Is your bag carrying a creepy-crawly hitchhiker?

Finding a cockroach in a handbag would send anyone into panic mode.
Finding a cockroach in a handbag would send anyone into panic mode.

The contents of a woman’s handbag can be a mystery.

But while it’s likely to contain a multitude of things that sustain and comfort her during every day living, an uninvited creepy-crawly hitchhiker could well be lurking in the bottom of that bag.

PestCo Technician Mike Wills recalls the day he was called to an Auckland bank after a cockroach hopped out from a customer’s handbag to the absolute horror of the female teller.

“The female employee completely freaked out. The customer had just opened her bag and the cockroach jumped out.

“You can only imagine how that must have been. It would have been a terrible shock and the last thing you’d expect to happen when you are dealing with a customer.”

Mike warns that cockroaches will set up home almost anywhere. He has been called to banks and offices to deal with cockroach infestations.

“If you’ve got them at home and you put a handbag on the floor a cockroach can jump in. Then you trot off to work and it goes with you and it can get into the office.”

Handbags might contain crumbs and other food particles that attract cockroaches that naturally gravitate to warm dark spaces.

With summer approaching now was the time to take action on the home front to prevent a cockroach problem over the warmer months, says Mike.

He suggests an exterior barrier spray can stop cockroaches getting into homes. PestCo can also lay down gel bait to deal with any cockroach problem as part of the PestCo’s Integrated Pest Management programme,

The common Gisborne cockroach is less of a problem than other roaches that can found in many homes over summer.

“They often get in through cracks and vents at the bottom of window frames. They come in and sit on the window sill or up high on the scotia. They are pretty harmless. If you have bark in your garden it can attract them.”

But the smaller light brown German cockroach can be an on ongoing problem, says Mike.

“They hang out where there is a lot of heat and moisture such as commercial and residential kitchen areas.

“They are a real pain to get rid of. They go for hot water cylinders, behind the fridge, they will go up and under the sink and they sit upside down and can be hard to see. You can control them but in some extreme cases you can’t get rid of them.”

And with the holiday season on the horizon, it was not uncommon for caravan owners to get an unpleasant wakeup call to find cockroaches had set up home in their mobile home.

“In a caravan it can get totally out of control. You can be lying there and have a rest and suddenly feel something crawl over you and it’s a cockroach.

“Sometimes people call and say they’ve got cockroaches in their car. They make a hell of a mess and get into the upholstery,” added Mike.


  • Most roaches infesting homes like starch and will chew on starchy items.
  • The German cockroach will feed on books and their bindings thereby destroying them.
  • It is also fond of starchy food like cereal, sugary substances and meat products.
  • The larger roaches will also chew on paper products damaging/destroying them.
  • In addition, the faecal material from feeding can contaminate food and stain other products.

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