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Finding a cockroach in your home is never pleasant. And with sixty-nine species in North America, your odds of encountering one are pretty good. These insects come in lots of sizes and colors and can multiply rapidly, even spreading disease and bacteria along the way.
The first step to getting rid of a cockroach infestation is to identify the invading species. This information can help you figure out how they’re getting inside and how to combat them.
FIVE COMMON TYPES OF COCKROACHES
Description: Adult German cockroaches are brown to dark brown in color with two distinctive vertical stripes along their backs. They only grow 10-15 millimeters long.
Habitat: These cockroaches are primarily found indoors in homes and businesses, usually in areas where they can find food or water sources, such as bathrooms and kitchens. They’re attracted to fermented foods but will eat just about anything. German cockroaches spend most of their time hidden in cracks and crevices, but they can travel between rooms or adjoining apartments via walls, ceilings, pipes, wires, or other openings.
Public Health Concern: German cockroaches can transmit numerous disease-causing organisms and have also been implicated in the spread of typhoid and dysentery. Infestations can also contribute to allergic reactions or asthma complications for people in infested homes.
Description: The brown-banded cockroach is brown with two prominent horizontal stripes. It grows to just over ½ inch long and is often commonly mistaken for the German cockroach due to their similar size and coloring. Male brown-banded cockroaches may fly when disturbed, but the females cannot fly.
Habitat: Commonly found indoors, these cockroaches have earned the nickname “furniture cockroach” because their favorite harborage locations include crevices within hollow furniture legs. They also hide behind artwork and decorations on walls or within or near electrical appliances. They favor starchy substances and are less likely to be found near food.
Description: This shiny black/brown cockroach can grow to be around an inch long. While neither the male nor female oriental cockroach flies, their wings can be helpful in identification: males’ wings cover about half their abdomen while female’s wings are very short. These cockroaches are also known as “water bugs” or “black beetles.”
Habitat: Oriental cockroaches prefer cooler temperatures compared to other species and are often found in dark, damp places like garages, basements, and drains. Plumbing structures are a popular mode of transportation for oriental cockroaches, so it isn’t unusual to find them in tubs or sinks. Inspect crawl spaces, kitchen sinks, and bathrooms for signs of these cockroaches (e.g. egg cases, fecal smears, or carcasses), especially when the weather cools and they seek refuge indoors. Oriental cockroaches are also found outside where people feed pets, livestock, or wildlife.
Description: This species is the largest cockroach found within dwellings and is usually 1-1½ inches long with reddish-brown wings used to fly.
Habitat: American cockroaches live outdoors in moist, shady areas and are also found in many commercial spaces and large buildings. They primarily feed on decaying organic matter and frequent sewers, drainage areas, mulch, and wood piles. As with all cockroaches, however, they are attracted to improperly stored food and spills. They can also hitch a ride indoors in storage boxes or within other items stored outside.
Public Health Concern: The American cockroach is a scavenger and will eat almost anything, though they prefer decaying organic matter or sweet substances. Since they are commonly found in areas containing human or animal waste, this cockroach species is capable of transmitting bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Description: Generally over an inch long at maturity, smoky-brown cockroaches are predominantly found outdoors where they feed off of plant matter. The same color that its name suggests, these cockroaches can be seen flying around light sources at night, especially on humid summer evenings.
Habitat: These cockroaches can be found in vegetation around homes, planter boxes, and wood piles. Smoky-brown cockroaches enjoy humidity and prefer the upper parts of buildings they infest, often being found under shingles or siding.
GETTING RID OF COCKROACHES
REMOVE FOOD SOURCES
Cockroaches usually come indoors in search of food, and our homes are often full of options. Wipe up spills quickly and avoid keeping dirty dishes in the sink. Empty trash cans regularly, and be sure to store food in sealed, airtight containers. And don’t forget to secure pet food as well.
SEAL ENTRY POINTS
It doesn’t take a very large opening for a cockroach to come indoors. One of the easiest ways for these insects to sneak inside is through improperly sealed windows and doors. Regularly inspect the weather stripping around them and replace when worn out.
Other common entry points for cockroaches are around plumbing voids. There are often gaps around the openings where pipes enter homes. Fortunately, a bit of caulk or insulation foam can often seal the entry points quickly and prevent pests from coming inside.
STAY ON TOP OF YARD MAINTENANCE
Overgrown bushes, weeds, tree limbs, and grasses that lay against the side of your house or overhang the roof can provide harborage areas for cockroaches as well as paths for them to use to come indoors. Keep vegetation trimmed back and remove piles of leaf debris and clippings to eliminate additional nesting and food supplies.
Cockroaches are known for reproducing quickly. In fact, a single female German cockroach can produce thousands of offspring in a year, so it’s important to act soon if you suspect you have a cockroach problem. A pest control professional can help you with a customized treatment plan to eradicate the cockroaches and keep them from returning. The field experts at Joshua’s Pest Control have the experience, knowledge, and tools to get rid of cockroaches and help you feel at home in your home again.