Cockroach Management Strategies
Cockroaches can survive on tiny amounts of food such as crumbs, grease, or food residue.
The most effective and healthiest method of controlling pests is integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is the use of integrated techniques, such as exclusion, sanitation, and baiting, to control pests and utilizing management tools, such as reports on pest location, pest type, needed repairs, and processes that get action when action is needed. IPM utilizes the least toxic methods that will get the job done, which is especially important in food preparation areas. IPM is “knowing thy enemy” and leveraging the particular pest’s own habits and behaviors against it.
The two keys to controlling cockroaches are sanitation and exclusion: cockroaches are likely to reinvade as long as a habitat is suitable for them, one where food, water, and shelter are available. The conditions that promoted the infestation in the first place must be changed.
Sanitation: Eliminating Food, Water, and Shelter:
If there is an indication of a roach infestation, the critical start is a thorough cleaning. This helps remove food sources for the cockroaches, dead cockroaches and egg cases (which is also a cockroach food; they are not above cannibalizing themselves) as well as roach feces and body parts (“frass,” which looks a little like pepper sprinkled around cracks and crevices is also a food source, particularly for nymphs).
Preventative steps to minimize available food include:
- Indoor trash containers should be emptied frequently, kept clean both inside and out. Plastic bags lining trash containers can be kept closed with twist ties. This will prevent cockroaches from being attracted to the garbage area.
- Filled indoor garbage containers should be removed from the dwelling immediately and placed in outdoor containers with tight-fitting lids or dumpsters.
- Keeping the area around dumpsters or other outdoor garbage storage areas clean and free of debris will also prevent outdoor cockroach infestations in the area.
- Frequent emptying of sink strainers and running of the garbage disposal and will prevent food build up in the sink drain.
- Washing dishes immediately after a meal will eliminate prevent cockroaches from consuming food residue on dishes.
- Kitchen appliances should be kept clean and free of food particles and grease. Additionally, the areas underneath and behind appliances should be kept grease and crumb free.
- If pets are present, dry food should be kept in resealable containers. Do not leave food and water out all the time. Feed your pet at particular times and clean up after every meal.
- All food products should be resealed after opening, stored in plastic snap-lid containers or kept in the refrigerator.
- Regular sweeping/vacuuming of floors and furniture where people eat (i.e. kitchen table or in the living room in front of the TV) helps to eliminate cockroach food sources.
- Regular cleaning of food storage areas and shelves eliminates spilled or scattered food and disrupts cockroach populations that may be using the area as a harborage.
The single most important factor in determining cockroach survival is the availability of water. Cockroaches have short life spans without water even if food is abundant. During periods of drought, the incidence of cockroaches indoors will often increase as larger cockroaches invade structures in search of moisture.
Preventative steps to minimize water sources include:
- Tightening loose pipes, patch plumbing leaks and replace used washers in the kitchen sink and bathroom areas. Outdoor water spigots and sprinklers should also be checked for drips and leaks.
- Dry out sinks and bathtubs after use.
- A common source of moisture is condensation under the refrigerator. This area should be frequently wiped dry or, if possible, a pan should be placed under the appliance to collect water. The collection pan should be emptied frequently. Condensation on pipes (under the sink or in wall voids) is also a problem. Insulate these pipes if possible.
- Pet drinking dishes and aquariums are also sources of moisture. Empty pet water dishes at night when cockroaches are foraging. Aquariums should have tight-fitting lids or screens to prevent cockroach entry.
- Be careful not to over-water indoor plants because excess water is available to cockroaches.
- Glasses, cups, and soda cans containing water or liquid residue are common sources of moisture for cockroaches. Be sure not to leave these containers in bedrooms, sinks, on countertops or other areas. Rinse, dry, and invert cups and glasses immediately after use and dispose of soda cans in trash containers.
- Steps should be taken to eliminate places where water collects outdoors. This will not only eliminate cockroach moisture sources but also mosquito breeding habitat.
The third critical element for cockroach survival is harborage. By nature, cockroaches avoid open, well-lit areas with frequent air movement. They prefer dark, warm cracks and crevices. Excess clutter provides numerous locations suitable for cockroach habitation. The elimination of these harborages (clutter) is important in controlling infestations.
Preventative steps to minimize shelter include:
- Adult cockroaches can fit into cracks only 1.6 mm wide (about 1/16 of an inch). Any small gap or hole is a prime cockroach harboring area. Cracks and crevices of this kind should be sealed with caulking.
- Removing clutter eliminates cockroach harborages and breeding areas. Keep all areas of the home, especially the kitchen and bathroom, uncluttered and free of useless debris.
- Outside, remove debris and trash from around the house.
- Stack firewood far away from the house, as this is a prime harborage area for outdoor cockroaches.
Exclusion: Preventing Cockroach Entry
Determining how and where cockroaches are breaking into your facility is critical to long-term control; no matter what affirmative steps you take inside your business, if you don’t control your perimeter, you’ll always be at risk for a reinfestation. If you are struggling with an ongoing problem, isolate and inspect all shipments into the facility, especially food shipments. Cockroaches could be re-introduced to your facility in shipments from an infested source.
Preventative steps to prevent cockroach entry include:
- Cockroaches migrate easily through multi-unit dwellings via plumbing and electrical connections. Sealing gaps around plumbing, wall outlets, and switch plates will prevent cockroaches from migrating from infested units to others.
- Keep doors and windows closed and screened. Also, caulk cracks and gaps that may allow cockroaches to invade from outdoors.
- Cockroaches frequently enter homes by coming up through dry drain traps. Periodically run the water in spare bathrooms, utility tubs, and toilets to keep the drain trap filled and off-limits to cockroaches.
- Fiberglass window screens over vent pipes on the roof will prevent cockroaches from migrating up from sewer connections and gaining access to attics and windows.
- Groceries, produce, and other packaged food products may have been stored in infested locations before they were purchased. Make an effort to visibly scan all grocery items for cockroach evidence before putting them away.
- Children can transport cockroaches from school to home in book bags and lunch pails. Inspect these items on a regular basis.
- Guests (adults and children) can often transport cockroaches from their infested home to yours either on themselves or in packages. Limit guest access to specific areas of your home and inspect these areas after they depart.
Cowleys Pest Services can help you prevent and solve your cockroach problem in Edison, Somerset, Lakewood, Brick, Toms River, Piscataway, Bridgewater, Middletown, Princeton Junction, Old Bridge, and nearby in New Jersey. Contact us today to schedule a Free Estimate!