Cockroach Control: Preventing an Infestation

Written by Brandi Allred
Published: February 2, 2022
Image Credit Olgamir/Shutterstock.com
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For home or business owners, cockroaches are one of the worst problems you can run into. They spread filth, disease, and pathogens by simply living. Most species of roach, 99% of the over 4,500 species worldwide, cause no harm to humans at all. These species live outdoors and feed on rotting plant and animal matter. If it weren’t for cockroaches, we would be waste deep in dead plants every time we walked outside. Indoors, however, they’re not quite so helpful.

Here, we’ll learn more about cockroaches, and the signs that they’ve taken up residence in your home, apartment, or business. Then, we’ll look at five ways to prevent roaches from moving in, starting with putting food away. We’ll also go over the dangers of not cleaning up waste or clutter, and why you should make sure all of your plumbing pipes are dry, and snug. Finally, we’ll discover why cockroaches love cardboard, and why you should avoid using it to store things in your home.

How to Identify a Cockroach

Baby Cockroach - Cockroach Lifecycle
The first sign of a cockroach infestation is seeing adults, their eggs, or their feces which look like pepper bits.

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Cockroaches are one of the oldest types of insects on the planet; they’ve been around since the Carboniferous period, over 300 million years ago. In all those years, they’ve remained virtually unchanged. They’re medium-sized, and range between ¼ inch and 4 inches long for adults. Many species have wings, though not all winged roaches are capable of flight.

All cockroaches have six legs and two antennae. Pest species are easy to distinguish from other bugs by their antennae; they’re equal to or longer than the length of their entire body. When they’re young, cockroach larvae are very pale in color, and may even be mistaken for albino roaches. Further, cockroaches are nocturnal and scatter when the lights go on.

Signs of a Roach Infestation

Cockroaches in your home or business are never a good sign. The first, and most obvious sign that you’ve got a cockroach infestation is the presence of adult roaches. If you see one, it’s likely there are more that you can’t see. 

More signs of an infestation include cockroach nymphs, egg cases, shed exoskeletons, cockroach feces, stains, and bad smells. Though roaches don’t build nests the way ants or bees do, they do tend to leave more signs in areas they prefer. These are usually warm, dark, damp places close to sources of food and water.

Cockroach Infestation - Cockroach in kitchen
Cockroach infestations are more likely if you don’t put food away promptly, and take out the garbage regularly

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5 Ways to Prevent a Cockroach Infestation

Roaches are a part of urban life, there’s just no way to get around it. Wherever humans live, cockroaches live too. We can’t get rid of them altogether, but we can take a few easy steps to make our homes less appealing to their questing antennae. 

Of course, there are some factors beyond our control. For example, if you live in a multi-unit housing complex, you can’t control what your neighbors do to attract roaches. Cockroach infestations are particularly prevalent in areas with poor sanitation, or places with easy access to food, like restaurants.

Let’s take a look at the five things you can do to prevent a cockroach infestation.

1. Don’t Leave Food Out

If there’s one thing roaches like, it’s an easy meal. They’re especially drawn to leftovers that have been left out, dirty dishes that sit in the sink, and crumbs of food on the floor. Additionally, cockroaches won’t say no to pet food, including kibble.

To make your home less appealing to a cockroach infestation, put away all food once you’re done with it. Don’t leave food sitting out, and rinse dishes before setting them in the sink. Cockroaches like crumbs too, so be sure to sweep up after yourself, focusing your efforts in the kitchen and eating areas.

2. Clean Up Waste

Cockroaches don’t just eat leftover food; they also eat less appetizing things like feces, vomit, and animal remains. If you have pets, be sure that they’re not leaving surprises in your home for roaches to find. A cockroach infestation can easily be triggered by uncleaned waste, even if it’s in a place that you don’t know about.

When it comes to keeping roaches from moving in, keeping your home or business clean is a must. Cockroaches thrive in filth, and they spread it too. So, when in doubt, clean up messes, leftover food, and waste. And, be sure to take the garbage out regularly.

3. Declutter

cockroach
Cockroaches love dirty dishes; they also love cluttered areas and cardboard boxes

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Cockroach infestations can happen to anyone, but they’re much harder to get rid of if you have a cluttered space for them to hide in. Roaches love to hide, and need dark places to spend the daylight hours, so cutting down on clutter is a must when it comes to preventing an infestation.

This is also why cockroaches are so common in out-of-the-way areas, like storage rooms and basements. They like the dark, and they like places to hide. So, if you have lots of furniture, items, or boxes, coupled with a food source; you’ve created the perfect home for roaches.

4. Fix Leaky Pipes

Cockroaches don’t generally walk in the front door. Instead, they often infiltrate homes using plumbing or sewage lines. Check the places plumbing lines enter the house, like under-the-sink cabinets, for snugness. The wall should be snugly fitted to the pipe, if not, it provides the perfect entry point for cockroaches.

If there are gaps between your pipes and the walls, you can call in a professional to fill them in, or take care of them yourself. While you’re checking out the pipes, make sure they’re not leaking; roaches love damp areas.

5. Ditch Cardboard Boxes

Finally, using cardboard boxes for storage is a great way to encourage a cockroach infestation. Roaches both eat and sleep in cardboard; replace any corrugated cardboard boxes with plastic totes.

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