No matter where you live, it is safe to assume you have come into contact with one the most unpopular and prominent bugs in America: the cockroach. They are extremely difficult to kill if you do not have the proper tools, and their infestations can be frustrating.
“Lots of people love living in Florida, but hate the roaches,” said Ron Henderson owner of Country Boy Pest Control, Inc. located in Winter Haven, FL. “It doesn’t matter how clean your house is, either. Nearly every household battles them at some point.”
Most people shutter at knowing there are more than 3,500 cockroach species in the world. And unfortunately, 70 of those species live in our great state.
Florida roaches, also known as palmetto bugs or water bugs, are not only a nuisance, but they can also destroy food, damage books and fabrics, and spread disease. The three most common types are the American roach, the German roach and the Smoky Brown roach. The largest of these three is the American roach, but they all look similar in appearance.
How often you use at-home treatments to rid your home of roaches doesn’t matter, said Henderson. They will find a way back in. The key is that if they do come back in, they will die. That’s what the professionals can guarantee.
So what do cockroaches need in life and how do you know if you have any unwelcome guests?
Roaches are not social insects, but during the day they can be found in groups hiding in what is called a harborage – under stoves, refrigerators, cabinets or in crown molding.
They need three things to live: food, water and shelter. Starving them is tough, as they are opportunistic eaters. Although they prefer decaying matter, they have been found snacking on all types of food, even paper, boots, glue and other insects. To keep roaches away from water, fix any leaks you may have under your fridge, sink or AC unit. Always ensure the water drains properly after a shower, wipe up any drippings and keep sink areas dry.
Roach-Proofing Your Home
These creatures like to have the top and bottom of their bodies touching surfaces at the same time. This means they love tiny cracks and anything that will cover them. Seal cracks, crannies and corners with caulk and clean up clutter around your home. Use weather stripping to eliminate gaps under the doors, screen vents and check the screens on attic vents.
Remember to take your garbage out frequently, use plastic containers to store food in your cabinets and unless dirty dishes are soaking in soapy water, don’t leave them in the sink. Wipe down surfaces that have been in contact with food and vacuum as often as possible.
Do-It-Yourself Treatment Options
For at-home treatments, Henderson recommends a few products that are worth a try. Roach spray is very effective, but it must be sprayed directly on the roach, which means you have to see them to kill them.
Boric acid has little effect on humans, comes as a powder and can be lightly dusted into cracks and crevices where roaches frequent. The key is to not make large piles, but rather spread it thin enough that when they walk over it, they carry it to the hard- to- reach areas, such as under the stove, said Henderson.
Another option is to buy glueboards from the store. Put them under your kitchen sink or where you think you have roaches and leave it there for a week or so. After waiting a few days, check the boards. If you have roaches you will see them on the board, if not, you are probably safe.
Have Roach, Will Travel
Now let’s talk about those roaches you are bringing in from the store or from a yard sale. German roaches don’t live outdoors in Florida, so if you have them in your home, someone has brought them there.
When bringing questionable items into your home, inspect all items outside in the sunlight, and use a strong flashlight to examine hidden areas, especially if it’s a piece of furniture. Put a glueboard inside the item and see what you catch. If you don’t see anything, try leaving it in the sunlight for a few days, but be sure to put it in your garage at night. If the item is small enough, put it in the freezer for a day or two. Always unpack boxes outside and wash all items with hot soapy water to kill any hidden roaches.
When to Bring in the Big Guns
Some roach problems simply can be solved on your own. It is always wise to hire a professional for assistance if possible, especially if roach problems persist, as this is the best way to deal with an infestation in your home or business, said Henderson.
Commonly found outdoors in landscaped areas, sewers or storm drains and in low areas of a building where moisture levels are higher. These roaches are capable of flight, but they usually seen scurrying around on their six legs. Their oval shaped body length can measure from 1 to 1 ½ inches with brownish/red wings and light markings on their head.
“Controlling these roaches begins by maintaining outdoor areas,” said the household pest expert. “You need to remove debris from your yard that includes wood piles and other materials. Also be mindful of where you put food, especially dog food, outside and inside.”
In most all situations this roach is found indoors with infestations beginning after the introduction of roaches in packages. This species cannot fly, avoids lights and prefers to live near moisture sources and in humid areas. They are a tan to brownish color, smaller in size with two dark horizontal stripes on their backs.
Smokey Brown Roach
These roaches have a tendency to loose moisture rapidly and require water every two to three days. They prefer moist, dark, protected areas with poor ventilation. They are great fliers and like to stay around houses that have pet food outside and open trash containers. They are a dark mahogany brown and look like the American roach except they have no eye patterns behind their head.
“No matter the species of the roach, prevention and sanitation are the keys to controlling them,” said Henderson. “However, the most effective solution is to hire a professional pest control service. With of years of experience under their belts and a tremendous amount of roach populations killed, they can rid your home or business for good.”
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