If you want to get rid of roaches overnight, you must first understand the habits of this notorious pest. What is it attracted to? Which type of roach is it? What type of environment have you unknowingly created that has welcomed this creature? And how did it get in in the first place? Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what are means—once you’ve rid yourself of this flat-bodied, fear-inducing, much hated, quick-moving insect—to forever keep it away?
In this article, we will answer all of these questions in respect to common cockroaches. First, it’s important to understand that not all cockroaches are alike. Just like us, certain species have certain preferences. Hence, we’re going to discuss the top two types of roaches that you’re most likely to encounter in your home in North America—the German cockroach and the American cockroach.
Where do these cockroaches live? What do they eat?
German cockroaches generally live indoors. They may be found outdoors during warmer months and where there are very heavy indoor infestations, but this is not where they typically reside. They make their homes in warm and humid environments near sources of food and water, such as your cupboards, under your kitchen sink or in drawers and in closets.
German cockroaches eat food debris. They are omnivorous and will feed on nearly everything, though their preference is for meats and foods that are sugary, greasy and starchy. When dealing with these scavengers, the number one line of defense is removing their access to all food.
Here’s what you need to know about German cockroaches:
- They primarily live indoors.
- They tend to congregate in cracks and crevices.
- They require more water than the needs of the American cockroach.
- They are attracted to food debris.
On the other hand, American cockroaches primarily live outdoors, though they are not opposed to living in a kitchen, a bathroom or another area of your home. However, if you find this species indoors, they are most likely to be where your boiler is kept (which is typically near your bathroom or your kitchen), as American cockroaches need a relatively high temperature and an even higher humidity level in order to thrive.
American cockroaches eat fermenting or decaying material. Outdoors, this attraction leads them to decaying leaves, fungi, algae and small insects. Indoors, they’ll eat crumbs found under appliances, in drains, behind kitchen cabinets and on the floor.
Here’s what you need to know about American cockroaches:
- They primarily live outdoors.
- They tend to congregate in open spaces.
- They are most attracted to fermenting material.
What do German and American cockroaches look like?
I suppose that, in addition to knowing what they’re attracted to, being able to identify your pest would be highly beneficial. All species of cockroach have flat bodies, six legs and two antennae. Here’s how to tell the German and American types apart:
German cockroach features
- Body: Small, measuring around a half-inch in length and a quarter-inch in width.
- Color: Yellowish-brown with darker brown parallel lines that run from the back of their head down to their wings.
- Ability to fly: No.
- Ability to bite: No. Their mouthparts aren’t strong enough to pierce human skin, though they may gnaw on the skin’s outer layer—biting hair or fingernails—in very heavy infestations.
American cockroach features
- Body: Large, measuring around an inch-and-a-half in length and a half-inch in width.
- Color: Reddish-brown .
- Ability to fly: Yes. They have very strong wings that allow them to fly for short distances.
- Ability to bite: No. Like the German cockroach, their mouthparts are not strong enough to pierce human skin. If ever found on a person, they're trying to either pick at food remnants or dead skin.
Where did this cockroach come from? How did it get into my home?
German cockroaches are phenomenal hitchhikers, tending to find their way into people’s homes through packaging, shipments and boxes. Many large warehouses (think: food packaging plants and massive warehouses) are unable to keep track of every tiny pest, which can then easily get into boxes and come into your home.
Because American cockroaches prefer to live outdoors, if you find them indoors, it is a clear indication that they found an entry point. You may have a plumbing issue. Ensure the following:
- There are no cracks in your sewage line under your house.
- There are no cracks in your basement. Cracks larger than ⅛ inch must be sealed.
- There are no openings around the wall that leads out to where these plumbing lines come in.
The list of what draws them in is actually quite extensive. Though important, it’s more than that box that a shipping employee just carefully placed on your front porch or the fraction of an inch crack in your basement flooring. There are three basic things cockroaches seek: food, water and shelter. Human shelters are the perfect match for them.
To find food, water, and shelter, cockroaches will use the smallest possible openings as gateways into your home—whether this be cracks in exterior walls, gaps between walls and floors and even dryer vents.
