Grangemouth residents say council has let them down as they continue to battle cockroach infestation

It sounds like a horror film with a block of flats under siege from a horde of alien invaders who emerge at night and crawl into people’s homes to feed.

By James Trimble
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 9:50 am
Updated Thursday, 10th September 2020, 11:50 am

However, there’s nothing entertaining about the situation the residents of numbers one to 12 Islay Court in Grangemouth are facing on a daily – and nightly – basis.

The problem with cockroaches in the block stretches back years and they have always returned no matter what measures are taken to stamp them out – living inside the walls of the block’s structure and creeping out of cracks, crevices and plug sockets during the night.

Bernadette McGuckin (32) has lived in the block for two years with children Hayden (13) and Harry (2) and contacted everyone she can think of in that time to deal with the problem.

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Residents of numbers one to 12 Islay Court, Grangemouth - Steph Stewart, Laura McGuckin, Samantha Anderson, Sharon Kennedy and Bernadette McGuckin - prepare to do battle against the cockroaches infesting their block

Since Falkirk Council’s pest control measures have so far been ineffective, she has ended up doing a lot herself to battle the bugs and is the go to exterminator when other residents need her.

She said: “It’s been happening here since before I moved in. The people who lived in the flat before me had issues with cockroaches and a lot of us here have gone out and bought traps and put them out ourselves.”

On the day The Falkirk Herald visited the block, there were three council representatives in yellow jackets gathering outside the premises checking the bin store.

“The council thinks they are coming from the bucket stores, but they are tidy,” Bernadette said. “We have two bins for the 12 flats here and sometimes they do not come out to empty them.

Just one day worth of cockroaches caught in one of the many traps laid in the block of flats at one to 12 Islay Court, Grangemouth

“The council tell us it’s our responsibility to look after our homes. They have actually let out two flats to tenants in the last year without telling them about the cockroach problem here.”

Bernadette says Falkirk Council are now trying a new approach to deal with the pests, but she doubts it will work in the long term.

“They are going to put this gel out while we are all still living here – which I’m not happy about. They say if the cockroach eats the gel it will die and when the other cockroaches eat that dead cockroach then they will die and so on.

“But the problem is so widespread, you won’t get them all doing that and if there are some of them left they will come back. I spoke to a pest controller myself who said what they need to do is get behind the walls where the cockroaches are living and deal with them that way – but the council is picking the cheaper option.”

The residents of block one to 12 Islay Court, Grangemouth show the mass of cockroaches which have been caught in the traps laid out overnight

Residents are under constant attack, but at least they have not lost their sense of humour, setting up an online support group entitled The Cockroach Queens, where they vent frustrations over the council’s ineffectiveness and share tips and advice on how to deal with their persistent pest problems.

Steph Stewart (19) has lived in the block for three years.

“I’ve had my flat fumigated five times,” she said.

Samantha Anderson, another resident, added: “I’ve been here two-and-a-half years but I didn’t have any problems for a year and a bit. Chances are the cockroaches were there the whole time, but I just didn’t notice them.”

Sharon Kennedy has lived in the block for five years and says the problem has been there even before she moved in.

She said: “I’m not scared about COVID-19 any more, I’m more bothered about these cockroaches. It’s a bigger problem to us than COVID-19 is at the moment.”

The breed of bug infesting the block is believed to be the German cockroach, which reproduces faster than any other residential cockroach – growing from egg to reproductive adult in roughly 50 to 60 days.

The German cockroach is resilient in the face of many pest-control measures due to its prolific reproduction, short reproductive cycle, the ability to hide in any nook or cranny and its to some chemical pesticides.

German cockroach infestations occur widely in residential buildings, but they are normally associated with restaurants, food processing facilities, hotels, and institutional establishments like nursing homes.

In cold climates, they occur only near human dwellings, because they cannot survive severe cold and would soon die in the outdoors.

Though nocturnal, the German cockroach occasionally appears by day, especially if the population is crowded or has been disturbed. However, sightings are most frequent in the evening, when someone suddenly brings a light into a room deserted after dark, such as a kitchen where they have been scavenging.

When excited or frightened, the species can emit an unpleasant odour.

These hardy German cockroaches currently have Falkirk Council defeated, but they say they will continue to find a way to deal with the problem effectively.

A spokesman said: “Unfortunately our contractor has not been able to eradicate the issue at these properties and several treatments have already been carried out.

“We’re working with a new contractor currently to solve the problem. We have not always been able to access tenants homes which reduces how effective treatment can be.

“Tenants need to understand that this is important if we want the problem solved.”