The cockroach is without a doubt one of the most persistent of all insects, with a reputation for being able to survive in extremely inhospitable of environments. Whether we consider the cockroach’s anatomy, breeding habits, or diet, it is evident that this is a creature that was designed for survival. Coming in many varieties and thriving in rural or urban environments, the cockroach is a perennial nuisance to humans, invading and infesting structures with a capability to multiply that is astonishing and frightening. Exterminating them requires diligence and attention to detail, two characteristics of Creature Control technicians!
Biology of the Cockroach
Cockroaches are found all over the world and are divided up into roughly 4500 species. Some, like the Madagascar Hissing cockroach, are extremely large and fat, while others are quite small, such as the Micro Heli Roach, which averages only 3 millimeters in length. Some roaches, like the Woods Cockroach, are winged and capable of flying, while others, like the common American Palmetto cockroach and the German roach, are not.
In Michigan, only four types of cockroach are common: the German cockroach, brown-banded roach, American cockroach and the Oriental roach, though for the most part the four species are treated in a similar manner as far as extermination is concerned.
German cockroaches are the most common in Michigan. They are small, usually only 1/2 inch long or slightly longer. Males are brown to dark brown with two black stripes on the pronotum (the area just behind the insect’s head) and have a tapering abdomen. German roaches are capable of large-scale infestations of whole apartment complexes and high-rise buildings (all pictures at the top of the page are of German cockroaches)
Brown-banded roaches are much more uncommon than German roaches but are also capable of large-scale infestations. Adult brown-banded cockroaches are the size of German cockroaches—about 1/2 inch long. The female is a little longer than the male. Her wings are reddish brown to dark brown, and a little shorter than her broad, rounded abdomen. The male, slightly less than 1/2 inch long, has wings that are dark brown at the base but light brown at the tips, which are slightly longer than the tapering abdomen. Both sexes have a light band behind the pronotum at the base of the wings, and another full or partial band about one-third of the way back from the pronotum.
American cockroaches, also called Palmetto cockroaches, are the most common cockroach in North America, though relatively uncommon in Michigan. They are larger than the German roaches, usually about 1 1/2 inches and reddish brown in color. The pronotum of the American roach is ringed by an irregular light color that is almost yellow. Often this margin is bright and wide, darkening toward the center of the pronotum.
Oriental cockroaches, often referred to as “waterbugs” in the south, are very dark brown or shiny black. The female is slightly longer than the male—1 1/4 inch compared with 1 inch. Unlike other domestic cockroaches, the female does not develop wings, but produces only short, triangular wing pads. The male has wings, but they are short and broad, leaving about one quarter of the abdomen exposed.
Cockroaches are the rabbits of the insect world, as far as reproduction is concerned. German cockroach infestations are particularly serious because the German cockroaches breed continually. In her brief lifetime of 100 days, a female German cockroach is capable of producing up to one million eggs. Populations can grow extremely quickly in optimal conditions. Female roaches carry their eggs about with them attached to their abdomen until they hatch, after which the nymphs will go through seven intermediate stages before they become adults ready to reproduce. Because cockroaches can breed so quickly – and because there are so many different things they can feed off of (crumbs, grease, coffee grounds, etc.) effective treatment must center on reducing and removing entire populations, not just spot treating individual roaches.
Signs of a Cockroach Infestation
How do you know if you have a cockroach infestation? There are several signs of a cockroach problem. Since cockroaches are nocturnal, if you see roach activity during the day, it means that the nests are so large that some roaches are being thrust out. German cockroaches also tend to emit a certain odor that, when concentrated due a large population, may give the area near the infestation an oily, musty, smell. Another sign is the presence of cockroach feces, which are best described as resembling coffee grounds. These droppings will typically be left behind on counter tops, under sinks or anywhere else the roaches are scavenging. Typically, you will also find dead roaches around the house if there is an infestation.
The surest sign of an infestation is simply sighting cockroaches active in the house. A common first sighting of roaches reported by many people is getting up at night to get a snack from the kitchen, flipping on the light and seeing several roaches scatter across the kitchen floor. If you have sighted cockroaches in your home, don’t wait! Call Creature Control at 1-800-441-1519 right away!
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches
The key to successful cockroach treatment is controlling the whole population. For this reason, it is best to use an approach that utilizes several complimentary techniques. Our technicians may use baits and traps to determine the level of roach activity and locate nesting sites. Harborage areas should be treated with insecticides to knock out adult populations. Dusts can be applied to cracks and crevices. Dusts are more long-lasting than insecticides, allowing residual control of any stray roaches or nymphs who might mature after the initial treatment. Physical removal (vacuuming) of large roach nests is also effective. Vacuuming can remove a significant number of cockroaches and egg cases from the environment and can be quite effective when combined with other methods.
There are also preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a roach infestation in your home. Dishes should always be washed and put away. Food should never be left on counters or tables. Plumbing leaks should be corrected, damp areas dried and garbage taken out daily. All holes and cracks in ceilings and walls should be repaired, and the sides of your stove should be cleaned regularly to prevent grease build up.
Tips for Preventing Roach Infestations
- Do not allow dirty dishes to accumulate in the sink and remain there overnight.
- Keep food scraps in the refrigerator or in containers with tight-fitting lids.
- If pets are in the home, keep the pet food in tightly sealed containers, and do not allow food to remain in the bowls overnight. Feed only what the animal will eat at the time of feeding.
- Remove garbage from the home on a routine basis. Keep outside containers covered, especially at night.
