Been There, Done That

Annual Cockroach Control Issue - Annual Cockroach Control Issue

PMPs share their craziest cockroach stories.

December 19, 2019

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The account was a Chinese restaurant in New York, and Tom Sieminski of Team Pest Control in Seaford, N.Y., says his team “went in with guns blazing.”

“We were fogging the drop ceiling as we were going through cracks and crevices, and I was in a full suit with goggles,” he describes. Every so often, Sieminski would wipe his goggles because they seemed to be fogging up. “I’m going, ‘It’s getting darker in here — I can’t see anymore!’”

Then, he thought he felt snowflakes landing on his head. He looked up, and the light fixtures in the drop ceilings were filling up with dead German cockroaches. “It was so thick, they were obliterating the light and flowing out on to my head and goggles,” he says.

It was becoming darker because the carcasses eventually covered the lights.

The treatments occurred at nighttime while the restaurant was closed. (They did open during the day and ran the business “as usual.”) For the two weeks of service, Team Pest Control was on the job nightly. Then, they tapered down to every other day, and finally twice weekly. “After eight weeks of service, we got control,” he says.

Sieminski says, in all of his industry experience, “This was a ‘wow.’”


Helping a Neighbor

Ameripest in Palm Bay, Fla., takes pride in stepping up to help out community members that are struggling with pest control issues. It’s part of their mission as a Christian-based organization, says owner Roger Burgess. So, when his friend, a pastor at a church, called about a congregation member, Burgess was on the scene.

The lady reported rats in her house, so Burgess planned on stopping in to do some trapping. “I met the lady and she was sitting at her kitchen table,” Burgess describes. “I looked up at the top of the cupboards and there was a rat sitting there looking at me. And there were roaches running around everywhere. It was one of those things where they run up your legs. There were hundreds on the floor and on the walls.”

Burgess called the office and brought in a couple of technicians to help. The catch was, the elderly woman refused to leave the house. She had grown up there and lived there alone. “She never lived anywhere else her entire life,” Burgess relates.

Burgess called in some other friends to help and they began trapping rats and killing roaches. “We also had to fix some damage that was done, and it took us several months,” he says.

The 82-year old woman was blind.

She had no idea her home was infested. She heard the rats but did not see the population of cockroaches that had taken up residence in her childhood home.

“She could hear but she could not see a thing,” Burgess says.

“The last couple years of her life, we made it a lot easier for her because she didn’t have rats and roaches,” Burgess says. “We try to help out in situations like this — and do we get paid? Not all the time. But people need help and you can’t leave them in situations like this.”

Hoarding Roaches

Nate Nunnally fielded a call from the manager of a 60-unit apartment complex in Missoula, Mont., where 30 of the units had an eight-year history of severe cockroach infestation. “We, being a smaller company, didn’t do a lot of cockroach work and were a little concerned about being called into the job,” says Nunnally, owner, Custom West Pest Control.

Cockroaches are about 1 percent of the company’s business, though a growing sector, he says.

Nunnally called his supplier, who recommended products and a procedure. The first order of business was a thorough inspection. “We literally spent three hours inspecting every apartment — some one-bedroom, some two-bedrooms — and talking to the tenants, if we could,” he says.

The complex had four other pest control companies that failed at achieving control before they called Custom West.

Technicians vacuumed and monitored the apartments. The problem was, one apartment was the home of a severe hoarder who had lived there for some time. Pyrethrin treatments were used in his unit, which ultimately pushed the cockroaches away because they were being repelled by the product. They moved into other units and infested an entire wing of the complex. The pests traveled through ceilings, hallways and plumbing chases.

Nunnally turned to a non-repellent insecticide and bait combination. He switched the bait gel during the treatment process to avoid cockroach aversion.

After five quarters of service — one year and two months — Custom West gained control. “The problem with the prior companies is they weren’t thinking outside of the box,” Nunnally says of the multi-layered process his company used to treat the problem.