Cockroach invasion: 'There's all these feelers'

An Auckland couple's property has been overrun with thousands of cockroaches for the third summer in a row.

Every night David and Philippa Gravatt set about six traps around their home in Albury Ave, Epsom, finding them covered in hundreds of roaches the next morning.

Mr Gravatt told the Herald that he caught more than 170 cockroaches last night, bringing the summer's total to 2200.

He said neighbours were also experiencing the problem.

The couple first realised there might be a problem three summers ago while Mrs Gravatt was walking their dogs at night.

"She came in and said 'there's all these insects on the footpath, do you want to have a look?'

"So I went and had a look and, sure enough, there were. There were lots of them running everywhere."

Mr Gravatt said a sewer opening at the junction of Mountain Rd and Albury Ave seemed to be the source of the infestation.

"I went and shone a torch down there and there's all these feelers just waving their little wands at me."

Since that first summer, the roach numbers had only multiplied.

The couple set traps in and outside the house every night and Mr Gravatt reckons he's spent $500 on traps and bait in the last month alone.

Within minutes of laying bait, "five to ten" roaches would start sniffing around the traps, he said.

Every night Mr Gravatt puts traps by the hedge, in the laundry, up the driveway and throughout the house.

"They seem to march down the footpath and see our driveway and march up it for some reason.

"I've got one just inside our gate which fills up every night with about 18 to 20 cockroaches."

The roaches were mainly a problem outside the house, but they had started to make their way inside in bigger numbers this summer.

"It's when you open the dishwasher and one suddenly runs out at you, you get a hell of a fright.

"It's not pleasant. I've got used to handling them now but I don't like them whereas the ladies certainly don't like them - when you hear a scream you know there's another cockroach."

Watercare had periodically flushed the sewer near the house but Mr Gravatt said that didn't help decrease the amount of cockroaches who had already left the drain and were living around his property.

Two summers ago Rentokil was called in by Watercare to put out poison and that had seemed to reduce numbers, although Mr Gravatt noted it was near the end of summer when the bugs numbers started to drop anyway.

"It's in the summer months when it's dry, seems to be the problem here. Whether it's a lack of water in the sewer system or what, I don't know."

With summer ending today, the Gravatts expected the problem to subside again soon, but next year the story would be the same, Mr Gravatt said.

"It's a problem, put it that way and it's only going to get worse. The numbers are multiplying and when I look at what we get in the traps there are a lot of juveniles there as well as adults."

A spokeswoman said this summer Watercare had received a small number of calls from customers regarding cockroaches, who were directed to Auckland Council.

"Albury Rd residents contacted us about cockroach issues twice in 2013, in February and December," she said.

"Each time, we flushed the wastewater pipes and Auckland Council's environmental health team arranged for the cockroach extermination."

Watercare have arranged for another flush of the Albury Ave wastewater pipes.