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Cockroaches In Restaurants &
Food Handling Areas

German Cockroach Problems? Why not try using professional quality traps, sprays, dusts, foggers and equipment? We sell the most popular products for cockroach management used by professional pest control companies.


German Cockroach

The #1 Pest In Restaurants and Food Service Establishments

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Cockroach Control In Restaurants and Food Handling Facilities

It has often been said that if you see a cockroach in someone's home that unsanitary conditions must be present.  For years it has been ingrained in peoples minds that the presence of cockroaches almost certainly brings with it filth and disease.   Unfortunately for restaurant owners, bakeries, catering companies, etc, pest control can be a two edged sword.  On one hand trying to keep roaches - especially German roaches at  a low level of infestation can cost thousands of dollars a year.   Still - an occasional cockroach ruins someone's meal.  Also if someone sees a cockroach, then almost certainly the rumor begins to spread, resulting in unpaid meal tickets,  lost customers,  visits from the local health official and in the worst case scenario -  a lawsuit.  There was actually one case in Dallas where a restaurant patron claimed that she had been bitten by a "Brown Recluse" spider during her visit.  She received a nice settlement since the pest company that serviced that account had a
100% Pest Elimination Guarantee !

Pest control in food handling establishments can be performed by an unlicensed person in some states.  If you are interested in doing your own pest control in a food related facility, be certain that it is legal.  Proper Pest Control in Food Handling Establishments requires a special understanding of pesticide uses, laws and regulations.   Only those residual insecticide formulations that bear directions on their labels for such use can be used for pest control in food handling establishments. Typical labels bear wording such as "Food areas: limited to crack and crevice treatment only.  Applications of this product in the food areas of food-handling establishments, other than as a crack and crevice treatment, are not permitted." Before you decide which insecticides can be used for control in these areas, certain terms, as defined by EPA, must be understood.

How To Kill German Cockroaches in Restaurants and Food Areas

There are three types of residual applications recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency: GENERAL, SPOT, AND CRACK AND CREVICE. Each may be used in certain areas of food-handling establishments and are defined as follows:

General Applications: Treatments made to broad expanses of surfaces such as walls, floors, and ceilings or as an outside treatment. This is permitted only in non-food areas, using only those insecticides so registered.

Fogging, ULV (Ultra Low Volume) or "Space" Spraying :   Exactly what it means, the application of pesticides (always non-residual) to broad expanses of space or to entire rooms or buildings.  The application of fogging pesticides can be as simple as using a can of aerosol pyrethrin CB80 Aerosol, or more complicated as is the case when using an electric machine such as the Dyna Fog ULV Mister / Fogger, or the B&G Electric Fogger.

Barrier Treatment: is usually considered the application of pesticides to thresholds and other entrances, the foundation and soil adjacent to the exterior walls. Some pesticides contain explicit instructions for this use. Some outdoor insects or related pests may become an invader or nuisance when populations build up. A barrier treatment with residual sprays, dusts or granules may be beneficial in controlling the pest. 

Spot : Application to limited areas on which insects are likely to occur, but which will not be in contact with food or utensils and will not ordinarily be contacted by workers. These areas may occur on floors, walls and bases or undersides of equipment. For this purpose, a "spot" will not exceed two square feet. Until recently, this application could be used only in non-food areas. However, some insecticides have received EPA approval for label directions permitting spot applications in food areas. This wordage will appear on the labels of other insecticides as more data are collected.

Crack and Crevice: Application of small amounts of insecticides into cracks and crevices in which insects hide or through which they may enter a building. Such openings commonly occur at expansion joints, between different elements of construction, and between equipment and floors. These openings may lead to voids such as hollow walls, equipment legs and bases, conduits, motor housings, junction or switchboxes. The crack and crevice treatment includes the use of sprays, dusts, or baits. It permits the use of products in food areas as long as the insecticide is placed only into cracks and crevices. It does not permit treatment of exposed surfaces.

Residual insecticides: Those products applied to obtain insecticide effects lasting several hours or longer and are applied as general, spot, or crack and crevice treatments. Residuals include the common insecticides such as Phantom and Tri-Die. Certain formulations with higher than normal concentration and applied as coarse sprays provide insecticide effects lasting several hours or longer, and are therefore considered residual by the EPA.

It is important to note that residual insecticides may be applied when food establishments are in operation unless the label of the product being used specifically indicates that all operations must be stopped at the time when applications are made.

When using non-residual insecticides (defined as those applied to obtain insecticide effects only during the time of treatment) as space treatments (aerosol, ULV and fog treatments), the application should be made while the food-handling establishment is not in operation and exposed foods are removed or covered. Also, food-handling surfaces should be cleaned before use. However, the use of non-residual insecticides as contact treatments (which means hitting the target pest with a wet spray for immediate insecticide effect) can be done while the establishment is in operation. Both space treatments and contact treatments are considered general insecticide applications.  Occasionally, previous insecticide applications may scatter the German cockroaches into many different, and even relatively unfavorable, harborages. This makes inspection and management more difficult. In such cases, the use of traps in a detailed survey is often the only way to find all the scattered harborage locations and allow for adequate management.

