Nobody wants to see a cockroach in their home. Cockroaches are notorious pests that spread bacteria and general disgust, but they are incredibly hard to remove. Their survival skills are unmatched, and many homeowners have ongoing battles with cockroaches.
Now, just because you see one cockroach doesn’t mean you need to call the exterminators. There are many simple treatments that you can buy at your local store. The key is knowing when you have a significant cockroach infestation that needs the professionals’ help versus when you can manage it on your own.
Before we dive into when to call an exterminator for roaches, let’s learn more about the types of cockroaches and why they make their way into your home.
What You'll Learn
Cockroach Infestation Dangers
Most people have a general dislike for cockroaches, and for good reason. While you don’t have to worry about bites like other pests, cockroaches do pose a threat for several reasons.
One of the most common effects of cockroach infestation includes allergy and asthma symptoms. The roaches leave behind plenty of traces of their existence, including body particles, feces, and saliva. Many people react to these particles as if they were dust mites or pollen.
If someone in your household has allergies or asthma, watch out for indications of a reaction or an asthma attack.
Since cockroaches live in dirty areas, they are common carriers of dangerous diseases. Roaches can carry Polio, Dysentery, and even Typhoid fever.
Cockroaches aren’t only a gross bug that you want out of your home. They can pose a health threat to your family, so it is crucial to remove them as quickly as possible.
Cockroach Infestation Causes
The most common place you will find cockroaches is in the kitchen because they are attracted to food left out and forgotten crumbs. However, even if you keep an immaculate home, you can still end up with a roach infestation.
Cockroaches thrive on moisture, so they are attracted to any areas of your home that are wet or leaky. Having a roach infestation may even draw your attention to leaky pipes you were unaware of before.
If you find roaches anywhere outside of the kitchen, the moisture could cause the infestation. For example, seeing a few cockroaches in your bathroom, basement, or laundry should be a warning sign for you to check for unwanted moisture.
Even if you leave food out one night, it does not automatically attract a colony of cockroaches. The infestation begins slowly, and they often sneak in through tiny holes, pipes, or even by hitching a ride on your backpack. They are masters at survival, which means they can come in undetected and create a family in no time.
Where Do They Live?
A cockroach population can grow exponentially without your knowledge. They often go unnoticed because they love to stay in dark, wet areas – places people tend to avoid.
Even if cockroaches are living in the corners of your kitchen cabinets, you may not even see them as they scurry to dark corners when you open up the doors.
If you are suspicious of a roach infestation, check your kitchen drawers, cabinets, and drains. Also, check your basement and laundry area, being sure to look in any cracks or crevices. Even if you don’t see an actual roach, look for their droppings.
Types of Cockroaches
There are thousands of different cockroaches in the world, but thankfully less than 70 live in the United States. Most of them live unbothered in nature, and only a few make their way into residential spaces.
Depending on your location, you may see several different roaches, but the two main ones are the American and German cockroaches.
When people think of cockroaches, they probably imagine large, reddish-brown bugs that measure about two inches long. These are called American cockroaches and are not that common in home infestations.
They are more noticeable thanks to their size, but they prefer staying outdoors. If there is an American cockroach infestation in your home, they will most likely stay out of the kitchen and in your basement or laundry room.
German cockroaches are much more common in your kitchen, even though they don’t necessarily look like your typical roach. They are about half the size of an American cockroach and are a light beige color.
Don’t mistake them for young American cockroaches just because of their size. They are much more common in home infestations, and seeing one requires immediate action.
Found a Cockroach? Here’s What To Do
If you spot a cockroach in your home, the first step – besides killing it if you can! – is figuring out what kind of cockroach it is. If it is an American cockroach, there may not be a reason to panic and fill your home with chemicals.
Since American cockroaches prefer the outdoors, one lone American roach is not a sign of infestation. Instead, it may just be one cockroach that managed to get into your house.
If you see a German cockroach, it’s time to consider what cockroach treatment you would like. Since these roaches are the most common type found in homes, just seeing one is enough to start setting bait traps.
Seeing more than one cockroach together – especially an adult and a baby – is a surefire sign that you have an infestation. Since roaches prefer to stay in the dark, seeing them out and about in pairs or groups shows that they are outgrowing their home. In other words, there are dozens already in your home.
When you start spotting cockroaches or droppings, you can choose which treatment method you want to take. You may not need to immediately call a professional, especially if you’re going to handle the situation yourself.
While some people may opt to immediately hire a profesisonal, you can try to save money with some of the following DIY treatments.
Just cleaning your home will not remove the cockroaches already living there, but this can eliminate their food source and make for an unfavorable environment. The best plan would be to combine deep cleaning with some of the other methods.
