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Oriental Cockroaches Can Survive Winter

By Chris Williams on February 3, 2012.

Q. We have a lot of those big, black cockroaches around the outside of our house. I find them in the mulched flower beds next to the back door and under the porch, even in cold weather. Sometimes, I find them inside in the basement. What are they feeding on?

A. Like other cockroaches, the oriental cockroach scavenges on garbage, decaying plant and animal materials, and on human and pet food. But, they can live for a month without food, and outside during winter they hardly feed at all. They can survive freezing winter temperatures outdoors in protected sites like under mulch or stones, or in thick ground covers, in planters, or in crawlspaces or exterior wall voids.

oriental-cockroachUnlike the familiar German cockroach, which is exclusively an indoor cockroach, the oriental cockroach is primarily an outdoor roach that can move indoors. Oriental cockroaches often move indoors when the weather outside becomes too hot, wet, dry, or cold, or when the population gets so large that they outgrow their outside hiding places. Indoor invasions usually occur in the spring and fall.

The oriental is one of our largest cockroaches; the adult female is about 1-1/4 inch long, and almost black in color. Compared to other roaches, the oriental moves sluggishly. It does not fly. It is more “smelly” than other cockroaches.

Oriental cockroaches have a high moisture requirement. Outdoors, oriental cockroaches are found in typical roach sites: around foundations, under mulch, in piles of leaves, stones, wood piles, or around dumpsters, under splash blocks, in storm drains, compost piles, trash cans or sewers.

Once inside, oriental cockroaches like cool, damp, dark places like cellars, crawlspaces, basements, or areas near leaky pipes, floor drains, washing machines, or sinks. This is why some people call oriental cockroaches “waterbugs.” These cockroaches are almost always found on the lowest level of a building in basements and crawlspaces and in ground floor apartments. They do, sometimes, follow trash chutes or electrical or pipe chases and end up on higher floors. Once inside, oriental cockroaches can survive and breed successfully indoors if they can find an area with enough moisture.

You can eliminate your oriental cockroach problem with a three part program:

(1) Reduce the oriental cockroach populations outside by reducing the places around your home where they like to hide and breed. Remove debris and stone piles, piles of decaying leaves, and heavy mulch. Raking mulch away from the walls of your house will help too.

(2) To keep oriental roaches from getting inside, seal cracks in the foundation walls and around pipes and electrical conduits where they enter the house, screen crawlspace vents and floor drains, and install door thresholds, especially on garage and basement doors. Or, call Colonial, we are experts at pest-proofing your home to keep pests out. As a bonus, any pest-proofing done to keep this cockroach out will also keep mice out.

(3) Have a pest control company do a perimeter pesticide treatment around the outside foundation of your home. Controlling the roaches on the outside, before they can get inside, usually eliminates the need for any pesticide use inside your home.

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