When you wake up before the sun rises and go to make your coffee, you’re not expecting to discover a cockroach in the cabinet next to your coffee grounds. Chances are that in your pre-caffeinated state, your reactions aren’t quite as sharp, resulting in your kitchen visitor scurrying away before you can find anything to smash it with. If someone had asked, you would have sworn that you didn’t have any bug problems—especially roaches. But you also know that you usually don’t spot one of these creatures, unless it’s dark.
So, why do cockroaches come out at night? The short answer is that, like other nocturnal animals, roaches have evolved to forage for food and water in low-light environments, since these conditions help them avoid predators. In this blog post, we will explore cockroach activity patterns in more detail and offer you tips on how to keep these pests away from your living spaces.
Are Cockroaches Nocturnal?
While there are many types of roaches in Texas, which are also prevalent in other Southern states, most cockroaches that infest our homes are predominantly nocturnal. After the sun goes down, these pests emerge, feeding on virtually any type of organic material they can find, including pet and human foods, and even soiled clothing, leather and the glue in book binding. During the day, these pests hide in the smallest cracks and crevices in our homes, often avoiding detection until you have an infestation on your hands. When that happens, you are more likely to spot a roach during the daytime hours.
Most people think that cockroaches run because they’re afraid of the light, but this isn’t true. Let’s address some other common questions homeowners have about these uninvited guests.
Why Do Cockroaches Run From Light?
Cockroaches don’t have any aversion to light whatsoever. In fact, cockroach species that live in the wild and haven’t been exposed to human predators have been observed to move towards the light. Even common household cockroaches have been known to go towards, say, a lit TV screen at night.
So, why do they scurry away when you turn on a light?
Because, they’ve learned. They know that a light being flicked on means that a human has discovered them. And that discovery tends to lead to negative consequences. So, when you turn on a light, cockroaches are not hurling themselves into gaps and other hiding places to get away from the light. Rather, evolution has taught these creatures that they need to move fast if they don’t want to be killed.
Do Cockroaches Sleep?
If roaches are more active at night, is there a time that they sleep? Of course there is! Like most other animals, cockroaches have a circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a sleep-wake cycle that alternates between active/wakeful and inactive/sleep periods.
During the active/wakeful times of the day, an animal is usually awake and actively looking for food, mates and water. The majority of the cockroach pests found at home are usually very active during the first few hours of the night after the lights go out.
Because of this, these couple of hours typically have the highest levels of cockroach activity. Usually, these few hours are enough time for the roaches to feed and mate. However, if you are suffering from a high-density infestation where the cockroach population is huge, these pests may be forced to spend a longer time scavenging because, food sources will be more limited.
In other words, if you’re seeing cockroaches in the early hours of the morning, you’ve probably got a bigger problem on your hands.
How Do Roaches Sleep?
Many researchers have tried to learn more about exactly how cockroaches sleep. One study described roaches as having three states of activity. Here’s a short explanation of each phase:
- The first, a state of locomotion, mostly occurs at night when roaches are most active.
- The second is a period of antennae and limb movement only, but no locomotion. During this state, only the antennae and some limbs move. The cockroach is otherwise inactive and immobile.
- The third state is one of complete immobility during which the cockroach doesn’t move at all. This state is comparable to sleep in humans.
A cockroach spends much of the day time in either the second or third state. At night, it then becomes active and switches to the first state.
Do Cockroaches Like Beds?
You may have heard stories of people waking up with cockroaches in their ears. Even thinking about it right now kind of makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it?
Because of this, you might be worried about roaches invading your space when you’re at your most vulnerable—asleep in bed.
It begs the question: are cockroaches attracted to our beds?
Quick answer: No—thank goodness!
A cockroach’s primary drive to venture out from its hiding place is the need to feed. So, unless you have food debris all over your bed, cockroaches won’t be particularly eager to crawl onto it. (Yet another reason to stick to your rule with the kids—and yourself—about not eating in bed!)
