Cockroaches have survived on earth for more than 300 million years, and they aren’t likely to become extinct anytime soon. Because they easily adapt to virtually any environment, it’s no wonder that safe and effective control of cockroaches in the home can be a real challenge. While ridding your residence of cockroaches without spraying potentially harmful, and often ineffective, chemicals may seem an impossible task, with the proper information, and a little detective work, you can do it! Just like any other living organism, to live, cockroaches require three basic conditions:
- Harborage, or a safe, preferably dark, protected place to live,
- Water, and
In the pest control industry, Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is the managing or removing of one or all of these basic life requirements to control or eliminate a pest infestation. In the absence of any one of these items, cockroaches will either find another home, or die. The first, and most important step in gaining control of cockroaches in the home is to conduct a thorough inspection of your home to find out where the cockroaches are eating, drinking and sleeping.
Equip yourself with a good, bright flashlight. Then start by looking for sources of water. Generally, I head straight for the kitchen and look for any leaking or sweating pipes, especially under the sink, and around the dishwasher and garbage disposal. Take a look behind the refrigerator, checking for signs of condensation, and make sure to check the drip pan, it should be emptied frequently, and kept as dry as possible. Note any water dishes for pets, these should be taken up at night, and make sure that glasses containing liquids are not left out.
In the bathrooms check for drippy plumbing fixtures, and for moisture in and around the bath tub and shower areas. Look for signs of mold, usually an indicator of excess moisture. Oftentimes, wallboard around the tub has become water logged as a result of poor or failed caulking or leaks inside the walls. These items should be repaired and sealed.
Next, check the living areas, cockroaches will seek water in and around the drip pans under of potted plants. Look for water spots on painted surfaces which may indicate a roof leak that needs to be repaired.
Cockroaches are opportunists, and will make a home in cracks or crevices as small as one thirty second of an inch. These harborage areas can easily go unnoticed, but for effective control of cockroaches they must be eliminated. So, while looking for water sources, also keep a close eye out for potential harborage areas.
Pay particular attention to:
- cracks or crevices in corners, around the cove base at the bottom of walls, and ceiling moldings
- hidden, but accessible areas around appliances, especially stoves, microwave ovens, toasters, and other counter-top appliances and in the door seals of the refrigerator
- gaps around electrical outlets
- areas in, and behind, kitchen drawers, especially where plastic bag are stored.
Once you have discovered potential cockroach harborage areas, first clean the areas with a disinfectant, then use caulk to fill cracks and small voids.
Eliminating food sources can be problematic because even a few crumbs or food scraps can support a significant number of cockroaches. For this reason sanitation is the key factor for control and/or elimination a cockroach infestation. While it may be impossible to remove all food sources, you should make an intentional effort to:
- clean up food spills when they happen
- keep sinks free of dirty dishes, especially overnight
- wipe down food preparation surfaces frequently
- store food items in well sealed containers
- put up pet food at night, and
- keep stove top surfaces free of grease build up.
While cockroach control in the home can be an ongoing concern, it can be accomplished without chemicals. By conducting a thorough and complete inspection, eliminating harborage areas and sources of food and water, and maintaining good sanitation practices, cockroaches can be controlled or eliminated without spraying pesticides.