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Fatal Attraction

Departments - Cockroaches, Cockroaches, General Pest Control Products

| June 1, 1997

As the war on cockroaches rages on, pest control operators require a full arsenal of integrated pest management (IPM)-friendly tools to combat these pesky insects. Though commercial and residential customers can help PCOs through improved sanitation, it’s vital that technicians are equipped with the latest roach control and monitoring devices when combatting a roach infestation.

Although roach traps and monitors alone have been shown to control major roach infestations, they also can be employed in hard-to-reach inspection areas such as machinery, electric conduits and plumbing fixtures to identify a pest problem before it becomes a crisis, and to pinpoint “hot spots” that still exist after initial treatments.

However, like most insects, roaches come in all shapes and sizes. Although German cockroaches are considered the most common household insect pests in the United States, other roach species such as American, Oriental, smokybrown and Australian, among others, are making their way into homes and businesses.

All cockroaches normally have similar tasks — to seek food, water, darkness and harborages. Luring roaches from harborages had been a difficult procedure for PCOs in the past. However, enticing all types of roaches out of cracks and voids has become a little easier.

Among the variety of roach traps and monitoring devices on the market today, the new larger Victor Professional Roach Pheromone Trap (M331) from Woodstream effectively knocks down large cockroach infestations and captures a broader variety of roaches. Coming on the heels of last year’s original Professional Roach Pheromone Trap (M330), the device features a sticky-glue catch area that is three times the size of the original pheromone trap. It also captures up to 75% more German cockroaches, including nymphs, and contains a natural food attractant that lures other species from harborages.

‘EMERGENCY’ UNDERGROUND. For the Pennsylvania-based pest control firm J.C. Ehrlich, recent expansion and renovation at a local hospital uncovered a major American cockroach infestation. A massive grid of drains, crawlspaces and heat pipes provided an ideal environment for these pests.

With more than 24 years of service experience, operations manager Mike Haldeman, along with senior technician George Zangari, initially used several baits to control the infestation. According to Haldeman, he witnessed a tremendous kill.

However, roaches continued to enter the facility from street sewers via drain pipes and other locations.

As a result, Haldeman recently requested numerous larger roach pheromone traps that were placed beneath the subfloor to control flareups. During this subsequent treatment period, 134 American roaches, including nymphs and egg cases, were caught. “The traps attracted American roaches in places where we originally thought they didn’t exist,” said Haldeman.

Terminix technician Victor Welk, left, and branch manager Bob Barrett believe pheromone traps are ideal for controlling cockroaches.

THE BLACK PLAGUE. According to most insect field guides, Oriental cockroaches are seldom widely distributed in a home or business. However, they can become very numerous in damp, secluded places such as basements. For Scot Miller, owner of Pennsylvania-based Pet World, a pet store retailer, “widely distributed” has taken on a whole new meaning.

“Shoveling Oriental roaches out of my basement two to three times a day is more than a major infestation,” recalls Miller. “It’s unbelievable!”

An animal-lover at heart, Miller has housed a variety of exotic pets, including alligators, iguanas, tropical fish and birds, as well as a monkey, at his three-story pet store for more than six years. With nine employees, up from one in 1991, Pet World has grown over the years, but so has the Oriental cockroach infestation.

Once a grocery store, Pet World sits just an eighth of a mile from the Susquehanna River. Devastated by a flood in January 1996, Pet World’s plaster walls are continuously damp and water-logged. It was during the flood, however, that Miller realized the extent of the infestation. “It resembled the black plague in here,” recalled Miller. “Cockroaches flushed out by icy water were wall to wall.” However, the infestation didn’t begin there.

For years, Pet World personnel were embarrassed to show customers their favorite pets housed in the basement. It was normal for people to step on 200 cockroaches as they toured the facility. Miller tried everything to manage the infestation. From simply tossing boric acid in and around where roaches were seen on a daily basis, to using Zodiac dog spray and other aerosols. As a result of using aerosols, two of Miller’s exotic breeder birds died from liver failure. The birds were estimated to be worth $600 apiece.

“It requires a safe method to control and monitor the infestation,” said Miller. “I can’t afford to lose anymore breeder birds. That’s how I stay afloat in this business.”

After consulting with local pest control firm J.C. Ehrlich, Miller strategically placed a variety of roach traps and monitors throughout the building. Within 12 hours, the traps were packed full with Oriental cockroaches. For Miller, having enough traps was an initial concern.

