While many pests do not flourish in Dubai because of its climate, there are still serious pest infestation problems particularly in the older homes.
Our usual reaction to pests in the home (after shrieking a few times) is to watch and understand how bad the infestation is. Most of us try to contain the problem with home remedies at first, but once it becomes clear the little troublemakers won’t disappear so easily, we decide to call in the professionals.
Calling in the professionals is also fraught with its own risk. Before we do so, there are a few things we need to understand about the very nature of pest control, and also about the approach to it here in the UAE.
1. Good pest control companies carry certifications: The UAE has strict rules governing pest control. But that does not prevent fly-by-night operators from offering very low costs and getting business from unsuspecting customers. Each Emirate municipality has to approve the company in its Emirate. For instance, a pest control company in Dubai must have a permit from Dubai Municipality. This will mean that its workers are licensed and that the company is using approved pesticides. The final call on what pesticides are permitted to be used in UAE rests with the country’s Ministry of Environment and Water.
2. You must inform the company if there are babies, pregnant women or pets at home: Generally, pesticides are applied at quantities small enough to be safe for humans and pets. However, they do have odours that pregnant or young noses may be sensitive to, so do be cautious. Ask your pest control company if they use phosphates as these are considered harmful to the unborn child and the mother. If you can defer pest control treatments, do so, but if you cannot reschedule, make sure the company uses less toxic products, and try to keep pets, children and pregnant women away.
3. There are approved drugs: Many pesticides are banned in the UAE. Permitted pesticides are constantly reviewed as and when the technology changes. In the past, there have been cases of pesticide poisoning due to unregulated use of pesticides by unapproved companies, forcing the authorities to take a stand.
4. Different pests need different treatments: When you call a pest control company, they usually ask you what kind of infestation you have. According to this report, bedbugs are very common in Dubai, as are cockroach and even termites. Other pests include ants, silverfish and mice. Treatments for different pests vary. Cockroaches and ants can be removed at one go, but you’ll need a different approaches for rats, termites, bed bugs and outdoor pests. Make sure you ask the company representative about their treatment methods for whatever infestation you have.
5. Dead pests may appear for a few days after a treatment: While the treatment itself will take a couple of hours at most, don’t be alarmed if you see a cockroach belly-up or dead rats around the house for a few days. The number will diminish and you ought not to see any more dead pests by the end of the first week. This is just a sign of the pesticide doing its job. However do check with the company how long you can reasonably expect it to continue.
6. Integrated pest management is the way forward: Integrated pest management is the method in which pests are controlled by more than just extermination. While more common in agricultural settings, it has been gaining popularity in homes and gardens too. IPM first identifies what levels of pest are acceptable, how harmful they are, what methods can be used to contain the pests, and what are the least toxic methods of removal. It lays emphasis on understanding pest behaviour and reducing environmental damage.