Bug Blog

What Role Do Synthetic Insecticides And Baits Play In Modern Cockroach Control Programs?

While humans have good reason to react with disgust to the presence of cockroaches within a home, hotel, restaurant, or grocery store, there is no denying that cockroaches possess many unique and impressive traits that make them seem otherworldly when compared to their arthropod relatives. For example, when accounting for the size difference, the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is faster than the cheetah, and the seemingly dubious claims that cockroaches can withstand nuclear fallout and survive without their head both happen to be true. Cockroaches also exhibit relatively advanced social behaviors like offspring care, cooperative foraging, and communal methods of defense against sexually aggressive males. Individual cockroaches can exploit a variety of indoor and outdoor harborages in order to avoid disagreeable weather, predatory attacks, and intense competition for resources.

Cockroaches consume just about anything they encounter including pantry foods, paper, and cardboard boxes, but they mainly rely on organic waste materials for sustenance, especially excrement, rotting food, dead plant material, and decaying corpses. While cockroaches prefer some foods over others, it is clear that they are not too picky in their dietary choices, but they happen to be very picky about where their food comes from. Given their ability to quickly familiarize themselves with new environments, cockroaches often demonstrate a reluctance to consume strange foods that are abruptly introduced into their foraging arena, and this includes even the tastiest of pest control baits.

For nearly a century, public and private pest control outfits relied solely on toxic chemicals to control cockroach pests within and around human dwellings. However, due to their rapid reproduction rates and their constant exposure to a small number of toxic chemical formulations, it did not take long before cockroach pests evolved a resistance to common insecticides. Due to decades of failed efforts to control cockroaches with new insecticide formulations, it is now understood that cockroaches are not well controlled with insecticides alone.

By the 1980s the first consumer- and professional-grade cockroach bait products were introduced to the market, and baiting systems remain the primary cockroach control method used by professionals today. However, even baits alone will not eliminate cockroach infestations, particularly German cockroach infestations, as researchers have recently found that German cockroaches have developed a behavioral resistance to sugar bait products that the pests used to find irresistible. Despite this, resistance can be avoided by regularly rotating the organic and/or synthetic bait and insecticide formulations used to control cockroaches.

Have you ever encountered a German cockroach only once and never again within your home?