Roach Infestations and How to Prevent Them

dead roach on floor near powder

There is nothing in the world more hated, and perhaps feared, than a cockroach infestation. Long the annoyance and unwanted resident of major urban cities, the cockroach resists many pest-removing methods making them particularly awful to deal with.

And, as if they weren’t already repulsive enough, they carry germs and diseases. If you are curious about cockroaches, or maybe you even have an infestation of your own, you should check out this article to get to the root of these pests.

Cockroach Basics

The dreaded roach is capable of flight, has six legs, and is so hardy one might mistake it for being invincible. They live up to one year and are mainly nocturnal, but when singly present, they may run away when exposed to light.

However, larger infestations increase boldness and daylight activity which can lead to some scares for residents of a home.


Cockroaches are most common in tropical and subtropical climates, usually living close to human-occupied buildings or high urban-living densities with food and room to grow.

Some cockroach species, such as the American or Chinese cockroach, breeds are present in large populations when supported by food and water from human dwellings, and they are routinely found in and around garbage cans, kitchens, or food-storage areas.

Roach infestations in cities as populous as New York were long the fodder of spoofs on "Saturday Night Live," mocking the freakish size and boldness of the cockroach and its place in American domestic life, particularly in large cities.

Roaches like moisture and can find their way to multiplying numbers near a leaky pipe between the walls, underneath a broken drain overflow, or in areas long disused, such as storage areas or cabinets and drawers.

Surface water can extend the life of a roach long enough for it to scurry under a car, climb up a tree by a window, or crawl into a florist's hothouse plant left on the doorstep, which is why roaches are drawn to areas where they can easily get water.

Ventilated storehouses where spoiled or broken food containers are aggregated may spawn a huge population that can flow out into a field and be carried miles away, spreading into widening circles of pest population behavior, which no one wants to deal with later on.

roaches on a window frame


The female may produce up to eight batches of multiple offspring in a lifetime. These foster batches of 30 to 40 clear roachlings turn darker within hours. A roach female can produce in her lifetime 300 to 400 offspring.

As such, the presence of many cockroaches implies an exponential threat of future infestation, not just a current one. The "one" that got away may return a millionfold.


Roaches are capable of living for a month without food and can remain alive even if headless for up to a week. The Olympic steeplechaser of insects, the roach can hold its breath for 45 minutes and can slow down its heart rate.

Cockroaches have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, while a lethal dose of radiation in a nuclear attack or bioterror wave burst might be 6-15 times that for humans.

The natural death of cockroaches probably occurs due to predation by larger animals. Since insects are engineered as vertebrates, nerve gas and toxins from pest-control elements alter muscular coordination.

The cockroach eventually dies in its upside-down position caused by muscular spasms that often result in the cockroach flipping on its back.


Cockroaches have been around for more than 350 million years with about 4,000 species of cockroaches existing. Out of about 22 species, four specifically cause all the trouble.

The German, American, brown-banded, and oriental cockroaches are some of the world’s most disdained pests.

Human-Health Threats

Cockroaches are often a health threat. Habits and high reproductive rates of pest cockroaches can lead to large populations spreading disease organisms, contaminating food, causing allergies, and even worsening asthma.

As reported by the National Pest Management Control Association, cockroaches have been reported to spread 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and over five human pathogens.

Fun fact: In 2006, actress Michelle Rodriguez of the TV show "Lost" had to take steroid medication while filming on set in Hawaii, as she has long been allergic to cockroach "pollen."

The tropical environment made roaches and their by-products everywhere on the islands, and everywhere on the set, a health hazard.

Getting Rid of Roaches

Cockroaches are defiant pests that are resistant to many conventional methods of critter control. Chemical sprays and poison may provide temporary relief, but these resilient creatures somehow find a way back into our homes.

Moreover, many of these conventional methods of cockroach containment are toxic to the members of the household. Listed below are some long-lasting cockroach control and prevention tips.

lines of powder along baseboard and floor

Boric Powder

Unfortunately, you can only kill all the cockroaches in your home with the help of chemicals. Boric powder is highly recommended for this purpose. Apply the boric powder along corners and shelves frequented by the pests.

Never leave any chemical in open view where it can be accessed by young children or pets. Soon you should start seeing dead cockroaches, which you must remove promptly. You can also use poisoned food as bait for the cockroaches. Bait is also an effective method for cockroach extermination.

Hiring a Pest-Control Agent

One bomb and one set of roach "motels" might not get rid of a cockroach problem. It’s a battle of numbers. Man-made substances such as hydramethylnon gel or deltamethrin are necessary to combat structural penetrations and infestations.

Experienced pest-control agents should be consulted, as they will know the pertinent facts about local roach contamination trends, infestation tracking, and breed fluctuations, as well as effective ways to end the roach occupation.

exterminator with protective gear spraying floor

Roach-Killing Substances

Since the cockroach has few natural predators, man must step in to eradicate them. Ammonia, bleach, or chalk powder can be used to fend subsequent roaches away.

