The most commonly encountered cockroach species on the Oregon Coast is the German cockroach, reports Nancy Boerema of FireFly Enlightened Pest Solutions. She sees plenty of them, most often in restaurants, hotels and apartment complexes. Commercial kitchens are the most challenging, she says, due to not only sanitation issues but also the physical environment.

“You have to deal with a lot of stainless-steel surfaces, which are easy for cockroaches to climb but tough for us to treat. Then there are the motors powering microwaves, mixers, dishwashers and other appliances, which attract them,” Boerema says. “There are usually tons of drawers, too, and a lot of utility penetrations. It can take a long time to seal all the cracks and crevices we find — where pipes meet wall voids, for example.”

GETTING THE INSPECTION RIGHT

Any initial visit with a commercial kitchen account should begin with a conversation with the person who opens up in the morning, Boerema says. “German cockroaches are active at night but run to hide when the lights go on, so I ask the person who flipped the lights on in the morning, ‘What did you see?’ If they saw activity in the dishwashing area, then that’s where we start.”

Unlikely to see many insects in the light of day, Boerema looks for fecal matter, which resembles black pepper, in this hot spot, as well as throughout the kitchen. Sometimes the hiding cockroaches are stirred up by the breeze created by her movement, which helps her identify hot spots as well. She applies red adhesive dots to mark the spots where she will place baits and check for activity on subsequent visits.

The inspection continues with an examination of water and food sources, including a look on hands and knees underneath equipment for grease, food scraps and, of course, insects. Pipes, cracks and crevices are next, with Boerema sealing as many trouble spots as possible to limit entry points. Finally, a look in the storage rooms, where cockroaches are likely to hide, for two reasons: Clutter provides harborage and they are huge fans of the cellulose in carboard boxes.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE The red dots are vital to Boerema’s inspections, as are glue traps. Other important tools include a telescoping inspection mirror to look behind refrigerators and check their motors; a flashlight and headlamp; and a digital camera. “Providing photos in addition to written documentation improves communication with your customer. If the manager’s not there when I treat the kitchen, I can explain in words and pictures, ‘I placed red dots here and here, this leaky pipe needs to be repaired, this debris needs to be cleaned up,’ etc.,” she shares.

TREATMENT SCHEDULE

Once the inspection is complete, Boerema treats cracks and crevices with a liquid pesticide mixed with an IGR to disrupt the life cycle. With the idea that the cockroaches will avoid the baits if any of the liquid pesticide gets into them, she waits for the second visit to bait. Once she places the gel baits on the next visit, she rotates them on every visit to minimize the chance of resistance.

All told, it may take two technicians three or four hours to complete an initial visit with a commercial kitchen, Boerema says. Subsequent visits by her team, including two follow-ups 10 to 14 days apart and then three monthly visits, take less time and can be handled by just one technician.

“For restaurants, like all of our accounts, we believe in taking the time to do the job right, and our customers appreciate the value we provide,” she says.