Cockroaches are one of the most efficient and adaptable living organisms on the planet. They are also large and unsightly creatures that are the bane of homeowners around the globe. This guide will walk you through the process of containing and eliminating a cockroach infestation in your home environment.
1. Cockroach population distribution
Control measures are basically the same for the thousands of different cockroach species, so there is no need to determine which species has infested your home. The main difference lies in population distribution. Inside buildings certain cockroach species will distribute themselves evenly, while others congregate in groups. The first step in roach control is to identify where the roaches are gathering and how many you have.
The easiest and most effective method of monitoring cockroach populations is with traps. You can purchase inexpensive sticky traps at any hardware store or you can make your own. To make your own, gather a quantity of 1-quart mason jars and coat the inside of the rims with petroleum jelly to keep roaches from escaping. Place a piece of white bread inside to attract them and your trap is ready. Place as many traps as you can throughout your environment. In corners, in cabinets, on shelves, underneath furniture, in bathrooms. The idea is to distribute the traps evenly so the numbers of captured roaches can be used to determine what areas they are concentrated in. This will show you where to direct your pest-control efforts.
Let the traps sit out for twenty-four hours and then return to them and record the number of roaches that were captured in each one. Kill captured roaches by filling the jars with hot, soapy water. Reset the traps and move the ones that performed poorly into areas of higher roach concentration. Return in another 24 hours to further pinpoint the areas in which they are gathering. Repeat this step until you have a good idea of where they are hanging out. The more traps you use, the faster you will find them all. Remember that roaches tend to travel along the edges of things rather than out into the open so place the traps accordingly.
2. Eliminate sources of the cockroach infestation
In this step we will roach-proof all of your food supplies, water supplies and points of entry.
Roach-proofing food sources
Roaches will eat any available foods, but they prefer carbohydrates. The catch is that they can eat any type of carbohydrate, including those found in glues, bar soaps, and certain plants. Trade in the bar soaps for a liquid variety and apply petroleum jelly around the outside edges of potted plants to keep the roaches out. It is of utmost importance to overhaul your food storage routines as well. Roaches can chew threw paper, cardboard, and brittle plastics so any foods that rely on these things for storage are vulnerable. Purchase a set of glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids and immediately transfer anything that comes in bags or boxes into appropriate containers. Make sure the seal on your refrigerator is clean and complete, and keep all refrigerated foods sealed as tightly as the non-refrigerated foods.
It’s important also to modify your kitchen routines. Immediately wipe down any surface used when preparing food, and sweep the kitchen out every day or two. Clean up spills and periodically clean anywhere that grease or cooking residues collect such as stovetops and inside ovens. Store organic wastes separately in a large, plastic container that seals tightly and either compost it outside or throw it away when you take out the trash. When the container gets soiled, soak it in a mild water-bleach solution for a few hours. Use a trash can that has a tightly sealing lid to deny roaches access to your refuse, and clean it as soon as it gets dirty. If you have exposed pet dishes, place them in pans of soapy water to create a moat around the food. Watch for crumbs spilled by your pet and don’t let the moat dry up. At night, plug and dry your sinks to keep roaches from entering from the drains or easily locating water.
Roach shelters and breeding grounds
Roaches prefer dark, warm and moist areas. This means they are likely to hang out underneath refrigerators, inside electrical equipment and outlets, around stovetops, and near any leaky pipes. Thoroughly move through the areas that traps reveal as being population focal points and seal up all nooks, crannies, and cracks that you find with silicone caulking or an appropriate filler material . Cockroaches can fit into cracks as small as 1/5″ so be thorough.
Roach-proofing methods of entry
Outside of your home roaches will accumulate anywhere there is decaying organic matter. Clean up and clear out dead leaves, overgrown grass and weeds, and any moist areas that collect organic wastes. Pay special attention to overgrowth that is right up against your home.
In apartment buildings, roaches can gain entry to your living space through unprotected vents, ducts and drains. Combat this weakness by removing vents and placing screens behind them. Seal the edges of the screen against the duct opening with silicone caulk and replace the vent. Next, check that all of your windows have undamaged screens. Any small holes you find in a screen can be repaired with a dab of silicone caulk. Doors should have weather stripping applied over any crack that could allow a roach to enter, and drains should be closed up every night before retiring.(Read, how to use silicone caulk)
3. Eliminate the current cockroach population
If the previous steps were not efficient enough to diminish the population by themselves, you will likely want to use them in addition to one of the following insecticides. Use chemical insecticides sparingly as roaches can easily become immune to new measures. Instead, start with an insecticidal dust. After implementing one of the following measures, be sure to repeat the trapping exercise you performed in step 1 to understand how the population was effected.
Popular insecticidal dusts include Diatomaceous earth and boric acid (Borax). Diatomaceous earth kills roaches by damaging their exoskeletons and then dehydrating them through the wounds. Boric acid works by poisoning them. Of the two, boric acid is the most effective because it does not repel roaches, they do not develop resistance to it, and it will last for as long as it is kept dry. The downside is that it can take up to 10 days to begin working whereas diatomaceous earth begins working immediately after application. When applying dusts, be careful to keep them out of the air.
Hydramethylnon based bait stations
Insecticidal baits are used to kill roach populations without covering your environment with poison. Use only those baits that come in tamper-proof bait stations and always keep them inaccessible to children and pets. Some varieties of Combat and maxforce roach bait stations use the poison Hydramethylnon which kills roaches within 3 days of consumption. These work well, but the bait can be quickly used up in infested areas, so replace them often at first – especially if you notice roaches living inside of them.
Avermectin (Avert) is another commonly used poison that is derived from the naturally occurring soil microorganism streptomyces avermitilis. It works exceptionally well but can only be applied by a licensed professional.
Insect growth regulators (IGR’s)
Insect growth regulators work by impeding the developmental process of an insect. In cockroaches they cause sterility in adults. Adults that were resident before the application will be unaffected and will still be able to reproduce, but if there are no neighboring areas of infestation to replenish non-sterile adults this treatment method should eventually cause your roach population to wither and disappear.
Carbon dioxide fumigation
Call your local pest control professional to find out if they are equipped for carbon dioxide fumigation. The process involves filling huge plastic bags with roach infested belongings and then suctioning out the air and replacing it with carbon dioxide, killing any roaches inside. This may work well if you are about to move and don’t want to bring the roaches with you.
Steam can also be used to kill roaches. It can be shot into holes, cracks, and underneath appliances to kill any resident roaches.
Compared to the above methods, foggers are ineffective. They are marketed to people who do not want to expend the effort necessary to intelligently fight their roach infestation and they expose all of the home’s occupants to whatever poisons are in the treatment. Any cockroaches will likely retreat into their hiding places and wait until the fog dissipates before returning to the open. The dried poison residue that remains on all of your living surfaces will not kill them. Stay away from foggers.
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