Picture the scene – it’s been a long day at work, and you’ve been looking forward to coming home all day. You finally sit down, having eaten dinner and taken a shower. You’ve poured yourself a glass of wine and you’ve put your favorite show on the TV. Relaxing time. You notice a quick movement out of the corner of your eyes, and there it is – a huge cockroach staring up at you, before scuttling faster than the speed of light across to the other side of the room. Panic ensues. Relaxation time is over.
Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario, and one which most of us have experienced at some time or another. Nobody likes cockroaches, they are one of the most hated insects in the world, if not the most hated. They are ugly, they are persistent, and the most worrying fact is that they often arrive in packs.
If you have one cockroach in your house, the likelihood is that you have more lurking somewhere out of sight. They’re pretty fast multipliers too, with a female laying up to 50 eggs every single time. No, cockroaches are not something you want in your house.
But, aside from these facts, have you ever wondered where roaches come from? We might not like them, but you have to wonder how they end up in your house in the first place.
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The biggest myth that we need to bust here is that a cockroach will only live in a dirty house. Wrong! Cockroaches aren’t bothered whether your house is filthy or fit for a royal palace. The bottom line is, if they fancy moving in, they will, whether it is clean or otherwise.
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How Roaches Might Have Came into Your House
There are several potential possibilities here. You might think that cockroaches could get where water can’t, and in some ways, you wouldn’t be wrong! They are certainly strong willed, and if they want to get in, not a lot is going to stop them. Many people ask where cockroaches come from, with the idea that they climb up through the toilet, or they come from too much rubbish accumulating outside, but that’s not always the case.
If you have recently moved into your home, the cockroaches could have been there beforehand. Equally, they could easily wander over to your home from next door, through the tiniest of cracks in a door or window, or through the upstairs loft or attic. They could be living in the garden and decide they want to head somewhere warmer, so they enter your home.
It’s super-easy to transport cockroaches from one place to another without even realizing it, so this could come via a delivery, with a cockroach in the box. In this case, you might not have to worry about an infestation, because we’re talking about a single roach, but the overwhelming number of roach cases are linked to greater numbers.
There are however different species of cockroaches that are basically known for ‘hitchhiking,’ or being transported in a box or via your grocery shopping. For instance, German cockroaches are quite well known for this, and if you are unlucky enough to have a pregnant hitchhiker in your midst, you’re going to have a quick multiplication of numbers from there. Obviously, some of those will be female, who will then become pregnant themselves, lay eggs, and presto! An infestation has come your way. The brown-banded cockroach is another common species which is often transported via boxes and grocery shopping.
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Cockroaches are also known for entering the house via the plumbing. Oriental cockroaches are very well known for this, as well as getting into the house via door cracks and broken window seams. Another entry point could be due to sewer repairs. Cockroaches live in the sewers too, and if there are any disruptions to their home, e.g. repairs going on, they will scarper and end up moving along sewer pipes and drainage lines. American cockroaches are quite often found in sewer systems, so if this is where they are coming from, that is the species you are dealing with.
The Different Species and Their Favorite Places
There are countless different species of cockroaches you might come into contact with, but some are more common than others. The most likely you will see are:
As with any type of animal or insect, different species refer different habitats and conditions. This is probably how you will get to realize the type of cockroach you’re dealing with, as well as its slightly different appearance. By knowing which type you have, you can focus your extermination efforts much more keenly.
German cockroaches are more likely to be transported in boxes and grocery deliveries. Obviously, it’s a good idea to check all boxes and cartons at the time of delivery to ensure one doesn’t get away. It’s also a good idea to put boxes out in the trash. These are the most common type of cockroach; they like warm, humid, and dark places, so you could find them in your kitchen cupboards. They like to feed on scraps of food and spills, so obviously make sure you wipe up any spills at the time they occur, and always get rid of any crumbs or food remnants, to avoid giving them something to munch on at a later time. You may also find these types of cockroach in the bathroom, because of the favorable conditions once more.
Remember to store your food in airtight containers, to ensure you don’t end up with food contamination problems; clean your bathroom with bleach cleaners/bathroom cleaning products on a regular basis; and avoid leaving dishes overnight, as the food remains will prove to be a banquet for rogue cockroaches.
