Getting Quick Control of German Cockroach Infestations

Getting Quick Control of German Cockroach Infestations

Although PMPs take different approaches, almost all start with physically removing the cockroaches, identifying conducive conditions and then performing a chemical application.

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December 21, 2020

German cockroaches are often referred to as the most common cockroach in the world. They prefer warm, humid areas, and many times live and breed indoors.

Infestations start when females lay their eggs. The females carry an egg capsule that can carry up to 40 eggs and they rapidly reproduce. With multiple German cockroach females in one location, they can populate a home relatively fast without proper attention.

Removing German cockroaches is only a part of gaining control. Sanitation and exclusion are vital elements to the process. Inspections will determine the scope of the problem and what the proper treatment methods are but without deep cleaning a home, the infestation may return. Cleaning to remove food and water sources will force German cockroaches to seek those elsewhere.

At the treatment stage, the Mallis Handbook of Pest Control breaks cockroach control into two categories – direct or primary interventions (those that target the pest itself like baiting or fogging) and indirect or secondary measures that are designed to limit the population by making the environment less hospitable to the cockroach.

Secondary control measures would include, according to Mallis, “physical modification of the environment to attempt to stimulate cockroaches to move,” which not only reduces the amount of pesticides being used but also eliminates the issue of the infestation. This would include cleaning, sanitation methods, removing food and water sources, and performing exclusion tactics.

The cornerstone of every first treatment is cleaning and removal of German cockroaches with vacuums, according to Crystal Rizzo, owner of Crystal Pest Control in Henderson, N.C.

“When I go to an account with a serious cockroach infestation my first service is always a clean-out service,” Rizzo said. “I use a backpack vacuum to remove as many live roaches as possible the first visit, although it may be time-consuming, it will help you in the long run. I don't have to worry about what's happening with them after I leave if I know they have left with me in my vacuum.”

Nancy Boerema, co-owner of Firefly Enlightened Pest Solutions, serves the Oregon Coast and Central Oregon. She also uses vacuums for removal and for quick control she uses an IGR and a bait.

“Performing a thorough inspection to locate harborage areas is critical,” Boerema said. “Finding and making recommendations for conducive conditions such as sanitation improvements or performing exclusion in existing or potential harborage areas is important.”

The Midwest and Central states have their share of German cockroach issues, as well. Chad Highley, A.C.E., is the owner of Environmental Pest Control covering Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas.

“We employ a specific protocol of applying a non-repellent, liquid product around areas of activity. Next, we engage with the trio of flush, vacuum and bait. When flushing, we use a non-residual repellent in areas of harborage and are ready with the vacuum.

“Mechanically removing reproductives from the area eliminates all future generations from the collected roaches,” he added. “In this way it does not matter if they are resistant to the insecticides or have developed bait aversion. Finally, we bait in identified areas of accumulation and harborage.”

Rizzo applies bait, utilizes monitors, and will do crack-and-crevice treatments, focusing on changing the customer’s approach to sanitation going forward.

“The most important part of my first clean-out service is to encourage the customer to remove all competitive food sources, clutter and anything that may hinder the roaches from eating the bait and finding new harborage areas to breed,” Rizzo added. “Removing alternative food sources and decluttering makes a big difference in reducing roach breeding activity.”

Scott Lauss works as a pest control professional for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Arkansas. He treats for German cockroaches in food-handling, industrial and sanitary areas. He says it’s important to focus on making sure treatments are accurately performed to ensure control.

“I am the ‘pest control man’ and I am to be seen, my work -- not so much. Roaches live in cracks and crevices away from our lives until they become more abundant. Baits and pest control supplies are meant to be discreet and seldom spotted,” Lauss said. “We treat only when needed, in our environment we only treat when it is most essential. I inspect spaces to make sure issues are well-contained. I also use a great deal of monitors to project the population and when needed, I use an IGR and bait to stop the population.”