How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Cockroaches are some of the most difficult unwanted guests to get rid of. They’re nocturnal, fast-moving, fit into tiny spaces, and can survive for months without food

If you’ve dealt with an infestation before, you probably have an idea of how to get rid of roaches. But without professional help, cockroaches are likely to survive even your best do-it-yourself efforts and will keep coming back. 

Learn everything you need to know about how to get rid of roaches, including their behaviors and life cycle, the most common different types of cockroaches to watch out for, and how professional pest control experts can help. 


Keep in mind that when dealing with cockroaches, you’re dealing with an ancient species. Did you know that cockroaches have existed for over one hundred million years? Some species of cockroaches have even been around since before the dinosaurs. These insects have evolved over time to become extremely adaptable and have spread throughout the entire world (except Antarctica, home to only one native insect species). 

Cockroaches are frequently used in scientific research and have even reproduced in space aboard the Russian Foton-M bio-satellite.

Cockroaches are often written about in literature and featured in pop culture. Writers have included references to cockroaches for centuries—the most notable being Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In this 1915 novella, the main character transforms into a human-sized cockroach to the horror of his friends and family.

Cockroaches are ubiquitous and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If they show up in your home, it’s because cockroaches are simply everywhere.

Sometimes, when people picture cockroaches, they’re thinking of a species that is not commonly found in the United States. Here are two examples of cockroach species that are often used in TV and film but are not typically found in our customers’ homes:

  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Cockroaches often featured in film and television are more similar in size (up to 3 inches in length) to the Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa). Like the name suggests, this species makes a distinctive hissing sound. Unlike their pest relatives, hissing cockroaches don’t typically infest human residences and mainly feed on vegetation. They live outdoors, are native to Madagascar, and are considered an invasive species in many countries. Some people actually keep these cockroaches as pets in an enclosure where they can live up to five years. You can also find them on exhibit at aquariums, zoos, and other locations.
  • Megaloblatta longipennis: The largest winged species of cockroach is actually the Megaloblatta longipennis. This cockroach is in the Guinness World Records with a length of 3.8 inches and a wingspan of 8 inches. It’s found in Panama, Peru, and Ecuador.


When considering how to get rid of roaches, the first thing to keep in mind is their behavior and anatomy. Cockroaches live indoors because they have adapted over time to depend on humans and will eat just about anything to survive. 

In order to thrive, cockroaches need three main things: food, water, and shelter. This means that apartment buildings, condominiums, single-family homes, businesses, restaurants, and any other building that humans regularly inhabit can be prime locations for cockroaches to infest.

Cockroaches are social insects, meaning they form colonies and change their behavior based on the cues of other cockroaches around them. Cockroaches send out pheromones to signal when they’ve found food, water, or a favorable spot to gather. Typically they congregate in dark, warm, enclosed spaces. 

Cockroaches are also nocturnal, which is why you rarely see them during the day. Most of the time, they spend daylight hours in their hiding spots. Cockroaches can harbor under appliances (such as refrigerators or ovens), inside walls, in discarded boxes, and under floorboards.

In homes where infestations are severe, cockroaches may be active during the day as well. If you see this, it’s best to contact a pest control expert as soon as possible to begin eradicating these stubborn pests.


Like other insects, cockroaches have six legs, two body segments, antennae, wings, and compound eyes that can distinguish light and color and register multiple things in their surroundings at one time. 

Cockroaches breathe through their skin, which is why contact products often work to suffocate these insects. For most infestations, a pest expert will likely recommend a solution that incorporates multiple eradication methods.

Cockroaches move quickly and are able to scale walls and ceilings. Some species are even able to fly short distances.


Depending on the species, cockroaches can reach adulthood and begin reproducing very quickly. For example, the life cycle of a German cockroach takes about 100 days to complete.


Female cockroaches produce dozens of eggs at a time. Rather than laying these eggs out in the open (and risk the eggs being harmed), cockroaches carry their eggs in a case on their body called the ootheca. The ootheca is about as long as a cockroach’s wings and remains attached to the body until eggs are ready to hatch.


Once the eggs have hatched, cockroaches enter the nymph stage of the life cycle. Nymphs range in size from 3 to 14 mm and do not have wings. Like adults, nymphs forage for food and water. They will molt several times before reaching adulthood.


After molting, nymphs become adult cockroaches. Depending on the species, adults vary in size but can reach up to 2 inches in length. Adult cockroaches have wings, move quickly, and stay in enclosed spaces during the day. Their main goals are to eat, reproduce, and survive. It only takes a few reproducing female cockroaches to quickly create a huge population of these unwanted pests.



One of the main reasons cockroaches come indoors is in search of food, and they’re not picky when it comes to what they eat. Unswept crumbs, dirty dishes left in the sink, oven grease, and trash cans in need of emptying can all entice roaches indoors. 


While a door left open or a window not closed can be the most obvious way for cockroaches to come indoors, lesser-noticed gaps and cracks can also allow cockroaches to come inside. Openings around chimneys, plumbing voids, vents, and foundations can all provide ways for roaches to sneak indoors—especially in older homes that haven’t been inspected recently.


Even brand-new, cleaned homes can face persistent cockroaches. For example, areas that are warm and humid for a large part of the year are more likely to have a problem with these pests. Cockroaches are also more common in big cities because densely populated areas provide more opportunities for food.


There are dozens of cockroach species in the United States. Four of the most common types are German cockroaches, American cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches, and Asian cockroaches.


The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is the most common species of cockroach in North America and can be found in nearly every country in the world—including island nations. These insects are about half an inch long, predominantly live indoors, and are usually found in the kitchen. Females are lighter in color, while males are typically dark brown.


