“For every roach you see, there are a hundred more in hiding.”
While the exact number of cockroaches you don’t see may vary, the adage has some truth to it because roaches are good at three things:
Evicting these unwanted guests is a two-part solution of cure and prevention. Curing the disease means getting rid of the ones who have already moved in; prevention requires making your home uninviting for those looking for new digs.
Know Thy Enemy
To truly get rid of this pest, you need to understand its reason for being in your home, how many friends it has with it, and if it’s really a roach.
Let’s look at these in reverse order.
A Roach by Any Other Name
Several home invaders may be jockeying for position in your home at any given moment. The ubiquitous roach (there are more than 4,500 species on the planet) is distinctive from other bugs in three ways:
- Very long antennae,
- Six legs, meaning it’s an insect, not a spider (8 legs) or arthropod (a pair of legs at each segment, like a millipede)
- Visible spikes on each leg
If what you see matches that description, the cures we cover below will kill them; all roaches die the same. But they don’t all live the same.
On the prevention side of the equation, you’ll need to know more about your specific roaches so you know where to attack them, where they’re getting in, and how to roll up the welcome mat.
Domestic v. Peridomestic
Domestic roaches (like the Brown-banded and German roach) are just what they sound like. They’re parasites looking for a home to move into where all their favorite amenities are within reach: food, water, warmth and places to hide. German roaches do not live outdoors so they are brought in by hitchhiking: in something or on someone.
Peridomestic roaches (Smokybrown, Asian, and American roaches fall into this category) are more outdoorsy and prefer to live in the wild. Outdoor roaches most often are found feeding in or on decaying organic matter but the American roach will be found often living in the sewers. But when it gets cold outside, they like to find a nice warm home to set up residence. Unfortunately, they don’t move out if they like what they find inside.
Invasion v. Infestation
If you’ve been in the house for some time and are just starting to see roaches, you’re likely dealing with an invasion and can try eliminating them on your own. However, if it’s gone on for a while, you have an infestation and need to call an exterminator for the cure, then follow our prevention suggestions to keep them from coming back.
If you’re new to the house or have been gone for some time, so you don’t know how long the cockroaches have been living rent-free, pick up some glue strips and place them around where you’ve seen them. Leave them for two days and see how many roaches they catch. If it’s a bunch, it’s an infestation, and you’ll need professional help to eliminate them.
Call an exterminator for the cure if you’re dealing with an infestation.
If it’s an invasion, you’ll want to head it off at the pass by killing all the ones you can find, then going after any you can’t see. Those glue strips are the safest, most effective weapons for killing roaches and monitoring an infestation; collect them and throw them out with the rest of the garbage.
Once you determine which species of roaches you are dealing with it will give you a good idea of what your next step should be for the most effective treatment.
An Ounce of Prevention
As we mentioned, peridomestic roaches come inside when it gets cold. So before it gets cold, take measures to roll out the unwelcome mat. Keep woodpiles away from the house and clean up dead branches, fallen leaves, and anything close to the home where they can hide and breed. Likewise, you don’t want them in any outbuildings where they can attach to clothing or other articles carried close to the house, so keep those areas clear.
If there’s nothing near the house that attracts them to live right up against it, the most likely place they’ll enter is through a door or window left open without a screen or they’ll scamper into a garage or basement while the overhead door is up. So make your garage less inviting by keeping it uncluttered. Garden supplies, cardboard, newspaper, anything that provides lots of small, dark, hidden space is an open invitation to a cockroach.
Inside the house, eliminate all life support. Like us, they need food and water.
Food. Clean up crumbs on floors, tables, counters, and carpets. Keep pantry items in airtight containers. Also, if you were wondering why roaches are in your bathroom, they eat hair, soap, and toothpaste, so it’s important to keep areas clean where those accumulate.
Water. Fix leaks and clean up any place where water drips or pools. Also, look for sites where windows or the roof leaks. Use a dehumidifier or sump pump to make damp areas less inviting.
Winning the War
Winning this war comes down to the following:
- Know what you’re up against:
- Invasion or infestation?
- Roach or non-roach?
- Domestic or peridomestic?
- Kill ’em all
- End the party by removing the food and drink (who knew they’d eat hair, soap, and toothpaste?)
- Don’t give them a place to hide and breed
- Bar the doors
Of course, this all takes a bit of diligence and patience, not without a little trial and error. Call the professionals if you need help with the killing part, but the prevention pieces are up to you.