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[ Preparing for roach treatments ]  [ Pictures of roaches ]    Questions? [ Ask the Exterminator ]

Well, there's a fairly easy way to find out, no matter where you live. And, when you do find out, I'll tell you exactly how to make an intelligent decision as to what you might want to do about that. There are several choices, of course, and I will go over each of them in turn. But FIRST...

ROACH BIOLOGY - (simplified)

Roaches all go through the very same life cycle and develop by gradual metamorphosis. They pass through three stages: egg, nymph and then to an adult. Eggs are laid in batches, within an egg case, and with each egg case holding many individual roaches. The number in each egg case depends on the species, but some species can have as many as 52 individual roaches in each egg case. And each roach becomes a reproducing adult in as little as nine weeks, there again depending on the species.

There are several things that will contribute to a roach problem too. Such as where you live. That is, if you live in a building with other people, such as apartments or high-rise buildings. Or houses that are attached to other houses, like duplexes or garden-style apartments or condos. This means that you have no control over what or who enters those other units, and if roaches are brought into another attached unit, there can be a definite danger that this problem will spread to other units.

Along with the efficient cooperation of the management, tenants and exterminator, it will also depend on how the building was built, and how many people move in or out of those units during about a two-year span. If there is a high rate of turnover, there will be a greater danger of discovering roaches sometime. Roaches, at least the kind that are associated with man, the so-called german roaches, are vectored only by man. They need mankind to survive best, and are carried from place-to-place on our belongings, both alive and in egg form.


Can you get roaches at a garage sale? Yes you can!
So when you buy that neat bureau at the yard sale down the street, you could possibly bring in roaches. Now this doesn't mean it happens every time, but it does happen, and if you are always very careful about what you bring into the house, your chances will be much reduced.

And regardless of what you may have heard, the chances of you bringing roaches home from the supermarket nowadays, are virtually nil. At least from any supermarket where you might want to shop.

You have much more of a chance with some other commodity. Such as bottled or canned beverages, often stored for long periods after manufacture, and often in areas where they can accumulate roaches from other infected goods or equipment.

It isn't the cans or bottles, it's the cardboard containers used to ship them. Corrugated cartons contain corrugations which are perfect places, breeding grounds for roaches to store their eggs. You don't even need to bring home a live roach! All you need is just one German roach egg case, which might well contain as many as 50 new little roaches. And if there's ONE roach egg case, you just KNOW there's gonna be others.  

So you bring the carton of (whatever) home with you (let's say it only has one egg case) and BANG! Less than six months later you have a real problem on your hands. Especially if you've followed some kind of flawed advice from someone, like, maybe, "bombing" the place...

Don't ever do that, it only makes everything worse. Really.


                              (For your house, apartment or kitchen)
How do you do it? Easy. Obtain from the supermarket, or the hardware store, a few "glueboards." These are commonly used by exterminators for several different situations. Get the cheapest. Put it (or them) under your kitchen sink - or where you suspect you have roaches. Leave it there an appropriate period of time, a week or two should be sufficient.

If you REALLY have roaches, you ought to get a few stuck on your glueboard, in a few days, (& nights) or possibly a little longer, depending on how bad it is. For bait, you can sprinkle a few bacon bits in the middle. You don't need a lot and use the real bacon bits.

                                        (For an item you buy at the store)
Don't worry too much about the NEW furniture. Most new furniture deliveries generally give you only a small chance of importing roaches.  If the dealer, however, stores their "new" furniture with "old" furniture, and doesn't ship and deliver in roach and bedbug proof cover, there is a chance that the "old" one may infect the "new" one.

To bring in roaches on new furniture items is also possible, just watch where you shop, just like you do at the grocery. And, if you DO discover that there are roaches in your delivery, contact the dealer immediately. They are used to this. After all, they handle a LOT of furniture, from a LOT of different sources, and in spite of strict vigilance, it DOES happen. Certainly nothing unusual, and if it were to happen, ask to be covered by a licensed, insured and professional exterminator for a finite time period, depending on the problem. Settle for nothing less. No "maintenance or handyman" people. For almost any roach infestation you will need at least a year's coverage to be absolutely safe. And depending on conditions, and problems, perhaps longer.

