Ever Wondered What Causes a Cockroach Infestations?
Out of all the pests you may encounter in your home, cockroaches are above and beyond the most hated. They are ugly and their habits of crawling over everything and leaving their musty-smelling droppings on household items are downright disgusting.
What frustrates and confounds people the most about cockroaches is how they even came down with a cockroach infestation in the first place, especially if they keep a neat home. This is because cockroaches are often associated with clutter, uncleanliness and being messy so people believe that doing the opposite automatically means freedom from roaches.
The sad truth is that it doesn’t really matter how clean you keep your home, cockroaches may still gather inside your home because some species of cockroach (primarily, the German Cockroach) prefer to live closely or among human beings.
If you’d like to get into what causes cockroaches in a home, we will take a deep dive into the reasons cockroaches infest homes and what you can do about it below.
The Origin of The Cockroach Problem
Recommended Read: Ultimate Cockroach Guide
Cockroaches are one of the oldest living creatures that has ever existed. They were even here before the dinosaurs. While dinosaurs have all gone extinct, cockroaches are still chugging along because they were built to survive and adapt. The bad news is that some cockroaches have adapted to the point where living indoors in a man-made structure is their new recipe for survival.
Before human beings came into the picture, cockroaches had to tough it out in the wilderness. Residing in forests, jungles and other natural environments, cockroaches would save in the dirt seeking their basic life necessities of water, suitable shelter and food.
When civilization began to develop, a small number of cockroach species (less than 25 out of 4,500 different types) started exploring human structures. These cockroaches came to the realization that human homes were a better place to live than trying to survive outdoors.
Easy access to water and food and the many different nooks and crannies that a building had for them to hide and seek sanctuary from the outdoor elements became too good to pass up, and so, cockroaches began pestering humans with their presence ever since.
Cockroaches infesting homes may be a beneficial decision for them to make, but it is to our expense. Their presence in homes are not just annoying but is also damaging to our health. Cockroaches are notorious for contaminating foods and spreading bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and allergens due to their filthy habits. If you get sick easily or have allergies, cockroaches can really make life difficult.
How Cockroaches Cause Infestations
If you keep a messy home, it may be no surprise to you that cockroaches will become a by-product of your lack of cleanliness. However, it is most frustrating when you do keep your home nice and clean and still suffer from dozens of cockroaches crawling about and running amuck in your home.
A clean house doesn’t equal a cockroach free house, unfortunately. Cockroaches can infest even the tidiest of homes and often it is because there are points of entry that make it easy for them to invade. Gaps and holes around your home structure, cracks in your window or door frames all are invitations for cockroaches to sneak on inside. It doesn’t help that cockroaches have flat bodies that they can use to easily squeeze through the tightest of spaces.
Another alarming cause of cockroaches infesting your home may be that you accidentally brought them into your home! This can happen from taking a trip to the grocery store and having cockroaches that have infested the store hitch a ride in your grocery bag or a box of food.
It is even more likely that you can bring cockroaches into your home by buying secondhand items, especially electronics. Cockroaches most commonly infest electronics because they are tight secluded spaces that give them a lot of warmth when they are in use. This is why it’s important to inspect and even clean or flush out items you’ve bought secondhand before bringing them indoors. You may have saved a bunch of money buying a secondhand item for cheap but bringing in a cockroach infestation indoors may offset any dollars you keep in your wallet from not buying a new item full price.
While all the above factors are valid reasons for a cockroach infestation to occur, it really comes down to what a cockroach is: natural survivors. They are only worried about surviving day to day and reproducing like crazy. To do this, they need three essential things: food, water and shelter (which our homes provide plenty of all). Roaches are on a relentless quest for all these and will invade your home to get their fix. Let’s go deep into each need and what you can do to make things tough for cockroaches.
Need #1: Food
Before we humans came around, cockroaches actually had to really work to find food. Because they lived in the wilderness, it was a chore for them to hunt to find food that they would enjoy, which would often be organic matter, some plants or smaller insects. When civilization started to develop and humans had storage areas where we kept and cooked all of our food, cockroaches began to invade in large numbers because of how effortlessly they could find and enjoy food!
Solution: Cut off Access To Food
By eliminating easy access to food, cockroaches will have a more difficult time getting their fix and will go elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean they won’t relentlessly try. They are insatiable scavengers and will eat just about anything edible that has not been cleaned up or sealed off.
Be very thorough when cleaning up and do so daily. Letting dishes pile up in the sink and leaving them unwashed overnight is a no-no. You have to wash the dishes, dry them and put them away. All kitchen surfaces need to be wiped off and vacuumed. Even food smudges, grease spills and crumbs can provide ample food for them so you should be detailed in your cleaning approach all over your kitchen, even often ignored areas like under appliances like the microwave, fridge or oven.
