190712 cockroach
Pest controllers get regular training and coaching on the biology and behaviour of cockroaches and how to tackle them. They also swap chemicals regularly to deal with ‘immune’ roaches. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Cockroaches, yes those pesky little roaches, have been grabbing global headlines recently due to their mutant-like super ability to defy death via pesticide exposure according to a US study. But how about the roaches in the UAE?

It looks like these future-proofed roaches are not only climate change-immune but also becoming tougher to kill, specifically the German cockroach also known as Blattella germanica L., based on a study published in the Scientific Reports in June.

Pest control companies in the UAE said German cockroaches are the most common and the most in number in any infestation. It only takes one egg capsule and in half a year, your house can be infested.

So if these insects can become resistant to some insecticides, is there a cause for alarm for households in the UAE?

Thankfully, Dinesh Ramachandran, Technical and Safety, Health and Environment manager at Rentokil-NPC UAE, said there’s no reason to panic.

“Of all the years of pesticide usage, this was expected to happen. The study tested for three active ingredients in the pesticide but we [pest controllers] do have alternate active ingredients. In the UAE, while we don’t have any trial results, I haven’t encountered any roach resistance issues so far from my teams,” Ramachandran told Gulf News.

“There are no major resistance problems because we learn and we evolve. As field operators, we try and swap chemicals every other month, use different active ingredients. For pest controllers like myself, we get regular training and coaching on the biology, behaviour and how to tackle cockroaches.”

Holistic approach

Speaking to Gulf News, Bassel Jammal, Technical Engineer, Senior Officer at Boecker Public Health, said: “Dealing with cockroaches requires a holistic approach. There is no ‘one way’ to get rid of them as they develop immunity for the same family of pesticides, if used for a long time. Therefore, we always change the pesticides we use to make sure that a different mode of action is introduced to overcome such resistance.”

He added, “The German cockroach is one of the most difficult pests to kill due to its small size and ability to hide in tight areas. These hitchhikers can enter homes through boxes, introduced items and furniture and cross from adjacent property. Hence, one must look into the right places to nip the problem in the bud.”

But pesticides alone will not address the issue.

“Chemical treatments alone will not solve cockroach problem. We educate our clients to fix leaking pipes and remove possible food sources. A combination of proper cleaning, proper hygiene, proper proofing and pest control is the most effective way to exterminate cockroaches,” Ramachandran said.

190712 cockroach
Image Credit: Supplied

What is a German Cockroach

The German cockroach did not originate in Germany but was nicknamed so owing to its scientific name — Blatella germanica — given to it by the Swedish Taxnomer, Carl Linneaus. Its origin has been traced to Africa and Southeast Asia with at least a million year lineage. However, unlike its Asian cousin, German cockroaches have low resistance to extreme cold and cannot fly like the other species. It is found in light tan or dark colour, is slightly leaner than the Asian cockroach and has two parallel streaks running across its back from head to wing. It is found in many European countries and is a common pest in hotels and restaurants feeding on sugars and starches.

1-1.3 cm

length of a German cockroach

German cockroaches are smaller than the regular house roaches and measure 1 to 1.3cm in length and are notorious for their distribution globally. Males and females are fully winged and look alike. They have a pale yellowish brown to tan body and their midsection has dark parallel stripes.

Favourite places: Usually found in warm, moist condition such as in kitchens, bathrooms, false ceilings, cartons, kitchen cupboards.

Multiplication rate: They breed really fast. They live for about 100 days. Each egg capsule can have 30 to 40 cockroaches. The cycle from egg to reproductive adult can take 40 days.

Other common types of cockroaches:

  • Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis)
  • American cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana)
  • Brown-banded cockroaches (Supella longipalpa)


  • Maintain proper sanitation in your house. Don’t leave food or crumbs on the floor, countertops, etc even inside microwaves, toasters, ovens and stoves.
  • Dispose indoor trash regularly and keep them sealed.
  • Ensure all items such as vegetables and materials, entering your home in boxes, are pest free.
  • Never resort to DIY pest control at home. Call licensed companies to properly eliminate all pests, starting by proper inspection of breeding sites and not just the visible areas.