Once less common, Winnipeg seeing resurgence of cockroaches, pest control businesses say

You could say it’s a comeback story, but not one anyone wants to hear. 

Pest control businesses in Winnipeg say they’re seeing more and more calls for cockroach removal in the city — so many that they’re now one of the most common pests. 

Cockroaches were a common problem in the 1990s, but they became less of a concern around the early 2000s, partly due to new products that were more effective at getting rid of them, said Clint Rosevear, area manager for Orkin Pest Control. 

But in recent years, calls about roaches have increased dramatically, said Rosevear, who has been in the business for close to 30 years.

“I’d say about two years ago we started seeing an uptick in the amount of roach activity out and … now the levels of roach activity and the amount of roach work that we’re doing has really, really, really, really increased,” he said.

“It’s already on a rolling trend, and it actually has been climbing. There’s no signs of any type of plateau.”

Taz Stuart, entomologist and director of technical operations for Poulin’s Pest Control, says their business has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of cockroach treatments it’s done in the last year alone. 

He says he suspects this is partially due to the pandemic, and that the pests are being brought in through online shopping packages in some cases. But he also said the pests have become increasingly common over time, before the pandemic even started. 

“About three years ago, I was saying cockroaches — especially German ones here in Winnipeg — would be beating out bedbug calls. And they are now the new number one pest,” he said. 

In 2017, he said Poulin’s did about 1,700 treatments for cockroaches in the Winnipeg area. By  2020, that number has doubled, Stewart said. 

Gilles Lambert, who runs Gilles Lambert Pest Control in Winnipeg, also said he’s seen the number of customers needing cockroach removal eclipsing the number of customers needing bedbug removal.

“In the last eight to 10 years, they’ve been getting worse and worse and very strong in numbers and hard to deal with,” he said. 

Treatment needed quickly 

Rosevear said he thinks this is because cockroaches have simply become resistant to the pesticides that once drove them away. 

“You have to surmise that roaches adapt and they’ve been around since dinosaur times, they survived the Ice Age. So they’re pretty hardy, and very, very, very adaptable,” he said. 

If you are unfortunate enough to find them in your home, Rosevear stressed not to let embarrassment stop you from getting them removed, because they are something that need to be treated fast. 

“Because of the stigma of saying ‘I have roaches,’ it gets carried away really quickly and they can be a difficult pest to treat,” he said. 

“They don’t realize how fast this population is growing and how fast it’s getting out of hand and why.”

Stewart said prevention is also easier than having to treat a cockroach infestation. He said people should open their packages outside if possible — including new items and food — and inspect boxes for any signs of the pests. 

“That’s the best way to do it is inspections. Make sure there’s no roaches on the stuff that’s coming in. And don’t assume [it’s fine] just because it looks clean, there could still be a roach in it,” he said.