How to prevent roach infestations in your home or business

PADUCAH — As the Cinemark theater in Paducah continues treatment measures following a roach infestation at its concession stand, Local 6 talked with a pest control expert about prevention and management strategies.

Joel Barrett with the Purchase District Health Department says he counted 40 roaches Monday at the concession stand. He immediately shut it down. A pest control company treated the concession stand, and staff members cleaned the area. Barrett reinspected the concession stand Wednesday morning.

“I checked all the areas that had live roaches. I found none,” Barrett says.

Barrett has allowed the concession stand to reopen, but the theater must take steps to prevent another infestation. Barrett says Cinemark management and the pest control company have submitted an action plan.

“The pest control is going to be continuing to spray and monitor the establishment for the next three or four weeks of heavier spraying,” says Barrett, adding that the health department will be doing spot checks as well.

Local 6 talked with Patrick Perry of Perry’s Pest Control about ways to combat roaches.

Types of roaches 

Male and female German cockroaches

Perry says there are three types of roaches in Kentucky — the American, the oriental and the German cockroach.

Perry says typically, American and oriental cockroaches only show up  in small numbers — one or two, or possibly 10 or 20 over a long period of time. They can live under homes, porches or leaves. But, Perry says the interior of a home is usually too dry for them.

German cockroaches, however, are able to thrive in an indoor environment.

“Those come in on boxes. They come on people. They’re not the largest, but they’re the most prolific breeders,” Perry explained. “So, you start with just a very few of them, and then they’re coming out of the light sockets. They’re coming out from the refrigerator.”

Perry says he believes the roaches at the Cinemark concession stand were likely German cockroaches because of how many Barrett saw.

German cockroaches have a pair of  dark-colored bar markings between their heads and the base of their wings.

Prevention and management strategies

Check for leaks underneath sinks.

Perry suggests installing new light fixtures that would brighten up the work and storage areas of places like commercial kitchens. By doing that, staff members can more easily see dirty areas and standing water. Perry says a small LED flashlight is also a great tool to monitor for signs of roaches. Reducing clutter will make roaches more visible as well.

Cockroaches are drawn to warmth and moisture, so Perry says it’s important to check for leaks underneath your sinks or house.

“They can go for a month on water and not food,” Perry says.

Do not leave pet food out for too long.

Make sure there are no other sources of standing water. For example, if you spray down a restaurant kitchen at the end of the day, the water can pool underneath appliances. Perry suggests using small fans to help dry those areas.

If you have pets, avoid leaving their food out, because it can attract roaches. Perry says, at the very least, move the food away from warm places where roaches congregate, such as behind refrigerators.

Perry says roaches also like to get into cracks and tight spaces, so it’s important to seal them.

“Especially in your kitchens, they like to get behind the backsplash of the counter top. And if you caulk that, they might still be able to live under it, but they’ll have to go further to get the food. And then, if you have other insecticides, it’ll contact it quicker,” Perry explained. “You can use latex caulk or also silicone if it’s real, real wet. It holds up better.”

Sealing the area behind the backsplash of countertops can help manage roaches.

A vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air filter can also help reduce the number of roaches.

“The vacuum kills the adults and sucks those eggs up, so they can’t come to maturity,” says Perry.

After an infestation, roaches leave behind feces that contains pheromones, which attracts other roaches. Perry says even after the feces is removed, traces of the pheromones may be left behind. Perry suggests painting over the fecal spots can prevent roaches from being drawn to the pheromones.

As for the outdoors, Perry suggests cleaning out leaf litter regularly, or at least get the leaves several feet from your home. He also recommends cleaning out your gutters, putting in new weather stripping, and sealing in holes in the foundation.

Perry warns that electronic anti-roach devices that plug into walls do not actually work. He also says foggers in cans may push roaches deeper into cracks.

Perry says you can always send pictures of what you see to a pest-control professional for advice on treatment.

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