Cockroach. Even the word is enough to make most people shudder. They're known as dirty bugs, and they can squeeze through the tiniest cracks: "...cockroaches traversed horizontal crevices smaller than a quarter of their height in less than a second by compressing their bodies' compliant exoskeletons in half. Cockroaches withstood forces nearly 900 times body weight without injury, explaining their robustness to compression." No wonder they're so hard to kill!
These creepy crawlers work their way into homes and other buildings all over Louisiana. But why don't they just stay outside where they belong? What are the most common reasons people get roaches? And what can you do about it?
Common Roaches in Louisiana
There are three main types of roaches in Louisiana, and it's possible to see any or all of them in your home:
American Cockroach: Though we tend to see them skittering on walls and ceilings, they are, disturbingly, very good at flying. They're incredibly common in homes because they like the same foods we do. They tend to run from sudden light, but if the lights are already on, they'll mill about, looking for food, until something spooks them into hiding.
German Cockroach: These are the roaches we tend to imagine when we think of cockroaches, that's how common and familiar they are. They're smaller than American cockroaches, and they tend to do their exploring and eating at night. If you see many of them during the day, you probably have a very serious infestation.
Oriental Cockroach: This roach prefers moist, humid areas, so you would normally see it in the woodlands. However, since it's attracted to water, it finds its way into sewers and pipes, and can work its way right up through your sink or shower drain. They'll eat anything, including sewage, but they like your scraps and crumbs, too.
The Big Problem With Roaches
Actually, there are a couple of problems. They're a pest, but they're also a major health concern. Roaches transfer germs—like salmonella. When you're sound asleep, cockroaches could be walking all over your plates and silverware: you don't know that, so you simply use your dishes and utensils the next day, no matter what contaminants might have been transferred via cockroach legs, saliva, and feces. You can end up with sudden gastrointestinal issues or worse and not even know what caused it.
Cockroaches also shed their skin, which can cause people to develop allergies or even asthma. Chronic symptoms like coughing, wheezing, congestion, rashes, and ear and sinus infections may indicate an allergy. At that point, you may want to get tested to determine if cockroaches are causing the problem.
Also: roaches are gross.
Why Do People Get Roaches?
There are several things that may attract cockroaches to your home.
Spills and Crumbs
Open Food Containers (like cereal boxes or crackers)
Leftovers on the Stove or Counter
Dog or Cat Food
Unsealed Garbage Cans
Damp, Humid Areas
Piles (of newspaper or laundry, for example), Boxes, and Other Convenient Hiding Places
Basements and Crawl Spaces
As you can see, not all of those concerns can be prevented. When we think of cockroaches, we tend to think of a messy kitchen, for example, but that's not always the case. Cockroaches can show up in even the cleanest homes, because they are still attracted to warm, wet places, and even clean homes are bound to have a drop of grease behind the stove or another overlooked cockroach food source.
In some cases, you might carry your roaches for miles and invite them into your house. Accidentally, of course: they have been known to hitch a ride in a briefcase or grocery bag and then set up camp in your home.
How to Get Rid of Roaches
First, do what you can to prevent an infestation. Make sure you always clean up your spills, and take time to clean behind the stove and refrigerator. Seal your pet food in plastic bins, and make sure you put it away if your animals don't finish their serving. Foods like cereals, crackers, and cookies can also be protected in resealable containers rather than their original boxes after being opened.
You can also take care to seal your windows, doors, and any cracks you might find. Check to make sure your pipes aren't leaking in the basement or under the sink—that's a good practice, anyway, since a leaky pipe can cause a host of other expensive problems besides cockroaches!
Chances are, you'll first know you have a cockroach problem because you'll see a cockroach in your kitchen or bathroom, or you might see a shed skin somewhere. If you're concerned they might be there in hiding, you can make regular cockroach checks by shining a flashlight into the corners of your cupboards, pantries, closets, basement and crawlspace corners, boxes, and under the sink.
If you find cockroaches, your best bet is to call an exterminator. These pests have survived and evolved over centuries; as mentioned above and as you may have discovered yourself, they are hard to kill. If you use a repellent in one area of your home, they might simply migrate to another area. If your home has a cockroach entry point you're unaware of, they may come back later. Furthermore, using poisons on your own can be a little risky, particularly if you have children or pets, as they may work their way into other parts of your home.
Pest control starts with an evaluation and free estimate. At Cal-Cam, we have more than 31 years of experience, and we use the latest equipment and technology to protect your home or business. We can safely and efficiently eliminate your cockroaches and continue to monitor your home to prevent future cockroach infestations on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Are you sure you don't have any cockroaches in your home? Congratulations! Still, feel free to contact us and get your free estimate to see what pests may be inclined to invade your house and what your options are for controlling them. We're happy to answer any questions you have about cockroaches and other common household pests.