Cockroach Information for homeowners
There are three main types of cockroaches that can infest homes in Illinois, including German cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches, and American cockroaches. These three species can be major pests in restaurants, hostpitals, warehouses, offices and buildings with food-handling areas.
Cockroaches are an important public health problem by contaminating food and eating utensils. Cockroaches are known to carry human pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli, which can result in human diseases, such as food poisoning or diarrhea. Occasionally, they will destroy fabric and paper products. In large numbers, cockroaches secrete a substance which can result in stains on surfaces they contact and produce disagreeable odors. Finally, products of cockroach infestations, including saliva, feces and cast skins, are a source of allergens and can irritate allergies and asthma in people, especially children.
Correct identification of suspected cockroaches is important as there are many insects that look similar. A cockroach has a flattened, oval shaped body and long antennae (about the length of their body). When looking at a cockroach from above, its head is hidden from view. It has six strong legs covered with spines.
Many adult cockroaches have fully developed wings, although few fly. Other cockroaches have short wings or lack wings altogether. Young, immature cockroaches resemble adults but are smaller and wingless. If there is any doubt about whether an insect is a cockroach, submit a sample to a pest management expert.
A cockroach has three stages during its life cycle: egg, nymph, and adult. Adults lay eggs contained within egg cases that are dark-colored and roughly the same size and shape as a dry kidney bean. Depending on the species, an egg case contains between 16-50 eggs. Eggs hatch into young cockroaches called nymphs. In a normal cockroach population, nymphs are more numerous than adults.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, hiding during the day and becoming active at night. The number of cockroaches people see is usually a small percentage of a much larger population. Cockroaches prefer different habitats depending on the species. German cockroaches prefer cooler areas, such as basements and crawl spaces. All cockroaches are scavengers and will survive on almost any food as well as packing glue, leather, bookbindingss, and bar soap. They may even sample wiring in televisions and microwaves. They spend most of their time in narrown, tight cracks and spaces where surfaces touch them on both sides. Cockroaches tend to congregate in corners and generally travel along the edges of walls or other surfaces.
Cockroaches can be carried into homes in bags, boxes and luggage. Corrugated cardboard boxes are a particularly good source of infestations. Examine containers that are brought into your homes carefully for the presence of cockroaches or their egg capsules, especially if they are brought in from locations known to be infested with cockroaches.
If you suspect cockroaches may have been brought into your home, set out sticky traps to monitor their presence. Place sticky traps so they are tight against edges, e.g. where walls meet floors. Place them in ares where cockroaches are likely to occur, e.g. in cupboards and around refigerators, stoves, and sinks.
Sanitation is very important to reduce cockroach infestations. Cockroaches need water and food to live. By limiting their access to these resources, you reduce their ability to survive and reproduce. It is difficult to make your home and other buildings completely unacceptable for cockroaches, but you can minimize an existing infestation when improving sanitation.
- Do not leave food out over night; keep all food stored in a refrigerator or in insect-proof containers made of plastic, metal, or glass with tight-fitting covers.
- Do not leave pet food and water out overnight.
- Wash your dishes, pans, and utensils as soon as you are done using them.
- Remove all food or spilled drinks from counter tops and clean counters, sinks, and tables with soapy water.
- Vacuum all cracks and crevices to remove debris and food. Also sweep or vacuum any food and debris on the floor.
- Take garbage out daily in closed plastic containers; keep waste containers washed and clean.
- Repair any leaky water pipes or faucets.
- Recycle cans and bottles on a regular basis; wash and clean containers that hold recycling items.
- Increase ventilation where condesation is a problem.
Cockroaches also need favorable places to live to successfully live and reproduce. You can reduce cockroach numbers when you eliminate favorable sites.
Remove boxes, especially if they're made from corrugated cardboard, newspapers, bags, and other unnecessary items that can clutter rooms. When storing items, leave space between the packages. Use caulk to seal spaces and cracks where cockroaches hide. When an infestation exists in a home, concentrate on areas where cockroach numbers are the highest. Seal spaces, e.g. with steel wool, in apartments and other multi-unit dwellings where plumbing or electrical wiring goes through walls. Placing escutcheon plates at points where plumbing enters the wall will help prevent cockroaches from moving to other ares in multi-unit dwellings.
Take preventive measures to minimize moving cockroaches with you. When possible, use boxes and packing material from a place un-infested with cockroaches. When packing, watch for cockroaches and their egg capsules, removing and destroying any you find. The capsules are dark colored and about the size and shape of a dry kidney bean. Ideally, it is best to take all boxes out of the home by night time and store in a place that is un-infested.
If boxes must be stored overnight in infested buildings, keep them off the floor and away from walls by placing them on chairs or tables. During the winter, you can store boxes in unheated locations, such as garages.
Once you ahve arrived at your new home, again watch carefully for egg capsuls and cockroaches that may have survived the trip. If you are not sure whether you brought any cockroaches with you, set out sticky traps to determine if they are present. It is much easier to deal with a small population of cockroaches right away then to allow them to become abundant and then try to treat them.
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