Cockroach Myths and Truths

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Cockroaches are a mythic sort of bug. They’ve been around for over 320 million years — even before dinosaurs! And their survival skills are fierce. They need only very basic and minimal food, water and shelter to survive. It is often said that if only one species survives an apocalypse, it would be the mighty cockroach.

Roaches are fascinating to think about, but, for most people, repugnant to meet. A heat-loving species, they thrive at temperatures of 50°F or higher, making them a common problem in Arizona—year round. In order to avoid infestations in your home or workplace, it’s important to separate cockroach lore from the facts. Let’s look at three common myths about cockroaches and the truths behind them.

Myth: Cockroaches Don’t Live in Clean Homes

Cockroaches and, in fact, any insect are commonly associated with uncleanliness and a general lack of sanitation. You may think, “I keep my home cleaner than anyone I know. There’s no way roaches live here.”

However, even the most obsessive clean freaks shouldn’t let down their guards. The truth is that it’s easy for cockroaches to find their way into even the tidiest homes in things like paper bags, cardboard boxes, and briefcases or backpacks. And once they’ve welcomed themselves in, cockroaches can survive and thrive on so little that they don’t need messes and clutter. They live comfortably in drains, vents, hidden cracks in the walls and floors, and all sorts of other places your mop could never reach. In addition, cockroaches thrive in common landscaping around homes in Arizona and in water meter boxes and valve boxes.

That being said, cleanliness is one key to both preventing and eradicating pests like cockroaches. If you have a cockroach problem, the first line of defense is to ramp up your cleaning habits. Get rid of piles of paper and corrugated cardboard boxes. Seal up ALL food items in the kitchen—don’t leave anything out on the counter. Get behind large appliances with a broom, mop, and vacuum. Even the smallest crumbs and food residue can be a feast for roaches, cleaning thoroughly will help.

Myth: If I Had a Cockroach Problem in My Home, I’d Know It

You think you know your house pretty well by day, but it’s a different place at night. Cockroaches are nocturnal, so they may be alive and active at night long before they make any daylight appearances. In fact, if they are seen during daylight hours, it usually indicates that a significant infestation is already underway.

A lot goes unnoticed when it comes to cockroaches. The most common advice about eradicating cockroaches is to start out with careful monitoring. The first step for fighting them is careful reconnaissance work. Only by investigating where they’re coming from, what specific species of cockroach you’re dealing with, what they’re eating, what they’re drinking, and where they’re living can you launch a successful siege. There are 20 known species of cockroaches in Arizona alone, and they each have slightly different habits. Find out if you’re dealing with the notoriously persistent German cockroach, the drain-loving American cockroach, or the Turkestan and Desert cockroaches, which are highly attracted to light and most likely let themselves in right through the doorway.

Myth: Pesticides Will Get Rid of a Cockroach Infestation

This myth is partly true—pesticide products are an important part of controlling or eradicating cockroaches.. But products alone usually are not enough to gain control.. Cockroaches are notoriously hard to eradicate, so you must take a multifaceted approach. Do some careful monitoring to learn more about the problem, and take action to cut them off from their food and water supplies.

Also be mindful that there are many different kinds of cockroaches here in Arizona. There is not a one size fits all approach to control. For example, how you approach controlling German roaches is different than how you approach controlling American cockroaches.