These days, calls about cockroaches in Edmonton are up about 62 percent, from all over the city – after they were once confined to certain parts of the city.

For about fifteen years, Tom Schultz says he’s used chemical bait called Max Force to keep cockroaches under control – but recently, the product stopped working.

“Unfortunately, like everything else with cockroaches, they become immune over a period of time to everything that’s introduced to them,” Schultz said.

It’s not a good development, as cockroach complaints in Edmonton are going up – Schultz said in nearly 40 years in the business, he’s never seen it this bad.

“You may have had maybe one day, or two days out of the week where cockroaches were involved in some, and now it’s pretty much daily for us,” Schultz said.

Plus, they used to only be an inner city issue, but that’s also changed.

“Different neighbourhoods have different reasons why they have cockroach problems,” Schultz said.

Schultz said some of the pests find their way from dumpsters to duvets, while others can be bought from the grocery store.

“You have a lot of different ethnic foods being eaten now, by everybody, and as a result of that you have importation of a lot of these foods directly from the other countries where it becomes a problem,” Schultz said.

Alberta Health Services said cockroaches can also spread illnesses.

“They can spread things like E-coli and salmonella as well, and because of that they are a health concern,” Dr. Chris Sikora said.

Despite their immunity to one chemical, there is one natural, and inevitable, weapon that the insects haven’t yet managed to adapt to.

“It’s funny, the cold weather is the one thing that still bothers cockroaches, and that’s why we don’t have them spreading from outside to inside, they’re still something that’s usually carried into a building,” Schultz said.

AHS said it is best to report cockroaches as soon as they’re first seen – AHS advised anyone who finds them to vacuum any surfaces that might have egg sacks on them, try washing infested items with soapy water, or try freezing them for up to a week.

With files from Jeremy Thompson