Cockroaches are dangerous pests to have at home or at your business premises. They contaminate food and surfaces causing diseases such as gastroenteritis, dysentery, and salmonella. Additionally, cockroaches secrete an allergen known as tropomyosin that triggers allergic reactions in certain individuals. The allergen which is found in their droppings causes eczema and asthma.
But it is not just health risks that make cockroaches undesirable, these loathsome pests also produce a foul smell that taints anything that they come into contact with including food.
The most common cockroach species in Australia include; the small and brown German cockroach, the large and black American cockroach, and the medium sized brown or black Oriental cockroach.
Their ability to breed rapidly and survive in very harsh conditions make them very difficult pests to get rid of once an infestation takes root. Early detection and quick control action is, therefore, crucial to ensuring that cockroach infestations don’t grow and spread to other areas of the building.
What is a cockroach’s lifecycle?
Cockroaches go through 3 development phases namely: egg, nymph, and adult. The female produces an egg case (ootheca) after mating that could contain as many as 40 individual eggs. The ootheca can either be deposited in a hidden area where the eggs will develop and hatch or remain attached to the cockroach’s body until the eggs are ready to hatch.
The eggs hatch in about 6-8 weeks producing bright-white-coloured hatchlings that start turning darker in a few hours. The newly hatched nymphs will undergo several moults as they develop into adults. The entire development process takes about 3 – 4 weeks. A cockroach can live for up to 12 months.
How do you prevent a cockroach infestation?
The easiest way to keep cockroaches out of your home or workplace is to ensure that they have no reason to settle there. Since food and drink are the main pest attractants, getting rid of them will significantly reduce the chances of getting a cockroach problem. Here’s how you can do this:
- Maintain cleanliness in your house or business premises. Clean regularly and clear all food debris and crumbs. Pay particular attention to food preparation areas as these are the most prone to infestations. Remember to clean under your refrigerator and cooker as crumbs can easily accumulate there.
- Wash your dishes. Avoid leaving your dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Rinse them and put them in the dishwasher if you don’t want to do them immediately.
- Cover your bins. Bins that are used for food-waste disposal should be tightly covered to deny any intruding pests access
- Repair leaky pipes and faucets. The moisture from these can create suitable areas for roaches to breed as well as provide drinking water for them.
- Clear pet food. Take away pet food once your pet is done feeding as this can attract pests to the house.
- Store your food properly. All stored food should be kept in sealed containers to ensure pests don’t get to it.
To find out if cockroaches have invaded your home or workplace, look out for the following signs:
- Live insects scampering into hiding when you flip on the lights at night – this is when they are most active as they are nocturnal.
- Egg cases, cast skin, and cockroach droppings.
- A foul smell produced by the insects.
How do you control cockroaches?
If you do identify a cockroach infestation in your house or workplace, the following control methods can help you get rid of them:
- Pesticides. These can either be sprayed manually or using automatic pesticide dispensers. Look for insecticides made with natural ingredients as these are not harmful to humans and pets.
- Traps. Cockroach pads which work by trapping cockroaches on a sticky surface can also be used to control cockroaches as well as act as early detection devices. The main advantages of using traps are that they are odour free and will not leave dead roaches all over as these are retained within.