There is one pest in the Philippines which is almost as pervasive as ants and it’s the termites. Frankly, I don’t know whether more damage to homes is done by ants or termites (anay in Tagalog) and I really have no desire to find out. Regardless, pest control services are available for those who can afford it.
Termites and Lumber in the Philippines
As residents in an impoverished country, the average Filipino family simply cannot afford to buy the best lumber to use in construction. I’ve seen a lot of furnishings ruined by termites because the furnishings were made of untreated lumber.
Treating lumber isn’t something I’m familiar with, but I do know that something as simple as varnish will cause most pests to leave the wood alone. Obviously, the hard woods are better than soft woods and that’s why I prefer wood furnishings made of narra wood or teak wood.
A lot of people seem to be buying more furnishings made of other materials, such as plastic and stainless steel. While these furnishings will last a lot longer, nothing matches the beauty of real wood.
David Starr, of PhilFAQS, left a comment on the “Working on My Kitchen in the Philippines” post at the My Move to the Philippines blog about how I avoided a comment on his advice of using stainless steel for cabinets vs. wood. I hunted for the comment in question, but I couldn’t find it.
My kitchen cabinets and cupboards are made of solid wood, stained and varnished. They are dry inside and out. I’ve had problems with ants crawling around inside the cabinets (I have no idea where they come from) and have sprinkled boric acid powder which seems to keep any kind of colonies from forming. I have yet to see any termites.
On the other hand, one of my brothers-in-law recently threw out a chest of drawers that was crawling with termites. I checked it out at the time and yes, it was made of cheap, untreated wood.
I’m not familiar with termite pest control methods, but I know for a fact that there are quite a few pest control services in the Philippines.
Looking in my phone book, I found three pest control services available in Olongapo. There are probably more that aren’t even listed. The average Filipino family cannot afford them and have to make do with what they have and try to keep the termites at bay, along with every other kind of insect existing in the tropics.
I’ve seen insects, spiders and other pests here that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world and I’ve been around. I see a certain kind of beetle (uwang or salagubang in Tagalog) similar to the rhinoceros beetle (but without a horn) all the time. Once they get on your clothing, they don’t want to let go and you have to pry them off.
Ants (langgam in Tagalog) are much more pervasive than any other insects in the Philippines. They get into everything. I have found them in unopened ramen noodle packages, opened cereal boxes (including oatmeal) and other packages that are sealed with thin plastic or paperboard. The ants find any opening or just make their own. It’s so bad that I keep opened cereal boxes and sealed ramen noodle packages stored in my refrigerator. The ants apparently don’t like the cold temperature. Things like peanut butter and other foods and liquid contained in jars have to be tightly closed in order keep the ants out, but at least I can leave them in the cabinets.
There are homemade prevention measures to ward off ants, mosquitoes and other insects that serve as pests in our everyday environment, but I can’t seem to find the right stuff to do it with. I also don’t have a lot of patience and I won’t waste my time looking for something I can’t find the first time around. That’s one of my few faults and I admit it.
I don’t think pest control services exist to permanently prevent pests from returning or they wouldn’t be in business for long.
Pests and Construction
A lot of homes in the Philippines are made from cement. I’ve watched home construction in several countries over the years, and house building in the Philippines seems to be simpler than most. In the US, the ground under homes is required to be treated for termite prevention. I believe it lasts for up to 10 years. Even cement slabs, used for patios and driveways, are required to be treated.
I have no idea if that requirement exists in the Philippines, but the contractor who built my house didn’t do anything like that. Although I think I’ve been lucky enough to have everything in the house built with good lumber, I’ll be keeping my eye out for any signs of trouble.
I have problems in my house and it has nothing to do with pests or the creatures that eat them, but I’ll get into that later. I’ve been rambling on way too much already.