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Urban Pest Control

By: Dhang, P.
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This guide brings together the varied and multiple skills and activities required of pest control practitioners, including biology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, sales, logistics, legal and accounting, presented with a primary emphasis on pest organisms at its core. This book provides information and tips on all of these aspects and: explores the business of controlling pests (including trends in the industry, pest control tools, and sustainable pest control); covers biological information on each pest in addition to information on control and management, monitoring and follow-up; focusses particularly on globally significant pests with internationally-applicable use and guidance; and provides practical and hands-on experience, drawing on original case studies. This is a key resource for pest control practitioners, as well as in-house staff of companies or buildings involved in household or urban pest control. It is also a valuable reference for researchers, and sanitation and building managers.

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14 Chapters

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1 Understanding the Business of Controlling Pests



Understanding the Business of Controlling Pests

1.1 Introduction

Urban pests are common all over the world. These include cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, bed bugs, ticks, fleas, ants, termites, rodents and a few more.

These pests thrive in dark, warm and moist conditions in structures, particularly in places where there is food, warmth and places to hide. Moreover, a number of human activities and habits such as living in homes with insufficient ventilation, creating clutter, poor lighting, temperature control, poor recycling of rubbish, improper composting methods, poor water storage and use of wood in construction attract pests. Also, community and public areas in cities such as parks, recreation centres, wastelands, rivers, canals, sewer drains, stormwater drains, dump sites, flea markets and recycling plants often serve as ideal breeding grounds and habitats for pests.

●● A city is never free of pests, and urban pests are among the prime sources of damage and many human illnesses and injuries.


2 Household Pests and Their Control – Cockroaches



Household Pests and Their

Control – Cockroaches

Cockroaches are the most common urban pests in structures across the world. Worldwide there are around 3500 species of cockroaches, of which only a few species prefer the constant temperature and moist conditions that humans maintain in their homes and working areas. These few species have attained pest status and need to be controlled.

●● Cockroaches are attracted to warm and humid places, they are capable of substrate manipulation, known for hygienic behaviour, food sharing, cannibalism, vibrational communication, kin recognition, trail following and care of the brood.

Cockroaches are associated with various public health problems due to their association with human waste and their ability to move between filthy areas into homes and commercial establishments. At least

22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoans, as well as five species of helminthic worms, have been isolated from field-­ collected American cockroaches. Cockroaches are also medically proven to be the cause of allergies in children and adults.


3 Household Pests and Their Control – Flies



Household Pests and Their

Control – Flies

Flies are pests with high public health significance.

They are also nuisance pests frequenting garbage, dead animals, decomposing organic matter and farm manure. Their larvae live and develop in organic material. Once emerged, adults fly out to nearby structures and move indoors through open doors and windows, attracted by food flavour, warmth and moisture.

●● Flies have a single pair of wings for flying; their hindwings are modified as halteres, which act as high-speed sensors for rotational movement and allow them to evade approaching objects.

A few notable species of pest flies are discussed in the following sections.


The egg hatches into a larva after between 6 and 12 h at 35°C. Larvae have three larval instars. The larvae are called ‘maggots’. The first instar larvae measure approximately 1–3 mm, the second instar 3–5 mm and third instar 5–12 mm in length. The larva has a cylindrical body and a conical anterior tapering and a rounded posterior, with no appendages. The larvae feed on all forms of decomposition products. The larvae try to escape light by burrowing into the food such as manure. The third instar larva is called the pre-pupa. They stop feeding, ready to pupate, and seek drier substrata. The period of development from egg to pupa depends on nutrition and temperature, with a minimum of 3–4 days at 35°C.


4 Household Pests and Their Control – Mosquitoes



Household Pests and Their

Control – Mosquitoes

4.1  Mosquitoes in General

A number of diseases are linked to mosquitoes and mosquito bites (Table 4.1). There are over 3000 species of mosquitoes, of which only a few feed on human blood. Control measures against mosquitoes are generally directed against these few species.

●● Mosquitoes remain distinct from other insects owing to their sucking mouth parts, blood sucking habit and females laying eggs in water.

Only female mosquitoes need a blood meal.

Mosquito species show a clear preference for certain animals, which could be reptiles, birds or mammals.

Humans have become a preferred host for a few species simply as an adaption and the ease of finding a blood meal. They are known to use body smell, carbon dioxide emitted from breath and emitted heat from the skin of the animal or human to locate the source. Some species prefer biting at certain hours, for example, at dusk and dawn or in the middle of the night; others may bite throughout the day.