The Asian cockroach (Blattella asahinai) looks almost identical to the German cockroach, but this species can fly. Asian cockroaches live predominantly outdoors. This species has only been in the U.S. since 1986, but it has since spread rapidly throughout the country.


These big boys are hard to miss—the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) can reach up to two inches in length. American cockroaches are more commonly found in restaurants and outdoors than in homes, and the life cycle of this species takes much longer than German cockroaches—about 15 months from egg to adulthood.


The Supella longipalpa is aptly nicknamed the brown-banded cockroach because of the distinctive stripes on its abdomen. These stripes are easier to see in females because they have shorter wings. Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warmer buildings and tend to release egg cases higher up on walls rather than under appliances or cabinets. They’re sometimes called “furniture cockroaches” because they’re often found in bedrooms and behind picture frames.


It’s important to learn how to get rid of roaches as soon as you spot them because these pests can carry disease and cause allergic reactions. Taking half-measures to get rid of roaches can put you and your family at risk.

Some of the common diseases cockroaches carry with them include:


Cockroaches can carry dangerous food-borne bacteria like E. coli and salmonella either externally on their bodies or by ingesting them and excreting them in your home. These dangerous pathogens can cause diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and sometimes hospitalization.  


Cockroaches can have fungi like Candida, Aspergillus, and Penicillium living on their external surface. When ingested by humans, these fungi can cause fever, shortness of breath, and other health complications. 


Cockroaches have been proven to carry parasites as well. Common parasites found in connection with cockroaches include whipworm, hookworm, and giardia. The illnesses related to these parasites require treatment and anti-parasitic medication to remove the parasites, especially when symptoms are severe.

  • Whipworm, or Trichuris trichiura, is an intestinal parasite that can cause anemia, inflamed colon, and bloody diarrhea. 
  • Hookworms also live in the intestines and can lead to gastrointestinal issues, protein loss, and blood loss.
  • Giardia causes giardiasis—a serious diarrheal disease. Cockroach droppings can contain this parasitic germ and pass it to your family and pets.


Cockroaches are known to affect a large portion of the population with allergic reactions to their saliva, shedding, and droppings.

People with asthma are particularly sensitive to cockroach infestations. Asthmatic children living in a home with cockroaches often experience wheezing, and adults with asthma may have full-blown attacks with increased exposure to cockroaches.

Because cockroaches carry so many diseases and dangerous allergens, avoid touching these insects whenever possible and consider throwing out any food that may have been in contact with them. Cockroaches can also be dangerous to the health of household pets such as cats, dogs, and rodents. 


If you suspect you have a cockroach infestation in your home, it’s best to contact a professional pest control company as well as take some immediate steps on your own. Professional pest control experts will be able to identify the invading species, determine the severity of the infestation, place barrier protection outside the home, and get rid of roaches from all their various hiding places indoors.

As soon as you find cockroaches in your home, do these four steps right away:


The first step is to reevaluate food storage in your home. If you’re used to leaving food out on the counters or tend to take your time with meal prep and cleanup, you’ll need to change your habits. 

Place food in sealed, airtight containers. Cockroaches can chew through paper and lightweight plastic bags, so use glass or other heavy-duty containers. Wipe up spills and crumbs on counters, in pantries, under cabinets, and any other place your family eats regularly. 

If you’re facing a severe infestation, try placing as many food items in the refrigerator as you can while you get things under control. Cockroaches can’t survive in cold temperatures (below 45 degrees Fahrenheit), and most refrigerators are set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Ensure that your pet’s food is stored securely as well. Leaving kibble in a bag at the bottom of your pantry or out all day for pets to munch on can provide ideal opportunities for cockroaches looking for food. Keep pet food in sealed, airtight containers just as you would your own food. 

Every night before going to bed, scan your home for food that is left out and store it properly right away.


Along with proper food storage, keeping your home clean is another crucial step in getting rid of roaches. Sweep your floors clear of any debris, and be sure to get under appliances and furniture. Mop floors to get rid of sticky residues and other messes that may be left behind. 

Check drawers, cabinet shelves, and countertops for crumbs, stickiness, and loose food items. Vacuuming and wiping out these areas will help remove the food sources cockroaches look for.

Keep garbage cans covered, and empty them regularly.

Get rid of any non-food trash that may be laying around like piles of paper or cardboard.  Cockroaches may be hiding out under trash or even feeding on non-food items as well.

Keep litter boxes scooped and cleaned out regularly.

You may also want to give your vehicle a good once-over—especially if you live in a warm climate and don’t park in a garage. Hawaii and Florida are particularly known for cockroaches breeding in cars parked outside because of the warm, inviting ecosystem. 

If you eat in your car, or you have children who eat in their car seats, cockroaches are more likely to be attracted to the shelter of your vehicle. 


Cockroaches also tend to gather in harborage areas around the outside of your home, which can then lead them indoors. Piles of firewood, fallen leaves, or landscaping materials like bags of soil can all attract cockroaches that are seeking shelter. It’s a good idea to keep items like these at least 18 inches away from the perimeter of your home to reduce the number of indoor pests.


The field experts at Joshua’s Pest Control use a combination of pet- and family-friendly methods to eliminate cockroach infestations. Our professionals are trained in cockroach species identification and behavior so they can determine the most effective treatment methods and recommend preventative steps to avoid future reinfestations. We also include free follow-up services to ensure that your problem is fully eradicated.

Contact us today to get help from trained professionals who know how to get rid of roaches quickly and effectively. Our field experts are more than happy to help evict these unwanted pests and help restore your peace of mind. 


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!