How do I get rid of German and American cockroaches?
The German and American cockroaches, belonging to the order Blattodea, are the two most common cockroaches found year-round in households. If you find a German cockroach infestation on your hands, though, it is a much larger issue to tackle, as German cockroaches are extremely proficient breeders: While German cockroaches produce 30,000 nymphs (offspring) a year, American cockroaches produce up to 800 nymphs a year.
To get rid of any cockroach, keep a tidy home and do all that you can to avoid attracting insects. This means:
- No dirty dishes in the sink.
- No leftover crumbs on the floors or countertops.
- No overflowing garbage cans or cans without tight-fitting lids.
- No pet food messes.
- No excess moisture, which is most common in your crawl spaces, basement, laundry room or bathroom.
- No cardboard or thin plastic storage containers. You must invest in storage container options that keep pests out, whether this be cockroaches, ants, pantry moths, beetles, silverfish, etcetera.
To get rid of the German cockroach fast, you must be brave. Remember that this is your fortress. It is your job to defend it at all costs. With that said, it’s time to get out your vacuum cleaner. Be aggressive, launch surprise attacks, and suction up all things that are not clean—crumbs, debris, body parts, cockroach eggs, and, yes, cockroaches—every quick-on-its-six-legs cockroach.
A good place to begin is your kitchen—in any dark crack or crevice, which can encompass a number of locations: behind the fridge, under the stove, in the back of cabinets and drawers, under your sink, around and inside your trash can, underneath dish mats and drying racks, under pet food bowls, inside wall clocks, electrical outlets and ceiling fixtures and even behind your wall calendar or framed photo of your darling children.
Once you’ve done a very thorough inspection of your kitchen, it’s time to take action against any of these vermins in your bathroom. Pay special attention to dark, moist, hidden areas. Approach your attack in the same manner—with surprise, with gusto, with a mischievous urge to suck these wrongdoers up.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Inspect every room in your home.
This brave attack will rid your home of 90% of these small cockroaches. But, that’s not enough. You must kill every single cockroach before they multiply (and try to claim your castle) yet again.
This is where the Insect Buster comes into play.
Roaches need their hard exoskeleton to survive. That protective exoskeleton is their life, as it helps them to retain moisture and shields their tissues. You are about to damage it, damage that will cause them their lives.
Use the Insect Buster, an effective, must-have insecticide-distribution-tool, to disperse food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) or another non-toxic insect powder wherever you see cockroach activity. Puff this non-toxic cockroach-killer in every crack and crevice, between any gaps in moulding, along and around window sills, behind electrical face plates and fixtures, inside your cupboards -where the boards meet- and under your refrigerator and stove. Remember to dust lightly, creating a fine layer, as cockroaches won’t step on DE if the dusting is too heavy and puff deeply in cracks. You want this powder to cover as many surfaces as possible.
DE is extremely abrasive. It will dehydrate the cockroaches externally—through piercing their waxy exoskeleton—and poison them internally—as they try to groom the powder off of their bodies and end up ingesting it. Say a forever goodbye to German cockroaches.
To get rid of the American cockroach fast, you must be willing. Remember the end goal: the restoration of peace and sanity, tranquility and safety, to your abode.
- Identify where pipes are entering your home. Ensure that these pipes are fully sealed.
- Identity any exterior cracks or holes. Seal these.
- Caulk all possibly infiltrations through ground level walls. This includes doors, windows, and baseboards.
- Use the Insect Buster, filled with food-grade diatomaceous earth, (which must be purchased separately) to lightly dust locations where the American cockroaches are traveling: behind baseboards, wall outlets, and wall voids and underneath appliances. “Puff” diatomaceous earth around the plumping under your sinks and your washer and dryer connections also.
Let the Insect Buster help you save the day and end your cockroach nightmare.
Hello Julie, Glad to hear that the reminder was helpful! Being brave can certainly come in handy when dealing with pesky cockroaches. Cheers!
I like thinking about how I need to be brave to get rid of cockroaches. Thanks for the reminder Dr. Killigan!