Have questions about roaches? Our pest control heroes took the time to answer common questions we get from our customers about roaches, how to prevent them, and signs of a cockroach infestation. View the table of contents below to learn more about termites or find the answer to your specific question!
The following content was provided by Trey Hinton, entomologist and one of our pest experts here at Clegg’s Pest Control. Trey has extensive experience dealing with roaches across North Carolina. Some relevant links have been added to audio transcripts to provide resources or additional information.
Table of Contents: Cockroaches
Click on a question below to be taken directly to that answer and content.
- Why do I have cockroaches in my house?
- How can I get rid of cockroaches?
- What happens during a cockroach inspection?
- How does cockroach extermination treatment work?
- Is cockroach treatment safe for kids and pets?
- Can I get roaches in my drains?
- How do you keep roaches from coming up your drains?
- Does bleach kill roaches?
- Can roaches bite?
- Can I get cockroaches if my house is clean?
- Fogging / Vacuuming for cockroaches
- How to use cockroach pesticides
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Why do I have cockroaches in my house?
That would depend on what type of cockroaches that you have. A lot of species of cockroaches are native to the great outdoors in North Carolina and other parts of the United States and all over the world. And sometimes they come in from time to time, whether it be from the outside, from the forest or the trees, coming through the crawl spaces and places like that, coming into your garages, they can come in as occasional invaders and come into your home. Now, some species of cockroach, most notably, the most common, the German cockroach are roaches that live with us. They’re domesticated roaches if you want to think of it like that. They don’t live outdoors. They don’t live in the woods. They tend to live with humans. And so they can get brought into homes, either when you visit a home that’s infested with them. And they can be transferred on book bags or purses, maybe used appliances and furniture, and they can be brought from home to home in that manner.
Or if you live in a multifamily structure, like an apartment complex, they could travel from unit to unit through the walls. It depends, especially if you live in a wooded area or at the beach, where they’re very common, smoky brown cockroaches. They’re very common in the environment and they come in from time to time. It’s a mix of the things, it’s not just one way. It’s multiple ways they can come in.
How can I get rid of cockroaches?
Okay, again it really depends on the species. With the peridomestic roaches, the ones that live outside and come in from time to time, it’ll be a process of treating the exterior of the home. Maybe even treating the attic if you have trees that are overhanging and touching the roof, because they can come in from the trees and you would want to treat around the pipe chases and the cross pipe areas for these cockroaches. Occasionally you’ll have some other cockroaches like American cockroaches that come up through sewer drains. So if you have a dry sewer floor drain somewhere in a commercial setting, in a business or large facility, those drains either need to be treated or they could be filled full of water so that the cockroaches don’t come back up them.
But with the German roaches, on the other hand, it’s completely different. You really got to focus on treatment to the interior of the home. Primarily the kitchen cabinets, the kitchen area around appliances. You have to focus, because they’re living inside with us, they’re not going to go from house to house let’s say, an exterior treatment wouldn’t do you any good. So you need to treat the interior of the home with baits. There’s lots of very excellent baits these days that work very well. And we have a lot of new, low odor non repellent, liquid pesticides that work very well. In extreme cases we use vacuum cleaners to vacuum up large populations. These guys, the German roaches, especially are very prolific. They multiply rapidly. Sometimes it will not just take a single visit, but may take multiple visits over several weeks or a couple of months.
What happens during a cockroach inspection?
During an inspection, the first thing we do is we’re going to ask you questions, what you’re seeing, the size and the shape, the color of the cockroach that you’ve seen and where you’re seeing them at. And that’ll give us an idea where to look. Like I said with the two general types of cockroaches, the indoor cockroaches, that if you’re seeing them on your kitchen counter, primarily around the refrigerator, then we’re going to know that you’re probably having a German cockroach problem and an inspection of the cabinets and around the appliances, like your refrigerator really wouldn’t take very long to identify the species. And then if you said, “Okay, well, I’m just seeing them on the living room floor.” You may see them near the fireplace. You may see them in a bedroom upstairs. Or if you see them in a bathroom, then we may need to look in the attic areas. We may need to look in crawl space areas, garages a lot of the outdoor roaches, such as the American or smoky brown cockroaches may begin in a storage room or may be a garage area or a crawlspace area first and then come inside. So it just depends on what you have.
How does cockroach extermination treatment work?
