The sight of cockroaches in your home can be enough to send shivers down your spine. It’s especially baffling to have cockroaches when you keep a clean home and don’t let food pile up, but there they are—active and present.
Most people don’t even have a clue that they have a cockroach infestation. They may see a lone cockroach out during the day, grab a hold of something to swat it or squish it and dispose of it quickly, thinking that their cockroach problems are solved. The realization of a bigger issue may not occur until they go to the kitchen in the middle of the night and flick the lights on. The reality reveals itself with the appearance of a large smattering of cockroaches crawling across the tile and counters.
Horror and revulsion sets in and then the questions of “how did this happen?”, “Why are there so many?”, “How did I not know this?” begin to ring in their ears. As embarrassing as the appearance of cockroaches is in the home, it’s even more humiliating to talk about it as most people don’t share that they have cockroach issues because of the perception that it means you are filthy or live disgustingly.
If you are one of these people who think this way, you are not alone. Cockroach infestations are the most common pest problem that happens in any indoor structure. No matter where in the world you live (aside from Antarctica), what type of dwelling you live in, what your socioeconomic class is or how clean you keep your home, cockroaches can and will readily infest indoors without discrimination.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into those questions mentioned and cover how cockroach infestations start, how cockroaches are able to get into the home and what you can do about the infestation.
Cockroaches Are Built To Survive
Cockroaches are a universal problem and have been so since the start of civilization. They existed before dinosaurs and while those large monsters went instinct, these little monsters survived and thrived by adapting to any environment they found themselves in.
Cockroaches don’t require a lot for their sustenance, only needing the bare essentials: food, water, and shelter. Of the near 5,000 species of cockroach which have been discovered, more than 99.5 percent do just fine out in the wild away from human contact. However, a small half-percent has become a recurring pest in human dwellings and an even smaller number actually prefers to live near humans and in our homes.
The term “smaller” is an understatement because even if a handful of cockroach species like living near us humans, they do so in exponentially large numbers. It was recently recorded that in New York City, there are an estimated 100 million cockroaches and 14 million people. That means for every 1 person, there are 7 cockroaches. Factors in the rest of the country, we are grossly outnumbered when it comes to cockroaches, so it should be no surprise that you will encounter some.
How do Cockroaches Infest Homes?
If you recently have moved or even if you have been living somewhere for quite some time. If at one point you didn’t notice any cockroaches and then suddenly you did, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions that they just came out of nowhere. It’s very likely that roaches were in your home before you even move in. Or even worse, that you brought them in with your belongings!
When it comes to a new home or apartment, even if they place has been cleaned up before you arrived, there may not have been anything done about eliminating a cockroach problem that the previous owner or tenant had. If you took a tour of the empty home before moving in and saw that the place was clean, chances are, the cockroaches were just hiding and biding their time until you moved in with all your food goods.
There are species of cockroaches that are attracted to cardboard boxes; the very items we use to carry our things when moving from place to place. Cockroaches are a common problem in warehouses, grocery stores and storage facilities where they are plenty of cardboard boxes around so it could be that some snuck into a box as you were packing and hitched a ride to the new home. This is why it is crucially important to inspect boxes before packing and before bringing boxes into a new home or apartment.
Plumbing is another way that cockroaches can get into a home. Cockroaches love warmth and moisture and plumbing pipes offer plenty of both. Cockroaches moving through plumbing pipes is a particularly common problem if you live in an apartment complex as a cockroach uses plumbing as a runway to travel between connecting apartments. Cockroaches can even come up into the home via drains from the sink, where the laundry connections are and other such areas where there is heat and moisture.
Lastly, cockroaches can simply infiltrate a home through the many different little cracks, crevices, gaps and holes that a house has. Cockroaches were gifted with flat bodies and thus it is easy for them to slip through even the tightest of spaces to get indoors. A cockroach is known to slip through the opening of a wall outlet, under doors and window frames or any little hole from outside because any of these tiny points of entry is basically an invitation to everything inside.
The Cockroaches That Invade Homes
As we mentioned earlier, there are only a handful of cockroach species that have adapted to prefer living with or near humans because of the easy access to food, shelter and water we give them. These roaches are classified as domesticated cockroaches and will likely be the cockroach infestation that you have in your home.
