Household pests are never welcome guests. From ants that pillage your pantry to banana-loving fruit flies or fleas that piggyback on your pets, the battle against bugs is ongoing. Luckily, by keeping your home (and especially your kitchen) clean and organized, it's easy to prevent many pest problems from starting in the first place.
As far as bugs go, cockroaches arguably spark one of the strongest "Ew!" reactions. They're big, fast, and definitely not easy on the eyes. But let's face it: Roaches have survived on earth for millions of years—which means they're probably not going anywhere anytime soon. So we would advise brushing up on your roach facts and following the tips below to understand and eliminate your household roach population.
What does a roach look like?
Scavengers by nature and mostly nocturnal, roaches are accustomed to creeping around after-hours for desirable snacks like leftover food scraps or damp cardboard.
There are several types of common roaches in North America: the American cockroach, the German cockroach, brown-banded, oriental, and smoky brown. (And, of course, the epic Madagascar hissing cockroach, but the likelihood of spotting one of those on this continent is fairly low unless you're at the zoo.)
American and German varieties are the most common species found in homes. American cockroaches are larger—they can grow to be more than 2 inches long—and can live up to two years. Another thing to keep in mind: they can fly. (Ever heard of Palmetto bugs? This is the same insect.)
German cockroaches are on the smaller side and only live for a year, but they can lay more eggs than their American counterparts, thus catapulting them to the top of many exterminators' watch lists.
What attracts roaches to your home?
Cockroaches love warm, damp environments that contain plenty of food sources. Because cockroaches are scavengers, they can survive on almost anything—crumbs, cardboard, food scraps, etc. While stray food and grime can create desirable destinations for unwanted guests, sometimes the occasional roach can't be avoided, due to the structure of your home or hidden cracks or openings that inevitably welcome pests inside.
Where do roaches live?
Roaches gravitate to dark areas that go undisturbed for longer periods of time (think of those spaces behind the refrigerator, beneath cabinets, all those forgotten corners or pantry shelves, storage closets). These are places that can easily accumulate plenty of "food" for potential roach residents, and the low light appeals to their nocturnal preferences.
How do you know if you have a roach problem?
The occasional weekly or monthly roach is nothing to worry about, but if you're experiencing more frequent roach appearances, it may be time to investigate. Check all dark areas, clean all kitchen surfaces, and go through all storage areas to get rid of excess cardboard or other roach-friendly clutter.
Keep an eye out for roach feces, which look similar to ground coffee or coarse black pepper, and egg cases, which can be hidden in dark spaces or even between books in a bookcase. (Yikes!)
How do you get rid of cockroaches overnight?
If you have a legitimate roach problem, the first thing you should do is call your local exterminator or pest control company. Before the professionals work their magic, you can start by eliminating all potential hiding places, including the aforementioned dark corners and old cardboard. Be sure that all drains are clear and functioning properly, so no standing water is available for roaches on the hunt for an oasis.
Conduct a survey of your home, or the specific room or area where you see them most. If you spot any cracks or possible entry points, seal them up with silicone sealant or another durable material like steel wool. Roaches are actually able to flatten their bodies to fit through small spaces.
The home pest control market is flooded with anti-roach products, but experts suggest staying away from sprays and using bait-style insecticide instead. Try one of these top-rated options:
How do you get rid of cockroaches completely?
Three words: Call your exterminator. Sometimes it's better to just leave it to the pros!
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