If you live with roaches, some of the most embarrassing moments of your life will center on the presence of those little nuisances. You will hesitate to invite friends over and panic a little when an unexpected knock is heard from the front door. How will your best friend react when a roach races across her shoes while she sits in your living room? Will your colleagues refuse to eat the dish that you bring to the potluck once they know that you have roaches in your home? These worries are always in the back of your mind, and you won’t have peace until you learn how to get rid of roaches for good.
I understand the fears that are constantly in your mind because I lived with them in my mind for too many years. I also understand the way your heart races a little when you open the microwave door and a roach runs out before you can retrieve your meal. I know the terror of going to the kitchen for a midnight snack and watching a few of them race for the floorboards when you flip on the light.
When you see the first one, you immediately start wondering how many more are hiding within the walls, under the floor, down in the basement or up in the attic. As you become accustomed to seeing them racing around the perimeters of your home, you start to wonder if you will ever get rid of them. You ponder moving, but then there’s the fear of bringing the problem along with you. It only takes one bug hijacking a ride in your suitcase to transport the infestation.
The best way to get rid of roaches is to learn about your options, educate yourself about their habits, and then take informed steps to combat your unwanted house-guests. You can squish them with your shoe, scream at them or cry yourself to sleep, but you won’t solve this problem without education and an action plan. If you read through to the end, you will have the information that you need to form that action plan and get rid of your roaches once and for all.
Identify Types of Cockroaches
When a cop pulls you over on the highway, the first thing that they ask for is your identification. You may want to take the same approach with your unwanted house-guests. There are more than 4,000 identified types of cockroaches crawling around the world, but only a handful of those roach families are potential pests for your home. Some roaches create nests inside your home and breed indoors while others nest out in the wild and may occasionally make their way into your home.
To properly eliminate an infestation, you must first identify the type of roach in your home and their nesting habits. You can do this by looking at pictures of different cockroaches and determining which one looks most like the bugs that you see invading your home. This will tell you how to proceed with the extermination process. I will help you do this by presenting images of the roaches most commonly found in homes within the United States.
Roaches that Nest Outdoors
These roaches typically create nests outdoors, but they may come into a home, barn or other structure in search of food and water. If you see one in your home, you can often kill it and forget about it because they aren’t likely to congregate and breed within your property. You may need to take on a more elaborate extermination process if you notice that they are swarming around outdoor buildings or in another area of your outdoor living space.
Wood Roach: These are often found in large piles of wood. They are approximately an inch long and are brown with a creamy white stripe along the edge of their bodies. They have thin legs and long antennae, and the males have wings.
Oriental Roach: If they are dark brown, almost black, and tend to appear in wet, cool areas of your home, there’s a good chance that you have oriental roaches. They are often found in bathrooms or under kitchen sinks but are also commonly found in sewers and around outdoor water sources. While they tend to stay outdoors or in pipes, they may move into your home if you have a lot of decaying material or a busted water pipe. They are also known to go indoors if they can’t find adequate water outdoors.
American cockroach: These have distinctive reddish color, but they are grayer as babies. Both males and females have wings. They are mostly found outdoors in places that provide warmth and moisture, including sewer lines or around garbage piles. If they move indoors, it’s because the weather has turned too cold for their comfort outdoors.
Roaches that May Nest Indoors
They are more likely to become a problem in your home because they will hide in places that are hard for you to detect, and then they will breed. They will leave drops of feces throughout your home, and that can present a health hazard. They are excellent at hiding, so you may not even realize that they have moved into your home until there are hundreds, potentially thousands, of them lurking within the walls, behind the floorboards or in other dark places.
German Cockroach: These brown ones are identified by two black stripes at the top of their bodies, just below their heads. Males have wings, but females do not. The babies may look black but will still have those two stripes. They reproduce quickly and prefer warm, moist environments, so they are often found in bathrooms and kitchens. They thrive throughout the world and are the most common type of home infestation.
