Cockroaches have various common names including water bugs, croton bugs and palmetto bugs. There are at least 69 different cockroach species found in the United States. Outside, cockroaches are decomposers, feeding on dead or dying plants and animals. However, they are considered pests when they interact with people, invading lawns and gardens or entering homes and other structures. More importantly, they can affect human health by spreading diseases, such as Salmonella, and ruin materials such as books, clothes and food.

Cockroaches secrete an oily liquid that has an offensive and sickening odor. This odor may also be imparted to dishes that are apparently clean, food and clothes. Excrement in the form of pellets or an ink-like liquid also contributes to this nauseating odor. Additionally, cockroaches produce allergens, which include their feces, shed skins, and body parts such as antennae and legs. In susceptible individuals, contact with these allergens can result in mild to severe rashes, other allergic reactions, and in extreme cases death from asthma attacks.

Prevention and non-chemical management.

Preventing cockroach problems is much easier than trying to control them. Good sanitation is the best control. Begin with the following steps. If you continue to have problems, use insecticidal management.


  • Store all food in glass or plastic containers with tight lids (including pet food)
  • Do not leave pet food out overnight
  • Keep containers clean and clean up spilled food
  • Move containers away from entry doors if feeding pets outside
  • Clean up all spilled food and drink immediately
  • Do not leave food out or dirty dishes in the sink overnight
  • Clean kitchen counters, tables and floors often
  • Keep garbage in plastic bags
  • Take out garbage several times per week
  • Keep containers washed and clean
  • Recycle cans and bottles on a regular basis, rinse before placing in holding containers
  • Keep holding containers clean
  • Repair plumbing leaks
  • Empty refrigerator drip pans regularly


  • Seal places where roaches might enter from the outside including around pipes, ducts and electrical wiring
  • If you can see daylight under outside doors, replace weather stripping or threshold
  • Repair window and door screens
  • Inspect boxes, furniture and other items before bringing them into your home


  • Before buying and using any pesticide product, read and follow the label carefully. Be sure the product is labeled for the site and insect you will be treating for.
  • Baits contained in childproof, plastic stations are easy, safe and effective and should be your first choice. Gels available in applicator tubes are very effective and easy to use.
  • Other IPM options include products containing boric acid or other products which cause cockroaches to dry out and die
  • Target the insecticide to specific sites such as baseboards, cracks, crevices or around water pipes under the sink.
  • If satisfactory control is still not obtained, hire a professional service with IPM expertise
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