Cockroach Elimination and Roach Prevention

If you live in an area of the country that is warm and humid, it’s almost guaranteed that you have either had a cockroach infestation, or at the very least, seen a cockroach inside of your home or apartment at some time in your life.

These pests are not only creepy, but they are potential carriers of food-borne pathogens, triggering allergies, and aggravating asthma in certain individuals. Either way, keeping them out of your home is the goal.

Cockroaches are cold-blooded pests that thrive in warm, humid conditions. Although there are many cockroach species, they all have three goals in mind: finding food, water, and shelter. 

In this article, we will learn how roaches can invade even the cleanest homes. Roaches are resilient and can find ways through cracks in foundations, under doors without weather stripping, through open windows, or even catching a ride on a used piece of furniture, an old appliance, or a shopping bag. Roaches can be hazardous to humans because they are known to get into garbage, contaminate food and other surfaces, carry and transmit diseases, and trigger allergies and asthma as mentioned above.

Is there a cockroach season?

Many people wonder if cockroaches are more prevalent during some seasons of the year. The answer to that depends on geography and cockroach species. States with colder climates will see a decline in Peridomestic roach (live outdoors but will come inside) activity in the winter. Many species will either hibernate or die off, and then pick back up in spring and summer when the warmer weather returns. In states with warmer climates (like the southern US), roaches are active year-round.  Once this colder weather sets in, roaches (like other overwintering pests) can become more common inside your home. They will escape the cold and continue to thrive and reproduce indoors. American cockroaches usually stay outdoors, although they will come inside to escape both the freezing cold and the extreme heat. Most roaches cannot breed at temperatures below 45 F or above 115 F degrees.

German cockroaches are most common species found indoors and can be found throughout the year. They often nest in the walls of homes, apartments, restaurants, and supermarkets. They will also hide behind baseboards, in drawers, in cracks around cabinets, and under sinks, stoves, refrigerators and other appliances. 

Can a homeowner help prevent roaches?

Regardless of where you live, a cockroach infestation can wreak havoc on the health of your family and your home. Here are some ways you can help prevent cockroaches no matter which season:

  • Thoroughly vacuum your home when there is a sign of a cockroach
  • Cleaning under the fridge, stove, toaster, oven, and other appliances
  • Emptying the trash regularly and sealing the lids
  • Don’t leave spills and crumbs around
  • Storing food in sealed containers
  • Fixing leaks immediately
  • Clearing out old newspapers and cardboard
  • Cleaning up yard debris
  • Don’t let shrubs, trees, or wood piles touch your home

Which cockroach is the largest?

American roaches are the largest of the common roach species, growing to a length of 1-1/2 inches or more. They are reddish brown in color with a pale brown or yellow border covering the top and back portion of the head. Both sexes have well developed wings, with the males extending beyond the end of the abdomen. In warm temperatures (above 85ºF) American cockroaches have the ability to fly but they generally glide.   

What are some cockroach habits and lifespans?

Cockroaches are primarily outdoor pests that prefer moist, shady areas. They feed on a variety of foods preferring decaying organic matter. American cockroaches can survive for 2-3 months without food, but only about one month without water while German Cockroaches will die within 2 weeks without food and water.

When outside conditions become unfavorable, American roaches tend to move indoors and harbor in floor drains, pipe chases, sewers, or wall voids. Adult females produce 5/16” long, dark brown egg capsules containing 14-16 eggs. These are usually glued to hidden surfaces. Eggs generally hatch within six to 8 weeks and the nymph stage can last from 5 to 32 months (160 to 970 days) depending on environmental conditions. Under ideal circumstances, American roaches can live for 14 -15 months.

American cockroaches are commonly found in restrooms, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries or anywhere food is prepared or stored. They readily feed on fermenting products but will also eat book bindings, sweets, materials containing starches, and even clothing. Due to their affinity for living in unsanitary areas, they often spread bacteria during their travels.

Pay close attention to structural conditions and sanitation to help prevent American cockroach infestations. As these insects prefer to live outside, sealing all cracks, crevices and other possible entry points is critical.

American roaches are quite common so expect to see them from time to time. Strict attention to structural conditions, sanitation and housekeeping will help prevent infestation.

Will weather keep roaches away?

Roaches do not develop or reproduce when temperatures are too cold (below 45° F) or too hot (above 115° F). Hot and cold temperatures can be very effective in killing them, but the adverse temperatures must be maintained for a period of time.

What time of night are cockroaches most active?

Most roaches are active in the first hours of the night when the lights are off. A few hours are enough for them to mate and feed. However, if there is a massive cockroach infestation in your home, they may spend more hours searching for food. Finding cockroaches in the morning hours signals a heavy infestation.

Why would roaches infest a clean house?

While food may not be readily available in an extra-clean home, water and shelter are almost always a guarantee. Remember, cockroaches can go for as long as a month without eating, so lack of food might not be an immediate deterrent. And don’t forget that German cockroaches have been known to eat things other than food to survive. Basically, cockroaches can infest any home if food, moisture, and warmth are present.

How many types of cockroaches exist?

There are more than 50 species of cockroaches in the United States. The American cockroach, German cockroach, Asian cockroach, brown banded cockroach, Australian cockroach, Oriental cockroach, smokybrown cockroach, and wood roaches are the commonly encountered one. 

All cockroach species have three life stages: the egg, a variable number of nymphal instars, and the adult. The life cycle from egg to adult averages can vary significantly between species depending on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity as well availability of food and water.  American cockroaches can take an average of 600 days while German cockroaches can complete it in 100 days. 

The Australian cockroach is one of several species of Peridomestic cockroaches (cockroaches that live mostly outdoors, but occasionally may be found indoors) and the most common cockroach species found outdoors in southern Florida. This species resembles the American cockroach but can be distinguished by the presence of light-yellow bands on upper margins of the forewings.

The German cockroach is unable to survive in locations away from humans or human activity. The major factor limiting German cockroach survival appears to be cold temperatures. Studies have shown that German cockroaches were unable to colonize inactive ships during cool temperatures and could not survive in homes without central heating in northern climates.

Asian cockroaches look like a German cockroach twin however they have longer and narrower wings than German cockroaches.  Although Asian cockroaches are susceptible to many pesticides their control is difficult due to their mobility and adaptability to various habitats. Traditional treatments using residual sprays inside and around the perimeter of a structure are ineffective due to infestations in mulched and wooded areas. Plus, adults can fly into homes through windows and doorways, avoiding areas typically treated for control of German cockroaches. Sodium vapor lamps for security lighting and yellow incandescent bulbs for porch lighting are both less attractive to adults and reduce the attraction of adult insects to lighting near buildings.

In Summary

Keeping cockroaches out is the best way to control them and as mentioned, there are things a homeowner can proactively do to protect their home.  However, if you are still seeing roaches even after your valiant attempts it may require the help of a professional pest control company. 

Roaches are resilient and extremely hard to get rid of once they have established themselves in your home. If you have a problem with roaches or any other pests, contact a professional pest control company like Massey Services, who can help identify what type of roach you are dealing with, help eliminate them and keep them from coming back in.