Mystery critters bug Bukit Batok by the thousand

Recently, countless black winged bugs have been swarming into three blocks of flats in Bukit Batok every evening only to drop dead, leaving huge, creepy piles for the residents to clear and sparking fears that their bite might be dangerous.

The bugs belong to a yet undetermined species and are no bigger than a grain of rice.

They have unfailingly turned up in swarms every day after nightfall since two weeks ago at blocks 170, 171 and 172 in Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

According to resident Chen Jiajing, 76, the bugs first appeared last year at the blocks, but only in small numbers.

He is mystified as to why they suddenly came in such huge numbers.

The retiree told the newspaper that the bugs would swarm in after 7pm every evening. Most of them would then form a black circling mass around lamps at the void decks.

"They would cluster around the lights until they drop to the floor, where they would crawl for a bit before they die," he said.

Mr Chen, whose home is on the 12th floor of Block 171, said some of the bugs would fly into his unit, numbering more than a hundred on each occasion.

Housewife Candy Tan, 56, who lives on the 24th floor of Block 170, said she had the "worst" encounter on Saturday, when she estimated more than a thousand flew into her house.

Their remains filled up a third of a paper bag, said Ms Tan.

According to cleaner Alani, who cleans the area, the amount of dead bugs he collects in half an hour could fill three plastic bags.

Mr Chen said he had never seen this sort of bug before, not even in his days living in a kampung.

"It feels itchy when it lands on you," he said.

Xu Lizhu, a resident of Block 170, said she was once bitten by one of the bugs while watching television. But she experienced no swell nor any lump, although the bite was painful.

Ms Liang, another resident, said the bugs not only enter her living room, but also the toilets and bedrooms, with some landing on the beds.

Initially thinking these were the usual bed bugs and fearing that they would bite her daughter, she immediately changed the bedsheet.

Then she became worried when she saw that the bugs kept growing in numbers and, after checking a lampshade where they tended to crowd around, she realised they had come from outside.

The Jurong Town Council, which oversees the area's environment, said it had conducted searches in the vicinity of the blocks after receiving complaints, but did not find the breeding ground of the bugs.

"We had looked everywhere, including the woods, rooftops and cleared spaces," it said.

The town council has sent samples of the bugs to be studied and has sought the help of the Housing Board, National Parks Board and National Environment Agency in tackling the problem.

Get MyPaper for more stories.