Brown Banded Roach: This breed was named for the two lighter colored stripes or bands that are seen on their wings. They are commonly found in the southern United States and only breed indoors. Since they don’t require a lot of water, they are more commonly found in furniture or on floors, ceilings, and walls throughout the home.
Depending on where you live, you may add Oriental roaches to the list of potential indoor invaders.
The presence of their eggs is definitely an indication of an infestation. But it could be hard for the untrained eyes to differentiate it from something else. Fortunately, we have a specific guide that shows you how to kill cockroach eggs, as well as finding and identifying them.
Where are Your Roaches Nesting?
Have you ever noticed that you could kill one and ten more will appear the next time that you turn on the light? Part of the problem is that roaches reproduce rapidly and are nesting creatures. When you manage to land your boot on one bug, there are much more back at the nest waiting for an invitation to your pantry. They clearly know where you live, and if you want to serve a final eviction notice, you will have to determine where they live. If you fail to take out their nest, you will never eliminate their presence from your home.
If you have already identified what type of roaches are disturbing your property, then you have a head start on identifying their nesting habits and determining where they are possibly hiding out. You know that Oriental, American and German cockroaches love moist environments, so you may search for their nests under your kitchen sink or in your bathroom. Brown Band roaches can appear virtually anywhere since they don’t have that intense need for moisture.
Cockroaches often hide in small cracks and tight spaces, so it’s best to search for signs of fecal matter to determine their exact location. Roach droppings are dark brown or black, and they range from the size of a speck of pepper to larger pieces. These droppings are often used to create trails that the bugs can follow between their hideouts and sources of water and food. They also tend to leave droppings on the floor just before they enter the space leading to their nest.
If you find a pile of these droppings, you are likely close to discovering their hideout. If roaches are present but they haven’t completely infested your home yet, you may notice a few small specks that routinely reappear as you clean them up. If you have a bigger problem, then you may discover a large pile of droppings with a horrible odor. It’s important to clean this up immediately and deal with the nest because the droppings are known to cause health issues in humans.
How to Get Rid of a Roach Nest
Once you discover a roach nest, you don’t want to try moving it outright. The goal is to kill all of them as well as those out for a stroll somewhere in your home. You don’t want to move it and watch them run out in every direction, scattering in your home. There are three options for safe and effective elimination:
- Spray the nest with a strong bug spray. They will run out, and some will get away, but you should eliminate live roaches from the nest so that you can dispose of it without them running up your arms. This isn’t the most effective way, and the living cockroaches remaining in your home will just build a new one if you don’t follow up with additional treatment.
- Use cockroach bait to contaminate all roaches in the nest. This can take some time if you have a serious infestation, but it has worked for many people over time. Keep reading to learn how this works.
- Call a professional exterminator to spray, allowing them to carry that poison back to their nests.
Professional Pest Control Services vs. DIY Roach Elimination
This is the most important decision that you will make in your fight against cockroaches. Do you call in the professionals and pay $100 or more to eradicate the problem quickly and efficiently, or do you try to turn this into a DIY project? There’s always an investment of some type, and in this case, you’re either going to invest more of your time or more of your money.
If you don’t have a lot of money, you have the patience for a slow extermination process, and you aren’t facing a substantial infestation, it may not hurt to try some over-the-counter (OTC) products and home remedies before you spend more money on professional pest control. There are some factors that may determine the effectiveness of DIY roach treatment, including:
- Extent of the infestation
- Type of roaches
- Location and number of nests
- Surrounding neighborhood
Why does your neighborhood matter? Many cockroach problems are shared by the community at large, especially if you live in an apartment building or townhome. Some neighborhoods place homes so close together that it’s incredibly difficult to eliminate roaches when the home next door fails to take precautions against their own invasion.
If you know that you live in a cockroach-infested neighborhood, you may want to call a professional exterminator. Talking to your neighbors about treating all homes simultaneously is a great idea as well. There are ways that you can protect your home from the outside, preventing entrance for roaches as well as other pests. We’ll discuss those options later in this guide, so keep reading.
