American cockroaches are a major household pest. Also known as water bugs and palmetto bugs, these pests are the largest of the cockroaches that infest homes. American cockroaches will make their way indoors in search of food and water. Their diet consists of leaves, wood particles, algae, fungi, small insects, food scraps, crumbs, and pet food. They can spread diseases and contaminate any surfaces they touch. They are also known to cause allergies and trigger asthma. These roaches will pick up germs on their legs and spread them to any surfaces they touch. They are known carriers of pathogens that cause diarrhea, cholera, leprosy, dysentery, plague, typhoid fever, and several viruses like poliomyelitis.
The first step in cockroach prevention is identifying the type of cockroach you are dealing with. Once that is determined, you can implement our favorite prevention tips to keep them from infesting your home.
American roaches are reddish-in color with a yellow band on the back of their heads. They range in size from 1-1/4″ to 2-1/8″ long, with some even reaching lengths of 3″. They have oval shaped bodies with 6 legs and a set of antennae. Despite their name, these cockroaches are found worldwide. Males and females both have wings and they can fly short distances. They can bite, but they rarely do. They normally live outdoors but will come inside looking for food and water. Outdoors they are commonly found in flower beds, trees, and under rocks. They are also commonly found in sewer systems. Inside the home they can be found in laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and crawlspaces.
Signs of an Infestation
Learning how to spot signs of an roach infestation is critical to getting it under control. The most common sign is seeing the presence of cockroaches in your home. They will often flee to dark spaces when they’ve been discovered. They also leave behind droppings in the areas where they inhabit. These droppings have blunt ends and ridges on the sides and are often mistaken for mouse droppings. American cockroaches will also leave egg capsules behind. These are dark colored, about 8 mm long, and are often glued to surfaces near food sources. Finally, roaches emit a pheromone that gives off a musty odor. Smelling this in your home is another indication there is a cockroach infestation inside.
American roaches are highly resilient pests. They have evolved several adaptations over time that give them survival skills that make them difficult to eradicate. They can even survive up to a week without their heads! You can prevent cockroaches by:
- Inspecting your home to identify openings they can use to get into your home.
- Look for cracks in walls, gaps around electrical sockets, and bathroom and sink drains.
- Seal these openings with silicone-based caulk.
- Seal around doors and windows with weatherstripping.
- Keeping your home clean and sanitary.
- Keep counters sinks, floors, and tables clean and crumb-free.
- Clean up any spills immediately.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, especially overnight.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
- Vacuum at least once per week.
- Ventilate crawlspaces to prevent moisture.
- Run water periodically in bathrooms to keep u-traps full.
If you have a problem with roaches in your home, contact your local pest control company who can identify what kind of roaches you have, how they are getting in, and the best treatment and ongoing prevention plan for your home.