Those of us who’ve been around for awhile can tell you that the phrase “paper or plastic” was one of the most welcome sayings in pest controls history. At least when it comes to german roaches that is. ‘Recyclable’ brown paper bags were the mainstay of carting groceries for years and these semi durable cartons were hardly ever thrown away once they served their main purpose. Instead, homeowners usually folded these bags up and found the most convenient, ready to use & out of the way places to store them. It was here they’d sit sometimes untouched by human hands for years. You’ll notice I said “untouched”, not uninhabited. Some of the worst roach infestations I’ve ever seen started with the brown bag scenario and exterminators around the world all have similar stories. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll hear a few.
The Perfect Sanctuary
Since it’s long been believed most german roaches infestations came from people bringing them home in their groceries- it’s axiomatic that these two elements,( paper bags & roaches ), were often found together. The spot of choice to store these bags was almost always between the refrigerator & the wall or the fridge and a cabinet. The bags folded up and usually fit in this few inch gap quite nicely. Even when many bags were put together they just compacted tighter and slid into this out of the way nook with no trouble. The tighter the bags the more german roaches liked it. Roaches, a relative of termites can feed on cellulose so the paper bag was ideal not to mention the glue in the flaps. Add the warmth of the refrigerator motor and you’ve got a roaches paradise ready made.
Infestations On Steroids
So many people have german roach infestations for weeks if not months before they ever know there is a problem. The brown bag effect always seemed to super charge the numbers and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out a wad of them only to have hundreds and on occasions I’d be willing to bet- more than 1000 freaked out roaches scattering in every direction. You could always find dozens of empty ootheca’s and oodles of babies that found perfect protection in the flaps and folds. The fecal matter would get so thick the bag would resemble sand paper in appearance and texture. As an exterminator you’re told to always find the source and you can solve the problem. The mass explosion that came with this discovery would make even the most seasoned pest pro feel like he or she hit the mother load for the whole block.
What Have You Seen?
What amazed me most about the brown bag effect and roaches was that the homeowner hardly ever caught on to the massive population that was living under their nose. It wasn’t until I pulled the bag out dripping with live cockroaches and the housewife would shriek in panic or the husband jump back in horror reaching for a broom. At that point it was a hardly a finesse service and aerosol and stomping your feet became the technique of the day. Pulling out the fridge was the next order of business and even though when finished and dead bodies laid strewn about. The wise pest control pro cautioned against high hope and quick results. They knew there was still a battle to be waged and although this was a great start, it was still only the first step.
I kinda miss the good old days when you could zero in a on a zillion unsuspecting roaches like that. If years ago you’d have asked me how I thought the brown bag effect would eventually be solved I might have said “IPM, a new bait or chemical perhaps” but never in a million years would I have guessed it would have been a simple phrase to solve it all. Paper or plastic?
Whose got a great brown bag story of their own? What’s the worst you’ve seen? We’d love to hear about it!