You may also want to consider a professional pest service if you want to quickly eliminate an early infestation to prevent a larger problem in the future. If you’re concerned with using harsh chemicals in your home due to the presence of children or pets, then you may want to contact a pest control service and ask about their use of natural chemicals for the treatment of infestation. This will help you determine whether you want to do it alone or use their services.
If you attempt to get rid of roaches on your own but they keep reappearing, then it is definitely time to call in the pros. You don’t want to continue loading your home with toxic chemicals in the name of chasing down every last one of them. Larger infestations or problems that seem to come back repeatedly are best handled through ongoing treatments by a pest control service.
What’s the Best Cockroach Killer? – OTC Solutions
Many of your local stores have pest control sections where you will find products designed to kill roaches. You can look online to find many other products that claim to wipe out infestations with a spray, gel or sticky trap. It’s clear that you will pay less for these products than you will pay for the services of a pest control professional, but that doesn’t mean that they will actually work. Even more important, you have to question whether they will help you keep your home clear of pests in the long term. We also have a dedicated post to help you pick the best cockroach killer for your home. Or if you’re in a hurry, just a take a quick look at some of the options below:
Many people swear by roach bait because it is a good way to ensure that roaches ingest a chemical that will kill them and carry it back to their friends. Here is a quick breakdown of how roach baits work:
- You place small amounts of bait in places that roaches frequent in your home. You can do this on your kitchen cabinets, under sinks, by your bathtub, and near dropping piles.
- They find the bait and use it as a food source, ingesting the poison.
- Contaminated roaches die, and others feast on their bodies. This passes the poison to even more roaches, and then they will die and continue the cycle.
Even though many find this method effective, there are a few downsides to consider:
- It can take awhile to eliminate all living bugs, especially if you have a large infestation that has been spreading for years.
- You will have to clean up the dead bugs daily.
- Placing the bait in open spaces may put your pets and children at risk. It’s best to remove them from the home until you have eliminated all bugs and have thoroughly cleaned up all surfaces throughout your home.
Pros & Cons
If you’ve ever eaten a hot pocket, then you have some idea of what a roach trap looks like. You may also consider it a roach hotel, but this is one bed from which you never want them to escape. These small cardboards or paper boxes are open on both ends, and they contain a sticky substance on the inside surfaces. Roaches are attracted to that substance and run into the box, getting stuck until they die. You simply set the traps throughout your home and replace them as they fill up.
The problem with this solution to an infestation is obvious. It doesn’t carry insecticide back to the nest. This is about as effective as trying to stomp on all of the bugs, but your legs won’t get tired when you use the traps.
While you don’t want to rely on this method to eliminate your infestation in the short term, there are some ways to use traps for long-term pest prevention. You simply set them out and watch for the appearance of a bug. As long as the trap stays empty, you can feel confident that they haven’t returned. You can get it on Amazon.
Pros & Cons
This is where most people turn when they first spot one in their home. They rush out to the store for a can of Raid or Combat and start spraying it along the baseboards, under their sinks and in other locations that seem like logical roach hideouts. There are few problems with this approach:
- You’re spraying harsh chemicals in your home, and you put your health in danger if you inhale the poison or fumes in the process.
- You have to spray in the right places or it won’t work.
- You may have to spray continuously for a long period of time, especially if you have a serious infestation.
When you hire a professional to handle the problem for you, they are likely to spray similar chemicals. The difference is that they will know where to spray and how much to spray, and you won’t inhale the chemicals as they do their job. They can also treat your home on a routine basis to help you prevent future infestations, but you won’t want to make a routine of personally spraying pesticides in your home. It does come in handy when you see one. It’s better to use this (or homemade soap spray) than smashing it and clean up the mess.
Pros & Cons
Home Remedies for Roaches
If you are not comfortable with spraying insecticide inside your home, or simply prefer the more natural way, then you should consider using some home remedies to get rid of roaches. I have hand-picked the top 3 home remedies to share with you.