Oriental cockroaches are another relatively common type of cockroach, and this species like dark, damp, cool places. For this reason, you’ll find this type of cockroach outdoors or perhaps under sinks/refrigerators. Check your patio bricks and soil areas in your garden regularly, to ensure you don’t have any dwelling cockroaches, and you should also be mindful of drains and low areas which have room for crawling. Sewer drains are also breeding grounds for this type of cockroach.
Regularly clean your kitchen floors and pay particular attention to under the sink and under a fridge or washing machine. Again, wash with a good quality cleaning solution.
Brown-banded cockroaches like a bit of heat, and you’ll find them quite commonly in the house. They don’t like wet areas or humidity, so cabinets, cupboards, shelves, and behind pictures on the walls are common dwelling areas. You might want to keep your feet off the floor when sitting at your kitchen table too, as they are known to wander around under tables and chairs. It’s quite possible to spot the brown-banded cockroach’s eggs, because they like to stay at eye level, and they’re not ones for heading underneath sinks or on the floor.
Another common type is the American cockroach. These are the ones which love warm areas, and if the area is moist, all the better for them. Check around pipes, water heaters, in basements, boiler rooms, and sewer areas, as this is where they are commonly found. Having said that, they love anywhere that food is found too, so these are common in restaurants and bakeries.
As with the German cockroach, make sure you store any food in air tight containers and don’t keep any rubbish or scraps of food hanging around. Wash your dishes every night, more regularly if possible, and wipe up any spillages or crumbs immediately.
It’s impossible to totally avoid cockroaches in your home, but you can minimize the chances of it to some degree. Make sure you seal any holes, cracks, or crevices, and seal any windows or doors that don’t currently have sealing in place. Again, check any boxes that come into your home, and it’s also a good idea to check your child’s school bag every evening, as it’s entirely possible that a cockroach could be transported in there too. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but cockroaches can really come from anywhere, despite the fact they have favorite dwelling places. The crumbs that can be found in the bottom of a school bag or lunch box will be one of those favorite places.
Seeing one cockroach should cause you some alarm, because the chances are that there are several others not too far away. Having said that, it’s not 100%, as you could have a rogue cockroach having been transported in via a box, and provided it isn’t a pregnant female, you’re not going to have the rest of the family marching in to try and find it.
The danger is if you have an infestation that you’re not aware of. If you see more than one cockroach, that is the time to take action. We mentioned that cockroaches multiply quickly, and that is certainly the case. If you see a baby cockroach, you really need to take swift action, because these are never wandering alone, and are always accompanied by the rest of their colony not too far away. Finding out where the nest is can be a difficult task, but if you can figure out where they are coming from, e.g. where they are most commonly spotted, then that is where you need to focus your efforts when it comes to extermination methods.
There are several ways you can try and get rid of cockroaches on your own, but if you find that it’s not working, or that the infestation is simply getting worse, you should call in the experts to help you out. An infestation of cockroaches can quickly become out of hand, so never leave it too long before you decide which course of action to take.
Obviously, deciding on the best way to kill a cockroach infestation is going to be dependent upon whether you have pets or small children in your house. If this is the case, you might not want heavy duty chemicals and poisons around the area, but if the infestation is severe, or becoming that way, you might not have a choice. In that case, keeping your pets and children away from the area that is being treated is a must do.
Are Cockroaches Harmful?
Before we wrap up this chat, we need to address the question of whether or not cockroaches are actually harmful. A cockroach is not going to come over and bite or sting you, but bites have been known in rare situations. This is not likely however, as cockroaches tend to scuttle around and keep themselves to themselves, rather than try and interact with humans. Having said that, they do shed their skin and shells on a very regular basis, especially as they are reaching maturity, and these are left hanging around your house. This is not only unhygienic, but this can cause respiratory problems for humans, especially if someone in your house has asthma or breathing problems.
Of course, we also need to address the fact that cockroaches can carry all manner of bacteria on their bodies, especially if they have come up through the sewage system. If you have an elderly person in your home, or a youngster, perhaps someone who’s immune system isn’t the strongest, then having cockroaches around can be a route to illness. Basically, it’s not very clean and hygienic in general.
For these reasons, ridding your house of cockroaches is something you should and must do as a matter of urgency, as soon as you start to see the pesky insects running amok in your home or gardens.