Whenever you spot a cockroach in your house, the first thing that might come to your mind is whether you might have a roach infestation. Well, roaches bring a host of negative effects to our homes and may cost hundreds of dollars to eradicate.
So, I understand the cause of panic when homeowners spot a single cockroach in their house. But should you be worried about the one roach you have spotted?
A short answer is NO. The sight of one roach is not a single indicator that you have a roach infestation to deal with. These pesky creatures are attracted to our homes as they search for water, food, shelter and warmth. So, the one roach that you spot, could have just moved in search of conditions to survive. However, you should treat this one roach seriously to ensure that it doesn’t develop into an infestation.
You need to know that cockroaches have evolved with humans for many years and have developed many survival tactics which have made them survive numerous mass extinction. They stay out of sight during the day, only coming out during the night to terrorise your house.
That means, unless you have an infestation, you will rarely see cockroaches. But there are a few signs that may indicate a possible roach infestation.
Signs Of Cockroach Infestation
1. Seeing Roaches During The Day
The sight a cockroach is obviously the surest sign of a roach problem. And while the best time to spot these nocturnal insects is during the night, sometimes it possible to see them during the day. If you spot a roach during the day, there is a high chance that you might be dealing with a horde of them.
Although roaches tend to hide during the day, overcrowding and competition for food and water may cause them to spill out during the day in order to survive. So, if you find roaches during the day, it’s probably the right time to start a treatment plan or seek help from pest control professionals
2. Dead Roaches Lying Around
Basically, life and death is part of a roach infestation. Thus, it is common to find carcasses of cockroaches in the places they hide. Signs of dead roaches mean that roaches are already in your house but not necessarily an infestation.
3. Roach Droppings
Another possible indicator of roach infestation, is the presence of fecal matter around your house. These creatures have a high metabolism rate, meaning they can excrete a substantial amount of fecal matter. The droppings differ in appearance, depending on the species and sizes of cockroaches.
Adult roaches will defecate cylindrical pellets-like feces while droppings from small roaches resemble ground coffee. The location and the quantity of roach feces can give you a hint of the extent of the infestation.
Check the areas most frequented by roaches such as behind the sink and food storage areas for roach droppings. If there’s a substantial amount of feces, this could be a clear indicator of a high roach traffic.
4. Presence Of Roach Eggs
Roaches breed and multiply rapidly in just a few days. So, the sight of oothecae (egg casings) left after hatching is a clear sign of infestation. Oothecae are the brown casings that are discarded after hatching. Most roach species produce an ootheca with 10 to 20 eggs but the stubborn German roach will have up to 50 eggs in a single ootheca.
Normally, most roach species attach their ootheca in secure places where pesticides and enemies like humans have a difficulty reaching.
However, the German roach carries with it the ootheca until the eggs hatch, making it hard to spot. If you have an infestation, you will spot egg castings inside closets, cabinets, around appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, stoves etc.
5. Unusual Smells
Finally, roaches have a characteristic oily odour which tends to become pungent as the infestation gets worse. The oily smell is possible with a large number of cockroaches, but can also result from oleic acid produced by decomposition of dead roaches. German roaches produce quite an intense smell than other roaches. The smell of cockroaches remains in the air and can even interfere with the taste of food.
What Attracts Roaches?
1. Food Or Something To Eat
Exposed food is one the most common attractant for roaches. Roaches will crawl and remain in your house as long as they have something to eat. They are not selective at all. From food crumbs on surfaces to left overs on utensils, roaches will eat almost anything they come across.
But armed with simple housekeeping measures, you can minimise these avenues for roach proliferation. For example you can clean the house thoroughly and disinfect the surfaces. In addition keep all food substances in sealed vessels.
However, remember that roaches do not entirely rely on foodstuffs like us. Some cockroach species will feed on non-food substances like wood, cardboard, glue, paper etc.
2. Presence Of Damp, Dark And Hidden Places
Even if roaches are deprived of foodstuffs, these creatures are known to be sturdy enough to survive up to a month without feeding. During this time, roaches tend to cling to any dark, hidden and wet places in the house. Hence, you might find them around garbage points, garage and bathroom and behind the sink.
Simply speaking, these creatures will hide in place where there’s seldom disturbances and away from human predators.
3. Exposed Trash
Just like foodstuffs, exposed trash will attract roaches like magnet. They will not only find something to eat but also a quiet haven to hide and breed.
If you want to get roaches out of trash areas, be sure to empty the garbage collection bins and clean them thoroughly.
Roaches can survive up to a month without food but not without water. They dehydrate quickly and will barely survive a month or two without water. That’s why roaches are attracted to wet places like under the sink, leaking pipes, around pet’s water and any other wet surface.
However keeping your house as dry as possible can reduce the persistence of roaches in your house.
5. Overgrown Vegetation
Overgrowing grass and weed around the house and along pathways leading to the doors may be good breeding areas for roaches. In addition natural mulch and overstayed mown grass (i.e. before disposal), may harbour roaches because of the moist and warm conditions underneath.
However such roach threats can be minimised by maintaining a clean and tidy garden through clearing and damping overgrown vegetation.
6. Things You Bring Home
Unlike bed bugs, roaches do not hitch a ride home on things like clothes and furniture. Roaches like hiding in electrical appliances and cardboard boxes. They love the warm and quiet conditions inside appliances, so be keen not to bring them home.
You risk bring them home if you buy second hand appliances that come from a roach infested place. If you are not sure whether such appliances harbour roaches, you can cast the doubts by wrapping the items in airtight plastic bags together with Nuvan strips and leave them for a week or so.
What Type Of Roach Do I Have?
Of the 4600 known species of roaches, only 30 species have evolved and adapted to live with humans. Out of these, there are 5 main types of roaches that you are likely to find near households. These include:
1. German Cockroach
The scientific name for this roach is Blattella germanica. It is the type of roach you will commonly find in warmer climates. Though it is small in size, merely about ½ in, this is one roach you don’t want to have anywhere near your house. They harbor numerous disease-causing bacteria and may cause allergy relation reactions. German roaches are also known for their resistance against common pesticides. Their color ranges from dark brown to tan and they don’t fly.
2. American Cockroach
The scientific name for this roach is Periplaneta Americana. This is the largest type of roach that you will see in your house. Its reddish brown, readily flies and about 1½ in. Although it’s the most abundant, this roach is not very dangerous. It’s however associated with a lot of nasty diseases to humans.
3. Oriental Cockroach
The scientific name for this roach is Blatta orientalis Linnaeus. It’s commonly known as the ‘water bug’ due to its tendency to inhabit damp areas such as the basements. Its color ranges from dark brown to black but the wings are non-functional.
4. Brown Banded Roach
The scientific name for this roach is Supella longipalpa. This roach resembles the German roach but can be distinguished by the brown bands on their body. In addition, just like the German roach, this roach skin castings and excretions are associated with allergic reactions.
5. Smoky Brown Roach
Last but not the least is the “Smoky Brown Roach”. The scientific name for this roach is Periplaneta fuliginosa. The name of this roach comes from its characteristic mahogany color. They commonly inhabit areas around the garage and woodpiles.
The sight of one roach should not cause you a lot of panic. This should rather get you ready for a roach control plan. Since roaches breed very rapidly, one female roach can quickly cause a roach infestation in your home.
I would recommend that you embark on appropriate roach prevention plans such as eliminating conducive environments. In addition, you can seek advice from a professional pest exterminator.