We went straight to the source and consulted an entomologist on best practices for kicking these uninvited guests to the curb. Read on to learn how to get rid of cockroaches.
What causes cockroach infestations?
Just like humans, cockroaches need food, water and shelter to survive “If you have a habit of leaving food [or water] outside, cockroaches can take advantage of that,” says Dini Miller, MS, PhD, professor of urban pest management in Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology. Cockroaches also have the ability to locate unsealed openings and can enter your home through through cracks in the walls, floors, or dryer vents.
What are the signs of a cockroach infestation?
You know you’ve got an infestation on your hands when you see roaches of any size, especially tiny ones, says Dr. Miller. Cockroaches are social creatures, so if you see one, chances are there are others lurking around. You can identify these pesky critters by their color. “The [German] the adults are quite golden, but their hatchlings are dark brown,” he adds.
Another identifier? Poop. Cockroaches leave a ton of fecal matter, so if you notice little black dots that resemble black pepper or coffee grounds in the cracks of your kitchen or bathroom, chances are you have them in your home.
How to get rid of cockroaches forever
There are several things you can do to reduce and kill cockroaches in your home. Here’s a guide to get you started:
1. Store food in airtight containers or keep it refrigerated
We know that food clips and ties are much easier to use, but they’re not going to cut it if you want to keep pesky roaches from eating your snacks. Instead, use airtight storage containers like the OXO Good Grips 10-Piece POP Container Set and the PRAKI 24-Piece Airtight Food Storage Containers.
2. Clean and dry dishes
Cockroaches are natural foragers, and leaving food or water in the sink can cause roaches to breed, says Dr. Miller. To prevent them from reaching potential water and food sources, it’s best to wash and dry dishes immediately after eating.
3. Seal cracks, gaps and holes.
Cockroaches can live anywhere in your home, but they predominantly reside in walls, cabinets, and dark, damp areas. Because they have a knack for finding small holes and cracks, it’s best to seal open areas. To keep these pesky pests out, you’ll want to caulk your doorways, kitchen cabinets, and any other openings. Don’t forget to fix broken windows or door screens, says a spokesperson for the SC Johnson Center for Insect Science and Family Health. FYI: This silicone and acrylic based putty from DAP is a top-rated, customer-favorite option that doesn’t cost a dime.
4. Attach sticky pads
Before using baits or other roach killers, Dr. Miller recommends setting sticky traps first. “We’ll take them out and label them A [above the sink]B. [below]and C [at back of the toilet cistern]pick them up the next day and count the number of roaches in there,” says Dr. Miller. “That tells us exactly how much bait to apply.” For example, if sticky pad a has more roaches than pad b, you can apply more bait over the sink. Since cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, Dr. Miller recommends placing the sticky pads at night when they are most active.
5. Consider using bait or boric acid
Of all the products available on the market, Dr. Miller says professional grade gel baits work the best. These gels contain insecticides that kill cockroaches within 24 hours. “They consume the bait, and it hits their nervous system or their digestive system, and they can’t function. They end up dying,” says Miller. If that cockroach returns to their colony, they distribute the rest of the bait to kill other members of their group. Boric acid is another popular alternative. “When they ingest boric acid, they can no longer produce energy properly in individual cells, and that’s what kills them,” says Miller.
Some example products include Syngenta Advion Cockroach Gel Bait, Maxforce Select Professional Roach Killer Bait Gel, and Harris Boric Acid Roach Killer Powder. While these products can be purchased on Amazon, Dr. Miller recommends consulting with an exterminator to apply the gel bait.
What to do if you still can’t get rid of cockroaches
If nothing else works, find a professional exterminator. They can help you determine the next best course of action. “German cockroaches in particular have been treated with the same type of chemical for many decades,” says Dr. Miller. “Most of them are resistant to it [pesticide sprays]. We’ve killed everyone that’s susceptible and what we’re left with are these genetic mutants whose nerve site where pyrethroids used to attach has changed.”
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