How to Identify and Get Rid of American Cockroaches

How to Identify and Get Rid of American Cockroaches

One common pest homeowners might encounter is the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), a fast and flying insect that can quickly and efficiently infest an area, becoming difficult to remove and get rid of.

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What are American Cockroaches?

American cockroaches are one of the biggest species of roaches common to the household. Coming from Africa and the Middle East, the American cockroach can be found all over the United States. In southern states they are commonly found outdoors, while in the northern states they more frequently take shelter in drains and sewers. A pest that haunts homes and businesses all over the country, this cockroach can be a major nuisance.

What do American Cockroaches Look Like?

Large in and in charge, the American cockroach can range from one to three inches long. Their coloration is typically reddish brown to a light brown, sporting a yellow band or figure on the top of their head. They have six legs, two straight antennas, and are shaped like an oval. Though one of the few species that uses its wings to fly, this roach still relies heavily on those legs to scurry quickly from point to point.

American Cockroach Behaviors

American cockroaches can fly and move fast. For the most part, you will find cockroaches outdoors in warm, damp locations such as gardens, under mulch and other types of piles. If climate proves harsh or food runs out, they move into buildings such as homes, restaurants, small businesses and other human made structures.

They seek out out the wet and food filled areas such as drains, pipes, basements, holes in the wall and under major appliances. They feed on basically any and all organic materials, from leaves and fungi to crumbs and leftover human food.

American Cockroach Life Cycle

The American cockroach goes through the three stages of metamorphosis like the majority of cockroaches: egg, nymph and adult. The process from birth to fully-formed adult can take anywhere from four to six months. The average lifespan for this particular species is approximately two years.

At its peak ability to reproduce, the female American cockroach can lay from 16 to 32 eggs a week for almost 10 months, making their threat of infestation high.

Signs of American Cockroaches

The common signs that American cockroaches have found a home indoors are similar to its fellow cousins. They include:

  • On-sight Visual: If one cockroach is indoors, there is a good chance there are more.
  • Droppings: Always eating and always disposing of waste. On counters, in cabinets, or under appliances, American cockroaches will leave little reddish and brown droplets around.
  • Eggs: When their babies hatch, the cockroach egg casings that surround the eggs can be found in those similar locations where adults live.
  • Odor: Especially when together in a group, American cockroaches give off a wet and musty smell.

How to Get Rid American Cockroaches

The first step to getting rid of American cockroaches is eliminating their home and food source. Clean your living spaces, especially counters, appliances, sinks, drains and cabinets.

To help keep these pests away in the future, check the foundation and entryways for cracks or holes where they might enter. Caulk or seal these areas and use repellents such as gels to deter re-entry.

These pests are survivalist scavengers, so killing American cockroaches might require options such as traps, baits and pesticides. Since infestations can get out of control quickly with their reproductive abilities, the process for dealing with this species of roach might be slow.

If traditional remedies appear unsuccessful, consult a professional exterminator to provide a plan and solutions unique to your home or business.

American Cockroach Safety

Aside from having your home or business overrun with an unwelcome pest, American cockroaches also carry health concerns. They are excellent transmitters of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. The odors from their secretions are also known to cause problems for people with allergies and asthma. In close contact, these cockroaches are not much of a direct threat. While they can bite, they rarely do, and usually don’t transmit their carriers via their bite.

Additional Cockroach Resources

For more information about cockroaches and what it means when you find this pest in your home or business, check out these pest control articles.

How To Get Rid of Roaches Before They Become a Major Problem

Household pests are never welcome guests. From ants that pillage your pantry to banana-loving fruit flies or fleas that piggyback on your pets, the battle against bugs is ongoing. Luckily, by keeping your home (and especially your kitchen) clean and organized, it’s easy to prevent many pest problems from starting in the first place.

