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June 13, 2011

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Pesticide-resistant termites on march

SWARMS of termites resistant to normal pesticides swept across downtown yesterday, bringing misery to householders and businesses.

As young queen and king termites took to the wing in areas such as Jing'an, Hongkou and Xuhui districts to found new colonies, experts warned that the city faces more appearances of the wood-eating insects during the plum rain season.

"I was startled to see so many termites flying into my face in a supermarket on Zhenning Road," 27-year-old Jing'an resident Kevin Zhou said yesterday evening.

"But when I came out, there were thousands of them flying and crawling under every light and neon sign along the street."

Zhou said desperate supermarket workers used brooms to repel the insect invaders - also known as white ants - but to little effect.

Meanwhile, Alex Dong, a 31-year-old from Hongkou District, told Shanghai Daily that she had been terrified to see hundreds of termites marching into her room in an old building on Yulin Road.

"My father sprayed water on them but that didn't seem to work," she said.

Dong said she feared the damage the termites could cause to her home. "I don't know whether these ugly insects will tear down the old building."

An official with Shanghai Termite Control Center said the swarming, which began last Friday, was the first wave of termites this year.

He said on Friday termites were reported in most districts following heavy rain, and warned they might be back as the plum rain is expected to return tomorrow.

"I've visited more than 10 families today to kill the insects," said a termite control worker surnamed Zhang with Xufang Greenery Co. "They thrive in damp weather."

Zhang said more termites were seen in high-rises this year, which was unusual as they usually favor old wooden buildings.

Another termite control worker surnamed Liu with Zhongxin Environment Protection Co advised residents not to spray normal pesticides on the insects.

They have become immune to these and spraying them would only drive them into nooks and crannies where they would produce more offspring, he said.

Short of calling in the professionals, Liu suggested residents who suffer from termites turn off all the lights at home, leaving only a flashlight next to a bowl of water.

"Ideally, the termites will be attracted by the light, crawl into the water and drown," said Liu.


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