While servicing apartment units in a Monmouth Junction housing complex, we were alerted by the property manager that a tenant was experiencing a heavy roach infestation. When roaches are found in an apartment complex, the objective is to treat it quickly. Cockroach populations rise quickly and, if the infestation is not kept localized, will soon spread to adjoining units.
I immediately inspected the infested unit and found a nest of German cockroaches in the kitchen. The German cockroach reproduces faster than virtually any other species of roach, growing from egg to adult in about two months. While seen mainly at night, roaches will be seen during the day if the population if the population grows large enough or if a nest is disturbed.
Often, roach infestations are triggered by sanitation issues, and this unit was no exception. By any standard, this unit was poorly maintained. There were food-encrusted dirty dishes left in the sink and on the counters — for roaches, the equivalent of a continuously open all-you-can eat-buffet. In addition, the roaches had virtually unlimited harborage areas from all of the clutter left in the kitchen and living room.
The tenant was a kind gentleman who happens to be a proud veteran. From talking with him, it was evident that he had some mental issues, possibly PTSD, and he was not completely aware of his surroundings and his poor living conditions. I gently and politely discussed with him the importance of sanitation, and that if he didn’t want any more roaches, he needed better upkeep of his apartment by removing food sources and by keeping trash build-up and clutter to a minimum. It is imperative that extreme situations like this are relayed to family members or friends of individuals. If there is no close family, then a social worker from the state or the VA needs to become involved. I do not believe this tenant is truly self-sufficient and there needs to be oversight to ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained.
I discussed my findings with the property manager, and I am hopeful that this tenant will get the support he needs to live on his own. But my job as a pest control technician was to resolve the roach infestation. And I wanted to do everything I could to make this apartment livable. I used my sprayer to apply a product to flush these insects out of their hiding places and kill them. During our treatment, the roaches were raining down from the ceiling and pouring out from the kitchen appliances. This is one “nightmare” job that will stay with me for a long time.
At the end of the day, I’m confident that my treatment effectively killed the active roach activity. However, to prevent future roach infestations, the tenant must improve his sanitation. If someone lives in a home or apartment and does not keep up with the kitchen and you has clutter throughout that offers unlimited harborage areas, a roach or other insect infestation problem is virtually guaranteed. Property managers must be vigilant about educating tenants about proper sanitation in order to keep these infestations to a minimum and to preserve the reputation of the apartment complex. For those tenants unable to do this on their own, appropriate referrals to the appropriate authorities must be made. No one should live in the poor sanitation conditions that I observed in this apartment.