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By Dan McCabe
Vice President
Magical Pest Control

Over the last several years bed bugs have taken centre stage in the world of pesky insect invaders. Seminars, pest control magazines, bed bug summits, news outlets and countless other organizations have dedicated extensive time and money to making us aware of the present threat, and more importantly, what to do about it.

While the bed bug was actively stealing all the attention, the long forgotten cockroach was quietly lingering in the background, planning on how to take back the pest prominence it once had.

Those of you who have been in the property management, hospitality and pest control industry for some time will remember the days when cockroaches were plentiful, much more than today. Conversations like “these roaches will never die, they will even survive a nuclear attack” were often heard in the hallways of many a high rise or fine dining establishment.

I’m not so sure about the nuclear attack part, but I do know that cockroaches were a very difficult pest to control and they required a great deal of effort on the part of the pest control technician and the individual with the infestation.

It was in the early nineties that a new product was introduced that changed our approach to killing cockroaches. The timing couldn’t have been better. Year after year, the most effective cockroach spray products were being taken off the market and de-registered and the ones that did remain were struggling with resistance issues, lacking the effectiveness they once had. The switch to cockroach bait products was on, but it seemed inconceivable at the time to think that simple gel baits in a syringe tube could possibly make even the slightest dent in the ever growing cockroach population. The war against the cockroach was on and new weapons were being used.

The results were outstanding. Cockroach infestations began to diminish rapidly. Cockroaches no longer caused the same concern they once did and for many years we all celebrated the coming of the miracle of cockroach baits. However, I guess the old saying “all good things must come to an end” is true. Just like cockroach spray products, cockroach baits began to lose their effectiveness due to the same resistance issues, but with an added problem called “aversion.”

Researchers Changlu Wang, Michael Scharf, and Gary Bennett described aversion in their 2005 study: “cockroaches avoided gel baits with certain sweeteners most cockroaches cannot resist”. Simply put, the cockroaches lost the “sweet tooth” that made them so vulnerable to the pesticide in cockroach baits.

To makes matters worse, in a follow up study in 2006, they discovered some cockroach offspring also had bait aversion. The trait was inheritable.

It’s because of these reasons cockroaches are now beginning to show signs of a strong resurgence. The good news is the cockroach bait manufacturers are aware of the aversion issues and very busy creating new attractants. The bad news is they are not yet available and we could be looking at approximately three years before these products are registered in Canada.

So what do we do in the meantime to avoid a cockroach explosion?

  • We will have to rely on more dust applications such as Boric Acid.
  • Proper sanitation will play a larger role in keeping good control.
  • Cockroach spray treatments with insecticides that are not resistant products will have to be applied in heavily infested cases.
  • A flushing agent along with vacuuming will be part of some protocols.
  • Dust baits that do not have the aversion issues will be heavily relied on.

For a free seminar on the cockroach explosion and other pest issues contact
Magical Pest Control at (905) 738-6676.

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