Central Alberta experiencing a growing cockroach problem

Travellers unwittingly bringing back pests from their trips

Growing numbers of travellers are returning home with more than tans and good memories.

Cockroaches are also making the trip back to central Alberta homes.

Kent Olsen, owner of Red Deer’s Protect Pest Control Services, said it’s a North America-wide problem.

“It’s become a massive outbreak because we’ve become so much of a world society,” said Olsen, who has been in the local pest business for nine years.

“We travel so much. We have way more people travelling from country to country, so it’s just become more of an explosive problem.”

The popularity of reusing household items, or putting them up for sale on Facebook and eBay, has provided more opportunities for cockroaches or bedbugs to move around once they’re here.

“We always shudder when the city has Kick it to the Curb day,” he said, referring to when residents are encouraged to set out unwanted items.

In Calgary, Alberta Health Services ordered a restaurant closed earlier this month until its cockroach problem was fixed.

A pest control business owner there told the Calgary Herald there is a “huge explosion” of cockroaches in the city, and calls to get rid of them are now common.

German cockroaches are almost exclusively the variety found in Alberta.

“They’re dependent on human travel, just like the bedbug.”

Olsen said when he started out, he got one cockroach call a year. “We deal with cockroaches every month now.”

Often, the calls he gets come from apartment buildings, where numerous suites may be infected.

Many central Albertans have no idea how big the problem has become, he said.

“Most people shake their head at me when I tell them there are cockroaches in town. Nobody believes that they’re here.”

Once a place has been infected, they can be tough to get rid of, he said.

Cockroaches quickly develop resistance to new pest control products, so exterminators usually must make multiple visits and monitor closely to ensure they are eradicated.

“They have become a challenge in that regard.”

People often become aware they have cockroaches when they catch them skittering away when a light is turned on in a dark room.

If you know what to look for, there are usually signs of infestation such as the presence of “cockroach dirt,” which looks like small grains of pepper, said Olsen.

To test for cockroach infestation, a glue sheet will usually catch one. Once identified as a cockroach, it’s time to call in the experts, he recommended.

“People should not try to do it themselves.”

To avoid infestations, keeping a clean kitchen and removing food sources is the best approach. Cockroaches die in about two weeks without food or water.

Health Canada has a lot of information on how to deal with cockroaches on its website at www.canada.ca. Search Health Canada and cockroaches.


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