A cockroach, also known as a simple roach gets its name from the Spanish word, “Cucaracha.” There are more than 3,500 different species of cockroaches today, and they are considered to be among the most primitive of all living winged insects in history. In fact, the species as a whole has remained unchanged for more than 300 million years.
A cockroach carries a flat, elongated black or brown shell-looking body, has long antennae, and a head which points downward. Females are wingless, and males carry two pair of wings.
Cockroaches thrive in warm, humid, wet, dark spaces and are found in nature to exist in mostly tropical and subtropical regions. Despite their reputation, only a few species of cockroach are known pests, choosing to live in domestic areas instead of their natural environment. Cockroaches survive on a combination diet of plant and animal matter, including paper, clothing, food, wood, books, bedbugs and other small insects.
THE GERMAN COCKROACH
The German cockroach lives in abundance in New York City and other cities. This common home invader is light brown in color and has two distinct dark stripes on its body, which distinguish it from other roaches. Smaller than the American cockroach and many others in its family, the German cockroach is less than one-half inch long. German cockroaches are most often found living in warm, wet dwellings, subways, cellars, under bridges, near waterways, and anywhere else moisture is located.
THE AMERICAN COCKROACH
The American cockroach, a native to tropical America, is the most common pest in the United States. It can grow to up to 2-inches in length and fly great distances on its powerful wings. This species often takes refuge in basements, cellars, and other moist, dark areas. The American cockroach is reddish brown in color and has an average lifespan of 1.5 years.
Cockroaches are one of the most disliked insects in all the world and with good reason. Not only are they hard-to-get-rid-of pests, but they’re also responsible for the spread of allergies, disease, bacteria, and account for a higher number of asthma diagnoses in areas of heavy infestation.
KNOW HOW TO SPOT A COCKROACH
Most cockroaches are nocturnal and will hide well out of sight during the day. They have a natural displeasure for light, so you won’t often find them in plain view. The most common area for cockroaches to eat and sleep is under sink cabinets, behind kitchen cabinets, under major appliances and counter tops, and in laundry areas.
GET RID OF COCKROACHES NOW!
Once you’ve seen roaches in your living space, odds are there are many more out of view. You can begin an active stance against the roach by getting rid of those who have made their presence known to you. Try:
1. sprinkle a small amount of boric acid where you’ve seen roaches travel through your home. The roach will poison themselves by ingesting the acid during their regular grooming routine. Be sure to sprinkle in dark, damp areas, too, like under bathroom and kitchen sinks, behind washers and dryers, and around the refrigerator, and behind appliances. Note: The ingestion of boric acid is also toxic to humans. Do not use in areas where small children or animals play, sleep, or eat.
2. You can make your own insecticide by mixing equal parts of baking soda and powdered sugar and setting up a mock bait plate for the roaches. After mixing your sugar and soda, eave the mixture in a shallow dish where roaches have been seen or are known to travel. The combination of sugar and soda is lethal to the cockroach.
3. Roaches hate the taste of bay leaves. You can naturally and safely keep most roaches at bay by placing the leaves anywhere you’ve seen roaches moving. Using bay leaves is a great way to keep roaches out of the rooms and play area of children.
4. Don’t water the roaches! Cockroaches can survive for months without eating, but they need a daily source of water to thrive. Never leave water in the sink, in dirty dishes, or other areas of the house. Check other sources of water as well, such as leaky plumbing, under-refrigerator dampness, and concrete sweating. Wipe all traces of water from the sink after you’ve done the dishes and wipe down the bath area after use, as well.
5. Clean, clean, clean! Cockroaches naturally gravitate toward areas which are littered with cockroach droppings. Use a detergent or disinfectant to thoroughly clean the area and deter a re-infestation. On concrete floors and walls, you can use a mixture of bleach and water to disinfect the area. Other services can be cleaned with everyday cleansers or antibacterial soaps and scrubs.
Severe home invasions will require more attention than bay leaves, baking soda, and elbow grease. Many insecticides are available on the market today which address cockroach infestation concerns. New gel-based cockroach specific insecticides work fast and are relatively effective in cockroach removal.
Baits and gel insecticides work in as little as 1-2 days and often, have little or no offensive odor and are safer to use in areas where children and pets are present. Glue traps, which cause the roach to become stuck in his tracks, also work well in areas that are hard to reach. For heavier or repeat infestations, try sprays, crack and crevice aerosols and foggers, or dusting powder. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to call an exterminator!
HOW TO REMAIN COCKROACH-FREE
1. Always clean food (including crumbs) from counter tops, tables and other areas of the house.
2. Fix plumbing leaks and establish a moisture control program in the house. Use a dehumidifier, if necessary, and wipe up water spills immediately.
3. Insulate pipes.
4. Get rid of clutter! Rummage through drawers and cabinets and eliminate stray bags, papers, old newspapers, plastic shopping bags, and envelopes. Keep the area under sinks and around washers and dryers well organized, clean, and orderly. Scrub basement floors with a solution of bleach and hot water several times a year. Invest in a dehumidifier to control household moisture.
5. Caulk or seal pipe moldings. If the hole is too large to be caulked, push steel wool pads into the open spaces until you’ve formed a tight seal. Foam caulking also works well at filling large holes around pipes.