German cockroaches are one of the most common types of roaches, and you can identify the small, penny-sized insects by their elongated shape, light caramel brown color and two black stripes that run along their shell-like top covering. They have a full set of wings, but they do not fly.
This roach variety doesn’t sneak into homes and other buildings from the outside, like their American cockroach cousins. They spend most of their lives hanging out in places that keep them close to sources of food and water. They spread through multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings by traveling through the spaces in between the apartments or business suites, always seeking food and water. Restaurants and hotels also see their fair share of these unwanted visitors. Homeowners can accidentally bring these pests home with them from a multitude of locations. Unfortunately, just one or two German cockroaches can quickly turn into many more.
Because of how they travel and thrive, it is very hard to get rid of these pests once they move in. Cockroaches are, in general, quite hardy. In fact, science has shown that this common insect has been around for at least 300 million years. There are 3,500 species of roaches worldwide, 55 in the United States alone. Roaches’ extreme adaptability is how they have stood the test of time and found a way to live and thrive among humans.
Where German Cockroaches Hide
German cockroaches like to live in places with high moisture and warm temperatures. Cockroaches prefer nighttime, as you probably know by how they skitter around when you turn on the kitchen lights. These roaches run away quickly, diving into any crack or crevice they can find. You might see them in the daytime, but that is generally in times of drought or if you have a really big infestation. If you see them during the day, pick up the phone and contact a licensed pest professional! Living with a horde of cockroaches is not just unappealing—it is also unhealthy.
Anywhere you find food and water, you can probably find cockroaches. They haven’t met many foods they would turn down, especially things that are starchy, sweet or greasy. Meat is another big favorite. These roaches are scavengers and will eat almost anything. Garbage is the main meal for many of these insects.
How German Roaches Affect The Surrounding Environment
German cockroaches and their kin might love living near people, but they aren’t very good for us. German roaches can spread bacteria that are harmful to the overall well-being of humans. Cockroaches are able to spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can be a problem for hospitals as well. The main diseases spread by these insects are forms of gastroenteritis, such as dysentery and diarrhea.
Aside from the threat of disease, German cockroaches can make your food taste a bit off. If you have a lot of them running around, their odorous secretions can actually change the way things taste!
For all these reasons, it’s important to contact a pest control professional when you notice the signs of roaches.
The German Roach Life Cycle
German cockroaches have three phases in their life cycle: egg, nymph and adult.
Females carry roach eggs in an egg case called an ootheca until just before the eggs hatch. An egg case carries about 40 eggs, which is many more than other roach varieties. That is one reason German roach populations grow so rapidly. Adult females carry anywhere from four to eight egg cases in their lifetime.
The female roach deposits the eggs in a crack or crevice in a building, which is where they hatch. Females produce one egg case about every six weeks, and it takes around 28 days for the eggs to hatch.
The next stage for cockroaches is the nymphal phase. A larger number of German cockroaches reach this state because the females carry the eggs right up until they are ready to hatch. This is another reason why German roaches are so populous.
This stage begins after eggs hatch and ends when the adult roach emerges. German cockroaches actually go through six phases, called instars, during the nymphal phase. Because German roaches are smaller than most roaches, they are able to get away from danger and hide in cracks or crevices, making them more likely to stay alive to adulthood. Again, this contributes to their large population and what makes German roaches so problematic for homeowners and business owners. Getting a professional to help is usually the only way to truly get rid of a German roach problem.
German cockroaches have the shortest time from hatching to maturity of all roach varieties, making it easier for them to boost their population and create a true infestation. The adult roaches and nymphs look similar except for size. Adults are about a half-inch long.
Males are thinner with their back end tapered, whereas females are wider and thicker with a rounded posterior. Adult males live anywhere from 90 to 140 days, and females live longer, from 140 to 280 days. In just one year, one female German cockroach can produce 10,000 descendants.
It is interesting to note that the German cockroach’s lifespan depends on temperature. If they live in colder temperatures, which they do not prefer, they will not grow beyond the nymph stage. It would have to be below 60 degrees to inhibit the roach’s growth.
How To Get Rid of German Roaches
If you suspect you have a German roach infestation, you can try to make a trap to see if they have moved into your space. One option is to get some pheromone sticky traps from a hardware or grocery store. You have to keep an eye on these traps and check them often.
The most effective route is to stick traps against a wall, in a corner or under counters. Most traps you can buy in stores will have bait to lure the German cockroaches. Ten traps should be enough to see if you have a roach problem and, if so, the extent of it. Monitor the traps for about a week to get enough information.
You can also make your own trap at home with a baby food jar and Vaseline. Coat the inside top part of the baby food jar with the Vaseline. Add just a little beer and bread to the inside of the jar and then place it along a wall under the kitchen sink. The roaches can’t resist the smell of the yeast and fermentation from this blend and will come running. When they climb in to get a taste, they won’t be able to get out because of the slippery Vaseline and you will catch them.
The easiest and most effective and thorough route to determining whether you have a roach problem is to contact a pest control specialist. They are trained in all the best methods for inspection and detection and can offer you a solid plan for eliminating German cockroaches.
Once you know you have an infestation, you need to take a look at sanitation. You can’t really control whether roaches come into your space in boxes, groceries and other items, but you can control what is already in your home. Cleaning your home thoroughly and decluttering help remove any temptations for German cockroaches.
You have to create an environment in which the roaches would rather take any bait you use than eat nontoxic foods in your home. Make sure you have all food containers tightly sealed. Store cereal, crackers, flour, sugar and bread in containers with tight fitting lids. Leaving them in boxes that have been opened is an invitation for roaches in your kitchen.
Clean up spills right away, even small crumbs, and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Take your trash out every night and store it in a trash can with a tightly fitted lid. Fix leaky pipes that might be a water source for the roaches, and seal cracks and crevices that provide a safe haven. This is especially important when the water source comes into your kitchen and bathrooms. Caulk and seal around those connections and leave no opening.
You can use chemical bait to exterminate German cockroaches or insecticidal dusts such as boric acid, silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth. For the dust, don’t overdo it. Too much of a deposit repels the roaches. Put the bait on closet shelves, ceiling light fixtures, window valances and any wall or floor cracks in your home. Be very careful to follow directions on the label of whatever product you use and do not dust where children or pets might come into contact with the chemicals.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, you are correct. And, the truth is that it is very difficult for a homeowner to eliminate a German cockroach infestation on their own. Pest control professionals have products, knowledge and experience that can do a much more effective job at controlling roaches without you having to take the time and energy to try it yourself. And, they are happy to help you!
ABC Can Eliminate German Cockroaches
Dealing with a German cockroach infestation can feel like an uphill battle. Instead of struggling with these pests, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our licensed professionals have the tools and training necessary to control these pests.