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.
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Fortunately, modern houses in Thailand, unlike outdated traditional houses, are built mainly from cement, which is not food for anything.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.
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 were the biggest pest in North America thru my history, but are in surprisingly very low population in Thailand homes I've lived in and visited, 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 I've heard is because geckos (see below) prey upon small roaches, and geckos are ubiquitous in Thailand. However, I haven't see any scientific study on it.
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. Countless times, I've come across that, including in highrise buildings.
In houses, ants tend to smartly restrict their territory to the kitchen and dining room in my home, and I generally don't see them in my other rooms where food doesn't lay around. However, it's important to be diligent in not letting anything edible sit around somewhere, because some ranger ant may find it and direct a herd.
In other peoples' places, especially untidy people, I've seen huge columns of ants. Some Thai people just seem to live with large numbers of ants as if it's normal. I've been able to keep my ant population way down, usually to just some scouts in the kitchen, not marching columns, by good basic habits of cleaning up after food preparation and meals, keeping food in containers where ants cannot reach them, and using a trash can with a lid, the sort you open by a foot pedal, and without needing to be obsessive with cleanliness.
Keep in mind that scattered crumbs are very big objects relative to the size of an ant, and little droplets and splattering of things can be sizeable refreshments for a group of ants. During dry times, I've even seen ants collecting water (which I call "tanker" ants).
I don't consider most kinds of ants to be much of a pest. I respect most kinds of ants because they seem to be interesting and well organized beings who don't cause trouble and don't leave detectable excrement. If their population density gets too high, then we just get more diligent in staying clean and they eventually migrate elsewhere. It's been amazing the variety of ants which have scouted or checked in and out of my home over time.
There are some kinds of ant that you should be warned about, which bite, and they can be painful bites which can cause a small sore which lasts awhile. The worst kind is a tiny red ant which is hyperactive, always running very fast, and they swarm. Those bite people, and the troublemakers should be exterminated. Be careful with your children, too, because the bites are painful, albeit fairly harmless. Some other kinds of red ants also bite occasionally, though not very often. Many Thai people know the biters and may warn you if they see them.
Black ants generally do not bite and are generally much more mellow in their paces. I'm much more tolerant of the black ants.
Indeed, if there are red ants around of the kind which I don't like, I have fed the black ants and let them establish legitimate state borders on the ant planet around my kitchen because that keeps out the red ants. The black ants are easy to regulate to prevent overpopulation. They apparently just don't breed or relocate en masse as quickly as some of the red ant invasions I've experienced. They also appear more relaxed and thoughtful in their demeanors, with a slower tempo of movement and more deliberate path, the kind of being I like. Therefore, I subsidize their state of existence and am friendly towards them. These are not the big black carpenter ants, and it's good to make sure they aren't damaging wood. (And yes, some people thought I was a bit crazy, feeding the medium sized black ants in my kitchen, but that's okay, and I just explained that they keep out the biting red ants.) I am careful to feed them something nutritious, and have found them manageable. (However, I haven't tried to communicate with them like some alien... unlike some mammals.)
Most homes in Thailand are made of cement, so I'm not too worried about wood damage, and actually I haven't noticed it with ants. However, you should keep an eye out if you have some wood or other items to be concerned about.
My main concern is tiny ants getting my computers and being a "bug" which may cause damage. So far, I've been able to prevent this, though some do stray near or into this prohibited territory where they must be removed.
Ants tend to be clean, very efficient, and well organized as a group, unlike a lot of other pests.
There are a great variety of ants in Thailand. Most I've seen are red or partly red. Actually, there are some sizeable reddish ants I don't mind having around because they've never bitten me or any of my family, and haven't caused trouble, so I don't want to overgeneralize about red vs. black.
If you are curious about ants on this planet, then a good place to start is the AntWiki. More specifically as regards Thailand, there is a systematic review of the classification tree of known kinds of ants in Thailand by some Thai and Japanese researchers, with 10 families split into 109 genera and 529 species, at the time I edited this section in 2021.
When I was a kid, there were transparent ant houses for sale, and you could order ants by postal mail and then observe the lives of ants, like a mini ant zoo in your room. I haven't seen that in Thailand, maybe since many homes are already ant zoos. Or maybe kids have just switched to the internet to observe that part of life on Earth.
Once, on a trip upcountry, I parked my car in a rural location under a tree and on top of some greenery, not near any house, for many hours during the daytime. When driving home, I noticed medium size black ants had started exploring the car, who were fairly distinctive, with long legs. Upon unpacking my car many highway hours later, I could easily see there were over a hundred of them visible inside the car, so they had apparently started a new nest in my car. Within days of my returning home, they were in the kitchen of my house in large number. The light population of reddish ants which had previously been surveying my kitchen started going away. The black ants quickly adapted from the natural, rural countryside to a cement city home. What I found most amazing is that they would have needed to walk up my tyre and along the car parts in such large numbers and in such a short period of time, rather than choose another place to go.
Mammalian pests are rare inside modern homes, but there are mice in some homes. On the street near restaurants and where lots of trash with food regularly piles up, it's a different matter, where the rats can get very big, too big for even hungry housecats.
If mice 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. 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. Neighbors also may get angry if you let them out near their house.
The nuisances of mice are their excrement, they can be noisy, and they can cause significant damage.
A main risk of mice is that they attract snakes. You can read my experience on that in my section on snakes.
If you like to have a cat (I don't), then keeping a cat will pretty much assure you that the house mice will not intrude, as they will smell the cat. Those which don't smell the cat may not live for long. When I was a university student, I lived in a house near restaurants, and my cat caught many mice in the house. However, cats are dependent on people and a responsibility, of course, plus they have their own excrement to manage, and left over fur.
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.
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.
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.
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. Snakes don't like homes because they are dry. Snakes like moist places.
I had this experience once, in a previous home many years ago. I lived for awhile in a Thai townhouse with a restaurant and food takeaway service on our row, 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, which apparently found a way back in but couldn't get back out.
If you find a snake, then call the security guard. The crew often has at least one guard skilled at catching snakes.
If you can do so safely, take a photo of the snake and search for it on Google to see what kind it is. Most often, I have been 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 relatives 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.
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.
Discussed in the Health section are various dangers and ailments, which are mainly outside-the-home life concerns.
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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