- What do roaches look like?
- Cockroach facts
- What do roaches eat?
- Life-cycle of roaches
- Does roaches cause diseases?
- How does roaches enter your house?
- Detect roach infestation
- Types of cockroaches
- Home remedies for roaches
- How to kill roaches chemically?
- When to call for professional help?
- How to prevent roaches:
Entering the kitchen at midnight can turn out to be real scary with roaches running everywhere. It’s just like a war field with landmines planted everywhere. You have to mind your steps out there!
Cockroaches has been there since ages and through several generations of evolution, made them very adaptable to this planet. It’s pretty much confirmed that they have learnt the art of living as well as the art of annoying humans!
Identifying roaches/ what do roaches look like?
Cockroaches appear to be oval in body shape with 2 inches in length and flat. The outer body of the roaches are oily to touch. The head is small with two antennas and covered by a shield-like structure biologically known as pronotum. The mouth is directed downwards. Like other insects, they do have six long legs, but spiny, which help them to run quickly regardless of the surface type. They can also climb up walls and ceilings easily. Some of the species have wings but not all of them use those for flying. Brown and reddish are the most common body colour but the young ones might appear a bit pale in colour. In size, the female roaches are bigger than their male counterparts.
Cockroaches fall under the order of Blattodea similar to termites. Their ancestral origin is present since the era of dinosaurs. About 4600 species are reportedly living on earth. Cockroaches can live in various climatic conditions from Tropical heat to Arctic cold. They can live without food for about a month and half a month without water! Roaches can manage to run up to 3 miles in an hour
What do roaches eat?
Roaches are scavengers and feed on anything from flesh to fruits i.e. omnivorous. They can eat any organic form of food. Decaying wood, sewage, hair, books, meat, starch and sweet are still half of the catalogue.
Life cycle of roaches:
Like all other insects, the lifecycle of roaches include eggs > nymphs > adult phases respectively.
Eggs: The females lay the eggs which are enclosed within oothecae (a strong protein case). These cases can contain different ranges of nymphs inside and this number differs species to species. Generally it takes around 25-28 days to hatch but the hatching period is also dependent upon parameters like environment conditions and species type etc.
Nymphs: The nymphs look somewhat similar to the adults with some differences like size,
colour and absence of wings. Initially they might appear very light in colour. They require to undergo several phases of molts to mature completely. After maturing, their body colour turn darker.
Adult: The adult has all the evolved body characteristics like flat wings, dark body colour and increased body size. They also become capable of reproduction at this stage.
Does roaches cause diseases?
Roaches are scavengers and might feed on sewage, garbage and decaying substances etc. Additionally they might even dwell in rotten and waste deposit areas. Roaches can turn themselves into carriers of various harmful diseases and can transmit the same to human beings. Medical conditions like allergies and asthma might get triggered in sensitive individuals and children. Hence, you should really consider getting rid of roaches seriously.
How does roaches enter your house?
There are plenty of ways how roaches can enter your house and you may never know until they have settled in properly. If you come across a single one, chances are high that your house is already infested. Due to the warm temperature, availability of ample food supply and water, our homes are a very apt place for the roaches to breed. Roaches might enter our home through drain pipes, sewer, vents, cracks and crevices and even through bags or boxes we bring to our home.
Detect roach infestation
Roaches in house are nocturnal beings. Most of the activities can be noticed only during night. They also prefer dark areas to breed. You might want to check areas like drain pipes, sinks, stoves, bathrooms or kitchen and big appliances etc. for infestation. Some of them might appear in broad daylight and that might be the result of over-crowding or in need of food or water. You can also keep an eye for checking out droppings which is also a good way to identify roach infestation besides identifying that musty odour they spread in the premises.
Types of cockroaches:
There are different types of roaches co-existing on this planet. Few of the most popular types of roaches are as below:
They are also known as water bug, water roaches or palmetto bug. It is said that they were introduced by a ship from Africa very long ago. American roaches are probably the biggest in size being able to grow up to 50mm in length. Currently they are the major pest in the states.