5 Household Pests and Their Control – Bed Bugs



Household Pests and Their

Control – Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have emerged as an important pest in recent times, mostly in subtropical and temperate countries. They are commonly reported from both high-end and public low-income residence buildings, and such structures as hotels, resorts, hospitals, restaurants, stores and homes. There are two species of bed bugs that feed on humans. They are the common bed bug Cimex lectularius, which occurs in most parts of the world, and the tropical bed bug

Cimex hemipterus, which occurs mainly in tropical countries in Asia and Asia-Pacific. They cause severe nuisance when they occur in both small and large densities. Unlike most blood feeders, bed bugs are not important in the transmission of any disease.


Bed bugs have a very characteristic flat and ovalshaped body with no wings (Fig. 5.1). The average length can be between 4 and 7 mm. They are shiny reddish-brown in colour and sometimes may look dark brown. There are two common species of bed bugs, namely, C. hemipterus and C. lectularius, and the morphological differences between the two species are very subtle. The difference is a broader prothorax (a region behind the head) for C. lectularius compared to C. hemipterus. Also C. lectularius is shorter than C. hemipterus in general.


6 Household Pests and Their Control – Termites



Household Pests and Their

Control – Termites

Termites are cellulose (wood) feeding insects. They feed on all types of wood: processed wood, raw timber, products made of wood, paper, textiles, plant roots, litter, soil humus, etc. The termite is a tropical pest, and ranks on the top of the list of pests for practitioners in Asia, Asia-Pacific, parts of Africa, the USA and Australia.

Termites are generally categorized into the following types: subterranean, drywood and damp wood

(Table 6.1).

6.1  Subterranean Termite

Subterranean termites are a major pest of structures.

The pest enters a structure mainly through cracks in the foundation or floor slabs, through wall gaps or expansion joints. They also enter using utility pipes such as electrical and telephone conduits, water and drain pipes. These termites also find above-ground routes to enter a structure by forming mud tubes over walls, adjacent trees or fences.

●● Termites are social insects, living in a colony with a distinct caste system and they digest wood by processing it through use of symbiont or fungal garden.


7 Sporadic Pests and Their Control



Sporadic Pests and Their Control

7.1  Drywood Termite

Drywood termites are termites living in moistureless wood with no connection to the soil. They form nests in the structure or wood that they are infesting, such as door and window frames, furniture, etc.

They are characterized by the presence of pelletized droppings in the infested area (Figs 7.1 and 7.2).

Soldiers have mandibles with distinct teeth (Figs 7.3 and 7.4). Also, most drywood termite soldiers and workers are larger than the soldiers and workers in subterranean termite colonies.

Infestation from drywood termites usually begins via aerial routes. A mating pair can fly and colonize any suitable area with wooden structures, plants or trees. Decorative wooden hanging or rooftop gardens can also be preferred by this species for the establishment of a colony. This makes any portion of the house constructed with wood very vulnerable to attack.

Like other termite species, drywood termites are small and soft-bodied insects. The colony consists of the king and queen, the reproductive, the supplementary reproductive, the workers and the soldiers. Only the reproductive has wings. Drywood termite colonies are, however, very small compared to subterranean termite colonies.


8 Stored Product Pests



Stored Product Pests

Stored product insects comprise only two insect groups or orders. These insect orders are moths

(Lepidoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera). These are further classified as either:

●● Internal feeders: Internal feeders of stored products feed internally, causing damage in the grain kernel as grub or larvae. For example, grain weevils and grain borers.

●● External feeders: External feeders of stored products feed on grain that has been damaged or milled during processing. Damaged grain kernels have exposed endosperm that is accessible food for insects and fungi. For example, Indian meal moths.

Depending on the type of food processed and type of stored ingredients, the risk of internal or external feeders can easily be identified. For example, bakeries predominantly use milled flour and other milled ingredients; these face damage from external feeders. Breweries or snack food manufacturers that store whole grain or kernel ingredients mostly have a risk of internal feeders (Figs 8.1 and 8.2).


9 Vertebrate Pests and Their Control



Vertebrate Pests and Their Control

9.1  Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are possibly the most noteworthy pests to humans. Rodents eat and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. They live and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions, and are often found in and around homes, buildings, gardens, various manmade structures, farms, open fields and forests. Their ability to transport themselves with humans and human-driven activities has thus made them a cosmopolitan pest.

