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Where Do Roaches Come From?

an American cockroach in a home

If you turn on a light in the middle of the night and see a cockroach scurrying out of sight, you may be wondering: where do roaches come from? Why is this pest in my home? Is this a sign of an infestation?

To answer these questions, we must first determine which type of roach is in your home. While there are over 70 species of cockroaches that live in America, there are two types that you’re likely to see in your home. On your property, you’ll most likely see American cockroaches and German cockroaches.

The American Cockroach

The reddish-brown adult American cockroach, which is pictured above, averages a body length of around two inches. This roach has lighter-colored edges along the pronotum. Males tend to appear larger than females. But, this is most often due to the fact that the male’s wings extend past their abdomen while the female’s wings do not.

American cockroaches like to live in moist, humid areas outside. They are often found in compost piles, decaying trees or sewer systems. Typically, American cockroaches enter homes on accident. While American cockroach infestations are possible, these pests usually prefer living outdoors. These pests are opportunistic. American cockroaches enter homes by slipping through cracks around loose-fitting doors and windows. Or, they enter homes through electric lines or pipes that pass through walls.

As previously mentioned, American cockroach infestations are possible, but seeing one American cockroach is typically not a sign of an infestation. If you are uncomfortable with the number of American cockroaches you have seen, a pest control professional can help.

a german cockroach

The German Cockroach

The adult German Cockroach, by comparison, is smaller, growing up to half an inch long, and is a lighter brown to tan in color. As you can see in the image above, German cockroaches can be identified by the two prominent dark stripes on the back (pronotum) just behind the head.

German roaches cannot tolerate the cold, so they are mainly indoor pests. Due to their small size, they can easily sneak into groceries or luggage and enter new homes. Or, they will migrate from one infested structure to another nearby structure.

Unfortunately, spotting a single German cockroach can be a sign of an infestation. These smaller roaches are more discreet and their populations grow quickly. If you have seen a German cockroach in your home, the best plan of action is to contact a pest control professional.

Dangers of Cockroach Infestations

Roaches can spread more than 30 types of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and several other pathogens. They are transporters of bacteria because they typically traverse through many dark, dank and unclean areas.

Salmonella and E. coli can live on the cockroaches’ waxy outer coating for up to two months. These diseases can transfer to any foods that the roach touches, causing vomiting, fever and diarrhea if ingested. Bacteria are also harbored in cockroach feces, allowing for the spread of disease even when the bugs are no longer present.

Studies have shown that allergens in this fecal matter (as well as in the saliva) can trigger respiratory attacks for those with asthma.

Cockroach infestations often require a professional pest control plan. Store-bought solutions are typically ineffective and unable to reach into the hidden areas where roaches like to hide.

Why Are Cockroaches So Hard To Control?

Cockroaches are an extremely resilient species. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, which means they have adapted very well to the planet’s many changes and are most likely at the top of the list of survivors. For example, they can live for more than a week without their heads, and eventually die only because they have no other means of ingesting water.

On top of their resiliency, they are extremely prolific. Roaches will produce 300 to 400 offspring in their lifetime, each of which will be ready to reproduce in only 3 to 4 months and can live up to 4 years. So, if you spot roach egg cases, be sure to dispose of them quickly.

These reasons are why it’s so important to contact professional pest control as soon as you see or suspect the beginning of an infestation.

a dead cockroach in a bathroom

Why it’s Common to See Roaches in the Bathroom

Nearly all variety of cockroaches like warm, humid environments. As previously mentioned, German cockroaches are not tolerant of cold environments. Both German and American cockroaches like easy access to food and water in their warm environments. This is why kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms are so popular for these pests.

Any room that requires drainage for sinks, toilets, tubs, dishwashers or other appliances is attractive to a cockroach. This holds especially true if that room isn’t kept meticulously clean. And, if these moist environments also have heat sources they are going to present an inviting living environment.

Add in food crumbs and other edible debris like garbage and pet foods, plenty of cabinets and a few seldom-moved appliances to create dark, sheltered spaces and you have a veritable haven for cockroaches.

That said, you don’t even need items that we consider edible in order for an area to become a cockroach haven. Cockroaches will happily munch on hair, nail clippings, cardboard and toilet paper. They will even resort to cannibalism if necessary!

a very clean kitchen

How To Repel Roaches

Regardless of where your roaches have established their basecamp, they’re still looking for those same three factors: food, water and shelter. The key to discouraging these home invaders and successfully repelling roaches is to deny them as many of those resources as possible.

Here are a few pest control tips you can use to make your home an unfriendly living environment for them:

  • Clean stovetops, counters and floors regularly, removing all waste, grease and food remnants and disposing of them out of the home.
  • Repair any leaks or drips in sinks, tubs or other faucets. Make necessary repairs to eliminate standing water, and make sure all crevices, gaps and holes around drain pipes are properly sealed with silicone caulk, expanding foam sealant or cement.
  • Keeping garbage under your kitchen or bathroom sink will attract roaches. Make sure your trash cans have sealable lids, and clean and empty them regularly. If you’re already dealing with roaches, any garbage that includes food scraps, or other things that can attract roaches should be removed from the house every day.
  • Before your cover your drains each night, make sure that they are clean of any food debris. Rinse your sinks and drains to remove the odor of food particles that may attract roaches.
  • Like your sinks, keep all counters and appliances clean. Don’t leave food on the counters or in the kitchen sink, especially overnight. This includes pet foods. Wiping all surfaces with a bleach and water mixture can help remove food residue and tempting odors here, as well.
  • Keep a sharp eye out for signs of creepie-crawlies. Things like eggs, fresh droppings and shed skins are sure signs of a home invasion.

The bottom line, when it comes to repelling these pests, the cleaner the better.

Getting Rid of Roaches 

Cockroaches can contaminate food, spread disease-causing germs, and even trigger asthma attacks.
If you see even a single cockroach in your home, you may have an infestation on your hands. Getting rid of cockroaches can be more challenging than other types of pest control because they’re hardy creatures that can live without food for a month.

Of course, cockroaches aren’t only found in homes. Any structure, building or office that provides food, water and shelter can become infested. The sight of a roach scuttling across the floor in a restaurant, hospital or other business that’s open to customers can be a significant risk to your company’s reputation and even lead to fines and closures due to health code violations.

Roaches are incredibly prolific, and incredibly hard to get rid of. One pair of cockroaches, allowed to reproduce in peace and with bountiful food available, can become multiple infestations of millions in just a couple of years.

If you do happen to find cockroaches scurrying around in your kitchen or bathroom, first ensure that you’re following all of the preventative measures we’ve listed here. Especially doing your best to eliminate all excess moisture.

If your cockroach infestation persists, it’s probably time to call in a licensed professional to assess the pest problem and develop a plan of attack to help you regain control of your home.

ABC Can Treat the Roaches on Your Property

As previously mentioned, roaches are extremely resilient creatures. Instead of trying your hand at fruitless home remedies and store-bought products, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. We use a multi-tiered approach to controlling cockroaches, so you can have peace of mind.

Russell Jenkins

Russell Jenkins is the Chief Communications Officer for ABC Home and Commercial Services in North Texas. Russell has been working as part of the ABC Family since he was 12 years old under the direction of his father, Owner Dennis Jenkins, and has since held several leadership roles at ABC. Russell holds a degree in Agricultural Leadership from Texas A&M University, and is a Food Safety Specialist. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and two children, playing tennis, and gaming.

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