Cockroaches are unwelcomed pests that are nothing but a nuisance to people. They are extremely creepy and resilient insects that can survive in freezing temperatures and can live for a week without their head! It’s hard to believe, we know!
Table of Contents
- Appearance of Cockroaches
- Health Risks
- Anatomy of a Cockroach
- 4 Types of Cockroaches
- How Fast Do Cockroaches Spread?
- How to Get Rid of Cockroaches
Related: 13 Types of termites
Appearance of Cockroaches
Cockroaches are brown or black creatures with broad and flattened bodies. They have two antennae and six legs. The hind legs of cockroaches are long. All six legs have small, sensory hair. Adult cockroaches possess wings that fold back flat on their backs. However, not all cockroaches can fly. They can grow anywhere between 0.07 inches to 3 inches in length.
There are approximately 4,000 known species of cockroaches, out of which 70 species can be found in the United States. Cockroaches pose serious health problems for humans. They move about in decaying matter and catch germs on their legs along their way. These germs can be transmitted to humans through food contamination. These germs can lead to serious infections like Salmonella and E.coli. Moreover, they can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms as they leave behind their droppings, skin, and saliva that contain allergens.
Anatomy of a Cockroach
4 Types of Cockroaches
Despite the fact that 70 species out of more than 4000 are found in the United States, you need to worry only about five or six. Most of the species of cockroaches do not prefer living in closed spaces like homes. However, if you see anyone cockroach in your home, you should immediately understand that there are at least a hundred more hiding somewhere.
The most common types of cockroaches which you should worry about have been listed below. All cockroaches may appear the same but they all have slightly different appearances. Being able to identify the type of cockroach that has infested your home makes the treatment easier.
German cockroaches are the most common type of cockroaches that are found in America. These cockroaches can cause an outbreak of allergy and illness in people. They are light-brown in color with two dark parallel lines on their back running from head to wings. They are oval-shaped, six-legged insects that are usually 13 to 16mm long.
They may be found anywhere in the house but they prefer sating in dark, warm, and humid places. Their primary habitat is in the kitchen and secondary habitat is bathrooms. However, they are also commonly found in rooms where people eat and drink. Their lifespan is about 12 months and these cockroaches produce more eggs than any other species.
They are usually carried through visitors, clothing, packages, furniture, etc. but they can spread rather easily through walls in a multifamily dwelling.
As the name indicates, brown-banded cockroaches have prominent brown-colored bands on their wings. Male cockroaches are dark-brown in color at the base and get a shade of golden brown towards the wings. Female cockroaches of these species are reddish-brown in color at the wings and dark brown at the base. Only male cockroaches are capable of flying. They can grow up to 13mm long.
They may be found in houses where German cockroaches are found but they are not found in same spots as German cockroaches. These species tend to live in places higher up the ground, in places that are drier and warmer. They are most commonly found in upper cabinets and in rooms (other than bathroom and kitchen). Their lifespan is 3 to 11 months. Like German cockroaches, they are carried through visitors, clothing, packages, furniture, etc. but they can spread rather easily through walls in a multifamily dwelling.
American cockroaches may not be the most common type of cockroach in America but they are certainly the largest. They can grow up to 53mm in length and can live up to 2 years. They are active at temperatures as high as 70 degrees and can survive lower temperatures as well. They are reddish brown in color with a yellow band on the shield that is present around their heads.
They prefer staying outdoors but they love any place that is warm and damp enough like kitchens, laundry rooms, drains, bathroom, and basement. Both male and female cockroaches of this species can fly. They can enter your home through basement windows, sewerage system, garage, and from under the doors.
Oriental cockroaches have glossy black or dark brown bodies. Females of this species can grow to be 32mm long while males are 25mm in length. Male cockroaches have wings that are shorter than the body while the wings of the females are underdeveloped.
Oriental cockroaches prefer living in areas where plenty of decaying matter and moisture is present like sewers and basements. These cockroaches cannot fly. They can enter your home from under the doors, through basement windows, and the sewerage system. Their life span is approximately 6 months.
How Fast Do Cockroaches Spread?
Cockroaches spread pretty fast. A female cockroach lays several eggs at a time. All eggs are carried in a single case which is called the ootheca. This case serves as a protective casing for the eggs. A female cockroach carries the case with itself till the eggs are about to hatch. When the eggs are close to hatching, the female cockroach drops the case near a food source or sticks the case somewhere with its saliva.
The ootheca contains enough water to keep the eggs safe and nutritious till they hatch. Each ootheca may contain 16 to 37 eggs. The number of eggs a single cockroach produces at one time varies according to the types of cockroaches. A German female cockroach can produce as many as 40 eggs at one time. The eggs hatch to produce white-colored nymphs which set out in the search of food and water right away. Each female cockroach can produce 200 to 300 offsprings in its lifetime which is about 6 generations. One female cockroach along with her offsprings can produce as many as 300,000 cockroaches in one year. A small cockroach infestation can become a full-blown infestation if you do not take care of cockroaches right away.
