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Evicting Cockroaches in Your Home or Business

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 creature was designed for survival. Created 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 an infestation of cockroaches requires diligence and attention to detail, two characteristics of Creature Control technicians!

Cockroaches in Michigan  

Cockroaches are found all over the world and are divided up into roughly 4,500 species. In Michigan, only four types of cockroach are common: the German cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, American (or palmetto) cockroach and the oriental cockroach. For the most part, these four species are treated in a similar manner for extermination purposes. The German cockroach (pictured below) is the most common in our area and they are capable of large-scale infestations of whole apartment complexes and high-rise buildings. So too are the Brown-Banded roaches, although they are less common in our area.

Reproduction-wise cockroaches are the rabbits of the insect world. German cockroach infestations are particularly serious because they 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, feeding off organic food sources such as crumbs, grease, coffee grounds, paper, hair, and flakes of dried skin. Effective treatment must center on reducing and removing entire populations, not just spot treating individual roaches.

Cockroaches, like houseflies, can carry bacteria which plays a supplementary role in the spread of some diseases like: diarrhea, fever, dysentery, cholera, and the plague. They are also known to cause allergic reactions on the skin or in your respiratory system. Cockroaches can contaminate the food and surfaces you touch by disgorging portions of their partially digested food, their saliva, and leaving behind their droppings which contains bacterial organisms, such as Salmonella that causes food poisoning. They also pick up everything they come across on their legs while scavenging for food and if they get into your home or business this bacterium gets scattered throughout.

Signs of a Cockroach Infestation  

  • The surest sign of an infestation is simply viewing cockroaches active in the house or building. A common first sighting of roaches appears when switching on the light and seeing several roaches scatter across the kitchen floor.
  • Cockroaches are nocturnal, feeding primarily at night. They tend to scatter if exposed to light. 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 tend to emit a certain odor that, when concentrated due to a large population, gives the infestation area an oily, musty, smell.
  • Another sign is the presence of cockroach feces, which resemble 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.

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.

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 prefer foods such as starches, sweets, grease and meat products, but they will also eat cheese, beer, leather, glue, starch in book bindings, 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 are especially attractive to cockroaches.

Cockroach Control in Your Home:

Don’t panic! 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. The sides of the oven must be wiped down, your kitchen and the areas where food are eaten must be swept and vacuumed every single day, and any sweating pipes need to be taped off or replaced. It is important to make the resolution that the problem can be solved and keep up with the maintenance.

Cockroaches in Restaurants and Commercial Apartments   

Restaurants and apartment buildings are the two most common commercial properties that get cockroaches. These environments are often conducive to cockroach infestations because roaches are omnivorous and will scavenge for any available organic food source. This makes eliminating a roach problem particularly challenging. 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.

Cockroach Control in Restaurants:

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 Infestations in Apartment Complexes:

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 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 unit’s apartment buildings treating single units is usually not effective.

Our technicians work to find the focal point of an infestation (and it’s not always on the first floor but can be a unit on the 10th floor - wherever conditions are most conducive). 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. 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.

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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. Pesticide dusts can be applied to cracks and crevices. Dusting applications are more long-lasting than insecticides, allowing residual control of any stray roaches or nymphs who might mature after the initial treatment. Physically removing large roach nests with vacuums 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.

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.
  • Repair all holes and cracks in ceilings and walls. 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.
  • Plumbing leaks should be corrected, and damp areas dried. Cockroaches are attracted to moisture for drinking.
  • 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.
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Scratching during the day may indicate the presence of a bat, but this is uncommon.

More common sources of scratching or clawing during the day is a squirrel or a yellowjacket hive in the drywall, if it is summer.

A scratching sound coming from the attic is a good indication of the presence of a bat. The scratching may be constant or intermittent and may occur at day or night, though with a bat, this scratching will usually be heard at night. This is the sounds of the claws on the bat's wings as it moves around.

It may also indicate the presence of mice, however. An inspection is necessary to more directly pinpoint the source of the sound.

Gnawing sounds during the day are almost always due to the presence of a rodent, such a mouse, squirrel, chipmunk, or sometimes a rat. Rodents are characterized by their large incisor teeth, which continually grow and must be worn down by constant gnawing. Rodents will gnaw on wires, insulation and anything else they can find in an attic. Many house fires due to electrical problems are caused by damaged wires due to squirrel gnawing.

If you are hearing gnawing or chewing sounds at night, it may indicate the presence of a raccoon. Usually this will be accompanied by other noises, such as heavy walking. If you do not hear this, it may be a flying squirrel or some other rodent.

A "rolling" sound is usually due to the presence of a red squirrel bringing in nuts or other debris and rolling it around up in the attic, as squirrels will use attics to hoard food. If you hear this sound during the day, it is certainly a red squirrel, since red squirrels are the only mammals that commonly get into attics that are active during the day (flying squirrels get into attics as well but they are nocturnal). The "rolling" sound associated with a squirrel is sometimes described as the sound of marbles rolling.

If it is not a squirrel, there's a possibility a rolling sound could be made by birds moving around in a tight space.

Rolling sounds at night can be caused by flying squirrels, which are nocturnal. It is made by the squirrel bringing nuts or other debris into the attic or wall.

Raccoons may also make a rolling sound, though this is less common.

Scampering or scurrying during the day is almost always attributable to a squirrel, as most other scurrying animals (such as mice) are nocturnal.

A scurrying or scampering sound at night is usually due to mice moving through the walls, ceiling, or along the floor.

Nocturnal flying squirrels may make this noise as well; peak periods of activity for flying squirrels are just before dawn and shortly after sunset. Their scurrying is light and fast.

Raccoons may also make this sort of noise, but with a raccoon it will be more of a "walking" sound, a bit heavier than a squirrel, and not as fast.

Heavy walking or crawling is a very unique sound that almost always indicates the presence of a raccoon, whether it occurs during the day or night.

Heavy walking or crawling is a very unique sound that almost always indicates the presence of a raccoon, whether it occurs during the day or night.

If you can clearly hear the sound of flapping during the day, it is definitely a bird.

If you hear flapping at night, it is either a trapped bird or a bat. Nuisance birds are generally not active at night, so if you hear flapping it may be a bird that has become trapped. The flapping of a bat's wings is very soft, almost like a dull whirring. If you hear a very faint, soft whirring, it may mean a bat is flying around nearby in the dark.

Crackling is a very particular noise that is generally made by a yellowjacket hive within the drywall of your home. yellowjackets will pick and gnaw on drywall and use the pieces to construct their hives. The sound of this gnawing is often described as a crackling; it sounds a lot like Rice Krispies popping. If you hear this, it means the yellowjackets are close to gnawing through the dry wall. It is not as common at night, but certainly can happen then as well if the hive is big enough.

Crackling is a very particular noise that is generally made by the presence of a yellowjacket hive within the drywall of your home. yellowjackets will pick and gnaw on drywall and use the pieces to construct their hives. The sound of this gnawing is often described as a crackling; it sounds a lot like Rice Krispies popping. If you hear this, it means the yellowjackets are close to gnawing through the dry wall.

A sound of chirping or chattering usually means there are baby animals present. What species depends on the season, but it is very common for baby squirrels, raccoons, or birds (especially chimney swifts) to make these noises. Please contact Creature Control for a more thorough diagnosis.

A sound of chirping or chattering usually means there are baby animals present. What species depends on the season, but it is very common for baby squirrels, raccoons, or birds (especially chimney swifts) to make these noises. Please contact Creature Control for a more thorough diagnosis.

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