As far as bugs go, cockroaches arguably spark one of the strongest «Ew!» reactions. They’re big, fast, and definitely not easy on the eyes. But let’s face it: Roaches have survived on earth for millions of years—which means they’re probably not going anywhere anytime soon. So we would advise brushing up on your roach facts and following the tips below to understand and eliminate your household roach population.

What does a roach look like?

Scavengers by nature and mostly nocturnal, roaches are accustomed to creeping around after-hours for desirable snacks like leftover food scraps or damp cardboard.

There are several types of common roaches in North America: the American cockroach, the German cockroach, brown-banded, oriental, and smoky brown. (And, of course, the epic Madagascar hissing cockroach, but the likelihood of spotting one of those on this continent is fairly low unless you’re at the zoo.)

American and German varieties are the most common species found in homes. American cockroaches are larger—they can grow to be more than 2 inches long—and can live up to two years. Another thing to keep in mind: they can fly. (Ever heard of Palmetto bugs? This is the same insect.)

German cockroaches are on the smaller side and only live for a year, but they can lay more eggs than their American counterparts, thus catapulting them to the top of many exterminators’ watch lists.

What attracts roaches to your home?

Cockroaches love warm, damp environments that contain plenty of food sources. Because cockroaches are scavengers, they can survive on almost anything—crumbs, cardboard, food scraps, etc. While stray food and grime can create desirable destinations for unwanted guests, sometimes the occasional roach can’t be avoided, due to the structure of your home or hidden cracks or openings that inevitably welcome pests inside.

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Where do roaches live?

Roaches gravitate to dark areas that go undisturbed for longer periods of time (think of those spaces behind the refrigerator, beneath cabinets, all those forgotten corners or pantry shelves, storage closets). These are places that can easily accumulate plenty of «food» for potential roach residents, and the low light appeals to their nocturnal preferences.

How do you know if you have a roach problem?

The occasional weekly or monthly roach is nothing to worry about, but if you’re experiencing more frequent roach appearances, it may be time to investigate. Check all dark areas, clean all kitchen surfaces, and go through all storage areas to get rid of excess cardboard or other roach-friendly clutter.

Keep an eye out for roach feces, which look similar to ground coffee or coarse black pepper, and egg cases, which can be hidden in dark spaces or even between books in a bookcase. (Yikes!)

How do you get rid of cockroaches overnight?

If you have a legitimate roach problem, the first thing you should do is call your local exterminator or pest control company. Before the professionals work their magic, you can start by eliminating all potential hiding places, including the aforementioned dark corners and old cardboard. Be sure that all drains are clear and functioning properly, so no standing water is available for roaches on the hunt for an oasis.

Conduct a survey of your home, or the specific room or area where you see them most. If you spot any cracks or possible entry points, seal them up with silicone sealant or another durable material like steel wool. Roaches are actually able to flatten their bodies to fit through small spaces.

The home pest control market is flooded with anti-roach products, but experts suggest staying away from sprays and using bait-style insecticide instead. Try one of these top-rated options:

How do you get rid of cockroaches completely?

Three words: Call your exterminator. Sometimes it’s better to just leave it to the pros!

How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches

How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches

Cockroaches are one of the most common pests that people will come across because of their extremely keen ability to adapt to any environment. The five most common cockroaches that are found in the United States are German roaches, American roaches, Oriental roaches, Brown-banded roaches, and Smokey-brown roaches.

The American cockroach is the largest species of house infesting cockroaches. Unlike German cockroaches that nest inside the wall void areas, American cockroaches nest outdoors and only come inside to forge for food. They are commonly found in damp and dark areas like in the basement, crawl space area, bathtubs, sewers and etc. However, even though cockroaches are found in the home, they are most commonly found in restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, or other places where food is prepared and stored. People will most likely run into American cockroaches after dark and in areas of storage. They can be flushed out or detected during the day when their hiding spaces are probed out.

