Signs of Cockroach Infestation in a Restaurant

Signs of Cockroach Infestation in a Restaurant

Health inspectors make a big deal if they find cockroaches in restaurants and they have a good reason. These pests are unsightly and disease carriers but are also indicative of bigger issues in the restaurant. These issues include structural flaws that let the roaches in, sanitation problems and generally poor hygiene and possible food safety concerns.

There is no such thing as a small cockroach problem. Although this is a problem that even 5-star restaurants struggle with on a regular basis, you should be on top of pest control at your restaurant. Hiring a pest control company for ongoing maintenance is the best strategy.

Cockroaches are one of a restaurant owner’s worst nightmares. The pests are unsightly, smell and can contaminate food. It is crucial to eliminate any kind of infestation as quickly as possible and to check for signs of cockroach infestation in a restaurant on a regular basis. We offer regular inspection and cockroach extermination services as part of our customized cockroach exterminator Toronto programs.

Signs of Cockroaches in Restaurant

severe cockroach infestation in restaurant
severe cockroach infestation in restaurant

All members of the restaurant staff should be educated on how to spot cockroach problems in the restaurant. The sooner the issue is detected the quicker and easier it is to exterminate. There should also be clear communication between junior staff and management where the latter should feel free and even encouraged to report pest or suspected pest problems.

There are a few accurate signs that you may have a cockroach problem in the restaurant beside obviously seeing one.

1. Seeing Cockroaches

The first and most recognizable sign is of course actually seeing one. If you see one, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are more. Always assume there are more to be found even if you only see one and don’t see any others for months. Cockroaches are nocturnal and like to hide in small, tight places so you might not always see the rest.

2. Unpleasant Smell

Another fairly obvious sign if there is a large infestation is a smell. Cockroaches secrete an oily, pungent pheromone that is extremely unpleasant. Not only is the smell bad enough as it is, it can even get into your food and affect the flavour. A customer complaint about poor tasting food can be a potential sign of contamination from a roach problem.

3. Cockroach Droppings

Cockroaches also leave droppings and pieces of their shells wherever they travel. The droppings are made of fecal matter and regurgitated food and look like ground up pepper flakes. Obviously given the composition of these droppings, they are highly unsanitary and can spoil an entire container of food if they were to come in contact with any amount of food.

4. Moulting Cockroach Skins (exuviae)

Cockroaches shed their outer protective layer from 5 to 8 times as they grow. This “skin” usually can be found close to areas where cockroaches shelter.

5. Smear Markings

Due to their nocturnal nature, smear marks and droppings are much easier to spot than the insects themselves. Smear markings are indicative that water is abundant in your home. The markings themselves will be long with an irregular shape. They will be found in the same areas of roach droppings. While smear marks show evidence of water, droppings show a lack of water being ingested.

6. Egg Casing

Also known as oothecae, roaches will stash egg casings where they feel will be safe. You may notice these behind shelving units and appliances, close to furniture and other hidden places. The egg casings are typically oval shaped and reddish brown or dark brown in colour. You may also notice cockroach exoskeleton or skin. This looks like a roach shell without the insect inside. Cockroaches shed their skin at least 5 times before reaching maturity.

Once you have found signs of cockroach activity in your restaurant, you may want to extend the search to where the pests are actually hiding. Roaches like dark, undisturbed, moist areas that are close to food which leaves many potential hiding places. Some of the areas to concentrate your search include;

  • Storerooms
  • Basements
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Behind picture frames
  • Old papers
  • Underused equipment, uniforms and linens
  • Behind cabinets

Signs of a Cockroach Infestation at Home

Cockroaches present themselves in the home the same way they would in a restaurant. The first and most obvious sign is seeing cockroaches. The most common species in Canada is the German cockroach, which is shiny and brown, with two flightless wings on its back. If you look closely, you may notice two black stripes that run down its back. Cockroaches are unmistakable and frightening to most people. They are commonly spotted in kitchens and bathrooms, hiding in cupboards and in between appliances. Cockroaches are drawn to food, moisture, and the dark.

Other signs include the presence of droppings and eggs. Cockroaches leave droppings everywhere they go, which are very small and dark. Droppings look like greasy, ground pepper. Eggs, also known as oothecae, are brown and oval-shaped casings that measure between 6 and 9mm in length. These are often found in cockroach hiding spots, like on the tops of cabinets or within carboard boxes.

An unpleasant smell is also often accompanied with a cockroach infestation. Cockroach pheromones produce a musty, oily smell that is rather unpleasant. Finally, if you come across what looks like a dead cockroach, that may be a molten skin. Cockroaches molt 5 to 8 times in their lifetimes, leaving their skins behind them.

Restaurant Pest Control – Dealing with Cockroaches

a cockroach in toronto cafe
a cockroach in toronto cafe

Cockroaches aren’t just unsightly; these pests carry fungi and bacteria that can contaminate food and put your staff and clients at serious health risk. The insect itself is a problem but so are its eggs, saliva, feces, cuticles and outer covering. You should not ignore a cockroach problem even if you have spotted only one insect.

