How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches
The American cockroach is one of the boldest and most tenacious insects which can invade your home. Have you seen one scurrying across the floor where you live? Unfortunately, for every roach you see, there are likely dozens or more you don’t.
Fortunately, you don’t have to hand your home over to unwanted roach invaders. Here’s your detailed guide on how to get rid of American cockroaches:
How Do I Know if American Cockroaches are in My Home?
Before extermination begins, first assess your current situation.
Spotting a roach is almost always a sure sign you have an infestation. American cockroaches are nocturnal. They don’t particularly enjoy spending time in open areas or sunlight. In many cases, roaches only appear in the main areas of a home when their preferred living spaces are packed with other roaches.
However, you still might have a roach problem even if you don’t see a roach. The following are three common, indirect signs of roaches:
- Fecal matter (looks like black coffee grounds) on the walls, counters or floors
- A pungent, musty, and oily smell
- Cast-off husks from molting roaches
Once you’ve determined roaches are in your home, it’s time to take action. Here’s how to get rid of American roaches:
Non-Chemical Control Methods
You don’t need dangerous poisons to control a roach infestation. Non-chemical control methods are usually simple and easy. Plus, they’re the best approach if you have pets or small kids in your home.
To understand why non-chemical control methods work, let’s take a quick look at American Cockroach biology.
These pests require three things to survive:
- Harborage (Shelter)
Removing just one creates major problems for the cockroach population. The roaches will either die or move somewhere with the environmental conditions they need. Here’s what to do:
Remove Their Food
The American cockroach isn’t picky. They’ll eat almost any decaying organic matter. While they prefer sweets, they’ll also eat fruit, bread, leather, paper, and darn near anything else except plastic or metal. Although they’re voracious, they can live a long time on crumbs or even just water. (Source: University of Florida Etymology)
You want to remove all food roaches can find. Clean up any spills. Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight.
Roaches can chew through cardboard, so check any forgotten boxes in your cabinets. If you have a serious roach problem, you might transfer dry goods into plastic containers.
Keep your trash cans tightly sealed. Wash the cans to remove food debris from the lid and exterior.
A 2019 study from Rutgers University found roaches thrive in dirty, messy homes compared to clean ones.
Restrict Water Access
Roaches prefer dark, moist areas. They spend their days resting near water pipes, sinks, baths, toilets, and other plumbing. Additionally, roaches frequently use sewer lines to enter a home. (Source: University of Florida Etymology)
Control the water flow in your home as best as possible. Fix leaks. Insulate any pipes which “sweat,” or form beads of condensation.
Use dehumidifiers to dry basements, bathrooms, and other damp areas. Also, keep your sink and shower drains closed or capped.
Destroy Their Harborage
Keeping your home clean, and maintaining the plumbing, already goes a long way towards destroying roach harborage. Deliver another blow by sealing up your home on the outside.
Repair any gaps or holes leading into your house. If you can see any light through a gap, it’s large enough for a roach to squeeze through.
Mesh screens are your friend. Cover vents, windows, and drains. They act as a pest barrier while still allowing water and air to flow freely.
Also, cut back shrubs, bushes, and other foliage. You don’t want it directly against your house. The same goes for woodpiles. Although American Cockroaches don’t spend tons of time in wood, Wood Cockroaches do.
Chemical Control Methods
A variety of different chemical options are available:
Roach sprays kill on contact. They’re how to get rid of an American cockroach without messing up your shoe. Most sprays also sanitize the area. However, sprays aren’t the best option for killing roaches you can’t see.
Boric acid and Diatomaceous Earth are two popular, effective methods for how to get rid of American cockroaches:
Boric acid is a natural pest-killer. When sold for home use, it’s a fine powder. You apply the powder in areas where the roaches travel.
The powder sticks to the roaches. They’ll eat it and breathe in the fumes. Unfortunately for them, the acid is toxic to their systems. They’ll eventually die and, ideally, drag the powder back towards other roaches. (Source: University of Kentucky Etymology)
Diatomaceous Earth is a powder made from fossilized sea creatures. It’s another effective way of how to kill an American cockroach. Like boric acid, you want to sprinkle it around areas where roaches walk.
Also, like boric acid, DE powder sticks to roaches. It absorbs fats and oils from their bodies, eventually drying them out completely and killing them. The process is called desiccation. It’s effective and reasonably safe for use around humans, although it leaves behind lots of dead roaches, sometimes in places you can’t easily access.
Bait stations combine food, water, and insecticide. They entice roaches with delicious smells only to poison them. They’re effective in situations where you know you have roaches, but don’t have more than a general idea about where they’re hiding.
Barrier sprays repel roaches. Placed outside of a structure, they deter entry. Apply the barrier in a three-to-six foot band around the perimeter. Concentrate application around doors, windows, dryer vents, pipes, and other openings.
The American Cockroach: How to Get Rid of Them Today
Even one roach is too many! If you have American cockroaches in your home, you should act fast to remove them. They reproduce quickly and can grow to overwhelming numbers.
If you’re not sure which removal method is best, consult a pest removal professional. An expert exterminator can save tons of time and grief by using precise targeting methods based on your specific situation.
Don’t let roaches run wild where you live. Use the tips above to learn how to get rid of American cockroaches, and reclaim your living space today!
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