill mice and rats. Peppermint oil, white pepper, and capsaicin (chilli extract) repel rodents and encourage avoidance as natural deterrents.
Choosing an Eco-friendly Pest Control Company
It is crucial to partner with a pest control professional who embraces eco-friendly integrated pest management. Look for the following signs of a good green pest control company.
- Licences and certifications – They should have all state pesticide applicator licence and participate in certification programs to validate their eco-friendly practices.
- Experienced – Prefer companies with 5+ years specifically providing non-toxic pest control services. This experience translates into effective solutions.
- Knowledge – Well-educated on pest biology and habits, latest exclusion methods, and safest botanical treatments and microbial pesticides. All these are traits of an eco-friendly pest control company that brings quality pest management skills and advises comprehensive plans for your property.
- A wide range of services – Offer well-rounded IPM programs by including exclusion, traps, pest proofing, and other non-chemical approaches for all types of pests. Meaning, the implemented program is not reliant on spraying.
- Prevention focus – Inspect for pest-friendly conditions, make recommendations to pest-proof properties, and take preventative measures to avoid infestations.
Questions to Ask Prospects
- What eco-friendly methods and products do you use? Do you follow integrated pest management?
- How do you help prevent pest problems from developing in the first place?
- What training do your technicians receive on non-toxic treatments?
- Can you provide safety data sheets for all products?
Get multiple bids and compare. Cost should not be the only consideration. Select the company with the safest solutions that also meets your budget.
If you want a safe and sustainable pest solution for your property, you will never go wrong with eco-friendly pest control methods. When you are already selecting pest control services in Singapore, it is important to vet providers thoroughly and opt for a company that is committed to the Singapore Green Plan.
Partnering with a trusted, eco-conscious pest control provider like Avalon Services enables effective pest prevention and control without extensive use of hazardous chemical pesticides.