Why DIY Cockroach Control Doesn’t Work

There are all kinds of products to get rid of cockroaches in Ontario but do-it-yourself pest control is rarely effective. For one, cockroaches are masters at hiding in cracks, inside walls, behind appliances and in services. Most DIY repellents and sprays are not capable of reaching all the potential hiding spots. It also takes a keen eye and expert pest control experience to identify and treat all potential hiding spots.

These DIY products also tend to be short-lived. You may get lucky and kill a good number of cockroaches only for the infestation to return in two or three months. The likely cause of the pest’s return is you did not destroy the eggs which hatch and you are back where you started.

A pest control company not only guarantees a successful extermination but also offers a warranty on the job so you don’t have to pay out of pocket in the unlikely event that the infestation returns.

How to Deal With Cockroaches

There is a lot you may need to do to prevent future infestation once the cockroach problem has been resolved by a professional. Another great advantage of hiring a pest control company is you get help and advice on how to ensure your restaurant is permanently free from cockroaches moving forward. Measures for dealing with cockroaches in restaurants in Ontario include;

  • Storing all food in tightly sealed containers
  • Discarding cardboard soon after supplies delivery (cardboard are good hiding places for cockroaches)
  • Sealing all crevices and cracks in equipment, walls or floors with expanding foam spray or silicone caulking
  • Adopting a rigorous and regular general sanitation regime to keep the restaurant clean
  • Raising equipment such as file cabinets and refrigeration units a few inches from the ground to facilitate cleaning underneath
  • Emptying and cleaning indoor garbage containers at the end of each work day

A cockroach infestation in a restaurant is an owner’s worst nightmare but this is a problem that a professional pest control company can solve with relative ease. Make sure you get a warranty for at least a year or two for the pest control and ask the expert for additional tips on how to prevent an infestation in future.

What to Do If You See a Cockroach in a Restaurant

Toronto Restaurants Suffer From Cockoach Infestations
Toronto Restaurants Suffer From Cockoach Infestations

This may not be reassuring news for customers but cockroaches in restaurants are almost cliché. Most management, however, keeps the problem under control with consistent and professional pest control.

The best thing to do if you spot a roach at a restaurant is to report it to the manager. The management may be genuinely unaware of an existing roach problem. You may also have spotted a lone cockroach that was brought in by one of the staff or customers or that wandered in from elsewhere. You should get a complimentary meal for your troubles and a genuine apology.

If you feel that your report has not been taken seriously, then you may report to your local public health officials. You will be doing the general public a favour. Cockroaches carry diseases including typhoid and dysentery and are a serious public health issue.

Maintenance after pest control

Having an active kitchen open seven days a week eight or even ten hours a day can demand a lot from your staff who are in constant stress and may feel fatigued after a long day of work. It is still important to remind your staff that anything can attract cockroaches. As earlier mentioned before storing food and discarding it immediately will help a great deal, but it must also be said that your staff must be mindful of any potential signs. The restaurant is a place of abundance, be it food, people, or staff. It has warmth, moisture, and offers a permanent shelter for those insects that are looking for something more permanent. Making sure that storage rooms, prep rooms, and the dining hall is properly cleaned is a good practice since these rooms are one of the rooms in the restaurant that do get overlooked.

Cockroaches and the social impact

Spotting cockroaches should be taken seriously and should immediately be taken care of. Cockroaches have the unfortunate reputation of being unsanitary and this can cause a great deal of damage to your business. Restaurants should immediately start looking into professional pest control technicians that are specialized in commercial properties as there are many moving parts at play that differ greatly from a residential property. Professional pest control specialized in controlling cockroaches will therefore be the best and most effective plan that will see a long-lasting effect

Hire an Exterminator to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Restaurant

Exterminators get most of their calls from the restaurant where repeated DIY extermination attempts have failed. Most pesticides available to the general public don’t have the active ingredients that actually kill roaches. Urban pests have developed a resistance to most common pesticides. Potent chemicals and active ingredients are only available to exterminators and other professionals.

You also need to deal with the underlying issues that are attracting the roaches in the first place otherwise the pests will return after extermination. Some of these causes can be hard to determine such as gaps and cracks in the foundation that are letting the pests in.

Only a licensed exterminator can guarantee permanent and safe roach removal. Using pesticides around food and food preparation surfaces is a delicate matter best left to professionals to handle. Request a warranty of at least six months before signing on to the service.

Given the seriousness of health concerns and both short term and long term costs of an infestation, action needs to take immediately. Unfortunately, a cockroach problem is not one that can be solved on your own and it is best to leave it up to a professional. However, by keeping your food sealed and stored properly and by following thorough sanitation and cleaning guidelines, you can avoid a problem altogether. We offer effective cockroach control solutions. Call The Exterminators: 647-496-2211.

Article Updated: August 6th, 2018