Control and management of rodents remains predominately a challenge with a need for continuous monitoring and intervention. Only rat-proofing through physical methods has proven to be longlasting. Other methods such as traps, baits and poisoning are labour-intensive, messy and, at times, dangerous. The need for alternative solutions is a priority for every manufacturer, researcher and pest controller.

Feeding and activity


10 Methodology in Pest Control – Insecticide Formulations



Methodology in Pest

Control – Insecticide Formulations

10.1  Pesticide Formulations and Application

Pesticides have dramatically changed human lives in allowing increased food production, lowering risks from vector-borne diseases and keeping a check on various nuisance pests. The need and demand for pesticides is bound to grow with rapid urbanization and increased human intolerance.

Urban pesticides can be divided into three main classes in general as follows:

●● Insecticides – chemicals used to kill insects.

●● Herbicides – chemicals sprayed to kill or control weeds.

●● Fungicides – chemicals used to kill or control fungus and moulds.

●● Rodenticides – chemicals used to kill rodents.

All pesticide formulations are a mixture of one or more active ingredients, a synergist (for some formulations) and non-active ingredients (sometimes referred to as inert). An active ingredient is a substance that prevents, kills or repels a pest. There are various categories of active ingredients as shown in Table 10.1.


11 Methodology in Pest Control – Insecticide Baits and Baiting



Methodology in Pest Control –

Insecticide Baits and Baiting

11.1  Baits and Methods of Baiting

Baits and baiting procedure have many advantages over conventional pesticide sprays. The advantages include minimal impact on humans who are living or working amid infestations

(Table 11.1).

11.2  Baiting Cockroaches

Baiting cockroaches using food-based baits is a proven strategy (Fig. 11.1). However, the work requires some degree of skill and training.

Cockroaches are not social insects and lack the recruitment behaviour shown by termites and ants.

Each cockroach makes its own decisions; this makes the task of baiting more challenging. The performance of a bait or baiting process thus depends on integration of knowledge of cockroach feeding preferences, patterns of movement, resting behaviour and the nature of the job site. In addition, the fact that German cockroaches, for example, are not attracted to bait over long distances makes bait performance dependent on proper placement of bait.


12 Shift to Integrated Pest Management (IPM)



Shift to Integrated Pest

Management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a methodology practised by pest control practitioners who employ human judgement in their work. The reason for the necessary shift to IPM from conventional pest control activity is that over-reliance on pesticides has led to repeated control failures. In addition it is felt that the use of pesticides is making pest control more and more difficult, as all forms of pesticide applications are coming under greater scrutiny by clients. The only solution to this growing concern is the adoption and advocacy of IPM as the primary approach to solve pest problems.

A planned incorporation of various control methods into a pest management programme is defined as

IPM. IPM goes well beyond regular and scheduled use of pesticides. It not only requires understanding of pest biology, ecology and behaviour, but also diverse knowledge on buildings and structures, functioning of the structure, the occupants’ life styles, landscaping work and types of intervention methods available. However, in spite of proven successes, practitioners have shown limited interest in adopting


13 Handling Pesticides



Handling Pesticides

Pesticides are toxic to humans, animals, birds and fish. However when handled carefully by trained practitioners as per label directions they do not present any hazard. Incorrect handling, such as accidental spillage on body parts, inhalation or consumption can pose harmful effects including fatality. Such cases should be immediately handled in consultation with the local poison centre or a physician.

The most common pesticide exposure is through inhalation, which is often overlooked. This happens when a pesticide bottle is opened, and the chemical is being poured, mixed and sprayed. Most newgeneration pesticides do not have a smell or are termed odourless, preventing their detection by nose.

Pesticide vapours from these odourless formulations are being inhaled without being detected. A complete face mask or a mask over the nose, mouth and eyes is always advisable when handling any type of pesticide.

13.1  Using a Pesticide

There are four important things a practitioner should do before handling pesticide.







Beetle, borer, mealworm larvae

Moth larvae




Flea larvae



Muscoid fly larvae



Weevil larvae

Fig. A1.1.  Simple identification key to common household pest larvae.

© CAB International, 2018. Urban Pest Control: A Practitioner’s Guide (P. Dhang)


American cockroach

German cockroach

Brown banded cockroach

Oriental cockroach

Australian cockroach

Fig. A1.2.  Simple identification key for cockroach droppings. The size of the droppings generally vary from 0.5-3.0 mm in length.


Table A1.1.  Toxicities of some commonly used active ingredients on the urban pest control market. The values

­indicated are for rats in mg/kg body weight.

Active ingredient

Major use category



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