Cockroaches are not only disgusting to most people, they are also an important public health problem because they can contaminate food and eating utensils. Roaches can carry two human pathogens that can make people sick: salmonella and e-coli. In addition, cockroach infestations often cause a number of allergens from their saliva, feces and cast skins that can irritate people with allergies or asthma. For all these reasons roaches need to be eliminated promptly when they appear and then measures taken that will keep them away.
Ways That Cockroaches Enter the House
Cockroaches can enter a house from the outside if the house is not “tight.” But they often enter via luggage, bags, and boxes. Corrugated cardboard boxes are frequent sources of entry and infestation. Containers brought into the home need to be inspected carefully for signs of cockroaches or their eggs.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, so you’re unlikely to see them in the daylight unless you have a major infestation. If you suspect you have an infestation there are products you can use to make sure: sticky traps placed tightly against the joints of walls and floors will catch some if you have them. Put some of these sticky traps where the cockroaches most likely hide or visit, around:
- food cupboards
Preventive Measures Against Cockroaches
There are two main strategies to help prevent cockroach infestations: sanitation and harborage reduction.
Good sanitation deprives cockroaches of most of the food and water they need to survive. Specific things to do include:
- Don’t leave food out overnight.
- Store all food in the refrigerator or insect-proof containers.
- Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight.
- Clean all counter tops, tables, and sinks with soap and water every evening before going to bed.
- Wash all dishes, pots, pans and eating utensils as soon as you’re finished using them.
- Sweep or vacuum any food particles on floors.
- Vacuum all nooks and crannies where food may have lodged.
- Take all garbage out daily in closed containers.
- Clean and wash waste containers frequently.
- Repair all leaking or dripping faucets and pipes.
- Rinse and recycle cans and bottles regularly.
2. Harborage Reduction
Reducing the places where cockroaches can live and reproduce is another strong preventive strategy. Here are some ways to eliminate some of their favorite spots:
- Caulk to seal up cracks and places where cockroaches hide.
- Remove newspapers, bags, and boxes, especially corrugated cardboard boxes from the house or apartment.
- In apartments seal spaces that have plumbing or electrical wiring going through walls.
Cockroaches like warm, moist areas near a water source, so identify and frequently inspect your home around these potential nesting areas.
The two most effective non-chemical methods of getting rid of cockroaches are physical removal and cold treatment.
- Physical removal is best done with a good vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which lessens the cockroach debris that can become airborne.
- Cold treatment refers to sealing smaller items in a plastic bag and storing them in the freezer for a week or so. Items that might harbor cockroaches or their egg cases include toasters, clocks, and boxes.
If you have a serious cockroach infestation, the best thing to do is to use the services of a professional pest control company. They have the knowledge, experience, and technology to successfully exterminate cockroaches. But don’t neglect your part, especially the sanitation and harborage reduction preventive measures.
If you want to try to get rid of cockroaches yourself, here are ways to go about it:
- First, determine where most of them are coming from. Use sticky roach traps in suspected areas and place the traps against walls or other objects so cockroaches can’t travel behind them.
- Apply chemical insecticides near the traps where most of the cockroaches have been caught. Baits, dust or powders, and sprays, liquid or aerosol, can be used.
- Cockroach baits typically come in childproof containers and can be effective, though somewhat slow.
- Boric acid powder or dust can be used in places that pets and children can’t easily reach, like behind and under stoves, refrigerators, and sinks.
- If sprays are used, avoid contaminating food, dishes, and eating utensils. Spray only in specific sites where the infestation has been found plus in cracks and crevices around drains and plumbing and behind sinks and cabinets. Do not spray on countertops or tables.
Of course, you should read the label and directions both before purchasing insecticides and then again before applying them.
Do NOT use aerosol foggers or bombs. These are not effective in reaching the cracks and crevices where roaches hide and can expose people and pets to high levels of the insecticide.
If you want some effective products, read the article about What kills roaches and their eggs
on WTBest for suggestions.
Cockroaches Can Be Exterminated and Kept Away
Whether you choose to use a professional pest control service or not, there are many steps you can take to eliminate cockroaches in your home and help keep them away. The keys are thorough sanitation measures, harborage reductions, monitoring with sticky traps, non-chemical management, and insecticidal or chemical management. In major infestations, all these methods may be required. Be sure to read the labels and comply with directions if you use insecticides.