Infestation is taking a bite out of businesses

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am

Biting insects are not just causing village head Lee Kwai-keung to itch, they are costing him money.

Mr Lee says insects swarming from a water channel and hillside near his restaurant in Lai Chi Shan village, Tai Po, have driven away his customers.

'Customers complained to me and said they don't want to come as they are bitten. I feel so helpless.

'Once, I took a nap in the terrace of my restaurant and woke up with almost 30 bites.' Mr Lee, who grew up in a nearby village, said the midges existed when he was a boy but they were rare. 'We called them arg tsai [little bite].'

He sprays diluted bleach twice a day in his restaurant and has complained to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

'The department told me they have no method to clear them as they breed so strongly,' he said.

Ho Tung-mui, who runs a food outlet next door says all her customers have also left because of the pests.

'They are really a big nuisance. All my customers have left. Some come just once and never return,' said Ms Ho, sitting in her outlet with just two customers during lunchtime.

She has to wear long trousers and socks to protect herself from bites and said that mosquito coils and fans do not keep the insects away.

'Sometimes I sit here for less than five minutes and get more than 10 bites,' she said.