Cockroaches Resistant or Immune And Won't Die?

Studies of German cockroach populations collected from field locations have increasingly shown high levels of resistance to the older organophosphates and carbamates. Less resistance has been reported to the newer, commonly used organophosphates and carbamates, or to synergized pyrethrins or the synthetic pyrethroids. It is important to understand that the field strains which were chosen for most of these resistance studies were selected because pest management professionals or homeowners had reported significant problems in controlling these strains with insecticides. Therefore, insecticide resistance was suspected, and the results of the research often confirmed those suspicions. Resistance should generally be one of the last explanations considered (or blamed) for insecticide failures in the field. Experience has shown that incomplete or improper insecticide application is usually the cause of control failure.

Residual insecticides most frequently and effectively used for German cockroach control are Demand CS and the dust boric acid based dust - BoraActin. Many of these materials are available in a variety of formulations, including emulsifiable concentrates, wettable powders, dusts and flowable micro encapsulations.

Non-residual insecticides can be used in aerosol or ULV applications, or are sometimes added to residual sprays to give flushing and quick knockdown action. These include synergized pyrethrins and various synthetic pyrethroids. Use of insect growth regulators (IGRs) in managing German cockroach infestations.

Crack and crevice treatments are usually best for German cockroach management since this results in the insecticide being placed exactly where the insect spends most of its time hiding. It also results in safer, more controlled applications. For this application, use a fine pin stream nozzle or one equipped with an extension tube. The Unfix Patriot 2XP Ninja is a very popular and effective crack and crevice applicator. Aim the insecticide directly into the crack as deeply as possible, so the insecticide will penetrate. Avoid any splashing or spraying of the material out of the crack and onto exposed surfaces, especially in food-handling establishments. With a compressed air sprayer, any pressure from about 8-15 psi will be adequate, while somewhat higher pressures are generally used for fan spraying. If a spot treatment is needed, use a flat fan nozzle, but first be sure the material is labeled for such application in the location involved (e.g., in a food-handling establishment such as a restaurant kitchen or grocery store).

Special care must be taken when it is necessary to treat near dishes, glassware or cooking utensils. Before treating, always remove these items from the treatment area and cover them with material such as polyethylene or a clean cloth. Never contaminate dishes or other food contact surfaces, such as counter tops in kitchens and dining areas, with insecticides. Do not rely on the customer to wash dishes or other food contact surfaces. Either be certain not to contaminate them, or wash them yourself after treatment.

Dusts are one of the most effective types of insecticide application for German cockroach control.  They provide longer lasting results than sprays when applied in dry areas. They should be used to supplement residual sprays and baits. Dusts should be applied to cracks and crevices and wall and cabinet voids using a hand duster. A power duster or plunger duster can be used to treat larger voids such as attics or crawl areas. Hand dusters

should have plastic tips on them, so that the tip will not conduct electricity if it is used near electrical outlets, conduits or equipment.

ULV applications of non-residual insecticides are frequently used to supplement applications of residual insecticides. The term "clean out" is often applied to the practice of using ULV (sometimes referred to as "fogging") applications of a non-residual insecticide immediately after applying a residual insecticide. This two-treatment approach gives a higher level of initial control than if either the residual or non-residual approach are used separately. In some areas the use of residual insecticides may be prohibited or inadvisable, so non-residuals and baits may be the only available options.

It is important to keep in mind that a properly conducted insecticide treatment program for German cockroach management requires careful consideration as to the choice of both insecticide ingredient and insecticide formulation. Select the most appropriate formulations and combinations of materials for each individual situation. These decisions will be based on many factors, such as label restrictions, type of surface to be treated, non-target species present (pets or plants), client preferences, past insecticide usage patterns in the account and other factors. The key to the control of German cockroaches (or any pest) is to integrate all the management tools available (inspections, sanitation, exclusion) in order to minimize insecticide applications. A pattern of excessive insecticide use may lead to contamination problems, accidents, regulatory enforcement citations and other problems. Always be careful not to become too complacent about, and disrespectful of, the potential hazards of the pesticides you use. Keep in mind that the objective is to manage or eliminate the cockroaches with the maximum level of safety to yourself, the client and the environment. 

Long Term Preventive CockRoach Control

Extensive treatment of wall voids, attics, crawl spaces and other voids with dust such as BoraActin or other inorganic insecticides has long been recognized as a very useful strategy to eliminate, or at least limit, cockroach and other pest problems in structures. Such treatments are most conveniently done during the building's construction, but can also be done by careful and thorough application after construction. In general, as long as these dusts remain dry they will effectively kill cockroaches in the treated voids.


