Roaches are resilient pests that have survived millions of years on Earth. Cockroaches are naturally tropical pests, preferring warm, humid habitats to thrive in. In fact, most species of roaches will die off at temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Roaches have learned to adapt and are expert overwintering pests, making their way indoors to avoid exposure to cold temperatures and survive the winter.
There are four species of cockroaches in the United States that can survive year-round with the appropriate overwintering environment.
- American Cockroach: The American cockroach usually lives outdoors but will come inside during the winter months. These roaches like water and are often found hiding out in bathrooms and laundry rooms. If they overwinter outside they can be found in decaying trees and woodpiles.
- German Cockroach: The German cockroach is found throughout the United States. They commonly invade homes and can be difficult to eliminate once an infestation is established. They reproduce quickly, exploding their populations in your house. German roaches can survive winter as long as they find a humid environment and a food source (such as in your kitchen or under your appliances).
- Oriental Cockroach: The Oriental cockroach is an indoor species but they will venture outside in search of food. These roaches must have water to survive and can often be found in basements, crawlspaces, and floor drains. If they overwinter outdoors they will hide out in rock walls or other areas that offer shelter and warmth. Oriental roaches only reproduce in the winter so their survival through the colder months is critical. They can tolerate lower temperatures than most other species.
- Brown-Banded Cockroach: The brown-banded cockroach is found throughout the United States but is not as common as their German counterparts. These roaches are attracted to heat and can be found in near appliances, heaters, or anything else with an electric motor. They are often found in kitchens and prefer to hide out in high cabinets.
To answer the question above, roaches don’t necessarily die off in the winter. As long as they can find a warm place to shelter with a food source they can survive and reproduce year-round. The next question to ask yourself is, “How are they getting into my home?” Roaches can squeeze through openings as small as 3/16″ and will use any opening they find in your walls, siding, baseboards, and ceilings to get inside. Roaches are also notorious hitchhikers and will catch a ride indoors on bags, boxes, firewood, furniture, and appliances.
Keep roaches out this winter by:
- Emptying your trashcans often and keeping them clean.
- Cleaning up crumbs from counters and floors daily, including spilled pet food.
- Sweeping daily.
- Vacuuming frequently.
- Making sure food is not left in sink strainers.
- Running the garbage disposal frequently.
- Keeping food (including pet food) sealed in airtight containers.
- Not leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight.
- Keeping appliances clean of food and grease.
- Cleaning out clutter in your garage and attic, especially cardboard.
- Using plastic storage boxes rather than cardboard when possible.
- Sealing entrances around utility pipes.
- Ventilating crawlspaces to prevent moisture.
- Storing soap out of reach.
- Not leaving pet food out in bowls overnight.
- Drying all sinks, tubs, and showers before bed each night.
- Using a dehumidifier in your home.
- Carefully inspecting items before bringing them into your home.
If you have a problem with cockroaches or any other household pest, contact your local pest control company for an evaluation and treatment plan.