- German Cockroach: This is the most common home-invading roach of them all. A small to mid-sized cockroach, the German Cockroach stands out with it’s brown body with a darker streak down its backside. Cockroaches are fully domesticated where they cannot survive without living with us humans. They are known to infest and gather in kitchens and bathrooms close to a water source and live off of any crumbs, grease and left out food that we don’t clean up. They can be tough to get rid of because of how quickly and often they breed and reproduce. A small handful of German cockroaches can become a full-blown colony of hundreds in short order.
- Brownbanded cockroach: Similar in appearance to German Cockroaches, the Brown-banded cockroach actually prefers drier areas of the home as opposed to more humid areas. Also while German Cockroaches like to stay low and nest low to the ground, Brown-banded cockroaches can be seen higher up in corners of ceilings and other high up areas of the home.
- American Cockroach: The largest of the domesticated cockroach, this species is the one that is the most startling to encounter because of their large size (1 to 2 and a half inches longs) and quick movements and also the fact that they have wings and can fly in short bursts. American cockroaches actually prefer to live outside but often find their way indoors during their travels and foraging for food and water, coming up thru drains or another point of entry. They commonly infest restaurants, dumpster areas, and humid boiler rooms.
How You Can Keep Cockroaches Away
Managing a cockroach infestation is difficult, especially if they are well established, but not impossible. It will take a lot of persistence and consistency on your end but you can overcome an infestation, drastically reduce a population and even eliminate them entirely be conducting the following steps:
Take Away Access to Food and Water. Domesticated cockroaches are in your home because of easy access to food and water sources. If there wasn’t any food or water available to them, they’d go elsewhere. You need to consistently clean and dry your kitchens and bathrooms so there is no water for them to drink or food to eat.
Every night before bed you should take out the trash, wipe down counters and surfaces, vacuum and sweep away any crumbs and wash all dishes and put them away. You also shouldn’t forget to clean under appliances as there may be little bits of food or grease there as well.
Dishes should be dried and put away, surfaces should all be dry and plumbing issues such as dripping faucets and other leaks should be addressed to take away water sources. Sinks should be absolutely dry before bed because this is a hot spot for them to get water.
Being regular with cleaning, food and water should be hard to come by and cockroach numbers should dwindle.
Seal Your Home Off. Now you have to address the shelter issue with cockroaches. Cockroaches nest and hide in the tightest of spaces so taking away these hiding spots is key to eliminating the population. Arm yourself with a caulking gun and go around the interior of your home and seal off any gaps, holes and cracks. Pay attention to your kitchen cabinetry, walls, corners and other secluded areas and check for cracks and seal them well. You may not be able to get them all but the whole point is to reduce shelter areas for cockroaches.
Use Strategic Pesticides. The exclusion and clean up measures alone won’t get rid of your cockroach infestation as you will need to arm yourself with the right pest control products to kill them off. Our top recommendations is an effective cockroach bait, a pesticide dust and insecticide concentrate that you can apply to cracks and crevices.
The Cockroach Bait is the most important tool for killing indoor cockroach infestations. These baits are so delicious to cockroaches that they don’t even know it’s a poison. The bait acts slowly to kill them, allowing them time to inform others of the bait so everyone gets a taste. Ideally, the bait kills cockroaches and transfer to unexposed cockroaches through eating fallen cockroaches dead bodies or feces (yes, they eat other roaches and roach poop when hungry!).
Pesticide dusts like Boric Acid or Diatomaceous Earth kill cockroaches that hide away in hard to reach places. Using a precision duster, you can puff the dust into wall voids, in crevices and tight hiding spaces that other pesticides cannot penetrate. Cockroaches that come into contact with the dust die by suffocation or by damage to the nervous system.
Finally, an insecticide concentrate should be used to create a barrier to kill remaining cockroaches and keep infestations from re-establishing. Insecticide concentrate usually have a residual effect, meaning that it will keep killing and remain effective for weeks or months after the application.
It’s even better if the insecticide contains what is called an Insect Growth Regulator or IGR. This is a chemical hormone that stunts the growth of developing cockroaches, stops cockroach eggs from hatching and sterilized cockroach adults so they can’t lay eggs and make children. This is key to stopping further growth of the population since cockroaches are notorious for breeding and reproducing constantly.
As you have learned, cockroaches are not picky when it comes to where they stay. As long as you have food, water and shelter for them, your home is a target. By implementing a routine cleaning schedule that you stick to, taking measures to exclude them from your home by sealing off points of entry, and applying the right type of cockroach killing products, you can eliminate a cockroach infestation and make your home cockroach-free.
More Cockroach Questions Answered:
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