Cockroaches have been irritating unwanted guests in our homes for centuries, and for good reason. A sighting of just a few of them should be taken very seriously because that means there is a heck of a lot more that are in hiding, just waiting for the right time to come out (usually around our bedtimes).
Cockroaches carry all the criteria necessary to make them the most despised household pest: they reproduce quickly and constantly meaning they can multiply in very short order, they have the disgusting habit of hanging around places of filth which allow them to spread germs and bacteria with ease and they have the ability to become resistant and averse to different methods of pest control which makes getting rid of them a tough task to carry out.
A startling fact is that cockroaches outnumber humans in the world at a ratio of over 7 to 1 so barring some miracle, they are not going to be disappearing anytime soon like the dinosaurs (which they outlived).
Cockroaches are the Ultimate Survivalists
One of the reasons cockroaches are so frustrating to deal with is that they have mastered the art of survival. Cockroaches have existed long before humankind came into the picture over 320 million years ago and are still going strong and likely will continue to survive long after we are extinct.
Cockroaches have learned to adapt to whatever environmental circumstance, climate or condition they found themselves in aside from freezing temperatures which they have learned to avoid or seek warmth (indoors).
There are an estimated 4,500 different species of cockroach which have been discovered around the world. Fortunately, the majority of these different types of roaches live and prefer to stay living out in the wild: deserts, forests, swamps and jungles.
Types of Cockroaches That are Likely To Invade Homes
Only a small number of cockroach species, around 25 or 30, have been regarded as pests that humans may encounter or find in their homes. Of that number is an even smaller number of cockroach species that are frequent troublemakers.
These cockroaches that humans regularly encounter have actually been divided into two groups: domestic cockroaches and peridomestic cockroaches. Due to their adaptive nature, domestic cockroaches have evolved to the point where they not only prefer living among human dwellings but their survival depends on staying indoors. No longer do these species run around outdoors foraging for food, water and shelter.
Peridomestic cockroaches are more flexible. These cockroach types do not necessarily need to live indoors to survive but when they do venture on indoors, they take advantage of every opportunity and benefit from the decision. Most of the time these cockroaches live outside but will move indoors depending on the weather conditions (it’s too cold, too dry etc.) or if they are running short on water and food options and decide to explore indoors for sustenance.
Among these two groups of cockroaches are the 5 most common types of cockroaches that are encountered in homes. The best weapon against a cockroach invasion is knowledge about the roach that you can use against them. By learning a little bit about these different types of roaches, you can come up with a strategic plan to rid them from your home.
The German Cockroach
Appearance and Habits: The German cockroach is the main domestic cockroach species and the most common one you will find indoors. This medium to small-sized roach is very distinctive with its slender oval shape and brown body with a pair of dark streaks down the back, starting behind their heads.
German cockroaches are notorious for infesting homes and multiplying to large numbers very quickly where they are established. Often you will see female cockroaches carrying an egg sac on their backside which they drop when the egg is ready to hatch. This egg can contain between 30 to 50 eggs and once hatched, baby cockroaches can become full adults in a matter of months.
German cockroaches stay close to warm and moist areas in the home and are most concentrated in big cities and Southern parts of the country where it is warmer for longer and doesn’t get very cold. They also tend to stick primarily to kitchens and bathrooms where they can have easy access to food and water.
German cockroaches are most active at night, using the days to hide and rest. If you see them in the daytime or in rooms aside from the kitchen and bathroom, it should be a great concern because that means you have a very large infestation that needs to be addressed before it gets even worse.
Control Approach: Controlling German Cockroach infestations is by far the toughest cockroach type to control because of how quickly they reproduce and how clever they are when it comes to avoiding pesticides. The best way to control cockroaches is a multi-pronged approach the involves more than one type of pesticide.
A detailed regular cleanup of your home is mandatory to take away the food and water sources that keep cockroaches thriving as well as sealing up both points of entry and cracks & crevices that cockroaches use as hiding places with caulk.
A combination of effective cockroach bait, dust pesticides like boric acid and an insect growth regulator (IGR) product work best for control. The cockroach bait targets adults in the infestation, working as a slow killer that can transfer from roach to roach via bait sharing. Dust pesticides target cockroaches in hiding by puffing the dust into wall voids and hard to penetrate cracks and crevices. Finally, the insect growth regulator addresses the German Cockroaches constant reproduction halting or hindering the process. Roaches exposed to IGR will be unable to reproduce and eggs will be unable to hatch. Baby roaches will also be unable to develop into adults, essentially freezing their growth.
