It's not often that the County Council is confronted with a roach during their public sessions But at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, that's what council members had to contend with. And it was no ordinary roach. The bug was, well, big.
Helen Richik and Donna Hausmann, who live near the Oak Avenue landfill in Joppa, brought the two-inch roach in a jar to Tuesday's meeting to make a point.
They wanted council members to know that the American cockroach infestation in their homes and at the nearby landfill is still a problem, despite what state environment officials have called a successful initial spraying.
"I'm still seeing live roaches," said Hausmann. "You can freeze one of these roaches, and when you take it out, you can re-awaken it. We are told that cold weather will have an affect on these roaches, but it's not going to affect them if they're already in homes where it's warm."
The two women attended Tuesday's council meeting to hear Thomas M.
Thomas, the county health officer, give an update on the infestation as part of his semi-annual public health report.
Richik and Hausmann are members of a community committee that meets monthly to make sure government agencies and community members are kept up-to-date on efforts to battle the infestation.
In his update, Thomas told the council a cold winter should help kill roaches that survived the spraying with a diluted solution of the chemical Dursban-50W.
Several council members praised Terry Stancill and other owners of the landfill for their cooperation and all agreed that progress has been made toward controlling the problem.
The roach infestation at the landfill, owned by Pappy's Inc. -- formerly Stancill's Inc.-- was discovered in mid-August, said John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment.
The insects apparently moved from the landfill, where stumps and organic debris are stored, into nearby homes when workers disturbed mounds of dirt at the landfill where roaches lived, Goheen said.
Thomas said the infestation of the American cockroach is unusual because the species is not native to Maryland. The roaches have wings and can fly short distances, unlike the smaller German cockroaches most commonly found in Maryland, he said.
"These are usually found in Florida or Georgia," said Thomas. "It's very unusual to find them this far north."
To eradicate the roaches, a private contractor, Home Exterminating Co., was hired by the landfill owners to spray the landfill and area homes where the roaches were found, Thomas said.
The extermination plan also calls for the debris to be shifted, leveled and covered with two feet of dirt. Because the roaches cannot bore through the dirt, Thomas said, the soil covering should kill roaches that survived the initial spraying.
"We don't want to put any rigid time frame on it because our mission is to eradicate all the roaches," said Goheen. "But we're not going to delude ourselves into thinking six months or the first spraying will do it."