Chemicals which mimic the cockroach's natural juvenile hormone, such as hydroprene (Gentrol Point Source) are useful in cockroach management. While they can be thought of as merely another type of insecticide, their action is quite different from that of traditional insecticides which generally affect the nervous system. When used properly, these IGRs will sterilize a high proportion of the adult cockroaches which survive other insecticide applications and management efforts. While they may kill some immature cockroaches, their most important action is to prevent the immatures from becoming reproductively capable as adults. Since the adults present at the time of IGR application will not be sterilized, it is important to use these IGRs in conjunction with an effective conventional residual insecticide. This can be done as a combination spray, or by use of an IGR fogger and a separate residual spray. In general, the conventional residual treatment should provide 1-2 months of 80% or greater control in order for the added IGR effect to be of significant value to the overall management program. Repeating applications at 2-4 month intervals (or when the proportion of adults with twisted wings captured in traps drops below 8096) will not only produce a high level of control, but most remaining adults will not be capable of reproduction.

In general terms, IGRs restrict the high reproductive potential of the cockroach population. And because this reproductive potential is a key aspect of the success and persistence of cockroach populations (especially German cockroaches), IGRs provide a substantial advantage to the pest management professional in many circumstances. However, it is important to understand that IGRs are only useful additions to cockroach management programs, which may permit the use of fewer insecticide applications, spaced at longer intervals, over the long run. These products are not effective tools when used alone.

IGRs have less utility in intensive cockroach management and elimination programs that rely on frequent and thorough applications of conventional insecticides. On the other hand, IGRs are particularly valuable in multi-family housing units or other situations with chronic cockroach problems where frequent insecticide applications are not practical. They might also be useful in situations where applications of conventional insecticides are less desirable or not permitted for whatever reason. In multi-family housing units and other complex structures, it is important to use the IGR in every unit so non-sterile cockroaches will be less likely to invade IGR treated units. These IGRs are not recommended for outdoor use in spray applications, because they degrade in the outdoor environment.


Another practice which is becoming more common in cockroach management for restaurants, buses and certain other situations is the use of fumigation (usually with sulfuryl fluoride - vikane). This technique may seem rather radical; but it is legal, can be done safely, and has been found to be a practical alternative for some situations. Fumigation provides immediate elimination of a cockroach population. However, since it provides no residual to control new cockroaches, it will not take the place of a traditional cockroach management program. For accounts where the expense of fumigation is feasible, it may be wise to substitute fumigation for the initial "clean out," and then continue with a traditional cockroach control program.


There is much that the client can do to assist in the overall cockroach management program. Educate the client as to why sanitation is important to the total pest management program. In addition, explain a few of the program's details to the client and establish good communication between the professional and the client. It is much easier to deal with a client who understands the reasoning for what must be accomplished. A client who understands some of these details, including the thoroughness of the effort and the progress which is being made, should also be more likely to maintain a long-term relationship with the firm. Good customer relations and communication will also help avoid accidents, pesticide contamination or other problems.

Important aspects of the cockroach management program should be continued inspections, occasional surveys and necessary insecticide applications to maintain the highest possible degree of cockroach management. Do not fall into a routine of using only certain types of insecticide applications, without doing the inspections and whatever else is necessary to find any and all remaining cockroach harborages. If insecticide applications and other activities in an account become too routine, the cockroaches will adapt to them and avoid the treatments. Keep in mind that a pest management firm is hired to eliminate pests, not to apply pesticides.

One of the hardest aspects of a professional's (and the supervisor's) job after satisfactory cockroach management or elimination is achieved is to maintain the necessary level of alertness and intensity in each account so that cockroach infestations do not rebound. Avoid the common cycle of initial "clean out," followed by a period of complacency, followed by an emergency need to do another "clean out." Long-term control of cockroaches requires unrelenting effort. From the start, think of the program as a continuing cycle which requires a constant and high level of vigilance. After satisfactory management has been achieved, rely more on inspection and survey and less on a routine of insecticide treatments. Frequent "clean out" treatments should not be necessary if the program is properly designed and there is adequate attention to inspections, surveys, sanitation, incoming sources of infestation and necessary insecticide treatments.

The success of the very best pest management firms lies in their ability to be very organized, thorough and consistent about the details and execution of a cockroach management program. The other key to long-term success is to remain vigilant and do all the follow-up work necessary to keep the cockroaches from returning to any significant numbers. Good cockroach management takes considerable knowledge of cockroach behavior and on-the-job experience. It also requires a strong dedication and persistence to demand of yourself the effort and discipline to be very thorough in all aspects of the job. If any aspect of the program is ignored for long, cockroaches (especially the German cockroach) are so prolific that infestations will develop rapidly, undoing all the work it took to achieve control at the start of the program.

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