American cockroaches are transported into homes from boxes that were left out in infested areas. They also move from one building to another, entering through small cracks in the building, around loose doors or windows, and through and along the pipe system. Before bringing boxes home from areas that are infested, the box should be inspected thoroughly. Also, sealing opening cracks and crevice areas in the building are preventative measures that people should take. Sanitation is also crucial for cockroach control. Cockroaches will enter buildings that have a good food supply. Cleaning up after a spill of foods or liquids is extremely important. Food should be kept in sealable bags and containers. Also, because cockroaches are attracted to moisture, removal of rotting leaves from the outside and limiting the moist areas that are in and around the premises can help reduce the areas that are attractive to American cockroaches.

Control Methods
First and foremost, because American cockroaches come from the outside, treatment should take place outside as well as inside the home. This can also be considered a preventative measure that people will take so that American cockroaches do not enter the home. Liquid insecticides (LambdaStar 9.7% CS, FenvaStar EcoCap) are a surface treatment and crack & crevice treatment spray that can be sprayed around the perimeter of the building with a gallon sprayer . The most thorough way to treat the home is to spray two feet up the building and spray the area up to two feet away from the building. Wet-able powder products (DEMON WP) are powder type products that must be mixed with water. They would be sprayed the same way as liquid insecticides. The major differences between the two are that one is:

  • Liquid insecticides are liquid concentrates that have to be diluted with water whereas wet-able powders are in a powder form that is mixed with water and sprayed.
  • Liquid insecticides have a shorter residual time than wet-able powders.
  • Wet-able powders leave a more visible residue whereas liquids dry clear.

Both liquid insecticides and wet-able powder insecticides can be sprayed onto shrubs; however, they should not be sprayed on fruit and vegetable gardens. You also want to spray these insecticides around door frames and window frames, cracks and crevices around the structure, and around utility pipes that will lead to the inside of your home.

Granules (BIFEN GRANULES, TALSTAR EZ GRANULAR) are products that for outdoor use only. Granules have a similar residual time as liquid insecticides. It is applied in 2-5 feet bands around the perimeter of the house. Bait Granules (NIBAN GRANULAR BAITS) can also be applied in the same way as standard granules. The difference in baits and regular granules is that baits are brought back to the nest and standard granules are a contact kill insecticide. Baits can also be used indoors whereas regular granule products cannot be used indoors.

Indoor: Indoor treatment is primarily for German cockroaches; however, treatment is also crucial for American cockroaches that enter the home for a food supply. Gel baits ( MAXFORCE FC MAGNUM, ADVION ROACH GEL) may probably be the most effective for indoor treatment. Gel baits have a delay kill effect and after consumption, cockroaches will bring it back to their nest to share. Gel baits are placed by station in infested areas or squeezed out manually from syringes. Pea-sized amounts are placed 1-2 feet apart if they are squeezed out manually from a syringe. Granular bait insecticides (NIBAN FINE GRANULAR BAIT) can be used as well. These baits are typically used in crawl spaces, attics, and cellars with dirt or gravel floors. Granules can be applied liberally by scattering the granules under and behind the refrigerator, cooler, stove, sink, dishwasher, and etc. They can also be put into removable trays and place in areas like under the sink. Both gel baits and granular baits should not be put in areas that are accessible to children and pets. Aerosol sprays and liquid insecticides (ALPINE, LambdaStar 9.7% CS, FenvaStar EcoCap) used as a surface treatment or a crack and crevice treatment. They can be sprayed around window sills and door frames. Allow time for the liquid to dry before coming in contact with the treated areas.

Tips to get rid of those pesky roaches, but don’t splat them. it spreads eggs

Listeners have been messaging about the enormous cockroaches in Cape Town for day.

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Cape Town Pest Control’s Salim Haji chats to CapeTalk’s early breakfast Show’s Abongile Nzelenzele about the cockroach infestation that plagues Cape Town and how to get on top of the problem.

We have over 3000 different species of cockroaches but the main three types found in Cape Town and South Africa are German, Oriental and American cockroaches.

