Cockroaches are among the most primitive living winged insects. These resilient bugs have existed for more than 280 million years—so as you might expect, getting rid of them can be quite the challenge!
Cockroaches hail from the insect order Blattodea, the same as termites. They are nocturnal creatures that live, feed, and mate in darkness. If seen during the day, you can assume that there is either a major infestation or where they have been hiding has been disturbed.
They are one of the most unsettling and squirm-inducing pests for many people; however, your aversion to cockroaches is well-founded. They are responsible for contaminating food supplies, causing allergic reactions, and—most notably—spreading disease by depositing contaminated organisms on food, dishes, or other presumably food-safe surfaces.
Identifying Species of Cockroach in Western Washington
Here in Washington, we find the following species of cockroach most frequently:
This variety of cockroach is the largest found in dwellings. An adult is about 1.5 inches long, has a brown to reddish-brown body, and both sexes have well-developed wings that allow them to fly.
An adult brown-banded cockroach is ½ to 5/8 inch long. Both male and females have a light yellow or pale brown band that runs across the base of their wings, and another broken band about a third of the way down their back. The male’s wings cover the abdomen completely, while the female’s wings are shorter and never cover the abdomen, which is much broader and fuller than a male’s. The males are the only ones that can fly, and may do so if startled; this species is known to jump when disturbed.
German cockroaches are the most common roach in the Pacific Northwest, as they can appear anywhere from homes, restaurants, or even hospitals. An adult German cockroach is about ½ inch long; they have wings, but rarely fly. German cockroaches are attracted to any place where food is stored or served.
This species of roach is uniformly glossy in brown to black, with a broad abdomen and stubby wings. The male is 1 inch long, slender, and has wings that cover two-thirds of its abdomen; the female is 1 ¼ inches long. This specific species does not fly or even run very fast if disrupted.
What You Can Do About Cockroaches
Prevention is paramount in cockroach control. It is important discourage cockroaches from entering buildings by checking the seals on windows and doors, as cockroaches can fit through any opening 1/8 inch or larger.
Another important preventative action you can take is to make sure your refuse is stored in a durable, closed container away from your building. Make sure to repair any cracks or holes in walls, floors, furnaces, and appliances, repair leaky faucets and pipes, and keep a clean environment free of spilled liquids, pet food, and kitchen crumbs.
In the event that you are faced with a cockroach infestation, the first thing you will need to do is clean ALL surfaces in your home with a disinfectant to reduce the transfer of disease and bacteria. Remove excess moisture or spills, and fix any actively leaking or dripping pipes. Another helpful avenue to avoid cockroaches is to be mindful of leftover pet food after you have fed your indoor pets. And finally, make sure that your refuse can is durable and closes securely.
How to Spot a Cockroach Infestation
Spotting an infestation is easier than you may think. The first and probably the most obvious is seeing live activity. You may also notice a musty odor or damage to food packages that can’t be explained. Increasing your familiarity with the appearance of cockroach egg cases is also very helpful in determining an infestation.
DIY Cockroach Treatments
Do-it-yourself pest control is not typically a productive method of pest control, but there are a few methods that seem to be crowd favorites. Here is a popular, yet basic, homemade cockroach spray:
- 2 cups of distilled vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid
- 3 tablespoons table salt
- Spray bottle
The basis of this and many other DIY cockroach control methods is disinfection of the areas that you see activity in.
At the end of the day though, a large or difficult to locate infestation may require professional intervention. If you find yourself at this point, call your local pest control company!