Yeah, with a lot of the products that we use these days in more modern practices with the outdoor roaches, we do more of an exclusion method. A good exterior service for those roaches that are outdoors tend to be very effective. When you treat outside for those roaches, you’re being proactive and you can use insecticides that are more repellent or kill on contact so that they don’t make it into the home. Now you still may need to put baits and treat attics and treat crawl spaces, treat storage rooms. And so therefore you got to get rid of the ones that are on the inside already, but of course, then on a routine basis to have the exterior of the home treated so that they won’t come back in anew, okay. Sooner or later the pesticide goes outside, thanks to the sunlight, into the wind and rain and things like that, pesticides break down.
So typically most companies come about every three months and do a reapplication on the outside to keep those outdoor roaches away from your home. For the German cockroaches really, sometimes actually in an infestation that’s advanced that can take a few weeks. So typically once you get rid of them, they won’t be reinfesting from the outside. But if you were to have someone come visit, bring cockroaches with them, or they get reintroduced, that would be a new problem. It’s hard for us to prevent that kind of issue. If they get reintroduced, whether there may be some residual insecticide there, it’s depending upon how long after they’re eliminated. In theory, they could come back if they’re reintroduced, because those German cockroaches, they’re going to travel on purses, book bags, used furniture, materials like that that obviously are not treated so they could be reintroduced.
But usually we’re the ones doing it. And I had a lady one time and I was treating her home for German cockroaches, a nice house, not very dirty at all, very clean home. And she was trying to figure out where her cockroaches came from. And I was treating around the dishwasher and she happened to mention that her husband had picked it up second hand. And I was like, “Oh, how long ago was that?” And then she said, “A few weeks before.” I said, “Did the infestation start shortly after that?” She goes, “Yes, it did.” I said, “Well, your husband carried them into the home for you.” I probably got him in trouble that day.
Is cockroach treatment safe for kids and pets?
It should be. We always got to take into consideration it’s probably not best for them not to be present while we’re doing the service especially depending on the materials that we’re using. We often recommend that they not be around while we’re doing the service. Let’s say it’s a German cockroach infestation, where we’d be treating for quite a while. It’s best that people just leave for a while, for several hours, maybe three to four hours, let us do the treatment. We’re going to be using liquids that once dried, they should not bother anybody, of course, we’re treating cracks and crevices. And that’s one thing that using the baits and some of the new liquids that we use, but we’re not spraying cabinets down like we used to, and we should be directing the treatments because cockroaches, especially the German cockroaches are thigmotactic, meaning they like tight cracks and crevices something above them and something below them, touching them so they feel protected.
And so if those cracks and crevices, we really like to apply the liquid insecticide. Not the floors, not the countertops, to those cracks and crevices. And so when people come back, there should be little exposure. You shouldn’t be touching a surface that’s been treated with pesticides. You really should be limited to those areas where the cockroaches are going to be hiding, not to the exposed surfaces.
Now with the fogging treatment that sometimes people refer to, there’s probably going to be a cleaning process that countertop services would need to be cleaned up, floors may need to be mopped, utensils and food, stuff has to be put away, things like that. So that’s one of the older ways of doing it and more and more of these days, we’re going to where we’re doing crack and crevice treatments, treating those cracks and crevices as opposed to a general broadcast treatment to all the surfaces.
When I started back in 1997, it was typical to have homeowners pull all their food and dishes out of the cabinets and put them on the table and cover them up. And then we’d come in there with a pan of liquid pesticide and spray the cabinet. That was a very common method of treatment back in the eighties and the nineties and before that. So now it’s typically in a small bait applications to the cabinet, some crack and crevice treatments with some liquids insecticides, but especially for low or moderate infestations, those baits and those liquids can be very effective and there’s less exposure. There’s less chance of expose to the pets and children.
Can I get roaches in my drains?
It’s not very common in residential drains, mainly at commercial facilities or properties where you have a shower drain or a floor drain that is not used for a very long time. The water in the P-trap can dry out and what can happen primarily with American cockroaches, a very common species of cockroach that we deal with from time to time, can come back up through the sewer system. So obviously cockroaches infest sewer systems. And one of the things that keeps them from entering into your home or most people’s home is the water in that P-trap. And if for some reason, a sink in a home were to sit unused for a very, very long time and the water dries out over several months then in theory you could, but it’s not very common. It’s mostly common in a commercial building and a warehouse and a basement area somewhere where a floor drains installed that no one’s used in two years.
How do you keep roaches from coming up your drains?
