Increase in midges at Bedok Reservoir due to hot and wet weather: PUB

Some businesses and residents say they have noticed an increase in midges, although intensity is lower than the swarms that plagued the area in 2012.
Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 9 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: The pesky insects that plagued residents and shop owners along Bedok Reservoir are back - a "localised increase in the presence of midges" that can be attributed to the hot and wet weather, said national water agency PUB in a statement to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jun 9).

Some residents Channel NewsAsia spoke with said they noticed an increase in the number of midges entering their homes in the last two weeks, although numbers are nowhere near the swarms seen in 2012.

A resident living in a HDB unit opposite Bedok Reservoir Park said: "Every morning when I walk into my balcony, I see a cluster of dead midges on the floor. It has become worse these last few days." A staff working at a nearby condominium told Channel NewsAsia that residents have been giving feedback about the growing population of the insects.

Some businesses have noticed the increased presence. Ms Saadiah, who works at the Mr Prata outlet at Block 746 Bedok Reservoir Road said the midges appear just before it rains.

She said: "When our lights are on, it gets worse. It's pretty scary, a whole 'family'... they would stick to the wall, get into the kitchen. It really affects our business. Last month, we had to close for about 15 minutes, cover all our food, turn off the lights, and clean the area." Owner of Burp Kitchen & Bar, Sarah Lim said her customers sitting outside initially thought they were mosquitoes. She said: "They thought the insects were mosquitoes. When we went to take a closer look just to make sure we were not breeding mosquitoes, we realised they were very small flies."

In its statement, PUB said it has received more than 10 "pieces of feedback" from residents. A spokesperson for the agency said: "As midges are small, light and weak fliers, they tend to concentrate in areas in the direction of the wind and the recent southward winds may have blown the midges to nearby residential estates." The agency said it has stepped up its control measures since May. It carries out daily fogging around the reservoir every morning and five times a week in the afternoon to control the adult midge population. It has also increased the application of a biological larvicide in reservoir waters to prevent the growth of the larvae into adults. PUB said other measures include planting shrubs to act as barriers, as well as installing spotlights at the reservoir pumping station to divert the insects from residential areas. It reiterated that while midges can pose a nuisance to park users and residents, they do not bite or spread diseases.

Following the surge in the midge population in 2012, PUB commissioned a study, together with National University of Singapore researchers, to help the agency understand the midge population and identify intervention measures.

Researchers identified the species as Tanytarsus oscillans, a minuscule green species that inhabits deep waters in the central part of the reservoir. Based on this information, PUB modified the applicator of the larvicide, so that the chemical can also be applied to the reservoir bed in the central part of the reservoir, when it would normally be applied along the banks.

- CNA/mo

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