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How To Prevent Roaches

By Chris Williams on April 18, 2014.

German cockroach infestationsKatlyn Graham:  Hello, I’m Katlyn Graham here with Tim Chace, a Pest Control technician with colonial pest and an entomologist. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Chace:  Thank you, Katlyn.

Katlyn:  Thanks for joining us today. Today, we’re talking about roaches again but this time, how to prevent them from coming to your house, in the first place. What could cause a roach infestation, Tim? What could be source?

Tim:  Here in New England, the most typical source would be a roach being brought into a structure. That could be on a take out materials. It could come in on stored items. It could come from a delivery truck. It could come from a new appliance. There’s many ways for a roach to get into your house.

The typical German cockroach is associated with food service. That’s most commonly who’s going to show up. However, we do get cases from time to time for international travel.

Recently, we had a case of the Australian roach in Hampton, New Hampshire. There was a moisture issue there. There was organic matter involved; and the downstairs tenant did, in fact, travel to Asia frequently. All the pieces came together for that.

They’d started seeing rather large roaches, and that was a tip‑off that we had something a little bit different there in Hampton. The Australian roach is not a common roach in New England, but you can find all different species of roaches if you look hard enough.

One of the things to do would maybe be inspect goods that come into your structure, having a good look at it, knowing the origin of goods. If you’ve got things coming from suspicious locations, shall we say it might take a little bit more inspection and just make sure that you’re not importing it into the house.

Other considerations for roaches would be that the things that they love the most — moisture, Harbridge, high humidity, and food sources. Right along those lines, you’re thinking immediately about sanitation.

Katlyn:  It sounds like moisture, wet places like bathroom. Definitely, roaches like that, they might reproduce in those kind of conditions. What other conditions contribute to cockroach infestation?

Tim:  Again, general uncleanliness. If you let things go long enough, it’s going to get bad. We recommend having someone come take a look at the first sighting. Right away is the best time to start. Things that have contributed massively in the past, I’ve seen grease spills underneath fryolators. Grease is a wonderful food.

You don’t clean underneath the trash can, so you get a slurry of organic matter in there. Dumpsters, things like that that are just overrun with filth are perfect environment for the roach to live, wherever they can get a foothold to move right in. Fruit storage, fruit peels, things like that are just perfect food sources. It almost fits the natural environment.

If you get into a working kitchen, you’ve got the heat, the moisture. There’s always food around. Those are conditions that are ideal for the roach, but also conditions that can be manipulated. There’s really not one single sanitation issue that can’t be addressed.

We find that the people that want to change things, that make things conducive for roaches can, in fact, do that with minimal effort. It just takes a little bit of elbow grease and desire, but there are many methods to control roaches with physical means — things like cocking, dehumidification.

Just not allowing the roaches access to the things that they need can do a lot without pesticides or anything else.

There’s been studies done where they have lights underneath appliances in restaurants and the things are pulled back away from the walls so there’s no perfect hiding spot. That can physically just reduce where the roaches want to be by taking that away from them.

Katlyn:  We’re thinking the bathroom, removing any wet areas, cleaning seems like a major theme, especially in just kitchen, just not even allowing the roaches a place to thrive.

Tim:  Sure, and repairing things like water leaks. You’ve got moisture leaking into a wall space. There’s fungus in there. It’s dark, it’s moist. It might be next to the water heater. Those are all places where the roaches can naturally live. Fixing that water leak is not impossible, so you take the moisture away and you remove just the perfect habitat without using any poisons.

Of course, an infestation is something that you’re going to want to address; so there are ways to take care of that. One of the chief things in an integrated pest‑management plan would be to look at all the factors involved; and if you can take away three sides of the triangle, you pretty much have no place else to go.

Katlyn:  Very true. Three sides of the triangle will be cleanliness, removing the moisture, and you mentioned dehumidifying…

Tim:  Sure. Moisture, humidification, even air movement. The roaches don’t like to be in spots where there’s air moving around them. Changing that sometimes — I read a study where they were using fans to just make life uncomfortable for the roaches. Also, the moving of the air reduces the moisture right there too. There’s a lot going on with physical things.

Katlyn:  OK. Thank you so much for sharing all your tips today, Tim.

Tim:  You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure.

Katlyn:  I’m going to go clean my house now. [laughs] Thank you.

Tim:  Have a great day.

Photo credit: Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

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