                          (Now for an item you bring in from the yard sale)
If you have an unattached garage, you can put it there first. Otherwise, inspect the item outside in the bright sunlight and use a mirror or a strong flashlight to examine the interior or any hidden areas. If it's already yours, you can leave one of those glueboards inside or on the item for a few days, to see if you catch anything.

If you discover roaches, resist that temptation and DON'T SPRAY! First, and probably most important, you may damage the item. Most pesticides contain "petroleum distillates, " solvents that may easily damage your treasure.

If it's small enough, put the entire item in your freezer. In a plastic bag so you can perhaps see what, if any, insects were frozen and killed. Otherwise, leave it right outside. On your lawn. In full sunlight. And overnight, if possible. Or leave it in your unattached garage, with the garage doors open during the daytime. Close the doors to the garage at night - don't leave the doors open at night for the nighttime animals to inspect - they may take up residence. If it is seriously infested you will need professional help.


Again, DON'T SPRAY!  Virtually all of the commercial sprays contain a "flushing agent" which tends to flush roaches from their hiding spots. And while you may kill SOME of the roaches, there is a definite danger you will scatter the ones you DON'T kill to other areas. So if you do this inside your house, you may find that the roaches will pop up in other areas where they weren't seen before. Also, don't use those little bombs you can buy in the store. They are ALL flushing agent and the ones that it doesn't kill will probably be able to withstand your next onslaught.

If you live in an apartment, the landlord is responsible for extermination procedures, so call him to arrange for the exterminator. Make sure it is a REAL exterminator - no maintenance men. Don't get your own exterminator, his treatments may well counteract the efforts of the landlord's exterminator. If you have several exterminators serving one contiguous building, control may be a long time coming. Ethical exterminators will refuse to treat for roaches in a building where they won't have control access to all units. If you have one exterminator for all of the units, he will know what goes on in those other units, and can schedule treatments properly, and for the most effective results.

The most effective control nowadays, is NOT from spraying, as we used to do in the "Olden Days," but from baits. Roach baits are almost 100% effective if used correctly, and are non-invasive. That is, they don't smell, and won't ordinarily disturb your normal routine. So if you have roaches, and the exterminator shows up with a sprayer, and all he wants to do is spray - beg off. Question him as to why he isn't using one of the roach baiting programs.

If all he's going to do is spray, then the program demands that this first chemical treatment must be followed up with more follow up visits to reapply insecticides. They often smell, they are much more toxic than baits, and they require the close cooperation from you and all your attached neighbors. Sometimes not an easy task.

There are times when a professional WILL spray and ULV fumigate for roaches, so you can't always say this is not proper. But it is almost always followed up with a baiting campaign, to make sure you get all the roaches.

And yes, you can buy these baits yourself. The most available form is in the form of those roach buttons you can buy in the supermarket. As with anything else, some are more effective than others, and they bring out newer ones all the time. Mostly, we still give the nod to the MaxForce line of products, although we are also using several other newer products that seem to be doing quite well. Effective products for roaches have brought a slew of new products.

And, yes, you can putchase the professional-type roach buttons online if you can't find them locally. You can also buy the bait syringes with the same bait that exterminators use, in a handy, disposable syringe applicator. Those are available online also.

In your apartment or home, you place these buttons in the areas where the roaches are. That is, inside your kitchen cabinets, under the sink, or wherever you see roaches. Roaches are "thigmotactic" - they like dark, damp places, where they can feel the "roof and the floor." So your placements need to be near any cracks and crevices where the roaches will find them easily.

They also like corners. One button per average-sized cabinet should be plenty. place it in the corner of the cabinet. Also under the sink, or in any cabinet with visible water lines, put an extra button. There is no need to put buttons all over the house, or in places where there are no roaches. You only need a few, so don't overdo it.. Also, remember that these buttons do have a lifetime, so when you install them, write the date on it and check the label for the recommended lifetime. Whatever it says you can probably double, but after that, you could consider their effectiveness as probably zilch.

Pretty good, assuming you've done it correctly. Exactly HOW and WHY it works on the roaches is gruesome. Roaches are cannibalistic and will readily eat other dead or dying roaches. Roaches are also coprophagous, which means they eat each others excrement. In fact, new little roaches do this soon after birth, and MUST do it to survive. When the bait poisons and kills a roach, that roach, and his excrement, becomes poison for other roaches, that, in turn, become poison for still more roaches.  

