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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

What's in your kitchen? (AKA: I need to clean)

Ever had an issue with cockroaches? If you have, I’m guessing it was pretty frustrating and not something you just snapped your fingers at and it went away. Cockroaches are small and sneaky and have evolved over millions of years to take advantage of us. We often hang out a welcome sign and give them the food, water, and shelter they need. Is this never-ending war on creepy cockroaches completely hopeless? Not quite.

Not going to lie, this could be mine!

Cockroaches, especially our commensal species like German and American cockroaches, are extremely resilient. Once they get in, they are adept at finding the food sources that are available. They are skilled at finding the hiding spots that provide them warmth and moisture and often food. Just think of your own home for a minute: when was the last time you moved your refrigerator or your stove out? When was the last time you cleaned underneath, and I mean REALLY cleaned? Now consider a commercial kitchen and the amount of food coming and going during a day and the cleaning practices. I admit, I almost never clean the top of my fridge because I can’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind. How many areas that hold or handle food at your site don’t get cleaned on a regular basis? Sanitation is absolutely crucial for managing cockroach issues.

Gross kitchen
I took this picture in a quick service restaurant

Sanitation is also exceptionally hard because you will never ever get all the food. Seriously, how do you get all the food out of a food processing site? I wouldn’t be willing to remove all the food from my kitchen; a commercial kitchen is not going to either. It’s about limiting the amount and the access to food. While you aren’t going to entirely clean out your kitchen, you are likely willing to put most items in sealed containers. That limits the access to that food. I doubt you will move every oven, stove, cabinet, and other pieces of equipment in your commercial kitchen to clean. It is likely you can do a better, more intensive job cleaning other areas. This limits the amount of food available. Getting as much as is practically possible can significantly stress out a population of cockroaches, making other means of treatment much more effective and fast-acting.

Tiny areas like behind loose tiles are great hiding spots.

Cockroaches like to hide. When you see your first cockroach, chances are there are hundreds, maybe even thousands that are hiding away in dark shelter spots. Think again about your kitchen at home. How many sheltered, warm spots do you have that are hard to access? Just looking at the appliances, you have a refrigerator, a stove, a dishwasher, a microwave. I have found cockroaches infesting coffee makers and toasters. Switch your thinking to a commercial site now and the hiding places are suddenly multiplied. Research has shown that a normal cockroach population is comprised of about 20% adults. That’s important because research has also shown that the immature stages often don’t leave their hiding spots and that they are attracted to their family groups. They wait until an adult comes back with some little food particles stuck to it or even eat some of the secretions the adults put off. It’s pretty difficult to eradicate something that never comes out of it’s hiding spot.

There is hope. Along with sanitation, baits are often used. Remember that treating for cockroaches is best undertaken by a professional. Baits are slow-acting which means you will not see a reduction in cockroaches right away. This is frustrating, especially if you are a hotel that is getting some negative social media interest. These baits use the cockroach’s own behavior against it. Remember all those cockroaches hiding behind your dishwasher where you can’t get to them and they won’t come out? Now, the adult cockroach takes a bite of bait, and then brings it back to the kids at home. Kids eat off the adult and kids succumb to the bait. Thus wiping out that little (or not so little!) hidden population of cockroaches. If the bait was fast-acting, it would just kill the adult cockroach that eats it. Being a bit slower means that cockroach has time to get back and spread it around before it kicks the bucket. Research has shown “bug bombs” and many over-the-counter spray and aerosol products are totally ineffective at even reducing cockroach populations.

Are baits the magic wand that will miraculously take care of your cockroach issue? Sorry, no. It takes an integrated approach to get at the root of the problems. Especially if the infestation is significant, it will take time and lots of effort to clean, treat, and follow up with more tactics to truly eliminate a problem. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to cockroach issues either. Imagine you have cockroaches in your kitchen at home, and cockroaches in your break room at work. It is going to require different tactics to solve these two problems. If you’ve had issues with cockroaches, you know it’s not easy to deal with and eliminate.

Those folks who are currently dealing with cockroaches, ensure that your pest control company is using the right tools and you are doing your part with sanitation. Haven’t dealt with cockroaches yet? Make sure your pest management plan has all the necessary preventative steps to prevent it from happening. Wherever you may be on your cockroach journey, we can help evaluate your plan, help troubleshoot current issues, and prevent future issues. Contact us for more information on cockroaches or any other pest issues you have.


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