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 EPA: GENERAL, SPOT,
AND CRACK AND CREVICE. Each may be used in certain areas of food-handling
establishments and are defined as follows:
General: Application 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), or more complicated
as is the case when using an electric machine such as the Dyna Fog ULV Mister / Fogger, the B&G Electric Fogger or the Unifix SG - 1000.
A barrier treatment is usually considered the application of pesticides
to thresholds and other entrances, the foundation and soil adjacent to the foundation.
Read the label, as some pesticides contain explicit instructions for this use. Some
outdoor insect or related pest 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
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
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.
What If Cockroaches Are 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.
most frequently and effectively used for German
cockroach control are Demand CS
and the dust boric acid based dust - Borid
Many of these materials are available in a variety of formulations, including emulsifiable
concentrates, wettable powders, dusts and flowable micro encapsulations.
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.
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
should have plastic tips on them, so that the tip will not conduct electricity if it is
used near electrical outlets, conduits or equipment.
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
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 Borid
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.
IGRs (INSECT GROWTH REGULATORS)
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
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
FUMIGATION FOR COCKROACH CONTROL
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.
EDUCATION AND FOLLOW-UP
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
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.