Cockroaches are common pests that infest both houses and commercial buildings where there is food, warmth and moisture. There are multiple different species of cockroaches that can be found in Florida including Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, and American cockroaches. They are mainly active at night and are often found in homes and restaurants. Unlike pests that primarily feed off of outdoors vegetation, cockroaches are drawn to things that are commonly found in homes such as store-bought food, toothpaste, and kitchen sponges.

How do cockroaches differ?

Adult German cockroaches are typically 1/2 to 5/8 inch long and are tan to light brown in color. Although they have fully developed wings, they do not fly. German cockroaches are best identified by their small size and two dark parallel lines or “racing stripes” running from the back of the head to the wings. It is usually found in kitchens near dishwashers, stoves, and sinks, and in bathrooms of homes. They feed on a wide variety of foods, including almost anything like soap, glue, and toothpaste.

American cockroaches are one of the largest cockroaches that invade homes and adult American cockroaches are reddish brown or mahogany colored. Sometimes called palmetto bugs or water bugs, American cockroaches are found throughout the United States. Both male and female American cockroaches develop wings when the roaches become adults and they can fly. They are usually found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, sump pump rooms, and electrical rooms. American cockroaches prefer temperatures between 70°-85°F and do not survive if the temperatures drop below 15°. American roaches will feed on beer, pet food, fermenting fruits and vegetables, as well as human food. Their presence is a concern for public health because they are capable of carrying and spreading various pathogens.

Adult Oriental cockroaches are 1 to 1/4 inch long and are red-brown and black in color. They have a distinct shiny, dark body which separates them from other cockroaches. Unlike German and American cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches are not common household invaders. Oriental cockroaches are more likely to be found in sewers and commercial properties such as restaurants, office buildings, and grocery stores. They prefer to eat starchy foods which are readily available in food establishments.

Why do I have cockroaches in my house?

Cockroach infestations most often begin when someone unknowingly brings an infested item into a home or building. Poor sanitation such as leaving out food or dirty dishes, can encourage an infestation since this type of clutter provides a good food source for the roaches. American roaches usually originate from drains or sewers, and make their way into working or living areas via the pipes and drains. The adults are very strong flyers, allowing them to easily migrate from building to building. Cockroaches also are drawn to less frequented areas near sewers and drainage where they can live among the moisture and clutter made by boxes and papers left in your basement, electrical room, or crawl space. Without addressing a cockroach infestation, they can multiply very quickly.

Are cockroaches dangerous?

Cockroaches can cause major infestations and are quite unsanitary. They are a major source of food contamination leading to food poisoning and have also been found to cause allergies in humans. Cockroaches frequently live in sewers, bringing these conditions with them as they migrate indoors. Pet food bowels are also an easy target for cockroaches, making them a health threat to your dog or cat. Cockroaches can bite humans, but it’s highly unlikely. Although the odds are in your favor, there have been reported cases of cockroaches biting nails, eyelashes, and calloused skin on heels.

Can I get rid of cockroaches myself?

While it is highly unlikely that you would be able to completely eliminate a roach problem only by improving sanitation, it is an important factor in dealing with any cockroach problem. You can make your home far less inviting to cockroaches by keeping your home free of food debris, keeping trashcans and the area around them clean, keeping floors and counters clean, and not storing paper bags and cardboard. Unlike many household pests, cockroaches are prevalent year-round and require professional services in order to gain effective control.

Use these helpful tips to avoid cockroach infestations:

  • Eliminate as much clutter as possible. Do not store paper bags or cardboard.
  • Do not leave open food or dirty dishes out overnight or while you are away during the day.
  • Do not leave open containers of food on counters or cabinets.
  • Keep your trash can and the area around the trash can clean, and remove trash on a regular basis.
  • Keep the counters and floor clean, especially under and behind refrigerators, ovens, sinks, etc.

How can I prevent cockroaches from coming into my house?

The single most important thing you can do to prevent a cockroach infestation is keeping your home as sanitary as possible. This means avoiding clutter (especially paper bags and cardboard), making sure that no food is left out, and keeping floors and counters clean. Ensure that gaps around drain pipes underneath places such as your kitchen and bathroom sinks are properly sealed. If you see cockroaches in your home, you should call a pest control professional immediately. The problem will not go away on its own and will escalate quickly if not addressed.