Wherever you find the cockroaches, start cleaning everything. If they’re in your kitchen, take everything off the shelves, drawers, and cabinets. Clean the back corners and crevices of your kitchen, and check under the drawers, stoves, and fridges.
Use a strong cleaner to remove any grease stains or spills around the kitchen. Any collection of crumbs or spilled grease can attract roaches, so eliminate all possible food sources.
If you find roaches in your basement or laundry room, check for moisture sources. Look at the pipes, drains, and hidden corners and look for any humid or damp areas. Besides the deep cleaning, take care of any sources of moisture to keep the cockroaches away.
Traps and Deterrents
A cheap way to kill cockroaches is by using store-bought products. You can find traps and sprays at your local store that are reasonably effective at killing roaches.
The traps work just like your regular mouse trap by drawing the cockroaches towards food, which is actually poison. The venom spreads through the colony when other roaches eat the cockroaches killed by the trap.
You can also opt for anti-cockroach sprays, which you can use directly on your counters, stoves, and cabinets. While this won’t instantly kill the cockroaches, it does deter them from making a home out of your kitchen.
One of the most practical DIY cockroach treatments is boric acid. Use the acid to make a dough with flour and sugar, and then leave little dough balls for the cockroaches. Place them strategically in your home, where the roaches would like to hide. Put one under the fridge, in the back of a cabinet, or near the garbage.
The acid works just like other poison traps. While not all the cockroaches will feed off the dough, those that don’t will ingest the poison by eating the other dead cockroaches.
When to Call an Exterminator
While at-home solutions may be cheaper and easier to use, they have several downfalls.
First, setting poison traps in your home can pose a significant threat to any pets or small children you have in your home. Even if you hide them well, your mischievous dogs or toddler could get their hands – and worse, their mouth – on the venom. Using boric acid or poisonous traps will probably be out of the question if you have pets or children.
Additionally, these treatments only attack specific areas of your home. For example, if you place boric acid in your kitchen, the cockroaches may lose a portion of their population and move to a different area of your house. To truly rid yourself of a cockroach infestation, it is probably best to call in some professional help.
When to call an exterminator for roaches is primarily up to you and what you can handle on your own. If you have spotted a cockroach and are considering your plan of action, consider the following points:
What type of cockroach did you see?
If you saw a German cockroach, that’s a sign of an existing infestation, so it may be wise to immediately contact a professional. The experts can come and assess the situation and make sure every last roach dies. On the other hand, if you saw an American roach, you may not need professional help. If you’ve seen a bug that just looks like a cockroach, then there’s no need to actually worry at all.
How many cockroaches did you see?
If you saw more than one, especially a baby, that is a sign of an already large roach colony that may require an exterminator’s help. If you’ve seen cockroach poop, that’s another telltale sign of more than one insect, and it’s likely easier to call in a professional.
Where are the cockroaches?
Having roaches in your kitchen is probably the worst possible situation. You don’t want disease-carrying bugs crawling around your food and eating spaces.
If you want an immediate solution to roaches in your kitchen, an exterminator may be the best choice. However, finding cockroaches in other, lesser-used areas of your home may not require an exterminator. Again, the decision is up to you.
Do you have a family?
Imagining your kids finding and playing with a cockroach is enough to cause terror in any parent. Plus, you don’t want kids or your pets to get into any poison left out for the cockroach.
If you have pets or children, you may want to call a professional as soon as possible for an immediate, complete roach removal.
Even though the exterminator’s removal process will involve chemicals, it is a one-time occurrence, and you can take your family out of the house. Other at-home solutions leave poison around the home for weeks at a time, posing a constant danger.
Do you have a problem with moisture in your home?
If you have a mold problem or leaky pipes, doing cockroach treatments like traps and poison may work for only a short period. The constant presence of moisture will attract cockroaches until you can treat the source.
By contacting an exterminator to take care of cockroaches thriving off of a humid environment, you can eliminate the cockroaches at one time. Once they are gone, you can focus on the moisture problem and tackle that, so the cockroaches don’t come back.
Do you live in a humid area?
Likewise, living in a wet, humid environment makes the presence of roaches more probable. If you have an ongoing problem with cockroaches due to the environment, consider calling an exterminator. This process will provide you time to seal off your house to prevent more cockroaches from entering.
So, Should You Call an Exterminator?
Take some time to consider the above questions and what option is best for you and your family. Some people opt to hire professional help at first sight of a cockroach, while others prefer other methods.
Whether you decide to wait or contact an exterminator immediately, make sure to start some roach treatment, so they don’t overrun your home!