Introduction to Cockroaches

Cockroaches are a visitor that it’s best to prevent, if possible. Recently, they have been linked to allergic reactions in humans. Here is some information about dealing with these insects.

Recognizing Cockroaches

Among the most primitive living things, the cockroach is a member of a group of insects with over 2500 species, some of which are household pests. They can range in size from 1/4” (.64 cm) to 3” (7.62 cm). Being omnivorous, they eat human food as well as waste, and some even eat plastic insulation and wood. They are brown to black in color with a flat, oval-shaped body, and a pair of antennae. Though some varieties have wings, they rarely fly. They are nocturnal, being most active at night.

Cockroaches reproduce by laying eggs that can take more than a year to hatch, and the adults have a lifespan of about a year. Therefore, in ridding a household of roaches, it is important not only to get rid of the mature adults, but also to get rid of the egg cases. Cockroaches prefer a warm, dark, humid environment, but they lay their eggs almost anywhere.

Ridding Your Home of Roaches

service man Once you identify cockroaches in your home, you need to decide what form of treatment to use. In any case, it is important to eliminate food sources if possible, as well as use some substance that will kill them. Eliminating food sources may include:

  • Cleaning all dinnerware, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and flatware after each meal is prepared and served.
  • Washing all dining and food preparation surfaces, whether tables, trays, desks, and including those on porches and patios adjacent to the house.
  • Eliminating any crumbs from surfaces below the eating area after each meal.
  • Securing waste in plastic and removing it from the premises every evening.
  • Sweeping/washing the kitchen floor every evening.
  • Removing uneaten pet food and cleaning the surrounding area after every meal the pet has.
  • Keeping extra pet food in a sealed, hard plastic container.
  • Storing pantry items (including, but not limited to, flour, cereal, crackers, cookies, etc.) in sealed, hard plastic containers.
  • Finding and repairing any leaks that could be providing a source of water.
  • Eliminating any hiding places, such as piles of old newspapers, rags, or other material.
  • Changing and discarding (sealed in plastic) vacuum bags that may have roach eggs or live roaches in them.

The next step is finding the spots where roaches are congregating. This can be done by going around the house with a flashlight at night, or by using the traps called roach motels, which work by trapping roaches’ feet in their sticky surface coating. For the first method, check the most likely spots first—in and around the kitchen and bathrooms where the roaches can get their need for food and water met. In using the second approach, place roach motels around the baseboards in the likely areas, and check them later to find the most populated areas.

The next step is to use an agent to kill the cockroaches and/or drive them away. Choices include boric acid power or spray, bait traps, and other pesticide sprays specifically aimed at roach control. Read labels carefully before making a choice, particularly considering the presence of small children or pets in the household. You may want to begin with the least intrusive choice (bait traps) and only use the other agents if needed.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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