When was the last time you saw a cockroach? How did it make you feel? Most people react with total revulsion. We’ve heard no end of anecdotes about how people scream and run at the site of a roach or two (luckily the pest control professionals at Safeguard are made of sterner stuff!)
It would seem that we’re just hardwired to despise this particular creepy-crawly. Our difficult relationship with cockroaches goes back Millennia. Did you know that the Ancient Egyptians performed spells in the hopes that the ram-headed god Khnum would rid them of cockroaches? We can’t imagine they had much luck.
Whilst it’s understandably upsetting to find a cockroach scuttling about in your home, finding them in your workplace could be the beginning of a war that has the potential to put you out of business.
The existence of cockroaches in a building has become ingrained in popular culture as evidence of poor hygiene. The truth is, whilst they certainly prefer a cluttered space and less than sparkling levels of cleanliness, cockroaches can be introduced to a clean business from outside sources.
Similar to bedbugs, cockroaches are hitchhikers and will commonly arrive in your workplace via one of your employees or visitors. They can also get in through any open doors or windows, so you should be especially alert during the warmer months.
Fun Fact: A fear of cockroaches is known as Katsaridaphobia.
Protecting your business from cockroaches is incredibly important if you want to keep your staff safe and healthy, project a professional image to clients and in certain cases, avoid hefty fines or sanctions from government bodies.
Cockroach Types in the UK
There are four common cockroach types found in the UK. These are:
Each cockroach has its own distinct features, but all breed quickly, and infestations can rapidly spiral out of control. All of these varieties are also voracious omnivores and can live on virtually any material, even if it’s not usually what you would consider food. This can include sewage, clothing, books and even human hair and nails.
Signs of a Cockroach Infestation
Cockroaches tend to be nocturnal and are notorious for avoiding humans. If you see one during the day it’s a sure sign of a very heavy infestation.
With a cockroach infestation, you’re far more likely to notice the following signs before you ever see a live insect.
In dry areas, the insects will produce small, round or oblong dark brown or black droppings. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the droppings, the bigger the roach.
- Brown Smears
When cockroaches have an abundance of water, their faeces will show as short, irregular smears rather than firm droppings. You’re likely to find these around skirting boards, near water sources and in the dark spaces under furniture or appliances.
- Shed Skins and Egg Casings
Cockroaches shed their skins at several points during their life cycle. During this stage, the “nymph” will wriggle free of its small casing and will appear white for several hours or even a day or two. Sightings of these white nymphs have led to the myth of the albino cockroach – something which has yet to be discovered in nature – ever.
As many as 50 eggs can be held in a single oothecae (egg casing.) The appearance and size of the oothecae depends on the species of cockroach and it may either be secured somewhere, or carried on the female’s back until they hatch. An empty oothecae is a bad sign, since you now know you’ve got at least a dozen nymphs making your business their home.
- Dead Cockroaches
This is about as clear a sign of an infestation you can get before you see a live roach! If cockroaches are dying on your property, it’s likely that they’ve been living there for a while and the infestation is pretty well entrenched.
- Strange Smell
With minor infestations you might not notice this particularly unpleasant side effect, but it’s very often present with large infestations.
The odour is difficult to describe, but many have described it as “oily” and “musky.” One thing’s for sure, once you’ve experienced the distinctive scent it won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Protecting Your Business From Cockroaches
Protecting your business from cockroaches is much the same as defending it from most kinds of pest insect.
The key ways you can do this are:
- Limit access
As we’ve already said, cockroaches will often gain entry to a property through open doors or windows. They’ll also find a way in through cracks and crevices, ventilation systems and even plumbing.
You can limit the opportunities for cockroaches to get in by ensuring that the building is in good repair with any gaps in the brickwork or around entries filled in and by installing outside doors that close automatically. You can also add screens to drains and vents which roaches won’t be able to get through.
- Cut off resources
Cockroaches need a decent source of water to survive. If you can remove the source, they’ll be forced to move on. The most common culprit in this case is a leaky tap or appliance.
Of course, there’s no shortage of rain in good ol’ Blighty, so a leak in the roof can also provide a reliable water source for pests. Give your building a once over and order any necessary repairs.
Despite the fact that cockroaches can live on near enough any substance, they’ll still be drawn to sweet, starchy and fatty foods, so any dropped food will attract them. This is of course especially important for businesses like restaurants, hotels and hospitals that serve food to the public as there will be an abundance of food available with the added risk of transmitting diseases to customers.
You should ensure that food is sealed away in containers when not in use and that spills and dropped foods are cleaned up immediately.
- Perform regular checks
Even if you’re very proactive with protecting your business from cockroaches, no defence is concrete. You can hardly subject every person who enters your workplace to a full-body search to locate unwanted hitchhikers!
In addition to the above steps, you should perform regular checks looking for signs of an infestation. Focus on dark, warm and damp areas like kitchens and bathrooms, as these tend to be a cockroach’s favourite hangout.
The pest control professionals at Safeguard can offer more in depth advice on keeping your business roach-free, and would be happy to discuss options if you’ve unfortunately already fallen victim to an infestation.
Get in contact today through our online contact form or give us a call on 0800 328 4931.