- Periodically check and clean the evaporation pan under the refrigerator or freezer.
- A critical point may be the area between the stove and cabinet, where grease and food scraps often accumulate. Pull the stove out periodically and clean thoroughly.
- Remove boxes, especially if they’re made from corrugated cardboard, newspapers, bags, and other unnecessary items that can clutter rooms. When storing items, leave space between the packages.
- Use caulk to seal spaces and cracks where cockroaches hide. When an infestation exists in a home, concentrate on areas where cockroach numbers are the highest.
- Seal spaces, e.g. with steel wool, in apartments and other multi-unit dwellings where plumbing or electrical wiring goes through walls. Placing escutcheon plates at points where plumbing enters the wall will help prevent cockroaches moving to other areas in multi-unit dwellings.
For a ton of information on cockroaches, check out the Cockroach FAQ page from the biology department of the University of Massachusetts, which contains all the facts on such pressing questions as “Can cockroaches predict earthquakes?” and “Can a cockroach live without a head?”
Michigan Cockroach Control
Creature Control is a family owned and operated business based in southeast Michigan. We service ten counties and have technicians skilled in cockroach control all over southern Michigan. Click here to call for a phone consultation and pricing!
Cockroaches in the Home
So you’ve seen a cockroach in your home. Now what? How big a deal is it to find a single roach in your house?
Because of the cockroach’s ability to reproduce itself extremely quickly, even sighting a single cockroach in the home should raise enough concern to contact a pest control professional. A little explanation of how cockroaches live and breed will make this clear.
Cockroaches tend to live under refrigerators, stoves, under or behind kitchen cabinets and in crevices between baseboards and floors or cabinets and walls. Sometimes they are found behind pictures or even inside electronic equipment, such as light fixtures and behind light-switch panels. They prefer these locations because they open into wall voids that allow them access to various parts of the house, foraging for food and water by night.
Cockroaches are omnivorous and will scavenge for any available organic food source. This makes eliminating a roach problem particularly challenging. They have a preference for foods such as starches, sweets, grease and meat products, but they will also eat cheese, beer, leather, glue, hair, starch in book bindings, flakes of dried skin or decaying organic matter (plant or animal). Basically, anything organic is edible to a roach. Because of this, most cockroach infestations begin in the kitchen. Coffee grounds left on the counter, unwiped grease on the back or sides of a stove or sticky stains left behind from spilled juice or beer at the bar are especially attractive to cockroaches.
Don’t panic, though. A roach problem can be brought under control, but it is necessary to be decisive and act quickly before they really start to multiply. It also means an aggressive commitment to cleanliness in conjunction with pest control applications. Sides of the over must be wiped down, kitchen and areas where food are eaten swept and vacuumed every single day, any sweating pipes taped off or replaced. The important thing is to make the resolution that the problem can be solved and not slide into despair.
Cockroach Control for Restaurants and Commercial Apartments
Restaurants and apartments are the two most common sorts of commercial properties that get cockroaches. This is due to the environment in these sorts of places, which is often conducive to cockroach infestations.
Roaches in Restaurants
Cockroaches are omnivorous and will scavenge for any available organic food source. This makes eliminating a roach problem in a restaurant particularly challenging. While cockroaches do have a preference for foods such as starches, sweets, grease and meat products, they will also eat cheese, beer, leather, glue, hair, starch in book bindings, flakes of dried skin or decaying organic matter (plant or animal). Basically, anything organic is edible to a roach. Because of this, most cockroach infestations begin in the kitchen or dry storage areas in a restaurant. Coffee grounds left on the counter, unwiped grease on the back or sides of a stove or sticky stains left behind from spilled juice or beer at the bar are especially attractive to cockroaches.
Roaches scavenge continually, but they do not require a lot to live off of; if no other food source is present, a cockroach can survive off of a single crumb for six months. They also tend to prefer kitchens because of the availability of water, which they will drink from the condensation on pipes under the sink or in the wall or from droplets of water left in the sink.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, feeding primarily at night. They tend to scatter if exposed to light. If you see cockroaches active during the day, it is a sign of a large infestation.
Cockroach control in a restaurant cannot be accomplished by pest control applications alone. It also requires a commitment to a very rigorous standard of cleanliness by the management and an understanding by all the kitchen staff about what sort of conditions are conducive to roaches. Only a combination of regular visits by a pest controller and aggressive cleanliness by the restaurant will be able to get the problem under control. Otherwise, it will be an ongoing battle.
Cockroach Treatment for Apartment Buildings
Cockroach infestations in apartment buildings can be especially challenging, since the roaches can spread out from an initial nest into many other units, travelling with ease along the vertical plumbing pipes and wires that connect the various floors. This is especially a problem in large cities; roach removal in apartments in Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing and Ann Arbor is common. Eliminating cockroaches in multi-unit housing requires a combined effort on the part of management, tenants and pest control professionals. Because of the interconnectedness of all the units apartment buildings (sharing pipes, ceilings, etc.) treating single units is usually not effective. Creature Control will work with managers and tenants to ensure that the roach clean-out is carried out in a manner that is effective, safe and thorough.
Where is the focal point of an apartment roach infestation? For example, are cockroaches more common on the first floor of buildings? We get this inquiry a lot. A cock roach infestation is most likely wherever conditions are most conducive. This may be a first floor unit, or it may be a tenth floor unit. If there is a readily available source of water and food, roaches are more likely to proliferate, regardless of what floor the unit is on. Usually, successfully treating the roach problem necessitates finding the “problem” unit. Otherwise, we are just treating around the peripheries.