We all know cockroaches are “icky”… but why? One of the main reasons we spend so much time on controlling cockroaches, especially in kitchens and food prep areas, is their ability to mechanically transmit bacteria and other pathenogenic organisms.
What does that mean? Cockroaches’ bodies are literally covered with bacteria, fungal spores and other pathogens. When a cockroach walks over a contaminated surface, such as a garbage area, it can pick up and/or deposit one or more of these types of organisms, then carry those pathogens to a clean or sanitized environment.
In addition to the bacteria and other pathogens found on cockroach bodies, there quite a bit of medical evidence that the cast skins (exuviae) left behind when cockroaches molt can cause allergies and ultimately lead to asthma, especially in children.
Cockroaches have been a nagging problem in American homes since the turn of the last century. Prior to the first world war, German cockroaches were known as “croton bugs” and were notorious for infesting tenement buildings, homes, meat shops, hotels and other areas. The “croton bug” or as it came to be known, the German Cockroach, Blattella germanica, gained a foothold in American homes around the 1940’s.
A common question we as an industry receive is “Why are cockroaches so successful?” To answer that, we need to examine how cockroaches and specifically German cockroaches live their lives.
The first thing to consider is their egg case, or ootheca. These purse shaped egg depositories are the first of many survival tactics cockroaches have developed – The egg cases are impervious to almost all insecticides, protect the eggs from desiccation, and are often dropped just before hatching in secluded, protected environments. After adulthood and mating the female cockroaches safeguard the next generation by holding the ootheca until just before hatch. And finally, the sheer number of eggs (30-50) that can be contained in a single egg case means control is a numbers game in which they have the advantage.
The next hurdle we must overcome is the nymphal stages. German cockroaches have loose family groups and there is some parental care, further protecting the nymphal offspring. Adult cockroaches forage into the environment, and often the young nymphs will stay behind In protected environments, consuming the adult's fecal material until they are large enough to forage Independently.
Another factor in their extremely successful existence is their ability to not only reproduce extremely rapidly, but to quickly adapt to their ever-changing environments. In just a few generations, major changes can be made to entire populations of insects, rendering control efforts much less effective. This is made possible by a relatively simple genetic makeup. Of the common peri-domestic and domestic cockroaches, the German cockroach is by far the most infamous.
It seems every year newer and better products are developed to help PMPs provide management of cockroaches, including non-repellent insecticides, bait products, insect growth regulators and new bait formulations. Unfortunately, the cockroaches do not go quietly into the night; they evolved to survive and they do it well.
There are many excellent options available from CSI for cockroach management, both indoors and outdoors. For quick control of large populations, consider physical removal (such as vacuuming). For long term management of cockroaches in any environment, consider adding an IGR to your cockroach management services.
As an industry, we have faced resistance to many common insecticides and behavioral resistance in the form of bait aversion in cockroach populations. These problems have led to loss of effectiveness of products, increased call backs, and ultimately, the possible loss of the service account.
A recent innovation by CSI is Tekko Pro, which is quickly becoming the insect growth regulator of choice for many PMPs for cockroach control. Tekko Pro’s dual IGR mode of action provides unprecedented control of German cockroaches, killing immature insects rather than causing the typical crinkled wings. No adult roaches, equals happier customers.
For indoor cockroach management, non-repellent products are preferred. Spectre 2 and Spectre PS can provide long term management of tough infestations while also working in conjunction with a cockroach baiting program. This powerful product will not only stop the next generation of pests from developing but can also cause mortality in nymphal cockroaches.
Controlling cockroaches means controlling potential illnesses being spread in the environment. So, we aren’t just killing cockroaches… we are protecting the health of our clients and our community.
Director Product Development & Regulatory