Is your home fit for a cockroach?

You have only to mention the word to some of my friends and neighbours and a look of panic shows on their faces. They start to sweat and recall their earlier meetings with these entertaining creatures. I have also noticed that dinner table conversations suddenly become much fun and somewhat animated when the dreaded word ‘cockroach’ is mentioned. My recent encounter with a rather desiccated member of the species in a neighbour’s kitchen has changed all that and I find that I too am becoming obsessed with these creatures…

Getting to know your Enemy
Did you know that there are American, German, Wood and Brown-bellied cockroaches. You can find Oriental and Tropical cockroaches in the reference books. On the Internet, they even have their own website where you can watch them play; you can even buy a Madagascan Giant Hissing cockroach as a pet. Wherever they come from, they have a few things in common. They are nocturnal and live in groups.

Madagascan Giant Hissing cockroach

They seek cracks and crevices that are warm, dark, and moist; they also live inside cardboard and paper bags. Cockroaches eat anything that is organic-even cardboard and the glue that binds books together. They need water, although some species, and there seem to be many, can live for several weeks with minimal quantities. Cockroaches prefer to stay near their food sources and shelter. Take away both and the cockroaches will almost certainly seek a more hospitable home. So how do you go about cockroach removal?

Find them first
If you find that you are being visited by even one, experts recommend immediate action. Try to find the source of the infestation and use “sticky traps” to capture the cockroaches. Use a flashlight and dental mirror to peek behind or under cabinets. Search for living or dead cockroaches, shed exoskeletons (“skins”), egg cases, and faeces. You can also find their hiding places by quietly entering a dark room and watching where they run when you turn on the lights.

Place the sticky traps near any evidence of cockroaches, near cracks in the building and check the traps weekly. Later on, you can set more traps to judge the success of your efforts if you need to.

Can’t I live with a few cockroaches?
Perhaps they don’t disgust or embarrass you, but there are good reasons to exclude cockroaches from your home.

A cockroach will travel through many types of wastes then walk over, and defecate on your kitchen counters, plates, silverware, and any accessible food. Cockroaches are known to carry disease-causing bacteria, although their ability to transmit diseases to humans is under study. They’re still a significant health concern because they trigger allergies that contribute to asthma. Finding even one cockroach warrants alertness. All cockroach problems start small, but they reproduce rapidly, so early intervention is highly recommended.

Can’t I adopt one as a pet?
(Well if I hadn’t raised it, the kids surely will) No, is probably the right answer.

Right then, mirrors and torches at the ready, off you go on your cockroach hunt. Have fun!

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