Winnipeg once saw a less common roach resurgence, pest control companies say

You could say it’s a comeback story, but nobody wants to hear it.

Winnipeg pest control companies say they are seeing more and more calls for cockroach removal around the city – so many that they are now among the most common pests.

Roaches were a common problem in the 1990s, but they became less of a concern in the early 2000s, in part because of new products that could get rid of them more effectively, said Clint Rosevear, area manager at Orkin Pest Control.

But in the past few years, roach calls have increased dramatically, said Rosevear, who has been in the business for nearly 30 years.

“I would say about two years ago we started seeing an increase in roach activity and … now roach activity and the amount of roach work we do has really, really, really, really increased. ” he said.

“It’s already a rolling trend, and it’s actually rising. There’s no sign of any kind of plateau.”

Taz Stuart, entomologist and director of technical operations at Poulin’s Pest Control, says the number of cockroach treatments in her business has increased 25 percent in the last year alone.

He suspects that this is partly due to the pandemic and that the pests are partly introduced via online shopping packages. But he also said the pests became more prevalent over time, before the pandemic even started.

“About three years ago I said that cockroaches – especially Germans here in Winnipeg – would destroy bed bug calls. And they are now the new number one pest, ”he said.

In 2017, he said Poulin had about 1,700 treatments for cockroaches in the Winnipeg area. That number has doubled by 2020, Stuart said.

Gilles Lambert, who heads Gilles Lambert Pest Control in Winnipeg, also said he saw the number of customers who need to remove cockroaches eclipse the number of customers who need to remove bed bugs.

“Over the past eight to ten years they’ve gotten worse and worse and very strong and difficult to work with,” he said.

Treatment required quickly

Rosevear said he thinks cockroaches simply became resistant to the pesticides that once drove them away.

“You have to assume that cockroaches adapt and they have been around since dinosaur times, they survived the Ice Age, so they’re pretty tough and very, very, very adaptable,” he said.

If you are unfortunate enough to find them in your home, Rosevear emphasized that you shouldn’t let embarrassment deter you from having them removed as they need to be dealt with quickly.

“Because of the stigma of saying ‘I have cockroaches’, they get carried away very quickly and they can be a difficult pest to treat,” he said.

“They don’t know how fast this population is growing and how fast it’s getting out of hand and why.”

Stuart said prevention is also easier than having to treat a cockroach infestation. He said people should open their packages outside whenever possible – including new items and groceries – and inspect the boxes for any signs of pests.

“The best way to do this is through inspections. Make sure the stuff that comes in doesn’t have cockroaches. And don’t assume … [it’s fine] just because it looks clean there might still be a cockroach in it, “he said.

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