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Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests > Home Grounds Blog > Posts > Tactics for Dealing with a Cockroach Invasion

Most folks can handle the occasional bug seen in the house - a house fly buzzing by, a scorpion scurrying across the floor, or maybe a spider web stuck up in the corner. All are common pests and relatedly easy to handle. Just swat or kill them and the pest problem is immediately solved. But a cockroach racing across the floor or wall is quite different. It's a disgusting cockroach and yes you need to quickly kill it. However, its presence should also get your attention; keep in mind there usually isn't just one. Life is well until the cockroaches invade.

Eliminating cockroaches require a whole different type thinking and strategy. These nasty bugs for one are survivors; despite man's attempt to get rid of them, they live on. Cockroaches often seen in buildings either came from outside or were brought in hiding in such things as bags or boxes. Once inside they may take up residence if the conditions are right – if they have access to food, water, and shelter.

A one cockroach problem can quickly go from bad to worse if their numbers drastically increase. According to the University of Kentucky, once cockroaches become established they are prolific breeders capable of producing several thousand offspring in a year. Time to act.

 Before deciding what to do about a cockroach problem, let's start first with identifying what type of cockroach was found. The large ones, one to two inches long, are usually either the American or smoky-brown cockroaches. These are outdoor cockroaches and can become an indoor problem when they accidentally come in through an open door or are carried in. The German and brownbanded cockroaches are smaller, usually less than ¾ inch and are "indoor" or domestic species. The German cockroach is bad news - the most common indoor cockroach and hardest to control and eliminate.

As stated in ​publication ANR-1016, successful cockroach control begins with prevention and sanitation. Your house does not have to be dirty or unkempt for a cockroach problem to develop. Here are few tactics mentioned in ANR-1016

  • Cockroaches breed prolifically in corrugated cardboard boxes. Discard unnecessary boxes immediately.
  • Caulk cracks and gaps around doors and windows to help prevent cockroaches from entering your home.
  • Eliminate all sources of water. Cockroaches cannot survive long without water. Make sure there are no leaking pipes or standing water in the kitchen and bathrooms, including in sinks and catch basins under refrigerators.
  • Eliminate all food sources. Garbage cans, dirty dishes, sink strainers, crumbs on the floor and between appliances and cabinets, unsealed pet food, and unwashed kitchen appliances and countertops are all cockroach feeding areas.
  • Cockroaches live in dark places that are warm and moist. Places that provide tight spaces such as stacks of newspaper or cardboard, piles of clothing, or cracks and crevices in structures are ideal. Such harborages also provide "pesticide free" zones.

Baits containing an insecticide are highly recommended for cockroach control and can be done by homeowners. They usually come in granular formulations, plastic stations, or large syringes for gel applications. Bait stations are most effective when placed in corners where you suspect cockroaches are hiding or traveling. Place the gel in syringes in cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and any other suspected cockroach harborage, except in food handling areas. Cockroaches will die from feeding on the baits directly or from being exposed to it when brought back to the nest.

Dusts are slow-acting but can give long lasting control. Boric acid is probably the most commonly used dust labeled for cockroach control. It is most effective indoors in clean, dry areas. Apply in hidden areas such as under refrigerators, stoves, sinks, wall voids, and other cracks and crevices.

The least effective control method is the use of chemicals alone. Using chemicals alone results in insecticide resistance and, ultimately, very poor control. Many contact spray programs just push the cockroaches back into their hiding areas or cause them to scatter. You've got to hit them to kill them. Rarely is a cockroach problem resolved through this manner. A symptom of this method not working is still seeing live cockroaches after multiple scheduled sprays.

Homeowners may wish to tackle the problem themselves with good success, or they may elect to contract the services of a professional pest control operator. In most cases, professionals have the equipment and training to do a thorough job and have access to products not available to homeowners. Regardless of your situation, the use of multiple tactics will be necessary to provide positive results and pest free environment. Bye bye cockroaches.

Contact your local county Extension office for more assistance.

Shane Harris is the County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County. 


Danny Stewart

7/28/2014 8:12 AM
Hi Shane, handy post you have here.  I had roaches a while back and got rid of them myself.  I decided to put together a website that deals with this issue, it's at http://www.togetridofroaches.com  i'm always researching and adding new posts to it.  Feel free to take a look and tell me what you think so far.  Thanks and have a roach free day! :)

Danny Stewart

8/21/2014 11:51 PM
I don't mind seeing the odd one here and there but when you see one of them you know there are usually more somewhere else.

In my experience the bait boxes or roach traps are one of the most effective methods you can use if you don't have a large infestation.

Ian van Wyngaard

10/12/2015 3:42 PM
Hi Shane a well informed post indeed, I am a professional pest Management Officer and I cannot fault your post, allow me if I may to supplement with a home-made cockroach bait which works a treat. Mix boric powder with egg and pea flour to a consistency of bread flour. Roll the dough into tiny balls around 2 mm in diameter. Place these balls in infected areas such as behind your fridge and check your results.

Denver sewer repair (anonymous)

12/10/2016 3:15 AM
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Grace (anonymous)

2/28/2019 12:17 PM
To permanently get rid of cockroaches in apartments, you need a foolproof plan that uses natural and chemical measures to eradicate them. It is important to seal foods in containers, ensuring cleaning is done in out of reach places, dump trash in a tight trash can, and repair crevices on your walls. And remove any clutter lying around. Essentially, you need to remove their habit areas.