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Cockroach problem in Halifax is ‘creeping up,’ experts say

Of all cockroaches found in homes, the German cockroach reproduces the fastest

4 min read
caption A german cockroach is pictured. They are the fastest reproducing cockroach in the world.
Image provided by Rite-Way Pest Control

Two local pest control experts say cockroach infestations in Halifax are on the rise and it could turn into an epidemic if left untreated.

Gary Samson, owner of Rite-Way Pest Control, said the city hasn’t seen cockroach populations this high since the 1950s.

“There’s cranes everywhere in Halifax and they are building apartment buildings higher than ever in the city. So, the ingredients are really there for it to become an epidemic if the problem isn’t addressed in the next one to two years,” Samson said.

“The numbers now aren’t as high as 50 years ago, but now the numbers are creeping up. I would say a 25 per cent increase in just the last two years. It’s shaping up to become even worse than before.”

Glenn Betts, the operations manager at Halifax-based Terminix, said for the first time in his experience, cockroaches are crawling their way into single-family dwellings.

“People can bring them back into their homes from staying at hotels or even from work,” he said.

Samson and Betts both said many people do not report them for fear of being looked down on by their neighbours or landlords. They encouraged residents to be aware this is a growing issue that can — and does — happen to anyone.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or not, you could get them. I’m seeing cockroaches in apartments and million-dollar mansions,” said Samson.

Cockroaches growing resistant to spray

Randy Lauff, a biologist and the curator of the zoological collection at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., said that the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) entered Nova Scotia sometime in the last century. He expects the cockroach population will likely persist and significantly increase in the months and years to come.

Of all the types of cockroaches found in homes, it reproduces the fastest.

“Initially, invasive species like cockroaches show slow growth, but then the populations rise exponentially since the chances of males and females meeting are greater,” said Lauff.

He said the only type of cockroach in Nova Scotia is the German cockroach, which originates in Asia. He explained that because Halifax is a port city, the harbour plays a huge role in how cockroaches make their way into Nova Scotia.

Several other pest control companies who spoke with The Signal said cockroach populations are indeed increasing, likely in part because they are becoming more resistant to the spray which has been used to eradicate them for more than a decade.

caption A picture from a Halifax residence shows how German cockroaches can hide in cupboards and behind glasses.
G. Betts

The product’s active ingredient fipronil was once considered a leading bait agent against the pests. Now, cockroaches are becoming resistant to it.

“The product definitely doesn’t work as good or as well as it has in the past. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the product, it’s just that the roaches have become resistant to it,” said Betts.

A new baiting formula to combat these cockroaches will be introduced in Canada this spring. Betts expects it to be groundbreaking in the battle against these cockroaches, and he’s one of many who can’t wait to try it.

“If it does what it’s supposed to do, we might be able to replace a few chemicals we use, and become more environmentally friendly and less toxic, which is always the goal,” Betts said.

Even with a promising new chemical to combat cockroaches on the horizon, experts say the biggest method of control is ensuring tenants and landlords report cockroaches and other pests immediately.

If not reported immediately, there is a good chance the bugs can hide in walls and other areas which cannot be reached by pest control workers. The bugs then make their way into nearby dwellings.

People concerned about possible cockroach infestations in their dwellings are encouraged to look out for these signs:

  • German cockroaches are between 1 to 1.6 cm in size
  • They’re oval in shape
  • Dark to light brown with two dark lines on their backs
  • Prefer living in confined spaces
  • Are nocturnal but can occasionally be found during the day

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About the author

Adam McNamara

Adam McNamara is a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has a passion for telling stories and informing the public on healthcare, education,...

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    Karen Seyl

    We don’t know what cleanliness is anymore. I have been in Walmart bathrooms that are cleaner than hospitals and restaurants. We leave restaurants when bathrooms are filthy. They tell stories about customers and owners. Several Tim’s in Victoria we no longer visit. Who teaches hygiene anymore. Simple solution!
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