Two pest control experts are urging Winnipeggers to squash any cockroach problems in their homes or businesses, as the number of infestations in the city continues to scurry forward.
“The sooner one is seen, it should be addressed before it becomes a big problem,” Gilles Lambert, president of Gilles Lambert Pest Control, told CBC News.
His business has done more than 2,000 treatments this year for the pests — up from about 1,000 last year, he said.
And the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
“It was busy before COVID, but this problem seemed to really augment with the lack of everybody travelling,” said Lambert.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets any better.”
Multi-unit homes such as apartments or condos are the most common places in Winnipeg where cockroaches thrive, he added.
“They share common areas like the hallways and some have really big crawl spaces,” he said. “Once they get in these areas, they’re easily spread.”
But Lambert has also treated businesses and restaurants, which have seen an increase in the number of infestations.
Seven food service businesses shut down this year due to infestations, while one establishment closed in 2022 and none had to close in 2021, a spokesperson for the province said.
The bugs, which thrive in dark, moist environments, are known to spread bacteria such as coliform and salmonella. They also are known to worsen asthma symptoms.
“They’re so resilient,” Lambert said.
Population slowly climbing
For exterminator Lincoln Poulin, who owns Poulin’s Pest Control in Winnipeg, part of the reason for the increase is because cockroaches can reproduce so quickly — even faster than bedbugs.
Females can create 28 to 32 babies from just one egg capsule, Poulin said, which means just one cockroach can easily create an infestation.
“My team would much prefer to bring bedbugs home than cockroaches. They are much more difficult pests to get rid of,” he said.
And since people aren’t often on the lookout for cockroaches, they often spread under the radar.
“A lot of people don’t want to believe cockroaches are here,” he said.
Poulin’s business has also seen a jump in the number of cockroach-related calls. His staff went to about 2,700 locations to treat infestations in 2022, and about 3,200 so far this year.
But the problem isn’t new, Poulin said, though it has been getting particularly worse for the past three years.
Cockroach populations peaked in the 1980s and dropped significantly in the 1990s when a new “gel bait” product that killed the pests came out.
That worked for about 10 to 15 years, said Poulin, until the roaches started to develop a “bait aversion” to the gel and would no longer consume it.
“So eight years of it slowly climbing, slowly climbing, slowly climbing, is where we have the problem here today,” he said.
Winnipeggers can use insect monitors, or boards with glue on top that trap cockroaches, to find out if they have an infestation. If they find critters stuck to the board, they should call an exterminator right away.
“Infestation not addressed early on can create a very big problem,” said Poulin.
Lambert said homeowners should make sure their homes are clean and garbage is taken out regularly to avoid an infestation.
A city spokesperson wouldn’t say if any city-owned buildings have been treated for infestations this year, but said “for the health and safety of both the public and our staff, pest control is an urgent priority for building maintenance staff.”
More information and tips on how to deal with the pest can be found online, the spokesperson said.
Featured VideoLisa Pommer has to tape up the nooks and crannies around her apartment or else pests such as cockroaches will fall through the ceiling and into her unit. She calls Manitoba Housing for repairs and it can take years for someone to come fix things, she says.