It will also be vital to take your trash out every day. Do not let trash can fill up and sit there overnight because cockroaches will be desperately trying to squeeze their way in to eat the garbage. Any sort of food left out in the open is fair game so don’t leave any food out and properly place them away in tight containers or the fridge.
By being so thorough, the cockroaches that choose to stay in your home will be hungry and desperate and you could use this information to your advantage with cockroach baiting (which we will cover later).
Need # 2: Water
Here’s a few interesting facts: cockroaches can survive a whole month without food. Cockroaches can go only a week without water. Cockroaches NEED water and frequent the moist areas of your home to have constant access to it for their survival. They will hang around your sinks and drains and frequent bathtubs and around the toilet to get some water sups. If you have a water cooler, they will be all over that as well, trying desperately to get a drink.
Solution: Keep Your Home Dry
Keeping your home as dry as possible and making it tough for cockroaches to get a drink can be difficult, but it will make a big difference when you want to remove an infestation. Start by drying off your entire kitchen before going to bed at night.
When washing dishes, dry them off immediately rather than waiting for them to air dry on the rack and put them away. Cockroaches will use the little traces of water as a drink overnight for their refreshment. On top of that, keep your sink totally dry as well after you’re done using it. Take a dry cloth or towel and dry up the sink completely as well as make sure your sink faucet isn’t dripping water.
Fix any plumbing leaks such as under the sink or anywhere else that is leaking water as cockroaches will take full advantage these little drops to quench their thirst. If you have pets, dump out any standing water such as from pet bowls before bed as well.
If water is hard to come by for cockroaches, the population will either leave or start to die off.
Need #3: Shelter
A home structure, unfortunately, provides endless possibilities for cockroaches to gather and create a nest or find comfort in a dark, warm, secluded area before they become active at night. For example, cockroaches will crawl into electronics like the inside of your TV, internet router, computer or game console because of the heat it gives off. They could also set up a nest behind cabinets, wall voids or other areas that are hard to reach or are tucked away.
Solution: Declutter and Exclusion
Declutter is crucial as it takes away areas of shelter and hiding spots from cockroaches. Toss out boxes and belongings you don’t have a use for any more to free up space. The less clutter there is, the less options cockroaches have to hide and the more vulnerable they become.
Alongside decluttering, you should also exclude them from your home with the help of caulk. Arm yourself with a caulking gun and go around your home to seal up any gaps, holes, cracks, and crevices you can find. This will take away cockroach shelter spaces and may even trap cockroaches in the space so they all die off.
Cockroach Control Options To Eliminate Infestations
After you have cut off easy access to food, water and shelter, chances are, you’ll still have cockroaches straggling around waiting for the right opportunity for some food or water to enjoy. This is when you should be proactive and engage in some cockroach control with the help of cockroach pesticides.
You may be overwhelmed to find all sorts of cockroach killing products out there that make claims to eliminate infestations quickly. You may even find some DIY home remedies that claim to kill cockroaches. Not all of these products work so it is best to do your homework on what products work best and to be strategic in how you use them.
One of the best approaches to cockroach control is using a cockroach gel bait, especially if you have done a great job of cutting off food access. Those hungry cockroaches will be just chomping at the bit to eat something and that’s when you should apply little beads of poisonous cockroach bait. Cockroaches will gladly eat the bait because it’s either the bait or starving.
Gradually, the bait will slowly kill the cockroach and they will fall dead, often in their nest among the other cockroach population. Cockroaches, when hungry, will eat cockroach feces or even dead roaches they find, which will transfer the bait poison to them. This vicious cycle could lead to many dead roaches.
Along with bait, it is recommended to use liquid pesticide concentrates to repel cockroaches from your home because once they get close and come into contact with the pesticide, they will die shortly after. Dust products can be applied where liquid sprays cannot and will poison or suffocate cockroaches that come into contact with the dust particles.
Finally, a chemical called an insect growth regulator should deal the final blow to a cockroach infestation as this product halts the reproductive process of cockroaches, rendering cockroach eggs to be unable to hatch and cockroach nymphs will be unable to grow into reproductive adults.
Cockroaches are a headache to deal with in the home but they are there for a reason. Whether they came upon your home by you accidentally bringing them in or were there before you moved in, cockroaches won’t want to leave until you do something to force them out.
By carrying out the actions laid out in this article, you can eliminate cockroaches and cause them to go elsewhere for their needs.