A North Carolina State University study has found Floridians looking to keep cockroaches at bay will have to increase their use of roach-be-gone products, because these insects just aren’t taking the bait.
Some roaches’ tastes are evolving, NC State researchers found, to the point where they no longer have an appetite for one of their favorite foods: glucose, a form of sugar and the main bait used in roach traps.
University of Florida professor Roberto Pereira, who specializes in urban entomology – how insects affect humans in an urban environment, said that German cockroaches are nothing new: some of these roaches have been in the lab as long as seven years.
He said the German cockroaches, the small roach commonly seen in apartment buildings, have had an aversion to bait for quite some time.
Pereira said the roaches aren’t building a resistance to poison; cockroaches are adopting a form of behavior to prevent being exposed to insecticide.
“They continue to be just as susceptible to the chemical, to the pesticide that’s in the bait, but now they are not eating the bait,” he said.
Instead of being called resistant to bait, these roaches are referred to as being averse to bait.
But the market’s anti-roach arsenal has hardly dwindled, as Pereira assures this is “not a new phenomenon.”
He said we just need new bait.
“Old products that have one type of sugar will not be eaten by these cockroaches,” Pereira said.
If a pest-control company tried to use one of these older poisons to control a roach population, they would not be successful, he said.
“The cockroach simply will not eat enough of the bait to die,” he said.
Pereira said what the study has brought to light by finding the neural mechanism responsible for this taste aversion is that the avoidance is not purely behavioral – now scientists see a physiological trigger.
UF professor Philip Koehler, who also specializes in urban entomology, said there have been problems with cockroaches being averse to bait for about 20 years now.
“They refuse to eat some of the baits on the market because they do not like eating some of the constituents,” he said. “They taste bad to them.”