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Did you know that roaches are hardy enough to outlive humans in the event of a nuclear apocalypse? That fact is enough to discourage most people from even attempting to get rid of these pests on their own. Cockroaches are not only resilient, but also can carry harmful illnesses and contaminants. But don’t worry—here are four simple steps you can take today to remove cockroaches from your home safely and effectively.
Not sure if the bug scuttling across your kitchen floor was a cockroach, beetle, or some other insect? Read on for how to best identify cockroaches:
- Cockroaches are between a half-inch and three inches long.
- Roach bodies feature flat, broad, shield-like shells that are brown or reddish in color.
- Though there are thousands of species of cockroach, the ones in your home are likely one of four common types: American, German, brown-banded, or Oriental cockroaches. German cockroaches are responsible for over 90% of indoor infestations in the United States.
- Cockroach antennae are very long—almost as long as their armored bodies.
- Roaches will stay in small, damp, dark areas during the day. Their six barbed legs are capable of high speeds, and roaches are quick to scurry away at the first sign of light.
- Because cockroaches are nocturnal, you might not even know they’re around until they’ve multiplied to large numbers and must come out to forage in the daytime.
- It’s no mystery why cockroaches are most commonly found in kitchens. These pests are in search of food, water, and shelter—all three of which are easily found in kitchens.
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches
1. INVESTIGATE ENTRY POINTS
The first step in getting roaches out is discovering how they’re getting in. Cockroaches often gain entry through cracks or loose weather stripping. They may even hitchhike in on moving boxes or food deliveries.
Gear up for a roach hunt with a flashlight, some glue boards (easily found at your local home improvement store) and a few deep breaths. Begin by looking in warm or damp areas. Likely hiding spots include spaces behind or between appliances, cabinets, under shelves, or in any small, dark, confined spot, such as in baseboard gaps. Roaches are also likely found near food and water sources.
This is where the glue boards come in: when you come to a suspected hiding spot, place a glue board beside it so you can monitor the area for activity. After a day or so, a loaded glue board, while disgusting, will confirm if you’ve found a cockroach source. You’ll also know that the cracks or holes in this area need to be recaulked or resealed.
2. REMOVE FOOD SOURCES AND SHELTER
After locating and sealing up entry points, look around nearby for crumbs, leaks, and debris that might be sustaining these roaches. Forgotten food and small beverage spills might be out of sight and mind for you, but they’re a mother lode for cockroaches. Roaches feed on and around leaking pipes, garbage cans, and in corners and crevices where scraps and drops accumulate. It doesn’t need to be an abundant food source—these resilient bugs can survive off even small crumbs and drips for weeks at a time.
While sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping up loose scraps, take care to make sure other non-food messes aren’t unwittingly housing cockroaches. Cleaning up old boxes, piles of papers, or forgotten washcloths can uncover cockroach hiding spots. Ensure that the stale boxes of cereal in the back of the pantry are tossed and run to the store to pick up airtight storage containers to keep things fresh and impenetrable to hungry cockroaches.
Food waste deserves proper storage, too. Trash cans stored off the floor and fastened with tight-fitting lids will no longer tempt cockroaches to feast on your garbage. Always use a liner and include washing the trash bin in your monthly chores.
3. USE COCKROACH BAIT
Because cockroaches can survive for over seven days without water and months without a bite to eat, cutting off their meals isn’t enough. They’re more than willing to wait for an opportune moment to grab a snack. Hungry cockroaches will stick around after cleanup, but they can be more easily lured away with the help of bait and traps.
Two popular methods for getting rid of cockroaches are gel bait and bait stations. Cockroach bait lures cockroaches in for a meal and then sends them off to their doom. When the poisoned cockroach reaches the nest, they soon perish and become food for their peers, spreading the bait through ingestion. Cockroach traps are also a good method to try and can be tossed after 24–48 hours of use along with the bugs trapped inside.
You may have heard that boric acid powder is an effective means for roach control. This powder, while slow to work, is used by sprinkling it near entry points or suspected nests. Be careful when using boric acid powder, though; it is indeed toxic to cockroaches on contact, but it’s also irritating to animals and small children and must be applied carefully and in obscure areas.
These methods can work for small levels of cockroach activity, but for infestations, we recommend calling professional pest exterminators who have access to stronger products.
4. TRY CONTACT KILLS
When all other methods have been utilized and cockroaches are still sticking around, it may be necessary to bring out the big guns: professional pest control experts. Exterminators often use products that work on contact for roaches. Cockroaches breathe through their skin, so these products, known as “contact kills,” work by suffocating them. If you only see a roach occasionally, you can try a homemade DIY contact kill by dissolving a small amount of detergent in water and spraying it on roaches.
Home and garden stores are stocked with anti-roach products, many of which are effective ways of controlling roach populations. However, they aren’t always as easy to use as they seem. Hastily or incorrectly applied solutions can introduce toxic chemicals to your countertops and food prep areas, as well as undermine other methods you’re using such as bait or traps. Roaches have adapted over time to many of these poisons, rendering them weak or sometimes ineffective. Extermination can be tricky to carry out effectively on your own, so calling professionals can be your best bet to saving time and eradicating the problem more quickly.
Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to control. If DIY methods aren’t working, or if you’d rather leave it to the pros, get in touch with our pest control professionals. A proper cockroach control endeavor includes both eliminating roaches invading your home today as well as providing ongoing solutions for keeping them out where they belong in days to come. Our team is standing by to develop a plan with you to control and eliminate roaches for good.
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