Cockroaches in Sacramento sewers: When is the city spraying?
Summer in Northern California invites cockroaches to many unwanted areas of our lives, including our homes, yards, and even on the street, such as in manholes and drains.
And with warming temperatures in the area, cockroach sightings and complaints are more likely, said Paige Bedegrew, spokeswoman for the Sacramento Area Sewer District.
But where exactly do these cockroaches come from and how do public sewerage agencies deal with these pests?
A reader asked The Bee’s utilities team, “Has the city of Sacramento stopped spraying its sewer system for cockroaches?”
They added that pest control companies say this is a “huge factor” for the rise of cockroaches in the area.
The short answer: No. The city is still spraying the sewers.
The Bee spoke with city and county officials to learn more about cockroaches living in the sewer system, how they are managed, and what residents can do to protect their homes. against infection.
Why do cockroaches go down the drain?
Cockroaches generally live in close proximity to humans and residents throughout the year and prefer dark, moist environments. They are usually found around houses, under building structures, in gardens and parks.
But during the summer, cockroaches gravitate to sewers because other habitats tend to dry out in hot weather. The sewer system, on the other hand, remains wet all year round.
“That’s usually why we start to see an increase in calls or concerns about cockroaches in the warmer months because they love that area,” Bedegrew said. “It’s not uncommon – it’s pretty much the norm.”
The insect also seeks out different food sources such as decaying organic matter, which is often found in sewage, she added.
In drier weather conditions, such as in Sacramento, cockroaches find refuge in storm drains, floor drains and pipes, according to the SASD. Sprinklers and irrigation boxes are also a “desired” place for cockroaches.
How agencies deal with cockroaches
The Sacramento Department of Utilities typically sprays its sewer facilities every two years to manage cockroaches and other pests in the sewer system, using an “integrated pest management” (IPM) approach.
This year is a regularly scheduled period for the city to spray mainly in the manholes, and the department”[expects] to start spraying as soon as possible,” spokesman Carlos Eliason said. The city sputtered off schedule last year due to an increase in pest calls.
“Roach activity increases in the summer, and that’s when we’ll start applying the pesticides,” Eliason said.
The Utilities Department manages the city’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services. It uses IPM concepts to control cockroaches in the sewage system, which is the “least toxic way to control pests”.
“Certain types of pesticides and other chemicals and elements can be harmful to aquatic life,” Eliason said.
IPM programs keep in mind the life cycles of pests and how they interact with people and their environment, according to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. This information is used to manage pests “by the most economical means and with the least possible risk to people, property and the environment”.
The aim is for the water to contain the fewest harmful elements before it enters the rivers, which are home to fish and other marine animals.
When it rains, the excess water or runoff spills onto the street and into the sewers, which can carry a number of different elements with it, such as pesticides, fertilizers and heavy metals.
“The water collects all of these things when it goes into the storm drain, and some types of our setups go straight into the river,” Eliason said. “That’s why it’s important to make sure the water is as clean as possible before it enters our facilities.”
The City Department also works with the Sacramento Area Sewer District, which serves unincorporated areas of the county and parts of Sacramento.
In places where cockroach activity is repeated, the district conducts ongoing inspections and cleanups, spokeswoman Bedegrew said.
Other activities carried out by the district to prevent and control cockroaches include fogging and baiting, which uses insecticidal mist and bait to kill cockroaches, and manhole painting, which uses latex paint containing insecticides in the walls of a manhole.
How to protect your home from cockroaches
Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches don’t usually crawl into homes from sewer pipes, according to the SASD.
“Residents often see cockroaches and they instantly think they came from the sewer, which is a common misconception,” Bedegrew said.
If you see cockroaches on your private property, chances are they aren’t related to the sewer system and you should call a pest control company to investigate, she said.
It is important to keep in mind that most cockroaches are clean insects and do not necessarily indicate that your home is dirty.
In fact, cockroaches entering your home most likely made a mistake, UC Davis entomologist Lynn Kimsey told The Bee. They cannot live indoors due to a lack of humidity.
However, the district is encouraging residents to do their part to make sure “they don’t create this desirable breeding ground or habitat for cockroaches.”
Here are some ways to keep cockroaches and potentially other unwanted pests out of your home, according to the SASD.
Seal cracks/other openings in exterior walls and house foundation
Pick up pet food between feedings
Dispose of trash daily and keep lids closed on outside cans
Consider creating a rock barrier between the mulch or soil and the foundation of the house
Make sure your P-trap is working properly, which creates a lock on the pipe to keep roaches out. These pipes are usually located under your sink.
Flush floor drains weekly
Seal holes around pipes as cockroaches tend to enter from the outside of the plumbing