Cockroaches present one of the most significant public health risks, carrying a variety of harmful diseases. BASF offers solutions with a combination of quick control and long-lasting results.
Cockroaches are most commonly found in commercial premises in which food is produced or handled, such as restaurants and catering establishments. However they are not uncommon in domestic situations where they live in kitchens and drains.
The most common species in Europe are Blattella germanica (German cockroach), Periplaneta Americana (American cockroach), Blatta orientalis (Oriental cockroach) and Supella longipalpa (Brown band cockroach).
The Modern Cockroach Challenge
Cockroaches are pervasive, elusive and prolific. They are associated with numerous pathogenic organisms, a source of human allergens and invariably suggestive of poor hygiene. As such their presence where food is stored, processed or served is unacceptable.
Controlling cockroaches in these environments can be challenging. They travel easily on deliveries, reproduce rapidly and prefer to live inside difficult to access cracks and crevices.
These challenges are compounded by control methods involving inadequate inspection, insufficient co-operation between multiple building occupants and over reliance on single products or application methods.
Control levels of over 90 % may be insufficient to prevent a relatively rapid resurgence of the problem.
Understanding Cockroach Behavior
Although very effective at adapting to different conditions, cockroaches need four key resources to survive and thrive:
They naturally cluster together where these are available in close proximity. The German cockroaches that are the primary problem across Europe require particular warmth, so live almost exclusively indoors. The larger Oriental cockroaches are equally at home outside.
Although Oriental cockroaches forage over longer distances than their German counterparts, neither generally travel more than a few meters from the cracks, crevices and voids in which they cluster to forage for food and water.
Both species actively seek darkness with most individuals spending the majority of their lives in their protected harborages only emerging to forage.
They show a preference for high energy foods and are deterred from feeding by oiliness, mold or spoilage.
While male cockroaches forage actively on most days, females typically spend 75% of their lives not foraging and can survive for nearly 45 days without food providing they have access to water. Young nymphs also forage relatively little.
Foraging occurs almost exclusively at night and is deterred by human activity. Individuals in larger populations are more active and less discerning in their appetites than those in smaller populations as they have to compete more vigorously for food.
Since cockroaches are considered incapable of detecting odors over more than a few centimeters, success in locating food appears to be related to chance encounters optimized by regular routes of foraging activity based on experience. With a good supply of food and water in close proximity to their harborage, individuals may never come into contact with bait just a few feet away.
A life cycle of approximately 170 days under favorable conditions and capsules of 30-40 eggs produced every 2-3 weeks, means German cockroach populations can increase massively in a very short time despite relatively high levels of control.
Planning the Best Control
The challenges of modern cockroach control means a single round of gel bait treatment is unlikely to provide sufficient, sustained control. Even under the best field conditions the natural behavior of cockroaches rarely makes it possible to control more than 80% of any population from a single baiting.
In most cases, sustained control requires an integrated approach based on a sound understanding of pest behavior, thorough inspection, good sanitation, and a program of treatments. This includes follow-up baiting, and crack and crevice treatment where necessary.
Because cockroaches cluster together in protected harborages and forage primarily at night, a thorough inspection of infested areas is essential to plan targeted treatment.
Inspections are best conducted at night with a torch and a small flexible mirror to examine less accessible areas for excrement, shed skins and old egg capsules as well as live cockroaches.
Pyrethroids sprayed into cracks and crevices can also be very effective in identifying occupied sites by temporarily flushing cockroaches into the open.
Sticky traps offer the best way of establishing the level and location of infestations in most cases. They should be placed in areas commonly frequented by foraging cockroaches. Particular attention should be paid to warm moist places such as the underneath of fridges or other appliances, wall/floor junctions, around the edges of fittings and equipment, and beneath furniture etc.
Cockroach infestations are invariably larger and more difficult to control where sanitation is poor.
Restricting food and harborages can be a valuable aid to cockroach control, while good sanitation in the vicinity of baits generally improves control by reducing alternative sources of food and water and increasing the likelihood of bait contact.
