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Long before man domesticated animals, he lived with the cockroach.  This critter has been around for at least 300 million years, and while practically all his early contemporaries are long gone, he is here, largely unchanged.  Both incredibly hardy and adaptable, over a thousand species of this insect have adapted to life all over the world, in warm climates and cold, above ground and deep in mines.  They can eat almost anything and breed prodigiously.

Cockroach infestation must be the most frequent complaint tenants will make.  Well should it be.  Not only are roaches repulsive, they carry allergens that can aggravate asthma among children and adults with breathing problems.  Since cockroaches look at filth as a gourmet delicacy, they are also prone to carry diseases.

The truth is, if you have a building you have cockroaches. It does not matter if it is an old tenement or a luxury high-rise, an apartment house or a single family dwelling.  When a tenant complains that he “has” cockroaches, what he really means is that he “sees” them.  Ordinarily, with a modest infestation in a physically clean and uncluttered building, the roaches will never be seen, as they abhor light and hide in the background.  When the infestation gets out of hand, they will become increasingly venturesome in their quest for sustenance.  Then you find them in the kitchen eating a few grains of rice that fell in a corner of the linoleum coving, or in the bathroom feeding on a toenail paring, or even in the den or study enjoying the bindings of books and magazines.

Chemicals alone will not get rid of the roach.  He has evolved immunity to many, and will live quite happily in the presence of, say, DDT, thank you.  Cockroach experts -- yes, there are those -- now agree that a combination of denial of access, proper waste disposal, and management of the individual rental units by the tenants are prerequisite to successful intervention by a pest control expert who will use chemicals.  The unspoken truth is that we are at the point that the only things that will kill the roaches will kill us, too.  For this reason, minimization of the problem through use management is imperative, while chemical intervention should be minimized.

We have included a very useful article from Texas A&M University, “Cockroaches…Recognition and Control.”  You can use it as a handout to your tenants, new and existing, and the ideas it contains as the centerpiece of your pest control program.