Salim Haji, Cape Town Pest Control

The varieties of cockroach breed in different ways and the one found indoors is usually the small German cockroach.

The big ones are the American ones that usually breed in the outside municipal drains.

The small black cockroaches are the oriental variety.

There’s no upside to having cockroaches in your home, though the large outdoor breed does contribute to the environment.

Cockroaches normally breed in the outdoor drains. also in cracks, foundations, sewers and warm areas. and restaurants.

Salim Haji, Cape Town Pest Control

Blocks of flats are particularly at risk because of the shared drain system.

So how do you get rid of them?

Professional fumigation can be expensive so what cost effective preventative methods are there?

  • Fill up all cracks in your home
  • Keep your home clean
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes overnight
  • Take out the trash regularly

If you already have cockroaches indoors, the best method for getting rid of the pests is to call in professionals who use human, pet and environmentally friendly pesticides.

Don’t splat that cockroach either! It can spread eggs all over the floor.

The best advice is people must not use their hands to kill cockroaches. because it can leave behind eggs which can hatch.

Salim Haji, Cape Town Pest Control

How to Identify and Get Rid of Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches

Though commonly found outside homes, the Pennsylvania Wood cockroach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica) has been known to creep into houses and create issues for homeowners.

What are Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches?

Living in the wooded areas of the Midwest and northeastern United States, the Pennsylvania Wood cockroach is a common pest outdoors in the summer months. One of the flying species of cockroaches, this insect thrives in the wet and warm elements of the woods.

What do Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches Look Like?

Blending in well to its environment, the Pennsylvania Wood cockroach carries a light to dark brown complexion. Typically an inch long, this roach has six legs and two long antennas. The males have a fully developed set of wings that allows them to fly shorter distances, while the females have undeveloped wings and usually remain grounded.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach Behaviors

As the name suggests, this cockroach prefers the outdoors, living in piles of leaves, within trees and tree stumps and around the floor of the woods. They feast on dead and decaying plant life, fruits and starches. While they usually avoid human structures, they are attracted to light. At night they will fly near and towards bright lights, sometimes leading them to explore the home.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach Life Cycle

Unlike some of their cousins, this roach does not seek out or reproduce indoors, often creating their nests in hollowed out trees. Females will lay 30 to 40 eggs at a time, with their babies going through a typical cockroach life cycle of metamorphosis.

Signs of Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches

Unlike other types of cockroaches, the Pennsylvania Wood cockroach does little indoors, leaving few signs of its presence. To know if one is in your home, you most likely need to see one at the scene of the crime. Homes made of cedar or log, along with houses out in the woods, are more likely to encounter these roaches than the typical home in the city or suburb.

How to Get Rid of Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches

Since these roaches prefer to stay outdoors and do their living and mating in the woods, many measures to get rid of them are preventative. Keep the house clean, don’t leave out dirty dishes and food, and be sure to seal cracks or holes in the foundation.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach Safety

Pennsylvania Wood roaches pose little threat to people. Because they don’t survive for long indoors, typical issues with allergies, asthma, disease and bacteria are not prevalent. If they do penetrate the home, they still can contaminate food lying around. If you take preventative measures to keep them out of the home, they generally will leave you alone. On the rare chance multiple roaches infest the house, reach out to a professional to provide pest control solutions.

Additional Cockroach Resources

For more information about cockroaches and what it means when you find this pest in your home or business, check out these pest control articles.

Get Rid of American Roaches

By DoMyOwn staff

The American Cockroach, also known as a Palmetto or Water bug, is reddish-brown in color, about 1.5 inches in length, and has wings but will seldom actually fly. Getting rid of this pest requires patience, persistence, and a combination of both chemical and non-chemical methods.

Step 1) Non Chemical Methods for American Cockroach Control

Like most pests, American roaches require 3 things to thrive-food, water, and harborage. If you can eliminate even one of these things through proper sanitation, the roach population will be forced to either die or move someplace else.

