What To Do If You Have Roaches In Your Home

By Chris Williams on May 16, 2014.


A dead cockroach is a sign that the gel bait is working.


Katlyn Graham:  Hello, I’m Katlyn Graham, here with Tim Chace, a pest‑control technician with Colonial Pest and entomologist. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Chace:  Hi, Katlyn.

Katlyn:  Thanks for joining us today. Today, we are talking about what to do if you have roaches in your home. First of all, how do you know if you have roaches? Do you see them? What are the signs of roach activity?

Tim:  Typically, the first thing you’ll notice with roaches is, actually, a roach. As the egg hatches, the first little nymphs that come out are very tiny little fellows, sort of timid. They’d like to be in a dark crack area, but they also need to come out and find some food. You might notice a couple little fellows by the microwave, just darting in and out. If you move the butter, there’s a little guy sitting there.

Sometimes, roaches really have an aversion to light. They’re what we call thigmotactic. They like to have their bodies down in a crack. When the lights go out, they feel a little bit more comfortable and they’ll come out and forage, and they’ll be out on the counter spaces. When you turn the light on, they might scatter and hide back into their cracks. That’s one of the things you might notice.

Another thing that can be noticed with roaches is sometimes they make a secretion that’s got a little bit of a smell. If you’ve got some roaches living down in the cabinet, you might notice a metallic, sort of buggy smell. Less noticeable to the untrained nose, but in pest control, we can smell that when we come into an infestation and go, “Oh, there’s quite a few.”

Sometimes, when the roach is in its hiding spot, too, roaches have very long antennas that they use to sense their environment, you might see a couple little antennas sticking out of the corner by the oven, just sort of smelling for food. That can be an indication of roach activity.

Katlyn:  Oh, gosh. What do you do once you see these roaches? Call the exterminator, for sure. Call the pest‑control technician. What do you do?

Tim:  The first part of any pest‑control process involves an inspection of the area that we’re looking at. In most cases, we’ll look around and interview the customer to find out where they’re actually seeing the activity. In most cases, it’s in the kitchen or the bathroom areas that have some moisture and food sources.

Some common threads run through roach control. Roaches need moisture, harborage spots, and food sources. We’re generally looking in those areas. Lots of times it has to do with a messy kitchen or debris under the refrigerator. Moisture, heat, food sources ‑‑ all of those things revolve around a microwave, a refrigerator. Those are places that we inspect for signs of activity.

Things that we look for during our inspection would include roach poop, live roaches. Roaches also have a lifespan. Roaches don’t live forever, so you’ll find dead bodies. As roaches go through their development process, they also shed their skins, we’ll also be looking for roach skins, which they can actually consume.

Roaches lay eggs, you find roach egg cases. The German roach egg case just falls off the back of the female when it’s ready. These egg cases could be found in odd locations ‑‑ under the fridge. The American roach likes to glue its egg case. You’ll find down south, for instance, the American roach egg cases glued inside the cabinets. Different roaches have different behaviors, but a lot of them are pretty similar in most cases.

Katlyn:  You’ve done your inspection. Is there some sort of treatment? What do you do?

Tim:  Absolutely. Once we’ve inspected the premises and found out the hot‑spot areas, we begin our treatment, basically by feeding the roaches a bait material. The most common treatment now in the industry is to use what we would call gel baits. These baits contain food‑grade ingredients that are somewhat attractive to the roach. They also contain a high moisture content, which is something the roaches are also interested in. Some of the baits actually have some pheromone materials that might be a little bit attractive to the roach as well.

As the roaches feed on these bait materials, a couple interesting things happen. These baits are fairly slow‑acting materials that are able to be absorbed by the roach. As the roaches move through their environment, this material is actually spread through their fecal material, which roaches actually will eat their own poop. It’s in their body, so when the roach dies from the poison, other roaches will feed on his dead carcass, and then spread the bait through the population that way.

As the bait is picked up by one roach, it’s spread into their environment, their harboring sites, through their pooping, and also through their dead bodies, so as the roaches pick this stuff up its transferred to the rest of the population.

It’s very effective and it’s, also, very low in toxicity to humans. There is very little prep involved with the bait job. We, typically, put little spots of bait in the most appropriate locations, perhaps in crevices hidden out of children and pets reach.

In most cases the baits work within about 30 days and the population is completely decimated. Baits can be reapplied at any time. Most bait placements will last over six months. It’s a very effective and long lasting treatment.

Katlyn:  After you do this treatment you might find dead bodies, or what can I expect?

Tim:  As the roaches take up this material, again, it’s slow acting. It doesn’t necessarily kill the roaches on contact, so they can spread this material, but after a few days of contact with the pesticide the roaches will just be dead on the floor, so you might find dead roaches laying around.

In extreme cases we also could use a quick killing contact insecticide. Let’s say we get there and the population is out of hand, there are methods we could take to speed up the elimination process by killing most of the adult population that’s living, and then the bait cleans up everybody else after the fact.

In most cases we could use what we call an insect growth regulator which upsets the way the roaches development carries on, especially their sex organs. In the presence of this insect growth regulator, the immature roaches can never mate. That’s very important to the process as well. It’s not critical, because the baits work so well on their own, but using an integrated approach seems to be the best method for roach control.

Katlyn:  It sounds like it’s a dot, the bait, that you put in different spots. It’s not a spray, so it’s not all over my house it sounds like?

Tim:  Absolutely. We can treat, most kitchens, you could be breast‑feeding your baby while we’re doing this. We don’t recommend that in most cases, but the way that we apply the bait is specifically to these cracks and crevices. There is really very little risk to the family.

Again, this placement is going to last for an extended period of time so the roaches can have access to that while they’re feeding. In most cases, within about 30 days, everybody’s happy.

Katlyn:  Everyone’s happy. The roaches are gone. Thank you so much Tim for telling us how to get roaches out of our houses. Thank you.

Tim:  You’re welcome.


Photo by Bongani | Royalty Free



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