Termite proofing at a construction site

Termite proofing at a construction site

Masa, the pest control stalwart

Mohammad Arif Hussain, entomologist at Masa, speaks about his company’s expertise, dedication and experience in dealing with all kinds of pests

October 2015

Following a decline in the economies of the developed world a few years ago, many construction and infrastructure companies broadened their horizons. In particular, there was huge interest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as “the next big thing” – and with good reason! The kingdom is the largest construction market in the Arabian Gulf by some margin. While a large proportion of the Saudi economy is driven by oil exports, the Government is making significant efforts to promote other industries. Makkah and Madinah continue to be hives of activity with plans for developing mega commercial and residential sectors. Airports and railways usher in an area of intense activity in the two holy cities, which have been lately abuzz with high-profile construction schemes. Construction though is not confined to Makkah and Madinah alone but it is evident throughout the kingdom, and cities are expanding continuously. This has put pest control in the forefront. It is inevitable that an abundance of new buildings and an increase in population density will spell greater risks of pest infestation.

Given the diversity of manufacturing industries, ranging from sugar and textiles to gas processing, there will be pest issues relating to specific industrial sectors, requiring a deeper look at what kinds of control measures need to be applied.

The Masa Establishment for Pest Extermination, Maintenance & Contracting is a Saudi-based company which has developed expertise over the years and is well regarded for its professional response to problems arising from infestation. As well as dealing with particular infestation emergencies, it has accumulated rich experience in averting such situations in the first place through well-organised maintenance operations.

Masa, owned by Mousaied S Al Shieshakly, was established in 1980. It has 12 branches located in Riyadh and Buraidah in the central region, Dammam, Al Ahsa (Hofuf) and Jubail in the East, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Rabigh in the west, Abha and Jijan in the south-west, and Tabuk in the north. The head office is located in Jeddah and the company operates with the support of highly qualified technical and administrative staff.

A well-performing Research and Development Department provides assurance of professional investigations into pest issues and the development of effective solutions that will make it difficult for pests to appear and, also, effective at extermination where proliferation has already occurred. Research conducted at the department focuses, as is natural, on identification of pests and the equipment and pesticides necessary to tackle them. This is no ordinary task as pests are often persistent in their depredations and need to be confronted with the utmost dedication and with the skills and means that will effectively neutralise them. Not attending to the menace is not an option. There are health issues let alone financial losses from weakened structures where the marauders have held sway. Masa has set up an operational network where rapid response is the hallmark. The company’s long history of achievements is attributable mainly to the high professional calibre and dedication of its entomologists and pesticide specialists who take an uncompromising posture in difficult and unpleasant situations knowing full well they have a key job to do and there cannot be any slackening. The field can be pretty wide – houses, factories, warehouses, supermarkets, malls, restaurants, hospitals, zoos, hotels, bridges, gardens and farms. The pests too come in all shapes and sizes: rats and cats, termites, bed bugs and cockroaches, lizards, snakes and scorpions and birds, to name a few.

Al Shieshakly, Masa owner and general manager

Al Shieshakly, Masa owner and general manager

A professional pest controller should have knowledge of the distinguishing characteristics of the orders of insect they are often called on to control. Knowledge of these characteristics will be valuable in beginning the identification process. It is often necessary to know the exact species of insect involved in a problem. The major pests concerned to public health in Saudi Arabia are as follows: Carpenter ants, domestic flies (house fly, flesh fly, blow fly, moth fly, phorid fly, fruit fly, etc), biting flies (midges, eye gnats, the horse fly, deer fly, black fly and stable fly), mosquitoes (aedes, anopheles, culex, etc), rats and mice, cockroaches (American, Oriental, German and brown banded), bed bugs, ticks and mites and rat fleas and so on.

The roll call of diseases is no trifling matter: plague, murine typhus, Rickettsial pox, salmonellosis, rat bite fever, leptosporesis, trichinosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, typhoid, dysentery, hog cholera, aspergillosis, encephalitis, pseudo tuberculosis, avian tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, Japanese encephalitis, filariasis, yellow fever and dengue fever, malaria, etc.


Most people have watched fumigation in action but few are aware that fumigation science is highly specialised and technical in nature, requiring a great deal of skill, knowledge and experience for successful and safe usage. Fumigation may be defined as the act of introducing a toxic chemical in an enclosed space in such a manner that it disperses quickly and acts in a gaseous or vapour state on the target organism. Due to their physical characteristics, fumigants occupy all air spaces within an enclosed area. Fumigants penetrate cracks, crevices, pores in wood and the commodity being treated. Their ability to penetrate and fill all voids makes them ideally suited in many situations for the control of structural and commodity pests that other types of chemicals cannot reach. Fumigation should be only a part of a pest management strategy, especially where stored products are involved. The goal in the management of pests in stored products should be to improve the methods of handling, storing and processing and packaging, so that the need for pesticides will decrease. Fumigations are needed only when unavoidable infestations occur. Fumigation practices must be determined by the problem pests, fumigant to be used and the size or volume of structure to be fumigated.


Termite control is a specialised job approved only to be performed by professionals. The perfect termite control job calls for good termite training and lengthy exposure in doing the job. The main focus of termite control in general is in the type of construction or the manner a building is built. The main interest in termite control is to accomplish complete and continuous chemical barriers wrapped around the walls and footings of the building’s foundation, thereby forming a chemical barrier between the structure and the termite nest. Knowledge of the types of construction will help achieve better results in termite control jobs.

Consistent to the above statement, termite control doesn’t only involve chemical application but also mechanical alteration and environmental modification or moisture control that are both of value in the control and prevention of termite infestations.

A Masa technician performs residual surface spraying

A Masa technician performs residual surface spraying

The chemical approach is the ultimate measure in termite control and prevention and involves the judicial application of insecticidal chemicals labeled as termiticides. Termiticides are specially designed to be active in the soil over long periods of time to keep away the termites and prevent their entry into the structure, keeping it safe from a lot of damage.

The latest termiticides and chemicals available in the Saudi Arabian market are registered under the name of Masa Establishment in the Ministry of Agriculture and Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA). Recently Masa registered a new termiticide of a neonicotinoid family, Raslan Plus, at the Saudi pesticide regulatory authority, SFDA. Raslan Plus has an active ingredient imidacloprid 30.5 per cent SC. It is a systematic contact insecticide, ecologically friendly and with low toxicity towards people and animals. It is odourless and creates a non-detectable treated zone that functions not as a repellent zone/barrier but as a “killing field” whose effects may be transmissible to other termites leading to contamination of the colony.

Termite control jobs involve two major treatments – pre-construction and post-construction.

Pre-construction treatments refer to the application of termiticide emulsion during the construction stages of a building starting from the foundation footings.

Post-construction treatment is usually done by drilling and injection plus application of dust or gel and other type of formulation for the purpose of killing existing termite infestation within the structure.

Masa has a comprehensive knowledge of the way insects live as well as of safety measures in controlling pests, having successfully treated and saved thousands of dwellings, buildings, artwork, museums, antiques, wooden frames and other similar materials made of wood. Its methods are based on 35 years of service to the public and environment.

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