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Dealing with a roach problem can be a distressing experience for any homeowner. Besides having an unsightly appearance, they also pose several health hazards, especially for those with asthma and allergies. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to get rid of roaches. Whether you prefer a DIY approach or professional assistance, we’ll provide you with practical solutions to address and prevent a roach infestation.
Though roaches can be difficult pests to eliminate, handling them is easier when you understand their life cycle and behavior.
Characteristics of Roaches
There are several types of roaches, all varying in shape, size, and color. Here are the four most common species of cockroaches that homeowners encounter:
- American cockroach: These roaches can grow up to two inches long. They have a reddish-brown coloring and a pale yellow band behind their heads.
- Brown-banded cockroach: These roaches are about half an inch long with alternating bands of dark or reddish brown and light brown or yellow.
- German cockroach: German roaches are about half an inch long with light brown coloring and two dark stripes running lengthwise.
- Oriental cockroach: Oriental roaches are about one inch long with black or dark brown coloring.
All roaches pose health risks. In addition to potentially carrying pathogens, they can contaminate food and surfaces with their feces, saliva, and exoskeletons. They can also trigger respiratory distress in those with asthma or a cockroach allergy.
Because roaches are less active during the day and very good at hiding, it can be hard to spot the early stages of an infestation. However, you may notice pepper-like droppings, brown egg casings, dead roaches, or a distinctive musty odor.
The Life Cycle of Roaches
Female roaches deposit their egg cases—filled with 10 to 50 eggs–in a well-hidden location, then glue them in place with saliva. In a few weeks, the eggs hatch into nymphs. After a gradual metamorphosis and several molts, the new generation of roaches is ready to reproduce.
Cockroach life spans generally range from six months to one year or longer, depending on the species. During that time, a single female can lay hundreds of eggs. Given their high reproductive rate and relatively long life spans, the presence of a few cockroaches can quickly turn into a full-blown infestation.
Why Do Roaches Invade Homes?
Roaches are attracted to easily accessible food and water sources, warm shelter, and dark, secluded hiding spots. They will eat any human food as well as a variety of non-food items. Messy kitchens, leaky pipes, and improper food storage can increase the odds of a cockroach infestation.
Most often, roaches invade homes through door gaps, torn window screens, cracks in the wall, or openings around utility lines or pipes. However, they can be introduced through infested items brought into the house, such as cardboard boxes or used furniture.
How to Prevent Roach Infestations
Even the largest American cockroach can squeeze through a 1/16-inch crevice, and once inside, roaches are adept at finding food sources and water. Thanks to their resourcefulness, preventing a roach infestation requires diligent cleaning and home maintenance.
Roaches are attracted to even the smallest food particles, so be sure to wipe down countertops and sweep floors regularly. Clean up food messes promptly and avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink. For maximum effectiveness, use cleaners scented with citrus essential oils—a natural roach repellent. Dispose of garbage in tightly sealed bags and keep trash cans clean.
Regularly clean and organize your kitchen cabinets, paying attention to spills or crumbs that may accumulate. Store food in airtight containers. Clean appliances, such as toasters, thoroughly to eliminate food residue.
Seal Entry Points
Carefully inspect your home for potential entry points, such as cracks in the walls or baseboards. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any openings that roaches could squeeze through. Pay close attention to the areas around pipes, windows, and doors. Fix any leaky pipes or faucets.
DIY Solutions for Roach Infestations
If you catch a roach infestation in the early stages, the following home remedies may be effective.
Mix equal parts boric acid and powdered sugar to create roach bait. Spread the mixture in areas where roaches are commonly seen, such as behind appliances, around garbage cans, under sinks, and in dark corners. For best results, use a fine layer.
Since boric acid is odorless, roaches have no reason to avoid it. However, it will prove lethal if the roaches crawl through or ingest it. Be sure to use gloves when handling boric acid, and keep it out of the reach of pets and children. It can irritate the skin and lungs or cause boric acid poisoning if ingested.
Sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth along baseboards, under appliances, and inside cracks and crevices where roaches might hide. This natural substance will damage roaches’ exoskeleton, causing dehydration and death.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder that can easily be inhaled by accident, and like boric acid, it can irritate the respiratory system. It can also dry out your skin. To avoid these unpleasant side effects, wear a mask and gloves when applying it. For the safety of children and pets, be sure to use food-grade diatomaceous earth.
If you decide to purchase premade roach traps, it’s important to identify the specific type of cockroach you’re dealing with. Sticky traps and cockroach bait stations are both viable options—just be sure to choose a trap that targets the right species. Sticky traps, or glue traps, kill roaches by immobilizing them, while roach baits contain a substance that roaches will ingest and share with their young and other roaches.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and place traps in areas where roaches are likely to travel. This can vary by species, so do a little research before placing your traps. Avoid using foggers or bug bombs, which are likely to be ineffective and may even be dangerous if used improperly.
Professional Solutions for Roach Infestations
Although DIY and store-bought traps can be effective against nymphs and adult cockroaches, you may still need professional help to find and destroy any leftover eggs. Calling a pest control company or using commercial insecticide sprays can also result in a quicker resolution to your cockroach problem.
Professional-grade insecticide sprays are formulated to kill cockroaches on contact. These sprays often contain potent active ingredients that can effectively eradicate roaches or stop them from entering your home in the first place. One example is pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator that mimics natural hormones and prevents cockroach eggs and nymphs from maturing into adults.
Professional Pest Control Services
Professional exterminators have the expertise to assess the severity of a roach infestation and apply the most appropriate treatments. They can identify hidden nesting areas, apply targeted insecticides, and provide ongoing monitoring and prevention measures.
Do your research and select a pest control company that is licensed, insured, and reputable. Seek recommendations from friends and family and read online customer reviews. Before hiring a company, inquire about their pest control pricing and methods to ensure they align with your needs and preferences.
Effective roach control requires a combination of preventive measures, DIY solutions, and professional pest control services. Regular cleaning and meticulous home maintenance can make your home less attractive and accessible to roaches. Keep your kitchen as clean as possible, fix leaks, and properly seal any gaps or cracks that lead inside.
Set traps or apply insecticides to kill roaches that have turned your house into their home. For severe or persistent infestations, consider hiring a company such as Orkin or Terminix to turn your home back into a roach-free environment.
How do I get rid of roaches permanently?
Here are a few steps you can take to get rid of roaches permanently:Apply insecticidesEliminate water sourcesKeep your home cleanRemove clutterSeal entry pointsSeek professional helpUse roach baits or traps
How do I get rid of roaches in my house fast?
Hire a reputable pest control company to get rid of roaches in your house fast. Professional exterminators can provide quicker and more comprehensive solutions than DIY methods.
What are roaches attracted to?
Roaches are attracted to food, moisture, warmth, and shelter. As scavengers, they will take advantage of any accessible food sources, from crumbs, grease, and pet food to soap, paper, and filth. They need water to survive and prefer warm, dark hiding spots.
How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies
Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.
From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.
After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.