  • Discard old boxes and piles of papers where roaches can hide.
  • Use a waste bin or trash can with a tight fitting lid and keep trash in a close plastic bag overnight.
  • Fix leaky drains and faucets; roaches can live on water alone.
  • Clean kitchen appliances thoroughly
  • Empty pet food containers at night, or place them on the back porch or in a plastic bag.
  • Vacuum regularly, and restrict food consumption to one room of the house. This will help keep American roaches and other pests from spreading into others areas such as bedrooms.

American Cockroaches prefer to live outdoors, but will easily set up residence indoors if they can find their way inside. Exclusion is about keeping American Roaches out, or at least making it harder for them to get in.

  • Caulk and repair holes around doors, windows, water pipes and baseboards.
  • Place mesh screens over windows, floor drains, and vents. These places serve as roach hideaways.
  • Windows and doors should fit tightly and squarely within their frames to prevent both harborage and entry from outside.

Step 2) Chemical Methods for American Cockroach Control

Dust Cracks & Crevices

  • The dusts that work best against American roaches are Delta Dust and CB Borid Boric Acid.
  • Using a hand duster and following label instructions, apply dust liberally where roaches travel—underneath and behind baseboards, behind wall outlets, in wall voids, in cupboards and cabinets, and underneath appliances such as washers and dryers.

Apply a Liquid Residual to the Perimeter

  • Demand CS, SuspendSC, or Demon WPprovides excellent control when mixed in a 2 gallon sprayer and applied at a low-pressure setting.
  • Spray outdoors along the perimeter of the home in a wide band extending about 3 feet up the siding and 3 feet onto the lawn. Pay special attention to window and door frames or other points of entry.
  • It is not neccesary to spray indoors if you are using baits. Baits are actually more effective on roaches, but if you need to spray for other pests, be sure to keep baits and sprays in separate areas so they do not interfere with one another.
  • Residual sprays need to be reapplied every month to every 3 months, depending on the level of infestation.
  • Use Niban FG in attics, basements, and crawlspaces where American Cockroaches may enter
  • For added protection, spread DeltaGard G Granulesoutdoors in pine straw and mulched areas surrounding the infested structure.
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Kill ‘Em on Contact

Contact sprays will kill roaches immediately on contact, and can also be used to «flush out» roaches from suspected harborages. Contact Sprays for American Cockroaches include CB-80 Extra, Cy-Kick, D-Force HPX, 565 Plus XLO.

Don’t Skip the IGR! ( I nsect G rowth R egulator)

An IGR is a chemical used to disrupt and impede the life cycle of insects in the egg and larvae stage of development. The idea with an IGR is that if an insect cannot reach adulthood, it cannot reproduce. In short, IGR is a form of «birth control» for American Roaches and other pests, which helps to keep populations under control by preventing current and future infestations.

  • The most common and effective IGR for roach control is Gentrol IGR, which comes in an aerosol, concentrated liquid, and point-source tablet.
  • We recommend Gentrol IGR Concentrate to be added to your hand sprayer and sprayed right along with your baseboard chemical (Suspend, Demon, or Demand).
  • For kitchen and bathroom areas, Gentrol Aerosol is the formulation of choice. Using the straw attachment, the IGR should be applied liberally to all visible cracks and crevices, including underneath, behind, and alongside appliances, behind outlets, along pipe collars, inside wall voids, and on top of kitchen cabinets near the ceiling.

Continue to apply IGR every 4 to 6 weeks for up to 6 months, or until all signs of infestation have been eliminated.

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Why we can’t seem to get rid of cockroaches

They’ve been around for the past 300 million years, outlasting the dinosaurs and teaming up with evolution to outsmart our attempts to get rid of them. Now, Japanese researchers at Hokkaido University have revealed yet another reason why we have been unable to put a dent in their populations: female solidarity.