American roaches appear reddish brown coloured with yellow coloured bands behind their heads. They reproduce and grow quick. It takes around 5 months to convert to an adult from egg. American roach egg cases are about 38mm in length and are dark-reddish or brown in colour.
They are known to be able to fly when they turn into an adult. They do not breed on human homes rather they choose to stay outdoor like on trees, flowerbeds and under mulch etc. They are only known to infest indoors only in search of food or water. They feed on leaves, wood particles, fungi and algae, small insects and left over foods.
Good way to identify infestation is to look out for droppings which are similar to mouse droppings but are blunt at the ends. These roaches are dirty by nature and are also known to spread diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, plague, dysentery, typhoid and polio etc.
They are one of the most commonly found roaches in houses, hotels, restaurants and hospitals etc. They can grow up to 13-16mm in length. They appear reddish or light brownish in colour. In spite of having wings, they are unable to fly. The nymphs do not possess wings and are smaller in size. The two dark parallel lines from the back of the head till the wings are clearly visible to human eyes.
They like to breed on warmer locations. They are very active at night but hide during daytime in dark places. They reproduce and grow rapidly. Eggs of this species are about one-fourth of an inch long. The eggs require about a month to hatch.
The life span of an adult female is about 8 months. They reproduces about two generations per year. These roaches produce odours which gets stronger when the population grows and that might impact the flavour of foods. They can also cause viral and bacterial diseases.
They are not so known to infest indoors and they like to stay in warmer temperature areas, even warmer than places where the German roaches want to breed. They can also be founded in offices other than apartments and homes. They like to feed on starch rich substances like office glues. They can also be found in kitchens, hospitals and non-AC environment.
The males are able to fly but not the females. When disturbed, the natural tendency of males is to fly the hell out of the place! The females are capable to reproduce more than 500 roaches a year.
They are sometimes known as black beetle. Unlike German roaches they prefer cooler surroundings to stay. They prefer dark places like trash cans, garages, drains and basements etc. They are also not known to be able to move that fast like the other species.
They are also not able to climb up smooth and vertical surfaces. They get easily trapped in smooth sinks and tubs for that very reason.
The eggs of this species are about 3/8 inches in length and appear reddish-brown in colour. They cannot lay more than 200 eggs a year, unlike brown-banded roaches. To transform into an adult, a nymph might need about 1 or 2 years or even more.
White roaches i.e. the white colour associated with roaches are considered to be albino roaches but the facts state different. The new molted cockroaches are the ones stated as albino roaches. The reason being the molting phenomena. After molting the roaches not only shed the external shell but also loses pigment and thus appear white in colour. Within few hours the process of coloration starts and again turns the cockroach darker.
Pennsylvania wood cockroaches are by far the most known species of cockroach. Adult male wood roaches grow about 22 to 30mm in length while the females up to 20mm in length with shorter wings comparatively. Adult males can fly with the help of big wings but the females can’t. They prefer to stay outdoor and do not infest homes but during their mating season i.e. the month of May and June, they follow the pheromone secreted by the females and can follow the scent anywhere, even inside our homes. However, the female lays eggs in outdoors.
They are relatively new specie into existence and are often confused with other species. The females are often mistaken with that of the oriental species of roaches. To identify them from others you have to note if there is any cream-coloured marks along the edges of their heads and wings. Males can be identified by their small size with yellow-tanned wings with strips of cream colour along the edges. Biologically, they are similar to the oriental species. The nymphs of turkestan roaches appear in black and red.
Mostly confused with German roaches but they appear to be more olive in colour with black coloured strips between their eyes. They prefer to live in outdoors but tend to move indoors in hot conditions. They can be found in plant debris. To transform in to a mature adult, the nymph requires about 3 months of time.
This species is special in certain areas. They are mostly found in tropical areas. They can grow up to 25mm in length. They prefer dark and moist locations to breed. The females have black heads and light coloured wings. The females can produce offspring without the fertilisation process i.e. parthenogenesis. The eggs are hosted inside the female abdomen and hatch there itself unlike other species. They are not able to produce numerous eggs either. They are destructive by nature and can damage greenhouses and gardens. They do not usually infest indoors.
