The War Against Cockroaches Is Far From Over

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Pest Management
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Following are a couple of excerpts from Dr. Austin Frishman and Paul Bello’s soon to be published Cockroach Combat Manual II. They shared these experiences and others in the July 2013 Pest Management Professional Magazine. Two of their stories are published below but we encourage you to read the others in the original article

The events you will read about are true.  We witnessed them and share them with you for your benefit. But the primary purpose of relating these stories isn’t to be sensationalistic. It’s to stress to pest management professionals (PMPs) what might happen if people in our profession didn’t exist.  It emphasizes how horrible a cockroach situation can become and the incredible horror humans must — or mistakenly think they must — endure daily in their homes. It underscores how important our work can be to others who depend on us. With current technology, there’s no excuse. Although it’s not a shame to have cockroaches, it’s a sin to persist with them. Never let this happen with your customers. Do what you can to correct it wherever it exists. Do your best.

The horror … the horror

I have no problem recalling the most horrendous cockroach job I ever tackled. It’s the only one that caused nightmares, when I’d wake up in the middle of the night sweating.

It was an American cockroach job in a hospital on Long Island, N.Y. I was testing a new gel cockroach bait that needed a difficult test. Under the entire hospital was a crawlspace about 2.5 ft. high that housed a bunch of steam pipes and other obstacles. When you dropped down through the floor via a hatchway, it was teaming with more than 300,000 cockroaches. There were so many, they were hanging vertically on one another’s backs, covering the pillars.

The cockroaches were feeding on the crusted fecal material from a decades-old sewage leak. When you lifted the crusted material, hundreds to thousands of young nymphs scurried about. A few cockroaches were feeding on dead rats. As I put the gel baits out, the cockroaches came running to the bait, devouring it. They were fighting one another to get to the bait — many of them trying to crawl on me as I crouched in this cesspool.

I had to return to this location and bait six more times. At no time could I convince someone to return with me a second time. The gel I used became registered as Maxforce Gel Cockroach Bait.

— Dr. Austin Frishman

The unforgettable battle 

Working as a pest management technician provided me a dimension of training that couldn’t be attained in the classroom. One day I was assigned to conduct a cockroach cleanout at a Section 8 apartment complex. It was a one-bedroom unit occupied by a woman and her toddler son. Visible signs and odors of German cockroaches were readily apparent in every room and, as a young technician, I thought:

■ This is just like what we learned in Dr. Frishman’s class.
■ How can people live like this?
■ Wow, one look at the boy’s face told me these cockroaches were so bad he was missing eyelashes and eyebrows.

One look in the cabinet below the kitchen sink showed me this apartment had what we learned to term “3D roaches,” which is when there are so many there’s limited cabinet wall space — so the cockroaches hang onto other cockroaches.

Our tools of choice were dominated by water-mixed liquid concentrates, as well as aerosol spray products. We also used oil-based products, applied via various ultra-low-volume (ULV) injection and aerosol fog application equipment.

At that time, the methodology included using a compressed air sprayer to apply residual insecticides, followed by the use of aerosols and ULV applications to flush and kill cockroaches. The liquid residual applications were intended to provide longterm residual control and ensure cockroaches running from the directed aerosol applications would contact those treated areas to prevent successful escape.

Now, what was clearly underestimated during this job was the sheer number of German cockroaches present within that apartment.

With liquid residual applied, it was time to lay waste to the cockroaches within the cabinets using directed aerosol applications. Armed with my belt pack aerosol application system tools, I descended on these unsuspecting cockroaches to wreak my unholy vengeance on them. That was the plan, anyway.

The results were slightly different. The 3D cockroaches were more than anticipated, and the aerosol barrage failed to drop them where they stood, which was apparent when cockroaches literally ran everywhere. The situation deteriorated before my eyes. The cabinet shelves, countertop, floor ceiling and adjoining room soon were covered with scattering cockroaches. Many eventually turned belly-up; others simply stopped running in various locations. Roaches were climbing my pant legs, falling off the ceiling on my head and under my collar down my neck beneath my shirt. Nowadays, we would’ve simply used a suitable vacuum and immediately removed these cockroaches without making such a mess.

The din of battle cleared and, eventually, there wasn’t a living cockroach to be found. But seeing the condition of the apartment, I couldn’t leave it with so many cockroaches to clean up and decided it was best to do it myself. However, I hadn’t been properly equipped and used what was available at the account at that time: a vacuum, broom, dustpan and paper bags. After clogging the vacuum with German cockroaches, the broom and dustpan were next. Dead cockroaches were swept into piles and scooped up with the dust pan into a mop bucket. While unsure of the total number of cockroaches, my observation was about 3 gallons, a large spaghetti pot full of cockroaches, plus whatever was stuffed into the vacuum. This was an image and smell I’ve never forgotten.

— Paul Bello

Do you have a cockroach story you would like to share? Please comment here or visit the Bug Off Pest Control Center Facebook or Google + page. 

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