You are here

Cockroaches In & Around the Home

June 4, 2018

Announcer:  Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today, we're talking about cockroaches in and around the home. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, Mississippi State University Extension Entomologist. Blake, when it comes to cockroaches, there's actually something surprising to most of us, and that is the fact that there are actually two different kinds of cockroaches.

Blake Layton: That's true, Amy. And actually, there's dozens of different species of roaches just here in Mississippi. But for our cockroaches that occur in and around the house, we can divide those into two different groups. And to make life simple, we can just say that's the big roaches and the little roaches. Big roaches, meaning some that are over an inch long when they're fully mature, and little ones are only gonna be about a half-inch.

Amy Myers: Oh, gosh, and everybody hates cockroaches. So, concerning the big ones and the little ones, do they both get into the home in the same way?

Blake Layton:  That is pretty much the same way, because they're not around our homes unless we bring them in, just in any produce, or equipment, or things that we might bring into the home. They tend to lay their eggs in hidden places. They're egg capsules, and each one of those capsules is gonna contain several dozen eggs. They stick them in out-of-the way places. And so then, if it's stuck to a grocery bag, or a box, or something, and we bring that box home. German cockroaches, which are much smaller, those nymphs can even hide in the corrugations of a corrugated cardboard box. They can go down in those little areas, and also in electrical equipment. They love electrical equipment. Just move in a TV, or some other piece of electrical equipment from a college dorm or an apartment. It can be full of cockroaches.

Amy Myers: And they get into cracks from the outside of your house, right?

Blake Layton: Yes. They're very flat, and so, it doesn't take a very big crack.

Amy Myers: Oh, gosh. Okay. What types of problems do they bring to us?

Blake Layton:For the big roaches, it's more of an aesthetic problem. They're just more unsightly. For the German cockroaches, if people have a heavy German cockroach infestation, they cause allergies and asthma. We have kids missing school, and moms missing work because the kid's home from school. And of course, then they can transport food diseases and things like that when they're feeding on our food.

Amy Myers: For the big ones first, how do we keep them out of our house?

Blake Layton:  And you said that exactly right. Keep them out of our house. It's not so much using insecticides, but if you can seal around your doors and have a good tight door seal in cracks and crevices, that's gonna reduce the number of large, mature cockroaches. Now, they'll still be around the outside of the house. And there are some insecticide sprays that you can apply around the outside of the house. There are some granular baits. And we'll talk about a publication later that yields more information about those products.

Amy Myers: Okay. What about the small ones? Prevention and treatment.

Blake Layton: The small ones, they are much more common in apartment buildings, because then, you don't have control of the whole situation. They can occur in single dwelling homes. But in either case, the tool that is most useful for controlling them is sanitation. The cleaner we can keep things, and I don't mean surface clean. I mean deep cleaning. Any food residue that may boil over around the stove, any crumbs that may drop into the couch, or in the kitchen, or in the cupboards, keeping that cleaned up, that really reduces the potential for German cockroaches. And then beyond that, the most effective control tool we have are some baits, products that you put out that roaches want to eat, that have a toxin in them. And there are some that are the consistency of paste that you put out in really small dabs. There are others that come in little bait stations that you can stick inside cabinets and underneath cabinets. They're really, really effective.

Amy Myers: How do we keep them off our porches without harming pets, or animals, or children that might get into the poison?

Blake Layton: Just keeping a good, tight seal on that pet food container, not feeding the pet free choice, so that there is pet food laying around all the time. That helps really reduce the attraction. Beyond that, there are insecticide sprays that you can spray around the perimeter of your house, that once they are dry, it's safe for the pet to come back in the area. So, the key there is, just make sure the pet's not present while the product is drying and while it's being sprayed.

Amy Myers: Or the kids.

Blake Layton: Exactly. The children are even more important.

Amy Myers: Is there anything else you want to add?

Blake Layton: We have a publication called Control Household Insect Pests. And that's a pretty big publication. Pages 4-10 are devoted to cockroach control. Just look for Control Household Insect Pests in Mississippi. If you Google that, then that's gonna pop up.

Amy Myers: Okay. So, Google Control Household Pests and Insects in Mississippi, and then go to the extension link. Today, we've been speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, entomologist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Select Your County Office