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PRACTICAL VIEW : When Summer Brings Unwelcome Guests

July 01, 1993|LYNN SIMROSS

Summer's creepy critters--cockroaches, ants and fleas--are back. The official cockroach season runs from May to September, and ant and flea infestations also are at their peak during these months.

But there's good news. Some products that can keep them under control with minimal effort are available.

The new word out on roaches is illuminating. They don't eat everything , as previously thought, according to Vernard Lewis, an urban entomologist at UC Berkeley who has spent 15 years studying roaches.

"We're seeing the evolution of the 'smart' roach," Lewis says. "Many popular insecticides--especially those found in sprays--no longer kill common household cockroaches." That's because today's roaches are genetically predisposed to avoid certain bait foods and more and more roaches are becoming resistant or immune to numerous insecticides.

"And now there's proof roaches like some foods better than others," Lewis says. "The cockroach connoisseur has genetically evolved."

Roaches, new studies reveal, prefer bananas, canned dog food and stamp glue to crackers, pretzels and peanut butter. And, like many people, they hate vegetables, especially cucumbers and tomatoes.


Combat Insect Control Systems has also found that many modern roaches won't eat glucose, a common sugar, because previous generations of roaches were killed by roach bait with glucose in it.

So, Combat, the nation's largest maker of roach bait, has come up with a new killer formula, SuperBait, made of proteins, fats and carbohydrates roaches like, plus an insecticide, Hydramethylnon.

SuperBait comes in small discs that should be placed where roaches are seen around the house. The roaches crawl in, eat the bait and return to their nest where they give the poisoned bait to others. Combat, which spent five years working on the new bait, says the discs are effective for three months.

SuperBait comes in packages of 12 discs for $5.99 and is available nationwide in supermarkets and drug and hardware stores. There's also a larger disc for big species of roaches ($6.49 for 12). For additional information, call Combat's hot line, (800) 426-6228.


Also effective against roaches and ants is Insectigone, a non-chemical bug killer made by a Canadian company, Chemfree Environment Inc. It's an odorless powder for use inside or out. There are several formulas--roach and ant killer, ant killer, crawling insect killer and earwig killer. The 7-ounce bottles ($6.99) and 2-pound jugs ($19.99) can be found nationwide in True Value and Ace hardware stores, Builders Emporium and Home Base. If you can't find Insectigone in your area, call (800) 663-5858.


On the flea front, Canine Care Inc. in Costa Mesa has introduced Terminator for Hardwood, Tile and Vinyl Floors, a liquid you sponge on floors to kill fleas. The product is pesticide and chemical free. It lasts a week or two, according to Cindy Collins, owner of Canine Care Inc.

Collins says one capful of the Terminator solution will mop an area 12 feet square. An 8-ounce bottle ($26) contains 80 applications. There also is a four-ounce bottle ($18). Terminator smells a bit strong, so ventilate the room during application.

The company's Terminator for Carpets, which has been on the market for about three years, is also effective against fleas. It's a powder and its main ingredient is borate. To apply, sprinkle it on rugs and work it in with a push broom.

Terminator for Carpets (a 5-pound box is $25; 15 pounds $48; 30 pounds $65) should be used liberally, says Collins, and will take two to five weeks "to totally eliminate the flea problem." The rug Terminator comes with a one-year guarantee.

The solution and the powder are available nationally in pet stores and animal hospitals. In Southern California you can find them at For Pets Only stores on La Brea Avenue or Hillhurst Avenue, Poodle Puff in Van Nuys and Mesa West Animal Hospital in Costa Mesa. If you can't find it, call Terminator's toll-free number, (800) 242-9966.


Speaking of fleas, the Pet Bath Treatment Spa is not for the fainthearted cat owner, but it works quite well for flea baths. The compact bathtub is designed for cats and small dogs weighing up to 20 pounds. Most cats will hate it.

Since the spa was introduced last October at a trade show in Chicago, more than 400 veterinarians and groomers have begun to use it, according to inventor Brian McLaughlin of Los Angeles.

Gretchen Becker, a Los Angeles vet, uses the Pet Bath Treatment Spa for "a variety of medical and hygienic treatments," and gives it high marks.

The recycled plastic tub has a unique design--a sliding top to secure the animal in the tub and a quick release collar that attaches to a locking ring to keep the head up. A small hose with a shower head is inserted from the back of the tub so you can easily wet down the pet, shampoo and rinse.

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