As the weather starts to warm up and we shake off the winter blues, we can’t help but look forward to the joys of spring: picnics, flowers, and (hopefully) fewer layers. But with the changing seasons comes a less pleasant side effect: the dreaded cockroach. These creepy crawlers thrive in warm and humid environments, so expect them to crawl out in full force as the temperature rises.
According to the American Housing Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every two years, cockroach infestations affect more than 14 million households nationwide. And with these numbers being relatively consistent over the past decade, it’s clear that the cockroach remains one of the most widespread and persistent pests in the U.S.
While active all year round, the roach population significantly increases in spring. This increase is because, like most insects, cockroaches are cold-blooded and hibernate during the colder months. But when temperatures rise with the change in seasons, these roaches will go into high gear — searching households for food sources and multiplying by the hundreds.
Cockroaches aren’t just unsettling; they’re also unsanitary. These common household pests often live near sewers and eat through garbage, bringing them into contact with numerous germs. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cockroaches carry bacteria that, if deposited on food, can cause salmonella and streptococcus.
Prevention is the most effective cockroach control, so as the spring season begins to roll in, there’s no better time to get a jump start on reducing the risk of an infestation with these practical steps.
Step 1: Identify The Culprit
First, knowing what kind of pest you’re up against is always a good place to start.
The term “Palmetto Bug” is a general term commonly used to refer to several species of cockroaches, but only three of these are most likely seen indoors during spring.
Another common type is the American cockroach, typically found in the southeastern part of the U.S. It’s one of the largest species and has a complete set of wings that allows them to fly short distances. They tend to be brown or brownish-red and are also one of the longest-lived — with lifespans of up to two years.
Brown-banded cockroaches are attracted to warm and dry areas, commonly found inside walls or electronics like televisions. As their name suggests, they have brown bodies with light yellow bands spanning across their wings. This species is not likely to bite but can still carry disease-causing bacteria on its legs and bodies.
The German cockroach is the most common type in the U.S. They breed rapidly as each female produces an average of 30-40 eggs in her lifetime. So even a single female in your home can grow an infestation of more than 30,000 baby cockroaches. Its tell-tale attributes include a light-brown body with two dark, parallel stripes from the head to the wings.
Step 2: Seal Possible Entry Points
While most cockroaches access your household from the outside, some may already be hiding in cracks and crevices inside your home since the colder months — waiting to emerge when temperatures rise.
To prevent an infestation, eliminate common entry points by sealing all visible cracks along doors, windows, and foundations with weatherstripping.
Baseboards, sinks, and crawl spaces are typical breeding places, so it is essential to check these areas routinely. Painting and varnishing over wood also helps seal entry points and lessens pores on the wood to prevent cockroaches from spreading their pheromones on the surface.
Step 3: Limit Moisture
Cockroaches thrive in damp and moist areas, so part of the elimination process is restricting any excess water source for these pests.
Restricting excess water sources can be done by removing stagnant water around your home, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom, by keeping your floors, faucets, and sinks dry. If you have pets, put away or cover their water dishes at night, as cockroaches are nocturnal. It is also essential to look for standing water in birdbaths and flowerpots.
Checking and repairing damaged pipes and drains also helps limit excess moisture and reduces the risk of mold growth — the smell of which attracts more cockroaches.
Step 4: Practice Proper Food Storage
Cockroaches are scavengers; they rely heavily on the food that humans leave behind. Keeping food sources accessible, like dirty dishes and crumbs, will put your home at risk of attracting cockroaches.
Cockroaches can chew through almost anything- from cardboard to plastic bags- and even flatten their bodies to fit into small openings. So the safe choice is to use sealed, solid containers like sturdy plastic bins or air-tight jars.
Eliminate crumbs by wiping down counters and tables regularly. Make it a habit to confine all eating only to specific areas, like the kitchen or dining room, to prevent the spreading of unwanted food scraps around the house.
Step 5: Declutter When You Can
Good housekeeping practices play a crucial role in cockroach control.
Cockroaches use a pheromone excreted in their droppings to signal others that they’ve found a safe breeding spot. To prevent your home from becoming a breeding zone, remove excess clutter like old magazines and cardboard packages from your home.
Simplify your space by providing sufficient storage spaces for smaller items and appliances to help declutter table tops and shelves. Empty your garbage bins regularly as well, preferably daily.
Step 6: Use Organic Pesticides
Instead of using harmful sprays or foggers, switch to natural and organic insecticides like boric acid or even Diatomaceous earth — a pulverized algae that instantly kills cockroaches when it clings to their legs and bodies.
The smell of citrus fruits, like lemons, also helps deter cockroaches.
Things To Note
The best offense is a good defense when aiming to prevent a cockroach infestation. An active prevention strategy with these practical tips should set you up for a roach-free spring.
While cockroaches may seem like an inevitable part of the changing seasons, there are plenty of ways to keep them at bay. From regular cleanings to sealing potential entry points, a little effort can go a long way in preventing these pests from taking up rent-free residences in your home.
And if all else fails, just remember: with their quick scurrying and impressive survival skills, cockroaches are truly one of nature’s most resilient creatures.
So why not take a moment to appreciate their tenacity, even while you show them the door? Happy spring, everyone!
This article was produced by Planetnatural.com and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
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Melissa Askari is a biologist and master gardener who is known for her contributions to the field of sustainable living. She is a regular contributor to Planet Natural, a website that provides information and resources for gardening, composting and pest control. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices and helping people create beautiful, healthy gardens using natural methods. With her expertise in both biology and gardening, Melissa is able to provide valuable insights and advice to gardeners of all levels. Her passion for the natural world is evident in her writing and her dedication to promoting sustainable practices that benefit both people and the planet.