It is tough to admit, but the beginning of effective cockroach control is realizing that the cockroach wants the same things from our homes that we want: food, water, and shelter. This fact is what complicates cockroach control. It should not be so shocking, then, to discover them living nearby, and although for many, cockroaches are the very definition of “yucky”; it is no disgrace to discover that your home needs cockroach control.
How to Know on Sight
A cockroach has six legs and two antennae. The head of a cockroach is small, compared with its body, and it is protected by a shield called a pronotum.
Cockroaches can grow as large as two inches long, especially in tropical or subtropical environments, such as here in the South. Some cockroaches have wings, although few are very good at flying. Their legs are long and spiny, with pads that are used for scaling surfaces and allow them to walk on walls and even on ceilings.
Only those of us devoted to cockroach control would want to tell a male from a female, but for the record, the female tends to be larger. Young cockroaches, called nymphs, are paler than the dark mahogany color of adults. After molting several times, the nymph becomes a mature adult.
Don’t be Fooled by an Alias
Possibly it is because it can be hard to admit that your home needs cockroach control, but for some reason cockroaches have attracted a number of other names. A common alias is “palmetto bug.” The creature most people are referring to, with this leafy-sounding euphemism, is simply the American cockroach. Another large species that often gets this name is the smokybrown cockroach. The smokybrown is usually not as large as the American cockroach, and it lacks the marking on the shoulders of the American cockroach that looks like sunglasses. “Waterbug” or “Croton bug” are just a couple of other examples of an alias for the cockroach.
It is rumored that the name Palmetto bug was coined by real estate professionals in resort areas of the South, to account for the dead and dying specimens that often greet a real estate showing, even in the tidiest of seaside homes; even, and especially, after treatments by an exterminator. In frequent cases such as these, cockroaches just seemed to need a name to match the neighborhood.
How to Improve Your Chances
Just about everyone has heard the saying that cockroaches would be the only survivors of an apocalypse, because they can be so persistent and resourceful. No doubt this saying grew out of the frustration people can encounter in trying to control cockroaches from taking up residence in their homes.
Keeping floors, kitchens, and bathrooms clean is certainly important to reduce the food sources available to cockroaches, yet regardless of your do-it-yourself cockroach control solution, they can get inside and cause an infestation, nevertheless. Even when these precautions are followed faithfully, cockroaches still gain entry by hitching a ride on items brought into the home; by squeezing through the apertures made for vents, cables, wires, and pipes; or even by flying in, attracted to the lights of your home.
Daily cleaning, fastidious food storage, and carefully caulking gaps around pipes, vents, and cables can greatly improve your chances of avoiding a cockroach infestation. And the vigilance that goes with these cockroach control measures has to be ongoing.
Creatures of the Night
Cockroaches prefer to live, feed, and breed in the dark. The sight of roaches running for cover when the kitchen lights are flipped on for a midnight glass of milk is an experience familiar to most urban apartment dwellers – because in apartment buildings in densely populated cities, your own precautions are never enough to completely prevent an infestation nearby. Thankfully, freestanding dwellings stand a better chance of effective cockroach control.
Their love of darkness leads cockroaches to prefer dark, moist places, and this is why they are so commonly found under the sink, behind refrigerators and stoves, under and around floor drains, and even inside major appliances. Their uncanny ability to flatten their bodies can pose challenges to effective cockroach control. It enables them to hide in tiny cracks in the wall, under rubber mats, and even behind wallpaper.
Because cockroaches are born survivors, the best approach to cockroach control is a three-part process:
- Assess the presence or possibilities
- Treat for invasion or infestation
- Monitor regularly
These species of pests have had millions of years to perfect their act, and so professional help is by no means over-reacting. We’re standing by to help.