Radio interview source: Doug Ross, Entomologist, Bayer Animal Health
Cockroaches have been around since the days of dinosaurs. If they get in the house, they contaminate food, and leave stains and unpleasant odors. Roaches also carry germs and can even transmit disease. Doug Ross is an entomologist with Bayer Animal Health. He says your best defense is to prevent being infested in the first place. That means keeping your place clean.
"Cover garbage, vacuum up spilled food or animal feed, in the kitchen if you even leave dirty dishes sitting around with dried food on them, roaches will come out and feed on that at night," says Ross. "If you have potato chips, or cereals, or cookies, flour, sugar, or rice and you open a bag or box and don't use it all, make sure they're tightly sealed. Not only does it keep your food fresh for you, it deprives them of something to eat."
Cockroaches can live up to a month without food and water.
Most roach species live outside, but will try to come inside for food and warmth. Ross recommends sealing up all cracks and crevices in walls, in between floors, and around pipes. If you end up with a roach infestation, there are basically three classes of products on the market to kill them.
"One would be traps. There are different kinds of roach traps, most of them are some kind of container that has a glue, or adhesive inside, and they get stuck and they can't get out," says Ross. "Then there are baits. Baits generally come in two forms. One are bait stations, there is another type of bait analogous to a tube of caulk. And then the other class besides traps and baits is just through general insecticide sprays."
Unfortunately, cockroaches don’t have any natural enemies so the most serious threat to them is you.
There are over 50 species of cockroaches in the United States. Texas Agrilife Extension describes the most common roaches.
Don't like chemicals? The University of Florida offers less-toxic tips for getting rid of roaches
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