Having said that, cockroaches are excellent climbers. They can easily climb virtually any part of your bed—as long as it isn’t made of smooth glass—so it’s definitely possible for a roach to get up there. Moreover, if a roach does find its way onto your bed, it will most likely be at night, due to their nocturnal wanderings.
Where do those ear stories come from? Well, cockroaches have a strong preference for small places that are warm and humid. Because of this, it’s not impossible for a cockroach to venture into your ear in search of a safe resting or feeding place.
While the likelihood of this happening is rare, it’s still a good reason not to take any cockroach infestation lightly. Once you’ve seen a roach, you’re likely curious about how bad your problem really is. Let’s move on to the red flags you can look for that might indicate a roach problem.
Signs Of A Cockroach Infestation
While spotting a cockroach is the most obvious sign of an infestation, there are other things that you may not have noticed that can indicate that roaches are taking over your home. Some signs that you have an infestation on your hands include:
- An unusual smell in the home
- Cockroach droppings that look like coffee grounds
- Cockroach “skins” that they have been shed
- Roach egg casings
As previously mentioned, cockroaches usually prefer humid, warm areas. Therefore, the most common ground zero for infestations are usually kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements (if you have one) and drains. While these are the most common problem areas, in most cases it is better to call in a professional to do the investigating for you. Finding the roach hotel yourself can be a tad disturbing, and it can take much more time for a novice to pinpoint a problem.
How To Keep Cockroaches Away At Night
One of the most important things to remember is that if you do see one or two roaches, there are probably lots more that you aren’t seeing. Worse, cockroaches are aggressive breeders that reproduce rapidly, meaning you could soon have roach eggs scattered throughout your home. Unless adequate control measures are implemented, it won’t be long before these pests overrun your space.
So, what can a homeowner can do to keep roaches from invading their home at night (and other times of day)? Here are some tips we often pass along to homeowners who are trying to handle an infestation on their own.
Limit Access To Food And Water
- Ensure all food is stored in insect-proof containers with tight-fitting covers or in the refrigerator.
- Clean all utensils, dishes and pans immediately after using them.
- Clean away any food that drops or drinks that get spilled onto counters, tables, sinks, floors and other surfaces.
- Wipe down all counters and discard all food particles on them before going to bed.
- Don’t leave food or water overnight in pet feeding bowls.
- Vacuum the floors to eliminate any residual food debris.
- Clean under appliances—especially toasters, refrigerators, microwave ovens and stoves.
- Keep your waste bins and containers clean and take out the garbage daily.
- Repair any pipes and faucets that might be leaking.
Get Rid Of Hiding And Breeding Places
- Remove any unnecessary clutter, including newspapers, bags, corrugated cardboard boxes and other items that tend to pile up.
- Ensure there’s adequate space between packages when you are storing items (using wire shelving can help with this).
- Seal off any spaces and cracks that might be harboring cockroaches using caulk.
- Use steel wool or another similarly rough material to seal spaces where electrical wiring and plumbing goes into walls.
Prevent Cockroach Entry Into Your house
- Store firewood and debris piles properly and far away from the house.
- Seal your compost bin.
- Secure trash can lids.
- Install mesh over vents.
- Clean any fallen vegetables and fruits in your yard.
- Keep mulch and pine straw a safe distance from your home.
- Have weather stripping installed on the doors of your house.
ABC Can Keep Roaches Away, Day Or Night
If there are cockroaches in your home, you’ll want to take prompt action to avoid them from multiplying. When DIY efforts fall short, which they often do, reach out to an expert to assess the situation and devise the best cockroach control and prevention plan for you and your space. The pros at ABC Home & Commercial Services are familiar with cockroach infestations and know exactly where these pesky pests like to hide. Because cockroaches have are experts at hiding during the daytime hours, it can be difficult for a homeowner to find the root of the issue on their own. Allow ABC to handle your pest issues so you won’t have to worry about any further infestations.