Never mind putting these things around the house anyway, to catch any roaches that MIGHT come in. This product is best used when you discover the problem. Otherwise, you would have to change them, on a routine basis, for them to remain effective and active. And you could put hundreds out and still have a roach problem - it is NOT a cure-all.

False economy, don't waste your money. Besides, you'll soon forget to change them and when the roaches do come, the bait won't be effective. The best thing to use? One of those glueboards I told you about.  Put it under your sink, or beside the refrigerator and check it every once in a while. You can get a pretty good insect history on one of these. And they're cheap too.

Or, in the alternative, you can employ a professional exterminator, who will know all of these facts, to perform this procedure.  His work will carry a guarantee that you will get the most effective control. For suggestions on how to pick your exterminator, and ask the right questions, check here.


It will be necessary for you to empty out your kitchen cabinets, and any other area where you have a problem, vacuuming out all debris from inside your kitchen cabinets.
This is done to eliminate as much of the alternative food sources the roaches are used to getting.

Leaking packages leave a lot of debris, if your cabinets are squeaky clean, the roaches will have only the bait to eat. This will result in the bait acting much faster. The cleaner, the better. Don't wash or paint cabinets after the exterminator

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How to Prepare

applies either insecticides or bait. Wait until he says it's okay to do so. Don't forget to remove any shelf paper and any other roach buttons that you or others might have installed. No items of any sort should be left inside the cabinets when the exterminator treats the area. Remove EVERYTHING!

Do not use any insecticides at all. No Raid, no boric acid, no nothing. You will interfere with what the exterminator puts down, and could completely negate all of his work. Sort of like getting medicine from the doctor, then coming home and dosing yourself up on what YOU think will help. Believe me, it won't. Let the doctors and exterminators do their work.  

You also can't use soap and water on these areas after the exterminator leaves. If you have to clean up, you should use a vacuum. The treatment of roaches uses a variety of methods, using sprays, baits and dusts. Any one or all may be used on your problem, and the serviceman will advise you on what you can and can't do.  

In two words, yes, absolutely. But it depends on your individual problem as to how much or many you might have to do. Usually, for future treatments, it won't be necessary for you to clean out cabinets and the like. Your serviceman will advise you on what to expect.  

Usually, we can get rid of your roach problem fairly quickly, but there are factors that may first have to be overcome. First of all, if you live in an apartment, your landlord should supply the exterminator. Call him immediately. Make sure he sends a REAL exterminator, not the maintenance man.

If you are lucky to live in a free-standing house that is NOT attached to other houses, your roach problem can be cured 100 per cent. If you are in a row house or are attached to another home, it will depend on your neighbors.

Naturally, the ultimate success depends a great deal on the co-operation the exterminator gets from the occupants. If there is not complete co-operation, there will not be complete success. In multi-family dwellings this is even more important and EVERY apartment must co-operate fully.

What you THINK will do it, often won't....  There are some very special ways to avoid
this and I've
detailed them right here.


We won't get into scientific names and stuff, so we'll just show you what we (and you) usually see around here. These are the most common roaches, the ones we see almost every day. They are pretty well distributed all over the United States, (indeed, the world) and except for maybe the names, are recognized almost everywhere.

Roaches are related to ants and wasps. They have been around for some 350 million years, long before mankind, and will be around long after mankind.  They have been said to be almost impervious to radiation, (they're not) but they have survived an incredibly long time.

Roaches have microscopic hairs, called cerci, that can detect air movement. This helps them escape predators by detecting their approach. They can even detect the particular gust created by an approaching predator with air blowing all around them. This is why they can disappear even before you get close.


German roaches, although not necessarily from Germany, actually originated in Asia, and are the most prolific of the cockroaches. Each egg case the female produces may carry up to 50 new little roaches.  And those little guys (and girls) can be ready to produce MORE roaches in less than nine weeks, if conditions are right. At this rate, you could be up to your ears in roaches in no time!
German roach
Large View
Color View

The good news is that German roaches don't live outside.  They are only associated with man, living almost exclusively in our homes and spreading easily throughout our society, rich or poor.  We have good luck with these, unless you live right next (attached) to someone who doesn't care.

Well, really only if he is attached to your house.   German roaches are inside bugs. Normally, they will not be able to travel between structures that are separate from each other.  German roaches migrate from house to house because you take them with you. In your belongings, or in packages and cartons you bring in from somewhere that has an infestation of these creatures.

