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Cape Town is being invaded by cockroaches

Published Jan 9, 2008

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By Karen Breytenbach

It's not your imagination. There are more cockroaches in Cape Town than usual.

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The South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA) on Tuesday confirmed that cockroach populations in Cape Town are steadily on the increase due to poor sanitation, urbanisation, increased economic activity, global warming and the increasing use of more environmentally-friendly, but less persistent pesticides.

Cockroaches typically breed faster in warm and humid summertime, which is why more are scuttling around now than six months ago, an industry expert, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. For the same reason, global warming would be a contributing factor.

Although cockroaches are known to be externally clean, what they eat can turn them into carriers of bugs causing diarrhoea and food poisoning, or parasites.

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The expert said the cockroach population was not out of control yet, but increased informal trading and a food industry boom provided an abundance of food for cockroaches, whose eggs can spread with food distribution networks and public transport.

"They're omnivorous and can live off any kind of protein or carbohydrate. People will be surprised to know they can live off skin flakes, hair, dandruff, belly button fluff, the backs of books, potatoes. In the absence of food they will eat their own droppings or one another."

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