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches
Cockroaches pose a challenge when it comes to getting rid of them. They can go without food and water for a few weeks to several months. They hide in places where you least expect them and multiply rapidly. If you see a cockroach or two roaming around the floors of your home, you should know that the infestation has worsened. Getting rid of cockroaches is not as simple as spaying insecticide or putting down the bait. It is far more challenging than that.
1. Elimination of Food, Water, and Hiding Places
Food, water, and hiding places attract cockroaches. By eliminating these, you can get rid of cockroaches.
One of the most important steps in getting rid of these pests is getting rid of all food sources.
- Cockroaches can easily live off the grease that gets accumulated beneath and behind the kitchen appliances such as microwave, refrigerator, stove, toaster, and dishwasher. Cleaning under and behind these appliances should be done on a regular basis.
- Any food spills are a treat for cockroaches. Emptying and cleaning the cabinets thoroughly is very important when you are trying to get rid of cockroaches.
- Food should be stored in sealed containers. Cockroaches are small enough to enter loosely closed boxes or cardboard packaging. It is always better to store food in hard plastic or steel sealed containers.
- Cockroaches are attracted to food. If you eat food in different areas of your home, you are providing favorable conditions for cockroaches all around your home. Limiting the consumption of food to one area is important so that any spills are limited to one area only which can be cleaned easily.
- Food crumbs, cockroach skins, feces, eggs or egg sacs can attract other cockroaches to that area. Vacuuming throughout the house regularly can help you eliminate cockroaches effectively.
- Clean the countertops of your kitchen every night before going to bed. Cockroaches come out of their hiding places at night. If you do not clean the kitchen properly, they will find a food source. Cleaning the kitchen properly every night will leave behind nothing on which cockroaches can feed.
- Cover pet food containers tightly or empty them every night.
- Keep all garbage cans clean and covered.
Eliminating water sources is as important as eliminating food sources since cockroaches are attracted to damp and moist places. Getting rid of water resources is trickier. However, you should try to get rid of as many as possible.
- If there are any leaky pipes, you should get them fixed immediately.
- Before going to bed, make sure that you have emptied and dried all tubs, sinks, and showers. Plug the drains as well, as cockroaches may enter your home through this route.
- Place all wet dishrags and sponges outdoors to dry or put them in the washing machine directly. Keeping them in airtight plastic bags is also an option. Leaving wet dishrags and sponges out in open is not an option when you are trying to get rid of cockroaches.
- If you have pets, their water dishes should be kept outdoors to dry and should be refilled in the morning.
- Wet toothbrushes should either be dried properly or placed in appropriate containers.
- The drip tray of the refrigerator should be emptied regularly.
Cockroaches leave their hiding spots at night. During the day, they hide in places that are small, dark, and warm. If you manage to eliminate all possible hiding places, cockroaches will be left with no option other than leaving these places and coming out in open. That is when you will have your chance to kill them.
- Seal all cracks and crevices with the help of a caulking gun.
- Close any holes that may be present around pipes, lights or wall fixtures by filling them with material like copper mesh.
- Make sure that window frames and doorframes are tight and no gaps that may let cockroaches enter from the outside remain.
- If there are any holes or crevices in your appliances, cover them with tape to make sure they don’t house any cockroaches.
2. Using Sprays, Baits, and IGRs
Once you have made sure that your house offers no favorable conditions for cockroaches to breed, you should now move on to killing them. The products that are recommended for getting rid of a cockroach infestation include insecticide sprays, baits, and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs).
- Cockroach sprays should be applied along the cracks and crevices, baseboards, around window and doorframes, under and behind the appliances, and any areas where cables, wires, and pipes are entering. You should reapply the spray every few days to make sure no cockroaches or their eggs remain.
- Baits are highly effective in killing cockroaches. If one cockroach feeds on the poisoned bait, it is likely to kill 40 other cockroaches through its feces, contact or through its poisoned carcass. Baits should be placed behind the wooden frames, appliances, cabinets, machines, in cracks and crevices, and in all areas which can serve as a hiding place for cockroaches.
- IGRs attack the lifecycle of the cockroaches and other insects when they are still in larvae or egg stage. As a result, the cockroaches cannot reach adulthood and reproduce. It keeps the infestation under control and stops their spread.
The last thing you have you to do for getting rid of cockroaches is to be patient. A cockroach infestation does not take place overnight and it can’t be eliminated overnight. If you have taken all the right measures, you have to wait to see the results.
One thing that you should remember is that the key to getting rid of cockroaches is identifying the types of cockroaches that are troubling you. This will help you and pest control professionals to chalk out a treatment plan accordingly and more efficiently.