Understanding Cockroach Control and Treatments: Everything You Need To Know

Cockroach pest control is essential to many households, especially here in South Florida. There are many rumors and false knowledge surrounding these insects because their habits are truly repulsive.

Not only do roaches eat food from your kitchen, but they also breed abundantly, shed their skins everywhere, and leave other detritus lying around. They also cause asthma and allergies and spread bacteria and virus-borne diseases. 

So, let’s find out more.

Identifying Cockroaches in Your Home

There are at least three ways to identify the signs of cockroaches: (1) characteristics common to all roaches, (2) roach species and appearance, and (3) what roaches leave behind.

Cockroach Characteristics

  • An oval-shaped body
  • Six legs
  • Long antennae
  • A low, flat body
  • Fast-moving
  • Winged

Common Roach Species in the U.S.

  • American cockroaches are reddish-brown with a yellowish figure-eight pattern on the back of their heads.
  • Brown-banded cockroaches are brown and have pronounced banding on their wings. 
  • German cockroaches have tannish-brown bodies with two dark stripes.
  • Oriental roaches are a deep, shiny black.

Signs of Roaches in Your Home

  • New allergy symptoms
  • Abnormal odors
  • Weird-looking smears on surfaces
  • Fecal droppings
  • Shed skins or shells
  • Egg cases
  • Evidence of feeding
  • Live or dead roaches

Cockroach Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

Do you ever wonder why so much myth and exaggeration surround roaches? We’ll separate fact from fiction by diving into these myths with explanations that are accurate.

1. Fact: A cockroach can live for a week without its head.

Since they have open circulatory systems and breathe through tiny holes in each body segment, roaches don’t rely on their mouth or head for breathing. So the only reason the headless insect dies is that, without a mouth, it can’t drink water. So, it eventually dies of thirst.

2. Fact: Cockroaches can run up to three miles an hour.

Such presumed athletic ability may impress you, but its actual meaning is that cockroaches are quick to spread germs and bacteria throughout people’s homes.

3. Myth: Roaches invade only filthy homes.

Not true. Roaches enter buildings based on ease of access to food and water sources. Dirtier homes only provide easier access to crumbs, spilled drinks, and other edible substances.

4. Fact: Roaches are everywhere. Is there a place where you can’t find them?

You’ll find cockroaches pretty much everywhere in the world — except Antarctica.

5. Fact: Roaches will eat anything.

Believe it or not, roaches eat everything from plant matter to human food, dead skin cells, garbage, and feces.

6. Fact: Cockroaches have been around for a very long time.

Scholars believe cockroaches originated more than 280 million years ago in the Carboniferous era.

The Dangers of Cockroach Infestations

Cockroaches are considered a reservoir for various bacteria, including salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus. They can also harbor viruses, such as the polio virus. Ingested bacteria can live in the cockroach’s digestive system for months or years and are discarded through their droppings. Moreover, roaches will vomit and defecate on food that humans might eat.

In fact, there’s a lot of evidence pointing to the harm caused by cockroach-delivered bacteria. The following is some proof:

Coping with the Stress of a Roach Problem

Who wouldn’t be stressed by cockroaches invading their home? Because, let’s face it, roaches are filthy, disease-carrying, allergy-causing insects that get into your home seeking food, water, and shelter. So, if you find a cockroach infestation stressful, you’re not alone.

For example, those living in the inner city or rural areas are more likely to suffer from allergies and asthma than those in other locations, like suburbs, where healthcare is plentiful and cockroach exterminators readily available.

According to the National Pest Management Association, 63% of U.S. homes have cockroach allergens. But that number is between 78% and 98% in urban area homes.

The Lifecycle of Cockroaches

The cockroach lifecycle comprises three developmental phases:

  1. Egg
  2. Nymph 
  3. Adult stage 

Most cockroach species are oviparous, meaning their young grow in eggs outside their mother’s body. In these particular species, the mother carries her eggs in a sac (ootheca) attached to her abdomen.

