Find your keys to cockroach control


January 9, 2018

  • Don’t let cockroaches become established before you’re onto them.

  • Use all available methods on every visit to get the earliest indicators.

Photo: Mark Sheperdigian

Have you ever considered that you always find your keys in the last place you look?

Then again, once you find your keys, you stop looking, so of course you find them in the last place you look.

It’s true for keys, but it shouldn’t be that way with German cockroaches (Blattella germanica). If you stop looking for cockroaches after you find some, you are in for some hard knocks. Stay vigilant by using all the tools available on every visit.

The most important tool is a full array of well-placed monitors. “A full array” means there are enough monitors to intercept cockroaches where they are most likely to be introduced and settle. This includes storerooms where goods are brought in, lockers and break areas where employees come in, and dining areas where the public comes in. Once inside, cockroaches are naturally attracted to warm areas that offer good harborage and plenty of water. These are primary harborage areas because cockroaches are likely to harbor there first.

Well-placed monitors are out of the public view and unlikely to be dislodged. A loose insect monitor floating around a place of business is both unprofessional and embarrassing. Some businesses have chosen to ban them after just such an embarrassment, but this is like refusing to wear seatbelts because someone got trapped in a wreck once. If you have such a client, point out the danger of working blind.

Always ask the staff whether they have seen anything. People who arrive first thing in the morning will often see the first activity in a growing infestation. Being there to flip on the lights while rooms are still dark is second only to a full array of well-placed monitors. The untrained may not see a cockroach unless it’s floating in their coffee, but early reports from the morning crew are common.

Monitors and staff reports aren’t the only way to discover roaches. Thoroughly inspect primary harborages. Move through the facility — whether it is a food plant, fine dining establishment or a greasy spoon — and linger around primary harborages, inspecting for movement with a good flashlight. Keep an eye out for droppings and cast skins. It’s quite rewarding to find the first cockroaches even before the insect monitors do.

Cockroaches have been getting into homes and buildings for generations, and will do it many more times before we are retired and sitting on a beach. If you’re always on the lookout, you can be proud when you are able to find them and respond before the client ever knew there was a problem. By faithfully following the basics and taking your time in all the important areas, you can be the best prevention.

You can reach Contributor Mark Sheperdigian, BCE, vice president of technical services, Rose Pest Solutions, Troy, Mich., at

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