As dusk creeps in, they come out, lingering through the night. A nuisance to many and ignored by others as they live in the shadows of our world. Cockroaches and water beetles have become more prevalent in the city of Pittsburg, causing trouble for business owners and residents.
Could it be the heat?
It is not uncommon for pests to come out as summer approaches. “As the weather warms up, they [cockroaches] breed more and you’ll get more of them… it’s important to know they like to breed in drains,” said entomologist Graeme Smith in an interview with Mortein, an insecticide manufacturer.
Some Pittsburg residents and business owners have noticed an increase in insects, primarily being cockroaches, along with moths and mosquitos. While some suspect that the increase is due to the new season, others say there is more to the story
“I usually see the [city] workers spraying the man holes every few weeks and this year, I’ve seen none,” said Ragbeir Gill, owner of Bonfare Market.
Gill and his partner say budget cuts have led to the discontinuation of sewage spraying, which kills cockroaches and larvae. The spray consists of BorActin, and latex paint, which the insect then carries to the nest and it prevents breeding.
“My biggest problem is cockroaches, they come directly from the sewers,” Gill has owned Bonfare Market since 2011 and says that this is the first year he has had to hire pest control to take care of the problem so that he can pass city inspection.
“If we don’t pass inspection, I’ll be fined. But the problem is caused by the bugs coming from the sewer,” said Gill.
On May 2, The City of Pittsburg denied all allegations of being tied into the bug problem and advised that the complaints be directed to the county.
Mosquito & Vector Control is a district service, funded by tax dollars and conducts similar services to businesses and residents free of charge. Their media representative, Deborah Bass, advised that no budget cuts have been made and all services are conducted on an as-needed basis.
When asked about cockroach treatments, Bass explained that the city should handle those particular cases.
May 30, Public Works Supervisor, Anthony Baldazo says, “Our spraying of man holes includes safe chemicals and will not be done on any kind of private property. Business owners need to hire their own pest control.”
June 17, Angela Lowrey with Delta Diablo Sanitation District confirmed that the city owns and is therefore responsible for the sewage man holes in The City of Pittsburg, “Some man holes may be owned by Vector, some may be owner by us, but the sewers are owned and operated by the city.”
On June 17, Director of Pittsburg’s Public Works department, Fritz McKinley finally chimed in on the topic, “I’ve been with the city for about a year and a half and we haven’t done any routine spraying. It’s not in the budget.” He could not confirm if the spraying was previously done as a preventative measure, but he did confirm that it is currently done on an as-needed basis. “We will be happy to address any problems, but they [Bonfare Market] need to call us. I don’t have any complaints on file.”
June 18, McKinley confirms that the last time they sprayed was in March of last year. There are no plans to spray the man holes this year as of now.
Co-owner of Bonfare Market, Ankit, who preferred to leave out his last name, disagrees with the policy.
“I’ve never heard of that, it’s the city’s job to do it. I pay can charges, rent, property tax, why should I have to call them for the spraying? I’ve never had to do that. Why is it just now a problem then?” To deter the pests, the two owners currently have pest control scheduled to come out monthly, but it isn’t enough.
According to Home Team Pest Defense in Pittsburg, “This is one of our busiest years and it’s not even summer yet. We have been receiving more calls than usual about spiders, beetles and ants. The over-the-counter stuff won’t work in these cases,” said the scheduling coordinator, Toni.
Currently, residents are doing what they can to keep their homes as pest free as possible. Marie Escobar has lived in Pittsburg for almost 20 years and says that she noticed an increase before the warm weather struck. “I hate these bugs! Moths, beetles, spiders, pincher bugs…it’s been aggravating me because they all come out at night. I bought bug spray from Walmart because hiring an exterminator would be too expensive, I’m on a budget.”
The insect problem will only worsen as the summer months progress. Insects such as cockroaches and mosquitos carry dangerous bacteria and diseases, which are transmitted through bites and feces. As cockroaches remain the most problematic, they are also the most dangerous of the bunch.
According Discover Magazine, “Over 30 species of bacteria have been found on the cuticle and gut of roaches, including those of serious medical import such as E. coli, various species of Salmonella and Staphylcoccous, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria cause diseases such as urinary tract infections, dysentery, diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, polio, septicemia and wound infections.”
It is no surprise that the vectors carry such harmful bacteria. Cockroaches feed off of human feces, toe nails, sputum (saliva and mucus) and just about anything, really.
As complaints grow, residents and business owners wait for the city to take action.
“I already gave up, I’m not happy about this, but I give up,” said Gill.
Update: Less than a week later, the City of Pittsburg sprayed BorActin to the manhole in front of Bonfair Market on Rail Rd. Ave. City workers explained that the process is a reactive measure on behalf of the city.
“I could see a difference the next day. I was getting worried I wouldn’t pass inspection next month because of the bugs,” said Gill.
If you would like to contact The City of Pittsburg’s Public Works Department about pests in your neighborhood call 925.685.9301.