Cockroaches: Combating The Restaurant Industry’s Most Resilient Pest

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A professional can recommend corrective actions to solve the cockroach issue in your restaurant.
By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

As a restaurant owner or manager, your top priority is making sure your patrons have a positive experience. While the food and drinks may be top notch, one thing that’s sure to ruin a meal out is a pest sighting – particularly a cockroach. Cockroaches are one of the most highly adaptable, resilient pests on earth tracing back 400 million years and pre-dating dinosaurs.

With more than 70 types of cockroaches in the United States, there is ample opportunity for them to make their way into your establishment. American, Oriental and German cockroaches are the species most commonly found in the metro New York area. Restaurants provide food, water and shelter – everything cockroaches need to thrive. Once inside, these pests pose a threat to your customers’ experience, your reputation and your health score. They carry an average of 25 different bacteria that can be spread into food and cause illnesses such as Salmonella and E coli.

Unfortunately, once you see a cockroach in your restaurant, it is likely there are many more behind the scenes. Cockroaches reproduce rapidly and are resistant to many pest control treatments, particularly do-it-yourself methods. They are also quite the travelers, covering up to three miles an hour, meaning they can quickly spread bacteria and disease. For these reasons, it’s important to work with your pest management professional to address current issues and develop protocols to help prevent future issues before they start.

A pest management professional can first and foremost help you correctly identify the species. Since different species require different treatments, this is your first step to successfully removing cockroaches from your restaurant. A professional can also help you uncover the source of infestation and determine how they made it into your establishment in the first place, and recommend corrective actions to solve the issue.

cockroach cockroachesHere are some measures you can proactively implement to help keep cockroaches away from your restaurant:

  • Cockroaches have small, flat bodies that allow them to squeeze through openings as small as one sixteenth of an inch, so locate and seal gaps in doorways or cracks and crevices in walls.
  • Make sure all trash is kept in lined trashcans with tightly secured lids. Trash should be taken out regularly so the rotting food does not attract pests. Also, dumpsters should be located as far away from the building as possible.
  • Immediately clean up any spilled food or drinks. Food crumbs under the tables and sugary drinks at the bar are an open invitation to cockroaches.
  • Inspect all incoming food deliveries. This is a common way for cockroaches to make their way inside. If the facility that packaged the food had a cockroach infestation, the shipments may be infested as well.
  • Monitor for sinks with leaking faucets, clogged drains and other water sources and eliminate any standing water.
  • Keep shrubbery and vegetation at least two feet away from your building exterior to help keep cockroaches off of the building itself.
  • Inform your employees about your pest management efforts. Teamwork between the restaurant staff and pest management professional is essential for achieving effective results.

These measures should be implemented as part of an Integrated Pest Management plan that focuses on sanitation, exclusion and mechanical methods as well as ongoing inspection and monitoring to help prevent and resolve pest issues.

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Since cockroaches multiply at a rapid rate, it’s important they never make themselves at home in your restaurant. With the help of a pest control professional, your staff and these recommended prevention methods, you can help protect your customers and your reputation.

Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets. Learn more about Western by visiting