Populations may be reduced or disrupted by removing clutter or heavily infested furniture and appliances. Since changes to the environment appear to interfere with learned behavior, sanitation can also be valuable in combating bait avoidance.
BASF offers comprehensive cockroach solutions to help put an end to the long standing frustrations associated with conventional cockroach control approaches. Our solutions feature modern strategies and a range of cutting edge products to overcome challenges like bait aversion and chemical resistance
The effectiveness of insecticide baits depends on the foraging individuals consuming them. This makes it important to use baits that are highly palatable and maintain their palatability over an extended period.
Even so, the restricted foraging range of most cockroaches means the effectiveness of baits can be seriously compromised by poor placement. To be effective they must be located as close as possible to every cockroach harborage in an infested area.
Like sticky traps, they also need to be well placed if they are to intercept aging cockroaches. Bait points placed within the warm, damp and dark areas that cockroaches love are likely to be most effective. Removing access panels rather than just baiting on external surfaces is advisable in many cases.
For the most complete and sustained control, insecticides also need to reach non-foraging females and nymphs within harborages in sufficient quantity.
This is made possible with baits as females and nymphs will eat poisoned individuals returning to die and their feces, especially if they have limited access to other food supplies.
The extent to which this ‘cascade effect’ will be effective in controlling the non-foraging population clearly depends on the potency of the insecticide. Even with the most potent active available, fipronil, many infestations are unlikely to be completely eliminated inside a week. This is especially true where they involve Oriental rather than German cockroaches. Control is also made difficult if the infestation is relatively large or if there is an abundance of alternative food sources.
Crack & Crevice Treatment
Even well managed gel baiting may need to be supported by complementary crack and crevice treatment. The effectiveness of lower potency insecticide baits tends to be restricted by a less effective ‘cascade effect’ as well as any restriction on uptake.
Equally, full control can only be achieved both once all eggs have hatched and nymphs have either matured to the foraging stage or, have consumed sufficient insecticide from eating poisoned individuals or their feces.
These difficulties are best overcome by the targeted treatment of key harborages with a complementary residual insecticide spray like Mythic® SC.
Fendona® should be the first choice for crack and crevice cockroach treatment, and we can use Mythic SC to improve the speed of control alongside targeted baiting or as the main prescription in areas where baiting is likely to be less effective.
Cost Effective Control
Minimizing treatment time while maximizing efficacy is the best way of ensuring the most cost effective control. Ensuring the correct and most effective placement of modern cockroach baits can be time consuming for less experienced operators. Modern guidelines based on the standard bait point number recommendations rather than the traditional bait points per square meter of infested area, can increase the speed of applications.
Making the Most of the Products
To prevent costly call backs and maximize both customer satisfaction and business profitability, cockroach control products need to be employed with an appreciation of their own particular strengths, limitations and requirements as well as pest behavior.
Baits have become the treatment of choice in most control programs due to their
- relative lack of preparation
- minimal client disruption - time as well as odour and exposure issues
Baiting with a well formulated gel like Goliath® is central to most domestic cockroach jobs as well as those in commercial kitchens and restaurants. Mythic® gel is the second choice for a cockroaches bait treatment. Where the areas involved are large with extensive voids like some food processing sites, factories and warehouses, crack and crevice spraying with a well-formulated residual insecticide such as Mythic® SC can be invaluable. This can be alongside (not repellent effect) or as an alternative to baiting.
Equally, where the pressure is on for the most rapid, total control, a well targeted crack and crevice treatment can be a very valuable complement to baiting to tackle non-foraging adults and nymphs. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that residual crack and crevice insecticide application remains an important element in modern cockroach control alongside the use of baits with sufficient ‘cascade’ power.
To minimize the chance of cockroaches developing either insecticide resistance or bait aversion, it is advisable not to use a single bait active ingredient or formulation as the single means of control over an extended period in the same location. Supporting gel baiting with crack and crevice treatment can avoid this situation without the complication of bait rotation.