Cockroaches are one of the most common insect pests in America. They’re also one of the hardest to get rid of. Should you ever need it, here are some tips to rid your home of cockroaches and prevent their return.
What Are Cockroaches?
The American cockroach is usually one to three inches long and shaped like an oval. They have two antennae, six legs, and wings. This particular breed of cockroach lives about two years.
While they are commonly found outdoors, they will move into buildings if food is scarce or the weather is unfavorable. They like warm, moist environments and will eat any organic material.
Female roaches can lay over a thousand eggs a year, spreading quickly into any new territory. Eggs hidden in nooks and crannies will hatch even if you kill the adults. Chances are they’ll be back.
Are They Dangerous?
Cockroaches can bite but generally don’t. They’d much rather run and hide, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely benign.
Salmonella: Roaches can carry salmonella, a bacterial infection of the gut. It can transfer to your food. If you eat something without knowing roaches contaminated it or prepare food on a contaminated countertop, you could have stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a fever.
E. Coli: Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria also live in the gut. Most strains are harmless, but not all of them. According to the Mayo Clinic, E. coli O157:H7, for example, E. coli can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Most adults will recover in about a week. Older people, children, and people with compromised immune systems are more at risk of developing kidney failure, which is life-threatening.
Allergies/Asthma: Cockroach feces, eggs, saliva, and body parts create particles in the air (which is how you smell their musty odor) and can cover surfaces. They can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks. Symptoms are difficulty breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing, wheezing, itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases, people may even develop anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction causing low blood pressure and swelling of the lips, mouth, and airways, which can make it hard to breathe.
Where Do I Look?
The warm, moist environments cockroaches usually choose are gardens, compost piles, around pipes, in walls, and under appliances. Basements, attics, and garages are good places to hide, where they can find cardboard and other things to munch on.
Some signs you’ve found the infestation include:
- Seeing a live cockroach
- Finding dead cockroaches
- Cockroach droppings, which are small and dark, like coffee grounds or pepper granules.
- A musty odor that gets more concentrated as the population grows.
Cockroach Pest Control
The number one way to control cockroaches is prevention. They will relocate if they can’t find the proper environment and food source in your home. Here is a handy checklist.
- Fix leaky pipes.
- Keep mulch, fallen leaves, and compost piles away from the house.
- Vacuum regularly to remove crumbs in carpet, sofas, and other furniture. This is especially important if you have pets or small children who will hide food in weird places.
- Wash dishes and put food away after every meal.
- Lift small appliances as you wipe down countertops so no crumbs are left behind. (Don’t forget to get bread crumbs from the toaster. There’s a release on the tray on the bottom of the toaster, or you can turn it upside down over the sink or trash can.)
- A popular hiding spot is under fridges and stoves, where food falls, and we forget about it. Pulling these appliances out and cleaning under them periodically will eliminate a food source.
- Store food in your pantry inside containers.
- Clean crumbs from your shelves and cupboards regularly to eliminate food supplies.
- Don’t leave pet food out.
- Make regular inspections. Catching an infestation early will make getting rid of pests so much easier.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you get uninvited and unwanted visitors that refuse to take the hint. While they sell roach sprays, traps, and poisons at your local grocery or hardware store, they are often toxic, which gets tricky if you have children or pets.
They are also slow acting. Roach traps have slow-acting poison. Roaches will eat the poison, then return to their nest. As they do so, they leave droppings that the other cockroaches eat, which also poisons them. It doesn’t kill the eggs.
The roach population drops, and you think you’ve solved the problem until a new group of eggs hatch, grow, and breed.
Pest control services for cockroaches are the best option for killing adults and destroying all eggs. In addition to their skill at reaching the difficult hiding places roaches prefer, professional exterminators have access to commercial-grade but environmentally friendly bug killers that are safe for your family. For more information or to schedule a free estimate, click here.