Cockroach Technology & Technique Tips

Looking back at our years of industry experience have afforded those who grew up in the industry since the 1970s a perspective of change. Chlorinated hydrocarbon-, carbamate- and organophosphate-based insecticide products, as well as monthly baseboard spray applications, are long gone. Long-term residual insecticides are a thing of the past, and the contents of our collective industry toolbox is almost unrecognizable compared to years ago. Clearly, the industry has come a long way. But are we, and our customers, better off? Sure we are, and with good reason. As Doc Frishman has often said, “You can be on the right track, but you can get run over if you’re not moving fast enough or headed in the wrong direction.” Those who’ve paid attention have learned and progressed along with the industry. Those who haven’t have been left behind or relegated to a spray-and-pray strategy.

The power behind the equipment

Today’s cockroach warrior is armed with numerous tools such as:

  • bait gun;
  • high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum;
  • light-emitting diode (LED) flashlight;
  • compressed air sprayer;
  • duster;
  • stepladder;
  • knee pads;
  • inspection mirror;
  • injection application equipment; and
  • low-environmental-impact type of pesticide products.

However, even a well-equipped army can be hard-pressed to achieve optimal success if it doesn’t know what it’s doing.

“Give me a great technician and a mediocre product, and I’ll take that any day over a poor technician and a great product,” Frishman says. “Greatness is an attitude, and with that attitude comes an eagerness to learn and a high energy level to get the job done correctly.”

To help fine-tune these skills, we’ve included baiting and dusting to optimize results.

Why baits work

Cockroach baiting isn’t new. In Bello’s student days, he was fortunate to visit Dr. Frishman at home, where he was conducting early trials for a product concept that would eventually become Combat cockroach bait. Before that, there had been numerous mixtures created to kill cockroaches. However, current cockroach bait products are superior.

It’s impossible to find and reach all hidden harborages in an account, especially if clutter exists. Some cockroach baits kill slowly, which allow some toxicant to pass through the insect’s gut and be excreted in its droppings. Young cockroach nymphs, also called first instars, feed on these droppings and die.

“The older cockroaches do us a favor and bring the toxicant to where the young hide,” Bello says. “We’d likely never find or reach them without an inordinate amount of additional effort.”

While cockroach baits work best after ingestion, some bait products can kill cockroaches that just touch it. Whichever cockroach bait is your choice, you can optimize the results by using it properly. Two tips, regardless of treatment type, are:

Vacuum high numbers of cockroaches before installing. If you don’t, the roaches might use the bait tray as harborage and defecate over

the bait rather than feed on it. They then stop eating the bait. Use a HEPA vacuum to ensure you’re not contributing to the overall distribution of cockroach allergens within the account. As a bonus, vacuums can remove large numbers of cockroaches from infested locations fairly quickly, which enhances the results attained with your other control methodologies, including bait placements.
Use sticky traps to help select bait placements because they help determine where population aggregations are.
See “Tray baiting tips,” and “Gel baiting tips,” for additional in-depth tips about each technique.

Using dusts for control

Insecticide dusts are another excellent choice to include for cockroach control because they can provide thorough treatment to almost all surfaces within a hidden void where cockroaches might harbor or travel. Dusts also are capable of providing long-term residual control. However, it’s important to apply dusts properly to achieve optimal results. A few tips:

  • Dust lightly. Dusts are overapplied often. Think less is more.
  • Confine dust to voids and cracks and crevices where cockroaches hide. Apply dusts to those areas where it’s best suited.
  • Don’t dust above suspended ceilings, near compressors and other areas where air movement will cause drift. Dust applied to such areas might result in subsequent exposure to other persons or contamination because of the translocation of applied dust.
  • Don’t keep dusting in the same areas. Dusts provide long-term residual, and it might be unnecessary to reapply to previously treated areas.
  • In humid areas, select dusts that hold up. Dusting in Arizona is different than in Mississippi, for example. Certain dust products are better suited in areas with high humidity than others.
  • Don’t dust near an open flame or where electrical sparks can occur. Fire and explosion hazards can be a concern when applying dusts.
  • Label the duster by keeping it in a sealed plastic bag, and label the bag. Always store pesticides and application equipment securely.
  • Use two smooth pebbles or marbles in the duster to prevent dust from clumping. Much like paint sprays that have a ball bearing enclosed to enhance agitation, pebbles or marbles placed in a duster can keep the dust free-flowing.
  • Attach a flexible hose of suitable length to the tip of the duster. This allows you to treat in different directions in the void. Plastic tubing is widely available in various sizes and aquarium-type hoses can be adapted for such use.
  • Wear goggles when dusting overhead, as well as a respirator and gloves if the label calls for it. Always read and follow label directions, and follow all personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations.

A service state of mind

When working to resolve cockroach infestations, or any pest problem, be mindful of the following:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why is it here?
  3. What must be done to eliminate the problem as soon as possible?
  4. What needs to be done to prevent it from occurring again?

The first three questions are the easiest to answer and/or implement. The answer to the last question is the most difficult because there might be no practical way to prevent re-entry based on the neighborhood, the number of commodities brought into or delivered to the account daily, or the lack of cooperation realized. However, the need for regularly scheduled pest management service is critically important, and the timing of service frequency must be suitable to properly address pest pressure. High-pressure, multicomplex accounts will require daily service somewhere in the complex, whereas low-pressure accounts can go quarterly between visits.

One last tip: If an incident is noted before a service is due, waiting more than a day or two is unacceptable because cockroaches multiply too quickly. pmp

Dr. Frishman and Bello, longtime pest management industry veterans, have combined their expertise to jointly author The Cockroach Combat Manual II, publishing later this year. You can reach Dr. Frishman at 561-487-1585, and Bello at or 770-500-0460.

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