By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Cleaning out German cockroaches is not an easy task. You are dealing with creatures that have been on this earth for more than 350 million years! Even if you can eliminate most of a cockroach population within 30 days, a complete recovery of the population can occur if your control efforts aren’t thorough enough. During the initial treatment stages, it is important to remember:
- More than one visit may be necessary to complete the initial job, so schedule accordingly.
- Returning twice within the first four to five days is more effective than scheduling weekly or monthly services.
- On commercial accounts, going back at night can reveal a wealth of valuable information as to where the cockroaches are pocketed.
- Sticky trap monitors should not be utilized on the initial treatment until the population is sufficiently under control.
Once you think you have eliminated all, or most, of the cockroaches, install some sticky traps. Within 24 to 48 hours, they will give you an accurate snapshot of how successful your control efforts really were. At this point, I recommend taking the following steps based on my experiences in the field:
- Map where you place each sticky trap and ensure they are hidden from the public.
- Make an effort to determine how the cockroaches initially entered the structure, and record where you see them so you can look out for future invasions.
- Ask individuals who dwell or work in the area if and where they see any cockroaches.
- In some cases, you may encounter inaccessible voids where cockroach harborages are located. These might require drilling and dusting in wall voids.
- Respect the customer’s property and be neat as possible, taking care not to move or break objects nearby.
- Avoid flushing or space-treating in large, open areas to prevent chasing some of the population away. If there are thousands of visible cockroaches, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Focus on hard-to-reach areas like behind drawers that cannot be pulled out, warm areas on the backs of compressors and suspended ceilings.
- Create a list of items the customer can help with to promote integrated pest management, like maintaining clean kitchens or sealing cracks around entry points.
If you find that after two or three treatments you are still seeing cockroaches, ask for help from technicians, supervisors or other knowledgeable people. A second set of eyes can often shed light on the answers you need.
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