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Are Roaches Attracted to Light?

a cockroach on a white wall

Many homeowners have a fear of discovering cockroaches in their house. You may have turned on a light in your kitchen or bathroom and spotted roaches climbing up the walls or walking across the floors.

If this has happened to you, don’t panic. Dealing with a cockroach infestation is a very common problem that homeowners face, especially in the southern United States. Having roaches in your home is not evidence that you are unclean or bad at taking care of your house.

If you have seen roaches inside your home, you may be wondering if roaches are attracted to light or if they prefer the dark. Getting clear about what attracts roaches and where they like to hide will help in keeping roaches out.

You might also be curious about whether there are cockroaches hiding in your home, especially inside your walls. And if they are, how would you find them? If you know the signs of an infestation, you are better prepared to look for early indicators that you have roaches.

Another common question homeowners ask pest control professionals is whether essential oils can help stop a roach infestation. Learning more about roach habitats and their habits will help you feel empowered to take your home back from these pests.

Roaches are serious business. Their presence in homes has been linked to the spread of dangerous diseases. Roach feces and skin can cause respiratory problems like asthma. Roaches can carry bacteria like Salmonella throughout your home, harming the health of your family.

If you suspect there may be roaches in your home, don’t wait to see if the problem gets worse. Contact a pest control company you can trust right away to help mitigate the problem.

The Myth that Light Attracts Roaches

Some homeowners believe that roaches are drawn to light. This mistaken belief may be due to the fact that when you turn on a light in an infested area, you may see roaches. The truth is that the roaches are running away from the light, not toward it.

Why Roaches Like Hiding in the Dark

For the most part, cockroaches do not like light. Instead, roaches look for dark places to hide, like the space behind your appliances or between your countertop and appliances.

You are most likely to spot cockroaches in your bathroom or kitchen. They prefer to live in moist and warm environments. The proximity to running or standing water in the kitchen or bathroom meets the roaches’ basic need for water.

Roaches also hide in or under cabinets or behind your refrigerator as these hiding places are close to potential food sources. The types of food roaches are most attracted to include sweet or starchy foods, meat, animal by-products, bread and plants. However, roaches will eat nearly anything, including clipped fingernails or hair. They will even resort to cannibalism if they become desperate enough.

Cockroaches are nocturnal, meaning they move around mostly at night. Roaches do not like any kind of light—natural or artificial. They are active at night when the lights in your home are off or low. These are the times when they are less likely to run into a predator, like us or our pets.

Roaches would prefer not to interact with humans and stay hidden instead. They spend around 75 percent of their lives in the dark. For this reason, if you see roaches when you turn on a light, there may be an infestation.

Research has shown that roaches are particularly repelled by red light. While yellow lights are not attractive to roaches, they are less deterring than other colors. If you are dealing with a roach infestation, a red light bulb will not solve your roach problem, but it could help.

How Different Types of Roaches Interact with Light

When roaches venture out into the light, it is usually for a necessary purpose like eating or mating. The most popular type of cockroach in North America, the German cockroach, typically lives in kitchens. This is because they do not want to travel far from their hiding places to find food.

Oriental cockroaches, popularly known as waterbugs, are most likely to live in dark and hard-to-reach places like basements or garages. American cockroaches are also hesitant to come into the light, preferring dark hiding places in sewers or warehouses.

A few types of roaches are attracted to light, however. One roach species, the Woods Cockroach, lives mostly outdoors in trees or wooded areas. In the springtime, these insects are much more likely to come indoors, drawn by the lights in and around your home.

If you are noticing cockroaches in your home, especially during the day, it is time to consult a professional. Pest control experts can help control a roach infestation effectively. Instead of trying to do it yourself, an expert can come up with a targeted, multi-tiered solution.

a roach and roach feces, two signs of roaches in walls

How To Know If Roaches Are In Your Walls

You might be concerned after finding a cockroach in your house. Is that cockroach alone? Or, are there many more roaches hiding in your home? Thankfully, there are many common signs that you can look out for to tell if there are cockroaches in the walls of your home.

  • Roach feces: One sign of a roach infestation is fecal matter. You may notice small, dark roach droppings about the size of coffee grounds around your baseboards, across your countertops or on your walls. You can see a roach and roach feces in the image above.
  • Dead roaches: Homeowners also spot dead roach bodies in their kitchens or bathrooms. Look behind your refrigerator, around your stove, under your sink or in cracks in your walls to see if you can find any signs of roach activity.
  • Musty scent: Homes often give off a musty smell when there is a roach infestation. Some roach dropping gives off a pheromone that attracts other roaches to a particular area.
  • Roach eggs: Roaches, especially German roaches, reproduce very quickly. Another sign of a roach infestation in your walls is if you find roach eggs. These brown cases may be found in homeowners’ pantries, under cabinets or around the walls.
  • Shed roach skins: Cockroaches molt multiple times as they grow from nymphs to adults. If you notice roach skins near cracks in your wall, it is probable that roaches are living in your walls.

The next step is to contact a roach control specialist. Pest control experts can locate roaches in places most homeowners would never think to look. Controlling a pest infestation inside your walls is very tricky and usually requires expert attention.

an array of essential oils

Using Essential Oils to Repel Roaches

A roach infestation is a common problem in American homes, but the health impacts of an infestation are major. However, some homeowners are concerned that getting professional pest control help will further endanger the health of their families.

For example, store-bought commercial foggers and roach bombs are not only ineffective but a danger to your family’s health. As a result, some homeowners turn to more natural solutions like essential oils to fight a pest infestation.

How Effective Are Essential Oils at Repelling Roaches?

Research has shown that essential oils are effective at controlling roaches. Different types of roaches react differently to certain essential oils. For example, the German cockroaches common in American kitchens are repelled by thyme essential oil. American cockroaches are affected by peppermint oil or cloves, while cypress oil keeps Oriental cockroaches at bay.

Essential oils are useful when fighting brown-banded cockroaches in your home. They dislike rosemary, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. Oregano oil is the most effective at controlling brown-banded cockroaches.

Some homeowners on the internet recommend mixing a concentration of essential oils in a glass spray bottle and treating the areas of their homes that are most inhabited by roaches. They say that spraying your baseboards, countertops and cracks between appliances and countertops can make a difference in how many roaches you see in your home.

Unfortunately, repelling roaches with essential oils is not a realistic pest control solution. To be effective, roaches must be exposed to the essential oils for an extended period of time. Furthermore, the studies that were conducted had roaches in enclosed areas where they are doused with essential oils for 24 hours before they saw results. It is unlikely that a busy homeowner will be able to spray often enough and in such high concentrations to control roaches.

Preventing Roaches

There are more effective DIY to make your home less hospitable to roaches. First, deep clean your bathroom and kitchen. Remove potential food or water sources, like putting away pet food at night and keeping dishes washed instead of sitting in the sink. Take the trash out every night and wipe down any spills promptly. The fewer food sources for the roaches, the better.

Another helpful solution is to ensure that the cracks around your home are sealed. This can help prevent cockroaches from entering your home.

Homeowners who want to end their cockroach infestation once and for all should reach out to a pest control specialist for a consultation. Contacting a professional is the most efficient solution to control these pests.

ABC Can Implement Effective Roach Control Solutions

At ABC Home & Commercial Services, we use a multi-tiered approach to cockroach control. We will inspect your home and find where the roaches are nesting. Then, we will implement targeted cockroach control measures, so you can feel at ease again.

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