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February 27, 2014

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Warm weather sparks termite invasion

THE recent warmer and more humid weather has led to the early arrival of termites in homes across the city, the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said yesterday.

Complaints of infestations of the “white ants” have been coming in since February 10, even though the pests don’t usually make an appearance until March or April, the bureau said.

The tiny insects thrive in wet and warm conditions, and homes that are not properly protected are at risk, it said.

The downtown area is likely to see termite infestations as it has more wooden houses, which the bugs love, Yin Haisheng, an expert with the Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Museum affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

Some residents have appealed for trees close to their homes to be felled to drive the insects out. But cutting down trees is not the solution, as termites prefer housing timber to wood in its natural form, officials said.

If people have a problem with termites, it’s important they seek professional help, the bureau said.

An exterminator surnamed Zhou who works for Shanghai Xufang Greenery said he has received a number of calls from anxious householders complaining of termite invasions.

Zhou said he expects to be very busy from next month.

“There’s a real lack of exterminators in the city these days,” Zhou said.

The problem is that although it’s a skilled job — simply locating a termite nest can take two to three years of detective work — it’s not well paid and the conditions are harsh, he said.

The average salary is between 2,000 yuan (US$322) to 3,000 yuan a month, he said.


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