We’ve all heard that cockroaches would probably be the only surviving species after an earth apocalypse such nuclear devastation or a direct hit from a comet. Roaches have earned this reputation for a reason. Fossil evidence shows that they have endured for over three hundred million years on this planet, putting them among the oldest species of known life on earth. The reason that cockroaches have been so persistently successful in their longevity on earth is the same reason they are so persistent in your home once they’ve infested it. Cockroaches are extraordinarily adaptable.
Roach Super Powers
Roaches can and will eat nearly anything, including book bindings, wallpaper, and stamps if they can’t find more easily edible leavings. German roaches—the type that most commonly infest homes—are tough, with hard yet flexible outer shells. This, combined with their small size makes them able to hide in small cracks and spaces. The fact that they are nocturnal means that they frequently aren’t discovered until they’ve already bred enough to begin an infestation. Adding to these benefits is the fact that they are incredibly prolific breeders, making egg capsules with forty or more eggs that they either carefully hide or carry with them for safekeeping until they hatch. A female roach can produce up to 400 offspring in a year. In fact, roaches are such incredible breeding machines that a single female roach with no male roaches available can still produce an entire colony of female roaches by reproducing herself like a clone.
So with all of these advantages, is it any wonder that cockroaches are so hard to get rid of once they’ve established themselves as uninvited housemates? And while we know we can’t rid the earth of roaches, is there anything we can do to get rid of roaches once they’ve settled into our home?
According to experts—Yes. It can be done.
If you have seen even one roach in your home, you’ve probably got many, many more. Try getting a flashlight and peering around under your kitchen sink and behind the refrigerator at night. If you see any roaches running for cover, you’ve got a problem, and it’s time to call a professional. A pest control professional will spray your home in all the places roaches are likely to hide. They then lay bait traps for any that might have escaped. (They are escape-artist geniuses) Typically, the pest control professional will return in two weeks in order to spray again to kill any newly hatched offspring.
While this sounds like a fool-proof plan, roaches are no fools. If they can survive a nuclear apocalypse, they can survive the best-laid plans of professionals. Remember, if just a single female roach manages to survive this onslaught, your roach problem will repopulate quickly.
So what can we do to help in the process of ridding our home of roaches?
Hostel or Hostile
The best thing you can do to discourage roaches from repopulating in your home after a professional spraying is change their environment from a welcoming cockroach hostel to a hostile environment for cockroaches. To accomplish this, seal all food items into Tupperware, Ziploc bags, and air-tight containers. Don’t leave fruit out on the countertops. Make sure your home—especially the kitchen—is clean and free of crumbs and spills. Wipe all countertops with disinfectant and use your best mop to deep clean the floor. Your goal is to make sure that the roaches living in your home have no access to food.
Even more importantly, roaches need to be deprived of water. Cockroaches can survive for a month without food, but only a week without water. As such, dry out your sink at night and insert the drain plug. Move pet water bowls out of the kitchen. If you’ve seen roaches in your bathroom you will have to try to dry the sink, shower, and tub as well. Make sure there are no leaks or pipe drips. Being without water will cause any surviving roaches to seek a more hospitable environment.
Baits, Traps, and Poison
Depriving roaches of food and water will naturally cause them to move around more at night in search of sustenance. That makes this a good time to put out the best roach killer products you can buy over the counter. Glue traps and baits will help to catch any persistent stragglers. Baits are now available that don’t kill the roach but instead cause their offspring to be unable to reproduce, helping to end a persistent infestation.
Natural Roach Remedies
If you’d prefer not to have poison baits around your home, you can make a safer homemade roach bait by mixing boric acid with raw egg and sugar. You can place scoops of bait onto small dishes or paper plates and place them in areas where you’ve seen roaches. You can also sprinkle boric acid under counters and behind the stove and refrigerator. Boric acid is lethal to cockroaches.
Diatomaceous earth is another non-toxic substance that kills roaches by physically damaging their exoskeletons when they come into contact with it, causing them to dehydrate and die.
You can avoid roaches re-entering your home by sealing off cracks and crevices. Dusting boric acid or diatomaceous earth around openings at pipes and drains is like leaving a guard to help to keep roaches from coming back into your home.
Are Roaches a Health Hazard?
There are multiple reasons that it’s important to rid your house of cockroaches. Roaches are commonly found foraging in trash cans and feasting off of spills of rancid food that you might not even notice in your kitchen. They then scurry around spreading those germs all over your cooking surfaces and onto exposed food.
Roaches have been found to carry bacteria such as staph and diseases like salmonella. Cockroach antigens can pose a health risk to asthma sufferers and may even cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Because of these issues, combined with the fact that the poisons used to treat infestations are a health hazard in the home if you have a roach infestation, it’s important to control it as soon as possible.
And let’s face it—health risks aside—roaches are just plain gross. Ugh.