Cockroaches, along with termites, snakes and sharks, have long been known to be capable of «virgin birth» or parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction that occurs without fertilization. What is less known are the factors that trigger this process. Is the absence of male cockroaches the only condition necessary for asexual reproduction to take place or does the social environment play a part too? Given that cockroaches are social creatures that live in groups, the Hokkaido University researchers believed that there had to be factors other than male-absent conditions.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted 11 sets of experiments with different groups of American cockroaches, a common pest. The control group comprised a male and female that were allowed to mate. Others comprised virgin females that were kept in isolation; in groups of up to five; and with castrated males. In addition, the researchers also added female sex pheromones – which are secreted in greater quantities by virgin females than those that have already mated – to containers housing single roaches to see if they would regard it as a male-absent signal and produce more eggs as a result.

What they found was that group-housed females, especially those with three or more insects, produced egg cases faster than any other group. In addition, the egg cases were produced in a synchronized manner. Bizarrely enough, this behavior was shared even by those kept in different containers. Furthermore, the group-housed females also produced their second batch of egg cases at shorter intervals than those kept alone (an average of 18 versus 27 days).

On the other hand, the presence of the castrated males and female sex pheromones did little to boost the production process. The researchers had included the former to find out what effect (if any) cohabitants of a different sex would have on the egg-laying process and discovered that it took the female cockroaches that were grouped with the castrated males almost the same amount of time to produce egg cases as the isolated specimens, thus suggesting that the promotion of asexual production depends on the females being able to discern the cohabitants’ sex.

There was also a difference in the viability of the eggs. Only 30 percent of those laid asexually hatched, compared to around 47 percent of the ones produced by sexual reproduction. This could explain why the egg production process ramps up when virgin female cockroaches are grouped together, say the researchers. Synchronizing egg production in grouped females might result in their offspring hatching at around the same time. The nymphs would be able to increase their fitness by aggregation and the sharing of resources, which could counter the lower hatching rate of the asexually produced eggs.

According to the scientists, the female solidarity exhibited in this experiment is consistent with other observations of roach behavior. Rarely do fights ever break out among unmated females that are housed in the same container. Instead, they are often found huddling close together, whereas unmated males paired together will often fight until the antennae of both individuals are amputated.

Males? We don’t need no stinking males

That said, while the hatchability rate of asexually produced eggs is generally lower than those laid via conventional means, the roaches that hatch from these eggs are nevertheless still able to form and maintain a colony for at least three generations without a male’s input, as evidenced by the colony that formed when the researchers placed 15 random adult females in a container. Just over three years later, it had grown to comprise more than 300 females with nymphs and adults of different ages. Since they were kept in optimal conditions in the lab, the researchers estimate that some of the roaches may have even reached the fifth generation.

«Our study shows that female cockroaches promote asexual egg production when they are together, not alone,» says researcher Hiroshi Nishino. «This is consistent with the fact that progenies produced by fifteen females in a larger container have maintained a colony for more than three years, whereas those produced by one female die out fairly quickly. In addition to the increased fecundity of group-housed females, the synchronized egg production could also assure higher survival rates via the aggregation of similar-aged larvae.»

While this may be an impressive feat of female solidarity in the insect world, it does not bode well for human societies. Given that female American cockroaches already have several advantages over males that allow them to adapt to new habitats – for a start, they have longer lifespans and their larger body size protects them from environmental changes – their ability to reproduce asexually and maintain colonies for several generations makes them a health threat to be reckoned with, given the way they transfer disease. Hence the importance of understanding how they reproduce so that more effective cockroach traps can be built, say the researchers.

«The traps utilizing sex pheromones to attract only male cockroaches are not sufficient,» says Nishino. «Understanding the physiological mechanism behind the reproductive strategies should help us find more effective ways to exterminate pest cockroaches in the future.»

The study was published in the Zoological Letters.

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