So you came into your kitchen late last night looking for a bedtime snack. As you flicked on the light there was this ominous little scuttling sound and out the corner of your eye you saw something dark and brown disappearing behind the refrigerator. A roach! Immediately the alarm bells went off in your mind and the only two words you could think of were “cockroach infestation”… Now in the morning light, after a somewhat restless night, you’re wondering if you really did see anything and could it be true that you do have roaches in your home?
Well, this discussion will help you to make a thorough investigation to establish whether or not you do indeed have an infestation, and if so, how bad it is, and what you can do about it. In a nutshell, everything you need to know about cockroach infestations.
Does it Mean You Have an Infestation?
When you catch sight of cockroaches in house, it does not automatically mean that you have an infestation. However, the roaches have obviously decided that your house is a nice place to be, and if you leave them in peace they will surely begin to multiply at a rapid rate as cockroaches love to do. But perhaps they have been successfully keeping out of your sight for some time already without you realizing it, and now you are wondering just what is really going on. This is when you need to launch a thorough investigation to establish whether or not the roaches in your house have reached the level of what could be called a cockroach infestation.
Signs of an Infestation
- Daytime sightings: Cockroaches are generally nocturnal, and they prefer to live and eat in the dark. So if you are seeing them during the daytime, this probably means that they are forced out of their natural routine to look for extra food, and it could well be a sign of infestation. Seeing cockroaches in house, during the day is a sure sign of an infestation.
- Droppings: Another clear sign is the amount and kind of droppings or feces that you see. You may need to look behind furniture or in drawers and other hidden places to find the feces. Different types of cockroach make different droppings. The smaller ones like the German or Oriental cockroach have small black droppings which look a bit like coffee grounds or black pepper. Larger roaches like the American cockroach have small cylindrical droppings or pellets which are sometimes confused with mice droppings.
- Smear marks: If you find brown smear marks on your walls and horizontal surfaces, it could be a sign of infestation. This happens where the roaches have scrambled along the edges of the walls and smeared their droppings in the process. It is particularly evident if there is lots of water or moisture present in the area.
- Egg cases: Cockroaches don’t usually waste time when it comes to breeding and they will soon begin to deposit their egg cases or oothecae. These little items are usually dark in color, brown or reddish brown, and they are oval or oblong in shape. Cockroach egg cases contain multiple eggs, usually between ten and twenty for the American and Oriental cockroaches, and up to as many as fifty for the German cockroach. You may find some of these egg cases behind furniture, inside books or cracks in the wall and other concealed and protected places. Once the babies hatch, the empty case is left behind, so you may find either hatched or unhatched cases.
- Shed skins: After the cockroach nymphs hatch out of the eggs cases, they will need to shed their skins about five to eight times before reaching adulthood. So you may be able to see some of these shed skins lying around in the locations where the cockroaches are sheltering.
- Damage to food and goods: Maybe you have noticed little corners nibbled off your food items or cardboard boxes. This could be another sign of a cockroach infestation. Cockroaches will also eat a variety of substances like leather, books, plastics, fabrics and even soap and toothpaste.
- Pungent odors: If you have a cockroach infestation, you may become aware of a strange, unpleasant and lingering kind of oily, musty smell in your house. The longer they stay the worse the cockroach smell gets as it is caused by the pheromones and chemicals given off by roaches. Any dead and decomposing roaches will also give off oleic acid which adds to the cockroach smell.
What to Do
Basically, the number of actual cockroaches in house that you see, and the amount of droppings you find will give you an idea of the cockroach population you are dealing with. At this stage you may probably be able to pinpoint the exact type or types of roach, whether they are American or German, Oriental or Brown Banded cockroaches. If you have detected most or all of the signs described above, then you probably have quite a thriving cockroach community. Regardless of the exact number, though, they definitely need to go, the sooner the better. So now it is time for you to take some decisive action as you declare war on your cockroach infestation.
What can you do to get rid of the infestation? The best way to tackle an infestation is to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Besides swatting or stamping on every roach you see, you need to bring in a few other methods as well if you really want to win the battle. Here are a few of the most popular and effective methods:
If you place chemical smoke bombs all around your home it can give you a good head start in killing off a large proportion of the resident roach population. Before setting them off, make sure that the house is clear of all people and pets. Leave cabinets and cupboard doors open so that the roaches can come out and die in the open where it will be easier for you to clean them up.
These are effective in trapping roaches of all ages and types, and will give you a better idea as to which species you are dealing with.
Putting out cockroach bait is another useful method. Keep checking to see if the bait is being eaten; if so, add some more, and if not, then try putting it in another location. There are various different kinds of bait you can use.
Boric Acid is one of the most potent remedies for killing roaches. You can sprinkle the powder finely over your infected surfaces, or mix it with a little sugar to make it more attractive. You can also make bait balls with two parts of boric acid powder, one part of flour and a little syrup (or sugar and water).
Insect Growth Regulators
IGRs, insect growth regulators, do not kill the cockroaches outright, but are nevertheless successful in preventing juvenile cockroaches from reaching maturity; therefore, they will not be able to multiply. IGR’s can also prevent cockroach eggs from hatching, so they are valuable for a longer term strategy of keeping your home roach free.
Clean Freak Mode
Throughout the process of addressing your cockroach infestation, it is essential that you keep cleaning up continually. This is the time to be a clean freak (even if you aren’t one naturally). Don’t leave dead cockroaches in the open as they can become food for their fellow roaches. Also keep all your foodstuffs safely sealed and put away, including the pet’s bowl.
Seal up the Entry Points
Once you have ascertained where the roaches are getting in, you would need to seal up those areas and repair any cracks and crevices with caulk or spray foam. Check your basement and attic. If you have a pile of firewood, make sure you are not harbouring any cockroaches there.
Call in the Exterminators
If you don’t seem to be making any headway with these methods, you may need to call in a professional pest control expert who will be able to assess your individual situation accurately and give you the assistance that you need to get on top of the infestation.
How do you know when you have won the battle?
Once you have followed these methods you should soon see a dramatic drop in the signs and evidences of cockroaches. When you can go for a full two weeks without sighting even one roach or finding any droppings, then you can pat yourself on the back and know that you have won the battle.
A cockroach infestation is bad news on every level but don’t despair because it is most certainly treatable. With determination and a little perseverance you can conquer the cockroaches and once again take full ownership of your living space.