“It’s a crunch, crunch, crunch sound. I feel like I’m in a science fiction movie,” said Furtado of the dozens of roaches she’s found on her property and at the nearby Creekside Park. “I have also been finding them in my hall bathroom coming out of the drain. I would definitely call it an epidemic.”
It seems that oriental cockroaches (some an inch and a half long) have staked a claim to neighborhoods around the Creekside development area, infiltrating kitchen sinks, bathroom shower drains and patios; turning casual neighborhood conversation away from backyard barbecues and toward homemade bug bombs and critter traps.
“This was never a problem until recently,” said Furtado, who has lived in her neighborhood for more than 15 years. “We’re not talking just a few – there are a lot. One neighbor told me he skims as many as 30 at a time out of his pool. It’s disgusting.”
Sandi Johnson agrees. Johnson, who lives just one street over from Furtado, said she has never seen such an infestation of cockroaches in her neighborhood: “I’ve lived here for 15 years and we have never, ever had cockroaches like this. I came out here to my patio one day, and saw literally dozens of them upside down, legs kicking in the air, begging to be turned over.”
Johnson didn’t turn over the flailing bugs, but she did call an exterminator. “The spraying has definitely helped, but I’m still seeing some here and there,” said Johnson, who has been spraying her yard once a month since June. “But they (exterminators) did say they would eventually start to diminish. I hope it’s soon; they are dirty and disgusting and filthy.”
Jannine Hemphill feels the same way and said that in the 10 years she has lived in Brentwood she never saw roaches around her house, but now she can’t keep them away: “At first I thought (the roaches) were around because I had a neighbor who neglected their home and yard and that we were the unlucky recipients of their neglect. But every night, every morning, I find them on my front porch, backyard, on my driveway. I have been asking my exterminator to beef up the spraying, but it still hasn’t worked. It’s embarrassing – especially when you know there has to be something the city can do to mitigate this issue.”
Furtado thought so too, and recently called the City of Brentwood to find out if the city might have operated a pest program in the past and then stopped it, which might account for the increased numbers.
Barry Margesson, facilities and landscape supervisor for the Brentwood Parks Department, said he is unaware of any city-sponsored pesticide programs, but that he imagined if there were a true cockroach problem, the city would look into it.
“As far as I know, we don’t have any spray program (for cockroaches),” said Margesson, who added that he left a similar message with a resident who recently called about the cockroaches. “The parks department doesn’t spray, but if it’s really a problem, I would think the city would look into it.”
Rob Wellington, owner of Discovery Pest Control, said he’s not surprised at the tenacity or numbers of the cockroaches: “It’s interesting the way bugs work. Some years there are lots of them and others (years) there aren’t. But they’re very common and very hardy, and because of their moisture need and the temperatures they like to keep, they do best in climates between 68 and 84 degrees. So once we hit those cooler temperatures they’ll disappear. They’re not poisonous, but they do typically live in sewers, so yes, they are dirty.”
In the meantime, suggested Wellington, homeowners can hire a company to come in and spray every month or two, or they can do it themselves. Either way, because of the origin and stamina of the oriental variety, there is little residents can do to prevent the cockroaches from invading their neighborhoods.
“Unfortunately, if it were an American or German cockroach, I’d say clean out your kitchen,” said Wellington. “But with these guys, they are originating underneath your home, in the sewers, and there isn’t really a whole lot a homeowner can do. The most effective way to eradicate the roaches is with a barrier insecticide, which is a pesticide that establishes a barrier between your home and the bugs. I have them (cockroaches) at my home and I have to spray every other month.”
For Hemphill’s part, she just wishes she didn’t need to deal with the issue at all. “I think there’s a definite stigma associated with having roaches in and around your home,” she said. “Most people don’t want that stigma. I know for certain I don’t … it just makes me ill.”