Those experienced in roach control in domestic areas know that roaches will not cross a line of borax, and in some cases, bleach salts or ammonium chloride can be effective (although recommended for industrial use only).

If cornstarch, flour, or food-smelling elements are added to the roach "powder," then roaches are attracted to it and breathe it in. This dust works at a level that makes human size once again an advantage; the dust is mildly acrid or annoying to a human, but to a small insect it is toxic.

House Centipedes

Biological control of cockroaches by wasps has been somewhat effective but cannot control the infestation. Strangely, a house centipede is the most effective control agent of cockroaches. Most people loathe using this technique inside their homes as a logical defense against roaches, however.


Preventative measures include sealed food storage, secured garbage cans, frequent and aggressive kitchen and food preparation cleanliness, and regular vacuuming.

Home and building construction quality and structural design quality and integrity also co-vary encouragement of roach infestation with water leaks, cracked porcelain, faulty drains, and undisputed spaces in walls or unseen areas.

New studies related to pest-control developments show cockroaches leave chemical trails in their feces.

Other cockroaches will follow these trails to discover sources of food, water, and where other cockroaches are hiding. Thus, constant cleaning can eradicate some of these "messages" left inside your home.

Cockroaches will use any small crevice or gap to gain entry to your home. You must undertake a thorough inspection of every nook and corner of your home to ensure that it is sealed shut. Caulk all openings near doors, windows, cupboards, shelves, baseboards, pipes, and sinks.

You can also use steel wool or copper mesh to plug holes and prevent entry to your home.

Make sure all your doors and windows shut properly and are air-tight. Use weather stripping if necessary.

Close any large openings with cement or plaster. This will provide a permanent, strong barrier.

Cover vents with screens so that pests are blocked without affecting ventilation.

Keep your home clean and use naphthalene balls in closets.

Below are more detailed tips on a few prevention methods.


The best way to prevent roaches from moving in with you is to prevent them from being able to get in at all.

Go over all possible entrances to your house—this includes the obvious doors and windows, but also cracks in the floor, baseboards, cupboards, and any other openings.

If you live in an apartment, remember that while a roach could get in from outside, it is just as likely to be able to get in from another apartment.

Once you are done taking inventory of your entrances, it is time to seal them off. For your doors and windows, you should install weather stripping to seal them off from the outside world.

For small cracks, you can use caulk to close them permanently. Be thorough—it only takes one hole to let in roaches.

roaches eating cookie crumbs on a floor


Roaches are notorious for being able to live in inhospitable conditions, but they still need food and water like any animal. Without a supply of food and water to keep them alive, roaches will be much less interested in moving into your home.

By keeping all of your food and water unavailable, you can keep them from wanting to come in the first place.

However, when dealing with roaches, being too thorough is impossible. Because of this, it is important to use some strategy when cleaning to make sure you get every single particle of food.

First, clean up after eating thoroughly. Wash dishes and wipe up eating areas with a sponge immediately after eating.

Do not leave food out and available. If you are storing food, you should seal it tightly so that it does not give off smells and attract roaches.

It is important to hunt down any hidden crumbs that may have escaped detection the first time. In order to do this, you will have to move appliances and furniture out of the way to vacuum beneath them so you can avoid having any tiny scraps of food available for roaches to eat.

Using a vacuum cleaner attachment can also help with this, as it can allow you to vacuum in areas you normally would not. However, do not use a vacuum cleaner attachment as a substitute for a thorough cleaning.


In addition to food, you also need to make sure any roaches that think about infesting your home have no water as well. Do not leave dishes to soak for an unnecessarily long time, and clean up all spills immediately.

Roaches in Drains

As mentioned already, cockroaches like water. Though you might be able to temporarily exterminate cockroaches with roach spray, to get rid of cockroaches in your drains, you must prevent them from returning by providing uninhabitable living conditions.

One of the easiest ways to get cockroaches out of your drain is to make your drain an undesirable place to live. Drains that have food and water present are the perfect homes for these roaches.

To prevent them from returning, you should always thoroughly run your garbage disposal and promptly fix any leaks that would allow these pests to have a continuous water source. To get rid of any food debris already down your drains, pour vinegar or boiling water down your drains.

Next, cover any drains with sink stoppers when they are not in use. By doing this, cockroaches will not be able to get in or out of your drains. Follow this rule especially at night because roaches are nocturnal creatures.

Once you’ve taken the above steps, you shouldn’t have any cockroaches coming from your drains. However, to be safe you should keep all counters and appliances near drains clean so the roaches have nothing to be attracted to.

Use cockroach traps, away from pets and children, in nearby corner areas to catch any stray roaches.


Nobody wants a cockroach infestation in their home. By following these ideas, though, you will be able to rid your home of cockroaches and prevent them from coming back.