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Saw an old friend the other day and it was a cockroach!

By Chris Williams on January 28, 2014.
German cockroach oriental or american

German cockroach

Cockroaches used to be king in the pest control world, back in the day when I started in the industry some thirty years ago. I used to do a pretty good amount of night work battling the German cockroach in commercial kitchens after hours. It certainly gave me a different perspective on one of my favorite forms of entertainment which is eating out!

Of course, this same species was very common (still is today) in multi-unit apartment buildings too.  So common was this pest that it actually became kind of boring dealing with it so often. A few times during my career I’ve encountered Brown-banded cockroaches and was kind of amused by their behavior. Brown Banded cockroaches seem to like to live anywhere in a dwelling BUT the kitchen. It was funny seeing them living in television sets or other electronics, or simply hanging out in someone’s’ sweater drawer.

Some of the most ‘fun’ work early on in my career was doing battle with American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) at my alma mater. I will never forget shooting a little bit of flushing agent into a wall void in the campus bakery just to get an assessment of the problem and having them literally fly out of the wall at me!!  Then, I had another memorable job in the life sciences building on campus where these impressive cockroaches (aka Palmetto bugs) were causing a ruckus.  They were enjoying themselves quite nicely in the belly of this building that was a functioning cold war era bomb shelter , but on occasion would cruise across a lecture hall floor or lab.  Ah, those were good times!

One species of cockroach I almost never see (maybe but once) is the Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis) This is the so-called ‘water bug’ and it really is the cellar-dweller of the cockroach world preferring to live in cooler, dark , moist environments, like crawl spaces, floor drains, sewers. It is surprisingly cold tolerant and can sometimes be found outdoors in abandoned cisterns, or living in mulch, or around stonewalls compost dumps etc. Since this species is the one I’ve worked with the least over the years, I can only hope to have more encounters with the Oriental cockroach this year as I wind my way through 2014!

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