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June 12, 2014

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Exterminators in demand across the city as termites fly in

WITH June now upon us and the weather set to get increasingly humid, people across the city are gearing up for the annual termite invasion.

“The timing of the insects’ arrival is dictated by their reproductive cycle,” said an exterminator surnamed Tu, who works for Zhangzhai Property Management in Jing’an District.

“Once they’ve grown their wings, they’re ready to fly,” he said.

Another exterminator said he has received lots of calls from people worried about the growing numbers of the insects.

“Our busy time has definitely arrived,” the man surnamed Zhou, who works for Shanghai Xufang Greenery Co in Xuhui District, told Shanghai Daily.

The termites began appearing in late May and will stay around until the end of June, he said.

“Exterminators in Xuhui are among the busiest in Shanghai because there are lots of wooden houses there,” Zhou said.

He said that during the busy period he doesn’t even try to keep count of the number of homes he visits.

“All I know is that we often miss lunch,” he said.

Tu said that since the start of the month he and his colleagues have been handling between 20 and 30 cases a day.

He said he has received a lot of calls from people complaining about white ants — as termites are also called — flying into their homes from nearby trees.

Ginkgo, dawn redwood and plane trees are the bugs’ favorites, he said.

The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said that while termites have been spotted on the city’s trees, the amount is not unusually high.

While the number of unwanted insects might not be alarming, people should be worried about the demise of the exterminator, as the tradesmen are a dying breed.

Tu said that he and three of his colleagues are all in their 60s but can’t retire because there is no one to replace them.

“Very few youngsters are willing to do the job because the pay is low and the working conditions are harsh,” he said.

To help resolve the issue, the Shanghai Entomological Museum, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been working on a new termite poison. The powder does not kill the insects immediately but is designed to be carried back to their nests.

“Termites’ reproductive capacity is very strong, so the goal of the powder is to destroy their nests,” said Yin Haisheng, the museum’s director.

Trials of the new powder are now under way in residential properties, he said.

“The number of termites has been growing year on year, but the peak will come with the plum rain season,” Yin said.

Anyone who discovers a nest should not try to move or destroy it, but rather seek professional help by calling the 962121 government hotline.


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