Recommended Read: German Roaches: How to Identify Them
The Brown-banded Cockroach
Appearance and Habits: The brown-banded cockroach is the other domesticated cockroach and is very similar to the German cockroach, although much smaller, reaching less then half an inch in size when mature. As their name indicates, they have a unique pair of light-colored bands that go across their brown bodies.
Brown-banded cockroaches are nowhere near the pest that German cockroaches are and actually prefer to stay in areas of the home that are dry and higher than the German roach which prefers low areas that are moist. You may often see brown-banded cockroaches gathered together in corners of a high ceiling and high up walls.
Control approach: Fortunately, Brown-banded cockroaches don’t reach the high levels of infestation the German cockroach creates and are also not resistant to pesticides. You can use the same pesticide applications of cockroach bait, dust or a liquid cockroach killer on these pests and they will die off rather quickly without much trouble.
The American Cockroach
Appearance and Habits: The American Cockroach is a periodomestic cockroach and is perhaps the most alarming cockroach to find in a home due to their sheer size and quick movements. The American cockroach can reach nearly two inches long and is a shiny reddish-brown color. They have wings and can use the wings to fly in short bursts.
American Cockroaches don’t prefer homes but they sure do love sewer systems and garbage dumps found outdoors. When they do venture into homes, it’s to get out of cold weather or completely by accident by crawling up a sink drain and into a home.
American cockroaches can live up to two years and during that time can lay eggs that can make way to about 150 cockroaches in their lifespan. This roach type will stick around as long as their is food and water around and can commonly be found in basements, crawl spaces, foundation areas and around plumbing.
Control Approach: It’s usually highly unlikely that a large infestation of American cockroaches will be in your home since they have a longer turnaround time for reproduction compared to the German cockroach. For any that are around, your average Cockroach bait or liquid pesticide or dust could quickly lay waste to the invader.
Place beads of bait where you have seen the roach active (kitchen cabinets, behind the fridge or under the kitchen sink) and before long you’ll find it laying on their backside, squirming for their last breath.
The Smoky Brown Cockroach
Appearance and Habits: Smoky brown cockroaches are another large-sized periodomestic cockroach and may be mistaken for the American cockroach but the big difference is that they are usually nearly black in color and don’t have the same level of shininess of the American Cockroach.
Smoky brown cockroaches are often accidentally brought into home because they like to hang around trees and firewood. When people are bringing firewood into the home, the roaches may be on the logs and blend in. When inside, they will do like the American cockroach and forage around for water and food and explore in general.
Control Approach: Smoky brown cockroaches are not likely to develop a significant infestation because they don’t prefer living in homes, to begin with. If you do encounter this pest, it may be a lone one or a few from fire logs that have been brought inside. That being said, you can either choose to shoo them out of the home, kill them by squishing them or vacuuming them up or using an insecticide bait if you have lost sight of the roach and want them dead.
The Oriental Cockroach
Appearance and Habits: The oriental cockroach is another large cockroach that can occasionally invade homes. They can reach nearly an inch long and are known to have a shiny dark or black colored body. Oriental cockroaches don’t have wings and are unable to fly.
Oriental cockroaches get the nickname, “water bugs” because of their tendency to show up during times of heavy rainfall. They enjoy cool, moist areas and are most often found in basements, around drains, and plumbing. They are known to release a musty odor where they are prevalent.
Control Approach: To address an Oriental cockroach invasion, practicing good sanitation and exclusion via cleaning up regularly and applying caulk to points of entry can make it less likely for these cockroaches to find a way indoors. Applying a cockroach bait around areas where you have seen them active can be effective in quickly killing the invaders.
No matter the type of cockroach that may be invading your home, they should not be tolerated and a control program should be implemented before they release start causing problems with their numbers and their risk of spreading germs and diseases that can make you sick.
By making your home less conducive for cockroach invasions with regular cleanups and exclusion via caulking as well as applying the right pesticide products, you can overcome all different types of roaches that may seek out your home for shelter.
More Cockroach Questions Answered:
The Ultimate Cockroach Control Guide
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