Mr. Meek

Security & Safety

Old Cockroaches Learn New Tricks

By Frank Meek, International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC

It seems cockroaches, one of Earth's oldest active species, are learning new tricks when it comes to survival. These hardy pests, which have survived 350 million years on the planet, lately are demonstrating more of the cunning that has made them so resilient. Since the 1990s, cockroaches have exhibited an increasing tendency to avoid pesticide baits commonly used in pest control. If your hotels are seeing an upswing in the reports of roach activity, this could be a reason why.

Baiting is a popular method of roach control for hotels because baits lower the chances of pesticide exposure, as compared to airborne sprays. The problem is not that cockroaches have become resistant to the chemicals used in the baits themselves. Rather, these pests have "learned" to avoid the baits altogether. For researchers looking into the matter, this discovery is concerning because roaches are circumventing extermination efforts, but fascinating because the pests have actually learned how to work around specific kinds of baits. For hoteliers and the pest control industry, the phenomenon can be frustrating.

The current trend, known to pest management professionals as "bait aversion," was first observed in 1999 in Florida when pest management professionals noticed that some bait materials previously effective on roaches were beginning to lose their edge. Over the next two years, similar situations began to crop up in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Georgia, Wisconsin, California and other areas. In all of these locations, baits that had previously worked were coming up short.

As the pest control industry began to realize what was happening, technicians and bait manufacturers quickly went to work to figure how to turn the tide. According to a recent study performed at Purdue University, bait aversion appears to be rooted in the inactive ingredients in the bait. In other words, cockroaches are not avoiding the pesticide in the baits, but the presence of the material altogether. Manufacturers are currently developing new bait materials that will entice roaches to feed.

The realization that cockroaches can learn to avoid baits has helped reinforce the importance of integrated pest management (IPM) for long-term control of roach populations. IPM is a method of pest management that stresses non-chemical methods such as trapping, physical removal and exclusion in order to control pests and keep them out of a facility in the first place.

It is imperative that hotels partner with their pest control provider to implement effective IPM strategies. For example:

While the news that cockroaches have learned to avoid baits is surprising, it is important to note that there are other options available for preventing roach problems. Hotel operators and their pest management providers must return to fundamentals, in a sense, focusing again on making their establishments less attractive to roaches. Meanwhile, the pest control industry must constantly research and test the "next generation" of bait materials.

Remember that a typical cockroach may measure an inch or less in size, but the sight of these pests can leave an enormous impression on a hotel guest. If you are experiencing an increase in cockroaches, contact a pest management professional who can help you identify the source of the problem and recommend some new tricks to rid your hotel of these unwanted "guests."

An industry veteran, Frank Meek has been with Orkin since 1986. In 2003, he was named among the future leaders of the pest management industry in Pest Control Technology magazine’s “40 Under 40” ranking. Currently, as the International Technical and Training Director, Mr. Meek provides technical support and training in both sales and service to Orkin's international franchises, helping them grow and develop in their specific markets. As a board-certified entomologist, Mr. Meek teaches Integrated Pest Management principles and can explain how to use all available methodologies to prevent pest infestations in various commercial settings. Mr. Meek can be contacted at 404-888-2898 or Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

MAY: Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability

Eric Ricaurte

In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn’t implement them, or pay a $1,000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site. READ MORE

Susan Tinnish

Hotels brands have actively engaged in large-scale efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Individual hotels have made great strides on property. Many significant large-scale eco-initiatives s are most easily built initially into the infrastructure and design of the building and surrounding areas. Given that the adaptation of these large-scale changes into the existing asset base is expensive and disruptive, hotels seek different ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. One way to do so is to shift the focus from large-scale change to “small wins.” Small wins can help a hotel create a culture of sustainability. READ MORE

Shannon Sentman

Utility costs are the second largest operating expense for most hotels. Successfully reducing these expenses can be a huge value-add strategy for executives. Doing this effectively requires more than just a one-time investment in efficiency upgrades. It requires ongoing visibility into a building’s performance and effectively leveraging this visibility to take action. Too often, efficiency strategies center on a one-time effort to identify opportunities with little consideration for establishing ongoing practices to better manage a building’s performance ongoing. READ MORE

Joshua Zinder, AIA

Discussions of sustainability in the hospitality industry have focused mainly on strategies at the level of energy-efficient and eco-friendly adjustments to operations and maintenance. These "tweaks" can include programs to reduce water usage, updating lighting to LEDs, campaigns to increase guest participation in recycling, and similar innovative industry initiatives. Often overlooked—not only by industry experts but even by hotel operators and designers—are possibilities for hotel design and construction that can make a property truly sustainable from the get-go. READ MORE

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.