Hot and humid air, food leftovers on the streets, construction works that open up underground systems – all of these reasons can make it look like the number of pests is increasing. We ask Joanie Mifsud, Director at Comtec Pest Control, about how to control these unwanted companions in our homes.

Eve: Are pests seasonal? Is seasonality important in Malta in terms of dealing with pests?

Joanie Mifsud: Yes they are – specifically, in the hot summer months we have invasions of American cockroaches. Some ways to prevent an infestation is trying and blocking all entry points by fixing of bristle brushes underneath doors, keeping drains closed at night, fitting windows with nets, and not leaving uncovered food overnight.

Eve: Are these the most common pests in Maltese properties, be it industrial or residential?

JM: Most common at this time of year are indeed cockroaches, especially the American variety, and also ants. However, in recent years we have since an increase of termites in various localities around Malta and Gozo.

Eve: Unwanted pests are generally associated with dirt or lack of hygiene. What’s your expert’s take on this statement?

JM: This is not always the case, as pests are on the increase and are adapting to our surroundings. Cockroaches live in drains where it’s dark, humid and plenty of food. With various construction work being carried out nests get disturbed and pest activity is in our homes and surroundings increases.

Eve: Do you think that the public treats having pests at home as a taboo? After all, it’s not something that one shares on Facebook – ‘I’ve found a nest of cockroaches in my yard! How cool is that?’

JM: It is not something to brag about, but many people seek help on social media for the best practice. Many are petrified of pests, after all.

Eve: You’ve recently launched a campaign with a cute approach. What is the key to success when communicating pest control to the public?

JM: Throughout our 50 years of providing various pest control services at Comtec, we used different approaches to delivery our message. We realised that a light-hearted approach with no real pests gets our message across better. We also keep with current themes where one of our adverts involves the world cup fever!

Eve: In this day and age, we treat all earthlings as important. How does Comtec treat its little victims? Do you apply friendly/least painful ways to eradicate unwanted pests?

JM: Comtec was the first to introduce eco-friendly solutions to control pests because we believe that pests should be eliminated and controlled in a humane way. We also emphasize keeping the chemical solution as a last resort.

Eve: When they are necessary, what chemicals are used in pest control? Are they harmful to human beings? Can they be handled by home users or should they be used only by well trained professionals?

JM: There is the misconception that chemicals used for pest control are harmful because they have an odour. However, even when using an odourless insecticide certain precautions are needed, like leaving ventilation open, keeping pets and children away from the treated areas, and not getting in direct contact with the treated areas. It is important that pesticides are handed by trained personnel, as all chemicals can be harmful without proper training.