Annual termite wrath descends upon Shanghai
A wave of termite infestations is here as the current humid and sultry weather provides a perfect catalyst for their proliferation, exterminators warn.
They appear on streets and in residents' homes, scaring many.
"The nightmare is back again," said a local resident surnamed Xiong who lives in an old house in the downtown Jing'an Temple area.
"Dozens of the bugs appeared in my home one recent night, and it was a real battle," she said. "I was alone at home and desperately used a mosquito swatter to drive them away. The sound is like setting off a firecracker."
"They are disgusting and I used paper to fill in the window gaps to prevent more from flying into my home, but they wriggled and tried to get in again," she added. "I was almost scared to cry. It really is a terrible experience."
Moller Villa, a famous historical building in Shanghai, is attacked by termites every year.
"Termites often appear from March to June, relent in July and August and come back again in September," said Zhang Lei, who's in charge of the quality department at Moller Villa. "But this year they didn't appear until mid-May, because we learned from previous years and did some protection work in advance."
Built in 1936, Moller Villa is a colonial-era mansion full of wooden structures that is now a hotel run by the Hengshan Group.
"We check for traces of termites and examine their nest four times a month on average, more frequently during the rainy season," Zhang said. "We need to kill them as soon as they appear to avoid permanent damage."
"Termites like to fly out at night, and you can see a large number of them flying around lights," he added.
Song Weibin, an exterminator at Shanghai Hygiene Pest Control Company who's in charge of termite prevention at Moller Villa, said the recent termite problem in Shanghai is more serious than in previous years.
Song checked the hotel's wooden structures for termite damage by knocking on the boards and pillars.
"Termites are more concentrated on sidewalk trees this year," he said. "We usually use powdered chemicals to contaminate termites, which they bring back to the nest, infect other termites and all of them die."
Street trees have become the hardest-hit area this year for termites to erode and build nests.
There have been many reports of suspected termite nests on sidewalk trees and the greenbelts of public areas that affect nearby residential complexes.
Termite infestations in some protected historical areas and buildings in the city have become the focus of reflection, according to the report.
One historical building on Huashan Road in Jing'an District has been invaded by termites. A nest of termites was discovered in the corner of the building's stairs.
Xufang Greenery and Termite Control Center told Chinese newspaper Jiefang Daily the areas with old buildings that have brick-and-wood structures are more likely to attract termites to build nests and breed.
The Shanghai Greenery Management Station said it's spraying for termites on roadside trees, experimenting with chemicals and other agents to control them and using technology to track their nests.
Old wooden houses are the favorite haunt of the creatures, and Yongjia Road, Jianguo Road and Huaihai Road M., home to large numbers of old wooden structures, are some of the worst-hit areas, according to the greenery management station.
"The extreme peak is due around the plum rain season (a period known for damp, sultry weather in June and July), as termites favor a humid environment," said Zhu Chungang of the Shanghai Greenery Management Station. "They're most active between 7pm and 9pm and are attracted by light."
Precautions are recommended for old houses that are particularly vulnerable, Zhu said.
"The bugs also lead to the death of trees, which are hollow inside due to the insects and may fall in windy weather, harming people's safety," he said. "They make nests in big trees and thrive on the wood."
The greenery management station said it will soon conduct a citywide investigation on the harm caused by the insects among residents and work out corresponding solutions.
The city's property management authorities have released a list of 54 professional termite prevention and control agencies that residents can turn to for help.
Termites prefer humid, warm and quiet places, and the best way to avoid an infestation is to keep windows closed, experts said.
Barrier strips can be installed on the cracks of doors and walls, and wood and packaging brought from outside should be checked closely.
People should not move or destroy termite nests themselves, but instead should ask professional agencies for help.