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How to deal with cockroaches

Don’t wait till you see live cockroaches in the daytime—inspect for frass and put out sticky traps. These let you know if cockroaches are on the roam.

If you find evidence act now.

Don't carry them home: check laundry baskets, bags or boxes. Look sharp—egg cases could be tucked into cracks and folds!

Keep them out: caulk cracks around windows, doors, and cabinets, fix holes in your wall. Screen or seal ducts, vents, and where pipes or wires come through a wall.

No place to hide: say goodbye to clutter! Throw out or recycle cardboard, paper, and boxes of food in your cupboard haven’t been touched in months.

Don’t feed them: put food in containers that seal tight. If there’s room, put your pop-tarts, cereal, and whatnot in the fridge or freezer.

Become a clean freak: clean up right away after you cook and eat. Rinse those juice, beer or soda cans. Keep the lid on the trash and take it out before it overflows. Leave nothing out overnight. Vacuum often, getting up crumbs and dead cockroaches. Wipe the stove, drip trays, and surrounding walls to get splattered grease and cockroach treats. Do you leave dishes to soak overnight, or food out for pets? You’ve set up a buffet in your kitchen.

Dry up: cockroaches like it damp. Repair dripping faucets and leaky pipes. Use a dehumidifier to dry the basement. Even sweaty pipes and condensation can quench a cockroach’s thirst. Insulate water pipes and use a fan when you shower.

Each one teach one: get buy-in from family and neighbors so you all pull together.

Pesticides: No need for sprays. Tamper resistant—means kid and cats can’t get into it—bait-stations work great. The cockroaches eat the bait and slowly die. But first they go back to their buddies and poop. The friends eat this and get poisoned too. But cigarette smoke, strong-smelling cleaners, or pesticide sprays can ruin the bait. And they’re less likely to take the bait if they have crumbs or spills to eat. Clean up—and be patient.

American cockroach
American cockroach. Photo by Clemson University-USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,
American cockroach egg case.
American cockroach egg case. Photo by Gary Alpert, Env. Health and Safety, Harvard U.


Brown banded cockroaches
Brown banded cockroach male (L) and female (R). Photo by Gary Alpert, Env. Health and Safety, Harvard U.
German cockroach
German cockroach. Photo by Clemson University-USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

What they look like

Most cockroaches are oval, flat, long-legged with long antennae. But they come in several models, so each has its own look. Young cockroaches—nymphs—look like adults, just smaller. Egg cases are the size of pencil erasers and full of eggs—mom sticks them wherever it’s warm … sometimes even in the cardboard boxes you bring stuff home in. Some cockroaches keep the egg cases protected in their bodies till they’re ready to hatch. So clean up all the dead cockroaches you find.

Where they live

Hide out near where they can get food, water, and warmth. Wedge into cracks by day, waiting for the lights to go out. Feast by night. Look for black dots (frass, aka bug poop) along edges and in corners. Find ‘em? Cockroaches are probably hanging out nearby.

What they eat

A crumb on the counter, a drop of grease splattered on the wall—these can feed a cockroach a good while. With a little food and water they will feel right at home.

What they do

Ugh says it all. Allergies, asthma, and food contamination can all be caused or triggered by cockroaches.