A major rise in the number of cockroaches entering the country has been blamed on imported, exotic cuisine.
Pest control experts Rentokil have reported a 76% rise in cockroach-related enquiries in the past decade, and believe people will encounter the pest even more in the coming weeks as they relax in hotels and restaurants.
Cockroaches pose a threat to human health as they can carry salmonella, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and typhoid, while their droppings can cause eczema and asthma.
The variety of cuisine in restaurants has grown over the last 10 years and Rentokil says this has increased the risk of inadvertently importing cockroaches.
The company says many restaurant staff do not recognise when incoming stock contains a cockroach infestation, so customers should be vigilant against the pest when dining.
Rentokil expert Colm Moore said cockroaches are nocturnal and hide during the day.
“You will most likely see them when turning on the light in the kitchen at night,” he said. “You can also look out for egg cases and cast skins, as they shed their skin five to eight times as they mature.”
Dr Moore said cockroaches leave black droppings less than 1mm wide which are of varying lengths and they produce an unpleasant, musty smell. The creatures can also damage organic goods, such as leather and books.
As well as restaurants, households are also using more exotic cuisine, and waste packaging, especially corrugated cardboard, can help a colony of cockroaches grow rapidly by offering shelter.
Dr Moore said that householders should not allow grease to build up in any kitchen areas, as it will provide a food supply for the insects.
He also warned holiday-makers to watch out for bed bugs if staying in hotels or apartments.
Dr Moore said they should pull back bedsheets to check the bedding and mattress seams, check skirting boards around the bed, and check floors.
Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red coloured oval bodies, and no wings, and are about the size of an apple seed.
“A more established infestation is associated with dark or black staining of the mattress from bed-bug excreta, blood spots on the sheets, dead bedbugs, eggs, and an infestation is also associated with an unpleasant odour secreted by bed bugs,” said Dr Moore.
Bed bugs are not known to carry harmful diseases. However, they suck blood from humans and may inject saliva into the bite area, causing itching and swelling, and multiple bites can lead to an itchy rash or eczema.
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