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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.
Cockroach Species

The cockroaches most commonly found in and around homes are American, German and Asian. The smallest cockroaches—the German, Asian and brown banded - are close to the same size, and the adults are seldom more than 5/8 inch long (16mm). The larger cockroaches—American, brown, and the smoky brown—are 1–1/4 to 2 inches (31–51 mm) long and are often called palmetto bugs. Though they are generally found outdoors, they can become indoor problems when they migrate or are carried indoors. The largest cockroach will also enter dwellings from outside. Outdoor cockroaches do not survive well indoors, and many times people overreact to the presence of these cockroaches. Often, removal of these outdoor cockroaches from the house
Development of the Cockroach

Cockroaches have three life stages: egg, nymph and adult. Cockroach eggs are deposited in groups in a leathery case or capsule called an ootheca. This capsule is usually dropped or glued to some surface by the female soon after it is formed. However, the female German cockroach carries the capsule protruding from her body until the eggs are ready to hatch. There may be from 30 to 48 eggs in the capsule of the German cockroach, but capsules of other cockroaches may have only 10 to 28 eggs.
The newly hatched nymphs have no wings and shed their skins (molt) several times before becoming winged adults. German and brown banded cockroaches may have several generations per year, but the outdoor species may require a year to develop from egg to adult.
Where to Look for Cockroaches

Cockroaches hide in dark, sheltered places during the day and come out to feed at night. Inside, they may be found around the kitchen sink or drain board, in cracks around or underneath cupboards and cabinets or inside them (especially in the upper corners), behind drawers, around pipes or conduits (where they pass along the wall or go through it), behind window or door frames, behind loose baseboards or molding strips, on the underside of tables and chairs, in the bathroom, and in radio and TV cabinets.
The German cockroach is usually found in the kitchen and bathroom, although it may be found all over the house. The other cockroaches prefer damp, warm places and usually develop in garages, sewers, attics, storerooms and similar locations, and then enter the home from outside breeding sites.
Outside, cockroaches can be found in leaf litter, mulch, under vegetation, in tree holes, and in palm trees.
Methods of Cockroach Control

An integrated pest management (IPM) approach is the most effective method of cockroach control. Chemical use alone is the least effective control method. Using chemicals alone can result in insecticide resistance and, ultimately, very poor control.
Homeowners may undertake their own IPM plan for cockroach control with good success, or they may elect to contract the services of a professional pest control operator. Professionals have the equipment and training to do a thorough job and have access to products not available to homeowners. If you decide to contract the services of a professional pest control operator, get estimates from several reputable firms before you decide on one.
Prevention and Sanitation

Successful cockroach control requires prevention and sanitation. Vacuuming will eliminate cockroach skins and feces that cause cockroach allergies. Cockroach feces also contain a chemical (aggregation pheromone) that attracts cockroaches to an area. Eliminating the cockroach feces by scrubbing with hot, soapy water will decrease the amount of aggregation pheromone available to attract cockroaches to the area.
Prevention and sanitation can be divided into four categories: exclusion; and elimination of water, food and harborage. Following the recommendations in the four categories will likely eliminate the most important factors that affect cockroach establishment.

Exclusion Elimination of Water Sources
Water is the most important factor in cockroach survival. German cockroaches can survive only 12 days with food but no water. However, if only water is present with no food, cockroaches can survive for about 42 days. Cockroaches often come indoors during periods of drought because they are looking for moisture. Eliminate water sources by doing the following:
Elimination of Food Sources
Cockroaches do not need large amounts of food to survive, especially in the presence of water, but availability of food can cause populations to increase rapidly. Furthermore, food sources compete with cockroach baits, decreasing their effectiveness. Elimination of food sources includes:
Elimination of Harborages
In addition to food and moisture, cockroaches require a place to live. The cockroach harborage is critical to its survival. Cockroaches prefer dark places that are warm and moist. Places that provide tight spaces such as stacks of newspaper or cardboard, piles of clothing, or cracks and crevices in structures are ideal harborages for cockroaches.
Harborages not only provide a place for cockroaches to live, but they also can create “pesticide free” zones where cockroaches can hide if insecticides are selected as one tactic in the IPM program. Eliminate harborages by doing the following:
Chemical Control

Use prevention and sanitation methods before and concurrently with chemical control tactics. The most commonly used chemical formulations for cockroach control are baits, sprays, and dusts. While cockroach foggers are commonly seen in the marketplace, their effect is limited to the cockroaches that directly contact the fog. Thus, control from foggers is variable and will not be discussed here.

Baits
Insect growth regulator
Insect growth regulators (IGR) require four to six weeks for a noticeable decrease in the cockroach population. But control is longer lasting than other contact insecticides because the cockroaches are no longer able to reproduce once exposed. Evidence of IGR exposure are twisted wings on the adult cockroaches and altered behavior. Expect to see more cockroaches during the day as a result of IGR use. Seeing more cockroaches after IGR use means the treatment is working. Baits can be used in conjunction with IGRs.

Sprays
Dusts
IPM Approach for Indoor Cockroaches
An IPM Approach for Outdoor Cockroaches

An 80% or better reduction in cockroach abundance can be achieved using the following IPM approach.
Use only a thin layer of mulch around the home that extends 1 foot out from the foundation. This will allow drying time and make conditions less conducive to cockroach survival.
Apply control products within 3 feet of the home in pine straw, fallen leaves, or ivy, and next to other cockroach habitats such as garden borders, large rocks, or railroad ties. Always follow the label.
Treat sheltered cracks and crevices such as porch corners, under ledges, in crawl space gratings, and under garage doors. Baits or liquid products can be used, but not both at the same time in the same place.