A study by the Queen Mary, University of London, in 2010, has determined that roaches can communicate with each other, at least in the location of food sources.  Presumably, they use a "foraging pheromone" - as yet undetected or reproduced artificially.

If science can reproduce this "foraging pheromone," we could use this to attract and kill roaches without using toxic chemicals. Better for you and me.


From SOUTH America, of course.  Not here! Actually, American roaches are distributed pretty much all over, and it's not really possible to say where they came from.  This is the "Palmetto bug" in the southern United States, and it's the American roach up here.  A very large roach, it has a reputation for flying and can live, outside, around our houses and isn't killed by the winter.  He just stays inside during the wintertime.  American roaches, of any stripe, can definitely be a problem if conditions are just right.
American roach
Large View
Color View

American roaches infest most sewers. So if you go away, and stay away for enough time, the P-traps in your bathrooms will dry out and can allow the roaches entrance into your home. Not a good thing to arrive home to.... My good friend, Bob The Bug Guy, made a video on the subject, check it out here.  Bob knows what he's doing!


brown-banded roach

Large View
Color View
This is the other one that lives mostly in our homes. Brown-banded roaches look a lot like German roaches.  They are a little smaller and not nearly as prolific.  Actually, they're quite content to take up residence in some obscure part of the house, and you can go for years before you discovered them. Again, you bring these roaches in.  From a garage sale, or something you bring into your house, unaware that the item carries a hitchhiker.

Many exterminators, unless they look closely, may not even notice the difference between German and brown-banded roaches, they look that much alike.  A brown banded roach is the "Clark Kent" of household roaches.   These are the quiet ones. They can live under your dining room table for years, without your knowing.


The proverbial "waterbug."  Or shad roach.  Or whatever they're called by your contemporaries.  They are the great, big black ones.  The one you might find trapped in your bathtub.  Oriental cockroaches can't climb smooth surfaces. They will be trapped by the steep, slick walls of a bathtub or sink.
oriental roach
Large View
Color View

Other roaches have no trouble scaling even a surface as smooth as a light bulb.  The bad news is that they can live outside.  So you can bring them in too. There is some good news.  Oriental roaches, fortunately, don't reproduce very fast.  In fact, you can have these and only see them on very few occasions - just like the above-described brown-banded roach.  And being able to survive outside means that you can get them again - next year!


These roaches are different in a lot of ways. First of all, they are attracted to light - the opposite of the other roaches. Most of the time, wood roaches are found near the "woods," out in suburbia, where the deer and the antelope play.  They are not a concern for inside pest control, and rarely, if ever, become an inside problem. No treatment required or even recommended for these fellows.
Pennsylvania wood roach
Large View

Don't worry about wood roaches.  Since they're essentially outdoor insects, they're only seasonal, which means that next year's cycle will be different.  Hopefully, that means less.

Wood roaches actually enter houses by mistake.  Often, they are attracted by your house lighting, wind up ON your house, hiding in some crack or crevice, and inadvertently find themselves inside.  These are not the roaches you worry about, and if you live in an area where they proliferate, there are a few things you can do....

While there may be some time when you would make insecticidal applications for these, most of the time you would want to fix the reason why you are having the "problems," either on the outside or the inside.  Far better and much more effective than any kind of chemical control.

First, you alter/move your outside lighting to a place AWAY from the building.  If you position lights away from the structure, so that you illuminate from a remote point, you will tend to attract insects AWAY from where you don't want them.

Hand-in-hand with that, would be a caulking/sealant program, conducted on a regular basis.  If you do the lights and the caulking, you won't need any chemical or the exterminator.

roach links

And here, the University of Minnesota has some great roach pictures, in color, of all the common roaches, showing the different life stages and pictures of the egg cases too. Authored by Jeffrey Hahn and Mark Ascerno, both entomologists at the Department of Entomology.

Cornell University has a very good plain text page that tells you how to use Integrated Pest Management procedures to help you end your roach problems.

And naturally, Texas A&M has their own very descriptive page that details what you can do, lists the chemicals used, also has some nice pictures.

The Environmental Protection Agency has quite an extensive website, and has a special section set up, just for pesticide issues.

If you have questions, comments or messages, you can post them directly to UnExCo's Message Board and get an answer to a question you might have.

To find an experienced, professional and expert exterminator in your area, please visit the International Pest Control Operator Page.  
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