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Pests, Termites, Ants, Others

Humans like to keep other species out of their homes (except pets), but control of any environment in our biosphere is a challenge.

Termites

Sometimes, the home itself is food, such as for termites. As Thailand is a lush tropical country, termites have lots of dead trees and things to eat, and if there were a termite census of the world, Thailand would be one of the countries with a high population density of termites.

Fortunately, modern houses in Thailand, unlike outdated traditional houses, are built mainly from cement, which is not food for anything. (Thailand is unusually well endowed with cheap sources of the basic ingredients of cement, but not so well endowed with competitive sources of iron, which is why you see cement highrises in Thailand instead of steel ones as in other countries.) Even if the termites eat all your doors, decor, and facades, you won't be eaten out of house and home. (Well, maybe home but not house.)

Actually, it's not that bad. I have seen termites countless times, but another dose of pest control poison into the localized environment normally gets rid of them. It's just a renovation cost to the landlord. However, it's not a good idea to locate boxes of vital documents in a vulnerable remote location.

If you see the telltale sawdust-looking trail, or if a stair doesn't feel just right, then you might want to investigate further.

Centipedes

There are centipede-like creatures which get into homes. Kill them. There is a very poisonous centipede-like insect here. Further, it stupidly bites people, so don't take a chance. While they are fascinating, they aren't worth the risk.

Roaches

Roaches were the biggest pest in North America thru my history, but are in surprisingly low population in Thailand despite the abundance of food and other edible things all over. I don't know why, maybe predators eat them, or maybe something microscopic in the environment knocks them off. However, there are roaches here and they tend to be the very large ones. As I don't like killing things, I've tolerated a few guests in my clean house as they didn't multiply, pretty much tried to keep out of sight, and I haven't seen nor smelled roach droppings like in North America.

One of the reasons is because geckos (see below) prey upon roaches and are ubiquitous in Thailand.

Ants

These are the most ubiquitous insects in houses in Thailand, the opposite of North America where ant populations generally stayed outdoors.

Ants are not just in houses but in office buildings, too, near the pantry and the desks of messy employees who like to eat food at their table or leave poorly wrapped candies and things on their desks.

In houses, ants smartly restrict their territory to kitchens and dining rooms, and I generally don't see them in other rooms where food doesn't lay around.

The most common are little red ants, of which there are many kinds. Most look fairly normal, but there is one tiny kind which is hyperactive, always running very fast. Those bite people, and the troublemakers should be exterminated. Be careful with your children, too, because the bites are painful, albeit fairly harmless. The other red ants which march to mainstream ant tunes also bite occasionally.

Black ants generally do not bite and are much more mellow in their paces.

Rodents

Mammalian pests are very rare in modern homes. If they do show up, do be aware that you can buy cheap cage mousetraps in hardware stores. I've caught them in offices and Thai homes, especially near food courts where there's a lot of trash out nightly. If you let them out in the wild like I do, then drive a long distance because if you set them out locally, they have been known to just run back to the house! Mice seem to have a better sense of direction than some people I've known.

The main risk of mice is that they attract snakes.

Keeping a cat will pretty much assure you that the mice will not intrude, as they will smell the cat.

A mousetrap or a cat is preferable over a snake.

Mosquitoes

These bad girls are out to get you. You are their food, not anything else in the house, essentially. Actually, mosquitoes do eat fruits and other things, as you can see, but females bite because they need the proteins in your blood for their offspring. The females smell people and other animals, and that leads them inside the house, so the population inside homes tends to be biased by females. This is discussed in the section on mosquitoes in the Health section, so I won't repeat it here, just drop a bookmark.

Geckos

In the reptilian category, geckos are little lizard like creatures which commonly get inside homes. Their amazing feat is that their feet allow them to walk on walls as well as upside down on ceilings, and they like to hang out near lights where they eat bugs attracted to the lights. They are popularly tolerated by foreigners.

They would be welcome decor except for two problems. First, their mating calls are loud and wake me up if they are inside the house. Most geckos are quiet but occasionally a boisterous male will check in. Secondly, they don't go to the toilet to drop their turds, and that's what you see around gecko friendly houses.

However, a benefit of geckos is that they eat roaches and some other pests. So for every turd you see, that may be just condensed dead pests.

Spiders

An occasional spider gets in. I've never known anybody to report a spider bite in Thailand, so I let them set up business inside, hoping they may profit off a mosquito here or there. If I kill a mosquito then I will toss it into their web to subsidize their business.

Other things

Discussed in the Health section are things like snakes, rabies, etc., including under other ailments there. These are not so much in the category of home pests as in the category of outside-the-home life concerns. However, occasionally a snake is found inside a home.

Most garden snakes I've seen were harmless, but you need to watch out for the green tree viper and cobras.

Shoes outside should be checked for snakes inside, as shoes make good homes for small snakes. This is well known to happen occasionally, and happened at my house once (up against a nature area). Pick up the shoe and bang it once against the wall or ground. This will also empty it of anything else inside such as frogs. It's a good idea to stuff a sock into a shoe outside so that nothing can crawl in (and maybe leave their smell inside).

Snakes inside a modern home are rare, but do happen occasionally.

I had this experience once, in a previous home many years ago. I lived for awhile in a Thai townhouse with a restaurant nearby, and had mice in my ceiling, as I found out that any animals could go from unit to unit above the ceilings of the top floor. My end unit was up against nature with a tree scratching up against the roof, too. What developed was a snake-and-mouse game. After weeks of irritating squeak squeak and walking above my bedroom ceiling, just as I was planning to put mouse traps up there, I heard an occasional thud followed by either a brief mouse screech or silence. Then silence for a few days. Then squeak squeak and walking started again, followed by another thud and silence. Quite some time later, the mice stopped their repeat visits, and a few weeks after that came a stench, which turned out to be a big dead snake in my ceiling. Maybe he couldn't find a way back out. We couldn't figure out how he got in, except by the tree and vent, but the snake apparently forgot how he got in and couldn't figure out a way our, so natural selection took its course.

I've also had a few real estate customers who have found a snake in their home.

If you find a snake, then call the security guard. The crew often has at least one guard skilled at catching snakes.

Take a good photo of the snake and search for it on Google to see what kind it is. Usually, you will be relieved to find it's nonpoisonous or very mildly so to humans, but if it does turn out to be poisonous then it may be good to be on the watch out for its family and associates.

The Fear Factor

Most other species are more scared of humans than we are of them. When they see us, they cut and run for their lives. Humans are hazards to practically all other life, making other life look comparatively much less hazardous to humans.

Chemical Poisons

Whether or not to employ a chemical poison depends upon the pest. For termites, there are few options. For things like roaches and red ants, do not breathe that spray, and it may be overkill. This kind of thing is best addressed on a case by case basis.


If you or one of your friends or associates are looking for a house, condo, or apartment, please see my real estate business, because that is what I mostly survive on myself, in the local business ecosystem.




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