The primary goal of a cockroach inspection is to locate as many cockroach hiding places or harborages as possible. This helps determine necessary and proper insecticide treatments and other management activities. It is also important to note safety considerations such as the location of pets and the presence of small children. In many specialized or difficult accounts, proper inspection includes preparation of a diagram of the indoor and outdoor areas where the program will be conducted. This diagram should include notes on all cockroach sightings, areas where frass was spotted, conditions that are conducive to cockroach presence, sanitation problems, locations of sensitive areas (such as areas with pets, children or sick people), and other treatment considerations.
For highly complex situations and heavy infestations, a series of diagrams and extensive notes may be necessary. This leads to the necessary customization of the various insecticide applications and other management efforts, helping to ensure a successful result with the greatest safety and a minimum number of re-treatments. They can also help keep useful records of pest sightings, trap catch data, insecticide treatments, and other information.
The tools required to conduct a professional cockroach inspection include a heavy-duty flashlight, a mechanic’s mirror (to allow inspection of difficult cracks and crevices), a flushing agent (e.g., pyrethrins), cockroach sticky traps (for detection and ongoing monitoring), and screwdrivers, pliers, and other hand tools to open equipment panels or gain access to other possible cockroach harborage areas. Knee pads and a bump cap are useful when inspecting in areas that are dark or difficult to reach, sometimes called dead spaces, which cockroaches often prefer.
It has often been said about cockroach management that “You need to think like a cockroach,” and “Think in three dimensions.” In many ways, this is especially good advice for the inspection and survey phases of the program. When conducting a cockroach inspection indoors, especially for German cockroaches, it may be important to spend time either sitting on the floor or crawling around at floor level. This will allow a different perspective on all the available cockroach harborages. If all inspections (and treatments) are made from a standing position, important harborages may be missed.
Keep in mind that a cockroach crawls around with its head and antennae less than 1/4 inch from the floor, wall, or other surfaces. Thus, an inspection made by a person whose head and eyes are 5 to 6 feet above the floor does not permit a view of the world in which the cockroach lives.
In addition to a floor-level perspective, an above-floor-level perspective is often required. Thus, a ladder can be an important tool for proper inspections and treatments. This is especially true in restaurants and supermarkets, which often have suspended or high ceilings.
We keep in mind the behavior of the cockroach species involved and, if necessary, include inspection of affected outdoor areas. Trees, shrubs, ground covers, mulched areas, locations near food and water sources (e.g., pools and pet dishes), woodpiles, trash receptacles, door and window casings, roof areas, clogged rain gutters and other possible harborages are inspected if necessary. Attics, garages and crawlspaces should be considered for some species, particularly in regions with warm, moist climates.
Nighttime inspection is another good technique that will occasionally be necessary in difficult infestation situations. When the cockroaches are normally out and foraging at night, whether indoors or outdoors, you can gain insight into their behavior by observing them directly. A yellow Miter (available from pesticide and equipment suppliers) can be put over the flashlight lens to allow searching for German cockroaches without startling them. Their presence and movement can then be monitored more effectively with less disruption of normal behavior. In this way, we can observe and trace cockroach movement to overlooked or unseen harborage areas.
A cockroach survey using trapping techniques is sometimes necessary to determine the extent of an infestation because even a thorough inspection will not reveal all the cockroach harborages or where they are foraging most actively at night. Surveys are particularly useful in large commercial buildings such as hotels or apartment complexes.
Another advantage of repeating the survey in the exact same manner some time after the management program is implemented is that it can be used as a basis for estimating the program’s effectiveness. This can be especially useful when the goal is total elimination or zero cockroaches. The accuracy and validity of such program estimates will depend on the pretreatment and post-treatment surveys being conducted thoroughly and in exactly the same manner.
Professionals who manage cockroaches must understand basic cockroach biology and behavior. The more that is understood about cockroaches, the greater the likelihood of success on those occasions when standard or preferred management methods do not work or cannot be used.
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