They can be found in the deserts and sand hills. They live in sand dunes but still they are not able to burrow deep into the soil. They feed on roots of desert shrubs. The small ridges in the sand can confirm their presence. The females stay within the burrow in daytime to avoid light. They are dusty brown in colour and wingless too. They do not breed indoors and hence not a problem to human.
Special character about this species is that when they sense threat, they release a liquid very foul in smell. They are mostly found in woods under palmetto leaves. They are large in size measuring up to 4cm in length. They are black in colour and quite similar to oriental roaches. They are very rarely known to infest human habitats but they might do that in search of warmth. Most commonly, they are found in coastal regions of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. They are also not that popular for laying massive number of eggs.
Death Head Roaches:
It got its name from the mark resembling a skull on its thorax. Their wings are black in colour. Like florida roaches, they also emit strong odour as a part of their defense mechanism. They are not able to fly.
They can be found in garages, woodpiles and sewers etc. They might also infest indoors. The nymphs of this species appear dark brown in colour and have distinctive white segments at their abdomen and back region. The eggs can hatch within 24-70 days. The total transformation requires about 3 months.
Mostly found in south-eastern part of Asia. They infest indoors. They are also omnivorous like most of the other species. They can also spread disease and can cause harm to human. Summer and spring time are best for their reproduction process. The adults grow to 16mm in length. They are light brown in colour and can be identified by the presence of two parallel lines behind their head. They can also fly well. Primarily they tend to stay outdoors till the time they get moist and shady area to stay. They also do get attracted to light sources and can fly towards that.
Found mostly in tropical regions like Central America, South American regions, they can grow up to 24mm in length. They also do have well developed wings and are able to fly very well. They are also known as Cuban cockroaches. They like to feed on sugary substances like fruits and sodas. The adults are green in colour while the younger ones appear to be brown or black. They can also get attracted towards light source and might also travel towards it. They do not infest indoors.
Now the question is, how to get rid of roaches? Here, we would be discussing about how to kill cockroaches.
Home remedies for roaches/How to kill roaches naturally?
- Soapy water or fabric softener:
If you can spray strong soapy water or a solution of water and fabric softener in the ratio of 2:3 on the lower part of the roaches directly, it can keep them away for sure. You can even use your bathing soap to form the solution and use it. This solution blocks the breathing pores of the roaches leading them to death by suffocation.
- Baking soda and sugar:
Mix both of these in equal ratio and sprinkle the mixture over the areas infested by roaches. Once they consume the mixture, the baking soda will take care of the roaches. This is more popularly known as the roach bait.
- Pepper, Onion and Garlic Solution:
Add one tablespoon of pepper powder, one pasted onion and a garlic clove in a liter of water and wait till an hour to add one tablespoon of liquid soap and spray the mixture on their nest, on all the areas they happen to invade or directly on them.
- Bay leaves:
Almost common to every Indian household as a cooking ingredient. The bay leaves are fragrant and this helps in keeping roaches at bay! Place bay leaves on all the suspected areas and also near their nest. Soon the cockroaches will leave your house to you! This is a good method for people who don’t want to commit the sin of killing roaches!
- Use petroleum jelly trap:
Take an empty jar and apply petroleum jelly on the inner rim of the jar and place some fruit peels inside the jar. Leave it open through the night near infested area. The fruit peels will attract them to go inside the jar, but the petroleum jelly won’t let it pass through it. Once you catch them, drown them in a soapy solution and you’re done killing roaches.
- The water trap:
Adult roaches can be caught using the water trap. Place a half-filled water jar nearby the walls. Once they enter the jar, they won’t be able to swim through the water. Clearly, they aren’t much of a swimmer. The next day you can dispose the dead bodies.
- Using cucumber trap:
You will require an aluminium can to place cucumber peels and pieces of cucumber in it. Cucumber reacts with the metal to form a smell which the roaches aren’t that fond of, thus, will keep them away from infesting.