Tips To Keep Roaches at Bay Between Pest Control Service Visits

There are some things you and your family can do to help keep your home roach-free between scheduled profession pest extermination visits:

  • Seal all entrances to the home, including cracks and gaps.
  • Vacuum regularly, especially in the kitchen.
  • Use vinegar or another natural cleaner to keep countertops sparkling clean.
  • Store all food in sealed containers.
  • Dry moist areas with towels, fans, or both.
  • Clean up clutter.

Cockroach Prevention in Commercial Buildings

Hiring a roach control company might not be one of your responsibilities at work, but you and your work colleagues can still pitch in to help keep a total roach infestation at bay.

  • Store food in your workplace in sealed containers.
  • Clean food and drink containers and bag your waste for collection.
  • Suggest improvements for your employer’s sanitation practices.
  • Place bait and traps in kitchens, bathrooms, and other places roaches frequently.
  • Consider using delayed-action pesticides.

Natural Cockroach Control

If you want to reduce roach population on your own minimizing the use of chemicals, consider the following recommendations:

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an excellent natural insecticide made from pulverized, fossilized algae. These particles are sharp and dehydrating. When roaches come in contact with DE, it damages their exoskeletons, causing fatal dehydration. Sprinkle some food-grade DE on any surface where you’ve seen roach activity. Wait a while, and then vacuum up the corpses.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda makes it easy to eliminate roaches —– you probably already have some in your kitchen for other uses. Cut up a half-cupful of onions and sprinkle them with baking soda. You will have made a tempting roach “appetizer.” Put it in a shallow dish, then wait until the bugs consume the baking soda. It creates stomach gas, and then they burst.

3. Boric Acid

Boric acid is a naturally occurring compound mixture of water and boron. Boric acid won’t harm people and pets, but it poisons cockroaches. When roaches come into contact with boric acid, it sticks to their legs and wings. When they ingest the powder, it acts on their nervous and digestive systems — quickly killing them.

4. Essential Oils

Essential oils are an excellent natural roach repellant. For best results, use peppermint or lemongrass essential oil, and mix it with some water. Then, spray the solution wherever you’ve spotted roaches. Rosemary, citrus, oregano, and citrus essential oils are also recommended as among the most effective, research-supported roach-repellent oils.

5. Seal All Entry Points

While baits and glue strips can effectively eliminate roaches, they won’t help if new ones constantly enter your home. So, take notice of wall cracks or holes, worn-out weather stripping, or degradation and gaps in door and window seals. And be sure to use caulk to seal gaps and possible entry points. 

The more impenetrable you can make your home, the fewer cockroaches you’ll see. You may not ever need a roach exterminator — unless you have a significant infestation in your home or business.

Why Hire a Professional for Cockroach Control?

There are easy, low-cost treatments such as baits, traps, and sprays that will work for DIYers. However, those may not always be effective for more severe or persistent infestations—especially here in South Florida where roaches are abundant.

There are many benefits to hiring a professional pest control company for effective roach control. Professionals have the expertise and experience to implement customized treatment plans. Each infestation is unique and reqires a tailored approach for each situation. You can also expect long-term results with regular professional roach control treatment service visits.

If you live in Broward or Palm Beach County, Florida, and have a roach infestation on your hands, call Gregory’s Pest Control at (954) 953-4473. We’ll give you a free quote for cockroach pest control and eliminate the problem.

Paul Gregory employee photo

Paul Gregory

Owner/President of Gregory’s Pest Control

I’m a 2nd generation pest control owner who started working for my father in 1999. I was raised in South Florida and feel blessed to call it home for my entire adult life. As a long-term Florida resident, I recognize the challenges of controlling the many different pests that thrive in our subtropical climate. In particular, I understand how difficult it can be to prevent pests from invading our homes and businesses. By helping families solve their pest problems so they can live safer, more comfortable lives, I feel I am also meeting my family’s commitment to help our community. When I’m not out fighting pests, you can find me on the golf course or out on a soccer field where I have been fortunate enough to coach soccer to kids of all ages for the past 20 years.