The easiest way is to use them. Use the drain. Often it’s just a matter of at a commercial facility is putting the mop bucket water down the drain. And that way it will deny the drain. They won’t be able to come back up through that water area that’s in the drain. Now there are some products that we could use to treat, some dusts that aren’t labeled for use in drains. And some rare occasions, we have treated sewers with power dusters, but typically if you don’t need to pour like bleach down the drain, people do pour bleach down the drain for different problems, usually drain flies and fruit flies are very common getting into drains, but pouring bleach down there won’t solve the problem.
Does bleach kill roaches?
I’m sure, it’s very caustic. So yeah, I’m pretty sure a cockroach wouldn’t, but you certainly wouldn’t want to be spraying bleach around everywhere. I would not recommend that. It’s probably more detrimental to you than it is the cockroaches. I would never recommend trying to use bleach to kill cockroaches. A shoe works really good. If you’ve got a severe infestation or you see them frequently it’s best to call us because a lot of times people misapply insecticides and that’s when they become truly the hazard. It’s not just the general toxicity of a product. The relative toxicity is not the only measure. You have to have exposure. And if you misapply a product off label, apply it in the manner that is not on label and don’t take the precautions, that’s when products become a hazard to children and to pets.
Can roaches bite?
Yes, they can. Is it a common occurrence? No, they’re not predatory. They’re not a blood feeder. They’re not bedbugs or fleas trying to feed blood meal. Yes, they can bite, but typically the only scenario where you’d see that would be in a home that maybe has an extremely advanced German cockroach infestation. And unfortunately I have seen some instances where you have children, small infants and maybe the elderly who are infirm and really maybe bedridden and they just simply can’t get around. And I’ve had to treat wheelchairs and cribs and hospital beds before for German cockroaches. I would only expect it to see on the worst case scenarios. I have seen scenarios where the children have to have little earplugs to keep the roaches from getting into the ears. And of course, those are the saddest cases, so the most severe infestations.
It’s really only the worst infestation and where you have a population because generally speaking, most German cockroaches infestations start in the kitchen. They’re not in the bedrooms, but if they get so bad that the cockroaches begin to spread throughout the house and I’ve treated many homes with them in bed frames. So it could get to that point so they can bite but is it typical, no, but it can happen. It’s not beyond their possibility.
Can I get cockroaches if my house is clean?
With either type of roach, where there’s the domesticated roach like the German cockroaches, it doesn’t matter because if you bring them in, then they’re going to establish. Once they’re established, you’re really going to need help because if your son or daughter came home from college apartment and brought some stuff home, they could get brought home that way into a very nice clean home. And next thing you know you got roaches. And more commonly the outdoor roaches, the peridomestic ones, that ones that tend to live outdoors and come in from time to time, well, that can happen in any neighborhood. It can happen in a trailer park or it could happen in a gated neighborhood. They’re going to come in from time to time, especially in a wooded lot, like my own. I have to treat my home to keep those out of my house because they love firewood.
Oriental and the smoky brown cockroach that’s very, very common in North Carolina, but that people see, they sometimes call it the palmetto bug or a waterbug. Different names they want to call them. So those are typical part of the natural environment. From time to time, it’s not that your house is dirty, but they’re going to come in. They’re going to find a small crack somewhere they’re very flat, so they can sneak in through very, very small holes and get into your home. And it’s not that you’re dirty, but they’re just part of our environment.
Fogging / Vacuuming for cockroaches
Some people refer to it as fogging, using machines that create aerosolized pesticide where the technicians will come in wearing respirators, mask that is and apply different pesticides in a aerosolized manner in the machine called actisol machine. Some people still do that because that helps, especially in the extreme, where literally, there may be thousands of cockroaches living in one home or one trailer or something, one apartment. And you have a huge population where you need a quick knockdown, used to be very common to use these aerosols, to come in and knock a large number of them. Now we’re trying to get away from that but some people still do that. The vacuum cleaner is another way to again, to remove a large number of them pretty quickly so that your baits and your liquids have a better chance of work on a large population.
How to use cockroach pesticides
People will often ask me and have for years, “Well, how do I put that down? How do I use that?” Because they may ask me about getting an over the counter remedy, I simply refer to them buy the product, read the label. The label will have all the instructions for the proper use of any pesticide. I read labels every day. Every day I’m reading a different, for one reason or another, just to refresh my memory or it’s another product, maybe it’s product I’ve never used before that. But I read labels all the time because some of them are 5, 10, 15 pages long, and you can’t memorize them all. So I’ll always read and refresh my memory.