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Establishing the meat and potatoes of a successful German cockroach control program

By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.

The domestic German cockroach is ubiquitous - it successfully thrives where humans dwell. If I listed all the different types of accounts PMPs are asked to manage and eliminate German cockroaches from, the list would easily number in the thousands.

If you’re unsure where to begin with German cockroach control, start by establishing basic principles that will apply to any account. Here are some pointers you should rely on to create a successful control program:

  • Approach your work with passion. Care about your own reputation, the company’s reputation and protecting the people living with cockroaches. Sometimes a customer can be uncooperative or unappreciative, but what about the children that are victims of the cockroaches? The work PMPs do is important, so continue to take pride in your work every day.
  • Cockroaches come from cockroaches. They do not come from poor sanitation and poor cooperation. These negative factors simply tip the scale in favor of cockroaches. It is all the more reason to be extra vigilant to win the cockroach battle.
  • It’s not over ‘til it’s over. If you eliminate 95 percent of a German cockroach population, the remaining five percent can regenerate the entire population — and then some — within 30 days. You may have put forth a lot of effort to control 95 percent of the population, but even more effort is required to achieve complete victory.
  • Use monitors to help you. With a species that has survived and thrived for more than 350 million years, you need extra help in the form of monitoring devices. Sticky traps work around the clock and are effective in alerting you to low numbers. Monitors can even include customers and their children: ask them were they have seen the most cockroaches.
  • All living animals need food, water and shelter to survive. In most cases, a lack of shelter is what limits a cockroach population. Reducing food and water helps, but reducing shelter has the greatest impact. Reduce shelter by pest-proofing cracks and keeping cardboard boxes and other items in sealed plastic bags.
  • Failure repeats itself if you continue doing the same thing. If your control tactics aren’t working, don’t continue to do the same thing. Analyze and think about other approaches to the cockroach problem. Ask for help from fellow employees or knowledgeable, third-party individuals.
  • To each its “zone.” When baiting for cockroaches, remember that you have to place the bait within the “sphere of influence.” If a cabinet has distinct sections, each section of the cabinet is a separate zone that must be baited.
  • Respect customers’ properties. No matter how cluttered a property is, it is the customer’s clutter. If you show respect, customers will learn to respect you and make your job much easier.

To learn more about combating cockroaches, read the Cockroach Combat Manual II, written by myself and Paul Bello and supported in part by Syngenta. Copies can be ordered online at


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