Boric acid can be used to control different types of pests in your home and it has been widely used to combat roaches for nearly a century. You have to use it correctly in order to maximize its effectiveness. It works very well, especially when used in combination with the baiting techniques mentioned above.
This is another common home remedy that is very effective in killing roaches. Diatomaceous earth has microscopic razor sharp edges that cut through the protective covering of cockroaches and it will cause them to die from dehydration.
Face mask, protective goggles, and gloves are recommended when applying diatomaceous earth. Use a dust sprayer to apply a layer of food grade diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your home. Pay attention to cracks, corners and other hard to reach places where they love to hide.
As a matter of fact, food grade diatomaceous earth causes no harm to mammals and is deadly to any bug with an exoskeleton. You can purchase it from online retailers such as Walmart, Homedepot, and Amazon.
Although most of us would prefer to just kill them, natural roach repellent could be a great addition to the fight against cockroaches. What good does it do if they just keep coming back after being eliminated?
Catnip contains nepetalactone, which creates a strong smell that is intolerant to roaches. Start by filling some small satchels with fresh catnip and place them in drawers, cabinets, bathroom sink or anywhere else that you would normally see roaches.
When to Use Natural Roach Remedies
Other than that, there are quite a few more alternatives such as baking soda with sugar, borax, bay leaves & garlic powder, pandan leaves etc. You can read more about it here.
These home remedies may not eliminate a severe infestation, but they are good options for preventing future infestations. Start by keeping your home clean and using air-tight containers for cereal, sugar, rice and other food staples. Also check your home regularly for leaks. If cockroaches can’t find what they need to survive, they’re less likely to hide in your property.
How to Get Rid of Roaches “Naturally” – Biological Pest Control
One of the most natural ways that people adopt to eliminate cockroaches is biological pest control.
What is Biological Pest Control?
Just like any living things on the planet, each of them has their own predators, unless it’s on top of the food chain. This method involves the introduction of roaches’ natural enemies. Having some of them inside your household can help prevent infestation get out of hands. Cockroaches have quite a lot of enemies, but I’m going to talk about the popular few:
1. Centipedes – Yes, you hear me, it’s centipedes! They are fond of eating cockroaches. You can import centipedes to clean up your house easily. However, not everyone is feeling comfortable to deal with centipedes. Their venomous bites really sting and I personally afraid of them more than cockroaches.
2. Heteropoda Venatoria – AKA Huntsman spider (giant crab spider). It is native to the tropical regions and have been introduced to many parts of the world. They are strong, agile and feed on cockroaches along with other insect pests. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up dust-catching webs as they are web-free spider – they do not use webs to capture their prey.
They are shy and is not known for aggressive behavior against human. But be careful, it could bite if handled carelessly (it’s painful and sometimes with noticeable swelling). If you are Arachnophobia like me, then this is not for you. Its frightening appearance is simply, frightening. I can’t bear the thought of seeing them during the occasional midnight bathroom run!
3. Gecko – It is commonly used to keep roaches under control. They are many types of geckos available depends on the region where you live. They make quite a bit of disturbing sound at night and their droppings could be annoying. There are quite a few in my house (common house gecko) and for me, it is a far better choice than the other two.
Other than that, there are many other natural predators such as toads, frogs, iguanas and praying mantis etc. It is not practical to introduce all of them into your house, but one or two could be useful, especially if you prefer the natural way.
Pros & Cons
Protect Your Home from the Outside In
While this may not help you eliminate all roaches from your home in the near future, you definitely want to consider using Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, to protect your home form all unwanted bugs. The objective is to deny roaches and other pests access to your home and to deprive them of the food and water that they seek if they do manage to find their way inside.
You’ve learned a lot about their behavior from reading this article, so you know what they are looking for when they enter your home. Go through your property and make sure that you aren’t giving them what they need to survive.
For instance, wash your dishes after each meal and immediately put leftover meal away in sealed containers. Make a detailed chore schedule so that you are eliminating crumbs of food that roaches may find appealing on a daily basis. You even want to vacuum in the tiniest cracks and crevices because those areas can collect crumbs over time, giving your roaches a feast. All indoor trash cans should have very tight lids or start taking out the trash nightly. Make sure that the outdoor trash cans are as far away from your home as possible and are emptied regularly.
You should also check your home for water leaks and address excess moisture in crawl spaces, basements, and attics. You may need to call in a plumber or another professional to fix these problems, but it will reduce your risk of future cockroach infestations tremendously.
Finally, look for cracks and holes in your walls, doors, and windows. You want to seal these areas so that small pests can’t make their way into your home. If they can’t get in, they can’t interfere with your quality of life.
Step by Step Action Plan to Apply Instantly – IMPORTANT
For those who don’t have much time to digest the whole guide (which I suggest you do so) and can’t wait to find out some of the best ways to get rid of roaches that have been bothering you, I have created and updated this part of the guide specifically for you! Follow and apply this step by step action plan today to enjoy a roach free life!
Part 1 – Make use some of the popular do it yourself pest control techniques that I have listed above if the cockroach infestation level is not too serious:
- Find out the problematic areas by looking for living or dead roaches, droppings, egg cases and their shed exoskeletons. Common places to look for – behind/under appliances and cabinets. Another way to find out their hiding places is to turn on the lights in a dark room and see where they flee to.
- Once you have found their possible hiding places, setup some sticky traps or jar traps. Roach trap allows you to identify what types of roaches are infesting your home so that you know how to deal with them.
- Buy gel bait from reputable brands and start applying them in key areas that you found during the inspection (especially cracks and crevices).
- Follow the instruction label and apply optimum amount of gel bait based on infestation level (For example, light to moderate infestations – 1 to 3 spots of gel bait per 10 linear feet, 3 to 5 spots for heavy infestations).
- Replace gel bait if it’s eaten or dries up, until cockroach infestation is under control.
- (Optional) Consider using bait station that can be stuck to the walls and keep non-targeted species away.
- (Optional) Apply some home remedies for roaches such as boric acid, baking soda or food grade diatomaceous earth in key areas.
- Be patient and wait for the baits to do their magic!
Part 2 – Once your home is roach free, you should take necessary steps to prevent another infestation:
- Clean up food spills and fix water leaks.
- Store leftover meal in a sealed container.
- Keep cooking, eating and storage areas clean.
- Don’t pile up dirty laundry.
- Wash floors and vacuum carpets in areas where the meal is served.
- Take out the trash daily.
- Place outdoor rubbish bin further away from your house.
- Keep drains clean.
- Seal up cracks and crevices.
- Cover the floor drains in your bathroom (this is very important because it is very effective in preventing American cockroach from crawling out).
- Keep the traps up to monitor cockroach activities.
- Apply some home remedies for roaches for additional protection:
- Catnip/pandan leaves to repel them
- Boric Acid/food grade diatomaceous earth to kill them
- Or any other home remedies listed above that you find useful
That’s pretty much about it. Don’t wait any longer and start applying this action plan today!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to give you an accurate answer.
- Double check your grocery bags/repaired appliances before entering your house. That’s how they hitch a ride and “migrate” to our home. Sometimes it is hard to notice because of the size of baby roaches/nymphs and their egg cases (ootheca).
- Common hiding places for cockroaches – behind the fridge, under the sink, back corners of drawers, under/inside appliances, cabinets, washing machine, dishwasher.
- Don’t use pesticide or cleaning agents near the baits as they may rebel cockroaches away. You want them to actually eat the bait and share it.
- Draw a diagram of your house and mark the locations of traps. Record the date of placement, location, type, and number of cockroaches you caught with the traps. Keep track of everything for future reference.
- Avoid using boric acid and diatomaceous earth in wet and damp areas.
Now you know how to get rid of cockroaches effectively with the step by step action plan listed above, it’s time to take action and protect your family from these unwanted creatures. Also, check out some of the cockroach facts, who knows it might be useful for you in dealing with them!