Monster US cockroaches invade British kitchens

First there was the superrat. Now Britain is being overrun by giant cockroaches.

First there was the superrat. Now Britain is being overrun by giant cockroaches.

The number of roach infestations is soaring, with native varieties increasingly resistant to permitted poisons and a giant American variety which escaped from laboratories breeding prolifically here.

Environmental health officers, mainly working for local authorities, were called out to treat 12,052 premises for cockroach infestations last year, compared to 6,545 in 1994.

"It is generally accepted cockroaches are becoming more resistant to what is being thrown at them," said Elvira Doghem-Rashid, consultant at Mintel, the market research company, which has produced a report based on figures collated by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Environmental concerns restricted the number of poisons allowed.

She added: "There are only two or three chemicals now that can be used to attack them and the cockroaches become resistant to these."

Cockroaches, a primitive form of beetle, not only leave a stench but also carry potentially fatal diseases. In restaurants they transmit food poisoning organisms directly on to kitchen surfaces via drains, lavatories and other dirty places.

Traditionally Britain has been plagued by the German cockroach, measuring 1.5cm across and which can scuttle at up to 30cm per second, and the Oriental, which is 2.5cm across. But the plague is being fuelled by the emergence of the American cockroach which, at 3.5cm, is the largest species in the UK.

It has escaped from university laboratories over the past three decades and is now beginning to breed in enormous numbers, say experts.

"The American cockroaches are increasingly coming over with goods from the US," said Richard Strand, executive director of the British Pest Control Association. "They were traditionally the insects used in laboratories for tests but there were a few escapees and they have done well."

The difficulty for pest controllers is in destroying roach colonies. They only survive at temperatures above 20C, explained Mr Strand, but are not easy to hunt down because they nest during the day in difficult-to-get-at places and only emerge at night. It requires just a small number of cockroaches to survive a pest controller's best efforts for the colony to grow rapidly again.

The creatures thrive in restaurant kitchens and heating systems installed in large apartment buildings as well as airports and hotels.

Mr Strand said the economic boom may be contributing to infestations. "There are more and more restaurants and hotels than there have ever been and that gives more opportunities for cockroaches to get themselves established," he said.

Jeffrey Roberts, Rentokil's pest control spokesman, said cockroaches had even been known to drink from men's moustaches as they slept.

But a new nerve poison was proving effective, he added. It is spread throughout a colony as the cannibalistic insects prey on their dead.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect