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Bugging Out, The Uninvited Houseguests [Cockroaches]

Photo of different types of cockroaches

Cockroaches possess a wide and flat body, with a relatively small head that conceals their mandibles and other mouthparts. They are equipped with six legs, prominent ocelli (simple eyes), and a set of elongated and flexible antennae. Despite having wings, they are not particularly skilled at flying. The most familiar types include the American cockroach, measuring 1.2 inches in length, the German and Asian cockroaches at 0.59 inches long, the Oriental cockroach at 0.98 inches long, and the brown-banded cockroach, which reaches a length of 0.55 inches.

As an inspector, you should expect to come across signs of cockroaches in untidy buildings, as these pests flourish in unclean surroundings.

Cockroaches exhibit remarkable breeding capabilities, generating several thousand offspring within a single year once they establish themselves in a household. Typically, they infiltrate homes by hitching a ride on clothing, shopping bags, and furniture, or they may even find their way indoors through mere wandering from the outdoors.

Cockroaches have a reputation for spreading diseases like salmonella, food poisoning, and dysentery, primarily through their feces and defensive secretions. This poses a significant risk, especially in hospitals where they can transport harmful microbes. Additionally, their discarded skin, which is shed periodically, can become airborne and cause severe asthmatic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Surprisingly, cockroaches have been identified as the second most problematic allergen after house dust, as reported by the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture.

Apart from the physical health concerns, these pests emit an unpleasant odor during swarming and mating, while their constant hissing and, in certain cockroach species, chirping can disrupt the sleep of building occupants.

Infestation of cockroaches

While no buildings can claim complete immunity against cockroach infestations, these pests are drawn to even the tiniest food remnants. Their food preferences include decaying grease, sugar, and other organic matter. Additionally, they are known to target starchy food sources like glue, wallpaper, and even book bindings. If you spot pepper-like specks in your kitchen cupboards or encounter adult cockroaches or their egg sacs in inaccessible spots such as cracks, crevices, or behind appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators, it's likely a sign of a cockroach infestation. To address this issue, conduct a thorough inspection of your entire kitchen area, paying close attention to areas under sinks, cabinet hinges, drawers, refrigeration gaskets, dishwashers, stoves, and other cooking appliances.

Don't forget to check crawlspaces, bathrooms, and other dim, moist areas where food sources might be present.

10 Tips For Homeowners To Combat Cockroaches

To control cockroach infestations and prevent termite activity, follow these effective measures:

  • Use boric acid in areas with cockroach activity. After using pyrethrin and bug-bombing the entire structure, boric acid can help maintain control of the infestation. However, it is crucial to use pyrethrin first. Place boric acid wherever needed once the cockroach population is under control.

  • Set up bait stations containing hydra-methyl or fipronil in areas where termites are active.

  • Conduct nocturnal inspections to determine cockroach hiding spots. In the kitchen, homeowners can turn on the lights at night and observe where cockroaches scurry for cover. Position traps accordingly in those areas.

  • Store all food in sealed containers and use trash cans with tight-fitting lids. Avoid leaving pet food out overnight.

  • Maintain a clean kitchen environment by regularly cleaning it. Wipe moisture from the kitchen sink before going to bed at night.

  • Vacuum frequently to remove food particles and potential cockroach hiding places.

  • Repair any leaks, such as dripping taps and leaky pipes, and fix broken roof tiles. Address any conditions that may allow moisture to enter areas where cockroaches can establish harborage.

  • Seal off all entry points into the house, including cracks around baseboards, pipes, windows, cabinets, doors, and crevices in bathrooms. Use copper mesh or steel wool, along with caulk or putty, to block these entryways.

  • Keep lights on at night. While this may consume additional electricity, cockroaches tend to avoid well-lit areas. Similarly, some restaurant owners leave lights on around dumpsters for the same reason.

  • If cockroach infestation persists, contact a qualified exterminator.

To summarize, cockroaches are resilient pests found in households that can spread diseases. However, by keeping your home clean and eliminating potential sources of moisture, you can effectively manage and control them.

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