Due to the extent of the infestation, Miller currently uses a combination of treatments such as boric acid and silica gel, as well as a variety of roach traps and monitors. While boric acid and gel treatments provide massive “quick kills,” pheromone traps help prevent future infestations by catching nymphs as well as egg cases.

According to Miller, the infestation has been confined to a 4- x 4-foot monkey room on the first floor and a bird room in the basement. He believes these sites are where roaches first appeared.

“The infestation is more manageable now than ever before,” said Miller. “After the flood was unable to knock ’em down, I thought nothing could. It’s definitely a relief.”

AN ORDER TO GO. For Bob Barrett, branch manager for Terminix’s Lancaster, Pa., office, sensitive accounts are challenging, yet all are unique. In fact, Barrett has managed pest control activities at a local chicken processing facility for the past five years. However, it wasn’t until recently that a German cockroach infestation popped up in a most peculiar place – in a locker room nearly 25 feet away from all chicken processing machinery and storage areas, locations normally prone to pest infestations.

According to Barrett, there was no food or heat source in the locker room. Terminix technician Victor Welk, who also works on the account, had a hunch. After moving several ceiling tiles, he discovered that roaches were migrating through a hot steam pipe in the ceiling that spanned 25 feet between a garbage storage area near the loading docks and the infested locker room, usually signifying overpopulation.

While inspectors for the United States Department of Agriculture authorized Terminix to use residual pesticides in specific areas, Barrett believed using chemicals would force cockroaches from confinement and into other areas of the facility.

Already using the original Victor pheromone trap for the past year, Terminix technicians strategically placed nearly 50 of the larger pheromone traps in the ceiling along and near the hot steam pipe. During the first three-week monitoring period, technicians collected 2,105 German cockroaches. Terminix tallied 906 roaches during the second three-week period (results are a combination of adult roaches and nymphs).

In addition to pheromone traps, Terminix uses other unique ways to combat roaches in the locker room, including heating the lockers, flushing them out manually, then vacuuming them for disposal. However, glue boards and pheromone traps are consistently placed to monitor the infestation.

A COST-SAVING TOOL. In a recent study headed by Dini Miller, an entomologist at the University of Florida, larger pheromone traps also caught Smokybrown, Australian, Surinam and Florida Woods Roach. The traps were strategically placed near areas prone to roach infestations, including points of entry such as plumbing outlets and electric conduits, in various residencies near the college campus. From there, Miller recorded observations over a three-week period.

“The traps worked well in indoor and outdoor storage structures, as well as near water meters located below the ground,” Miller said. “We have several species of cockroaches here in the South, so it’s important that adhesive traps capture a variety of cockroaches.”

When it comes to combatting a variety of roaches in sensitive accounts, using effective methods of monitoring, control and elimination that adhere to certain environmental stipulations can be a challenge. However, using nonpoisonous devices that slash labor costs makes the challenge even more attractive for PCOs.

According to Hubert Bishop, owner of DELMARVA Pest Elimination, Annapolis, MD, pheromone traps and other roach traps and monitors are ideal when searching for ways to slash overhead costs. When performing IPM, says Bishop, he can place nonpoisonous traps when facilities are open for business, therefore enabling him to get a head start in combatting infestations. Also, he says, this procedure cuts the amount of time he invests at the job site nearly in half without causing a decline in professional treatment.

Hubert uses Victor pheromone traps when combatting a variety of roaches in all of his sensitive accounts, including several national restaurant fast food chains, hospitals and food processing plants.

“When cockroaches are trapped in the pheromone traps, my customers can’t see that they have an infestation,” said Bishop. “The traps are not only inconspicuous, but they camouflage roaches. Standard sticky traps provide a clear view of the roaches.”

Bishop said that he saves additional costs when performing IPM since roach traps pinpoint exactly when and where to apply chemicals, rather than treating the entire facility. Additionally, says Bishop, he also can service accounts using roach traps while facilities are still open for business, then concentrate on “hot spots” with other methods at night.

The larger Roach Pheromone Trap is a useful detection and control device for German, as well as other roach species for a variety of sensitive accounts. When used in combination with chemical treatments or an IPM program, the traps enable PCOs to slash labor costs and effectively lure roaches from their harborages.

Michael Goldstein is sales manager for professional pest control products at Woodstream Corporation. Michael Gehret is research and development manager for Woodstream. Both are based in Lititz, Pa.