- Roach Trap:
This is readily available in the market. The trap has a bait and adhesive materials. Once the roaches goes near the bait, they get trapped by the sticky material. Leave it for a week and then check the results. If needed, you can repeat the process again.
Starvation could also help in getting rid of the roaches. Not leaving any food item in the open and storing all food items in tight containers might do the trick. Also do not leave left over stuffs in the trash can or perhaps seal those items carefully before disposing. Empty the can daily.
- DIY cockroach killer bait balls:
Make small balls by adding bacon drippings, powdered sugar, borax, water and flour. Keep these in places where the roaches are most likely to hang around. Once they consume this bait, they’re simply dead. Water the balls to keep these fresh to be able to attract roaches.
- Baking soda bait:
Make balls with baking soda and sugar in equal proportion with water and place these in your premise. Once cockroaches consume the bait, this will impact the digestive system thus killing them.
How to kill roaches chemically?
- Diatomaceous earth:
Ensure to use the food grade diatomaceous earth in order to get rid of roaches. You need to sprinkle these silica particles in all the area you suspect. Cover all the hidden areas with care. This material is non-toxic to human. Diatomaceous earth usually kills the roaches within 48 hours of its application by dehydrating their exoskeleton. Once the cockroaches are infected with this substance, they will hunt for water. So, you would also have to ensure that you don’t leave any source of water accessible to them.
- Boric Acid for roaches:
Boric acid is a very common and result oriented method to kill roaches. This is a very popular cockroach bait being used by people. When roaches come in contact with boric acid, the chemical get stuck into their legs. Roaches get killed. Once they consume this toxin. To make it possible, you can also try making a dough by adding boric acid, water and sugar. Sugar will attract the roaches and make them feed on it. This is a very effective solution to control roaches but, boric acid is harmful and should be used cautiously. Wash your hands after using it and keep it away from children and pets.
- Roach Spray:
To spray insecticides like Cyfluthrin, choose areas where the cockroaches enjoy to stay like drainage, trash can, cracks and vents etc. Spray this chemical carefully as it is toxic to human body.
- Roach gel:
This gel treatment is the latest method in trend. It’s easy to be implemented. The process involves applying the gel in the entire area specially focusing on strategic locations. It’s a non-messy process. The gel acts as a bait to the roaches which consists of edible ingredients particularly they like the most. When roaches get contaminated with the gel, it has a cascading effect to contaminate others too ultimately killing them all within 24 hours. With this method in place, you won’t even require to empty your kitchen. It’s non-smelly and completely safe for children n pets. Make sure to repeat the process after 3 months depending upon previous results.
- Ammonia solution:
It can be used with water to clean kitchen area and wash-room to keep roaches away.
6.Bleach and pinesol:
A solution of these in equal ratio can be applied to infested areas for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, when you do that, you have to keep ventilation turned on as the strong smell of this chemical mixture would be unbearable. After 30 minutes, you can clean off the chemical.
Fogs are efficient to kill cockroaches but cannot enter through crevices and cracks. The level of penetration is low. Although the chemicals are good to kill roaches but they might have generated resistance to these chemicals to some extent. Moreover, fogging is not so friendly to your furniture and might also cause health hazards. So, you need to be careful while doing this.
Other chemicals like fipronil, abamectin, hydramethylnon, diatomaceous earth dusts are also good for getting rid of roaches. But these are harmful chemicals and therefore you would require to use them very carefully and try keeping pets and children away from the area where you’ve applied those chemicals.
When to call for professional help?
First of all, give a try to the DIY natural roach killer methods. Wait and observe the results. Please note that you can combine several approaches for better results. If you find them still pestering you, try the chemical means of roach killing. And if you feel that the level of infestation is too high or the infestation is impacting health conditions, then you should call for a professional help.
How to prevent roaches:
- Do not leave food items and left overs in the open. Always keep your home clean
- Removal of all kind of wastes like decayed wood, plants etc.
- Try locating any nest and destroy that with chemicals
- Always empty trash cans daily
- Proper sealing of cracks and crevices so as to remove any possible breeding grounds for roaches