If you have ever ended up researching cockroaches for any reason, you have probably wondered “where do cockroaches come from?” These creepy insects are found across the world and there are many different species, but how do they get into our homes in the first place?
It depends a bit on the kind of cockroach, but many cockroaches get into your home by hitchhiking on boxes or bags that you bring inside. Others crawl in through gaps or cracks in sealant or brickwork. Some people accidentally introduce them to their home via second hand furniture. Anything that has been in an infested place risks infesting your home too.
Where Do Cockroaches Come From?
There are some common ways in which cockroaches get to your home, but these can be split into two categories: those that get in by themselves, and those that are brought in on an object of some sort.
Getting In Unassisted
Cockroaches might be living outside near your home, or they might come from a neighboring property where they have taken up residence. It is not too hard for a cockroach to get into your house.
Although our homes feel secure to us, they are full of gaps and crevices that cockroaches can crawl through.
They commonly move along plumbing pipes, especially in apartments, so you should make an effort to seal these off, especially if you live in an apartment. The close proximity of your neighbors makes it very likely that cockroaches could get in from somebody else’s home.
Other popular entry points include drains. Cockroaches like damp environments, and a drain provides them with excellent access to your home. You may wish to put screens across your drains to prevent them from crawling out.
Cockroaches may also come through the gap underneath your door, or through open windows or cracks around the window frame.
You should make an effort to maintain and cockroach-proof the outside of your home. Seal up gaps with foam or caulk, and fix any holes in window screens or door screens.
Many kinds of cockroaches can fly, so don’t just look around at ground level; make sure you check higher up gaps too.
You may find that it isn’t really possible to totally cockroach-proof your home, but it is worth doing what you can. This will reduce the chances of a cockroach finding a way into your home in the first place, although if your home is appealing and there are cockroaches in the area, they are likely to find a way in.
Being Brought Inside
This is another common way for cockroaches to get inside, and it’s particularly true of German cockroaches, which are a very common species of small, fast-breeding cockroaches. You can bring them in on many kinds of things, but cardboard boxes are a particular culprit.
If you bring a cardboard box home that has been stored anywhere dark, slightly damp, and predominantly undisturbed, you could be introducing cockroaches to your home unwittingly. When you put the box down, the cockroaches will jump off and scuttle into nearby cracks, vanishing before you know they are even there.
Cardboard boxes are a favorite breeding ground for German cockroaches in particular, so you should make a point of discarding any corrugated card when you get it to your home. Don’t keep it around; there could be cockroach eggs in the card!
Remember, even things like food boxes will have been stored in a warehouse before being moved to the store’s shelves. If cockroaches have laid eggs on them or are clinging to the cardboard, they can easily get into your home.
You might be wondering why you wouldn’t notice a great big cockroach crawling around on a box or bag that you have picked up. Surely, somewhere between the store shelf and your home, you would see it?
However, remember that we’re not necessarily talking about adult cockroaches here. Cockroach eggs are small, and the young of a German cockroach are smaller than ants when they first hatch. They are very easy to miss, and a clutch of eggs can have around forty individuals.
If they drop off the box into your home or you leave the box around until they hatch, you’ve got an invisible infestation-to-be.
Coming From Work Or School
If your place of work has cockroaches, or your child’s school has an infestation, they can easily come home on your clothes or shoes, or on your child’s bag. You should check items over as you enter the house and regularly wash things.
Remember, you may not see them because they are so small, so you should check frequently for cockroaches and their young, both on your work or school possessions, and in your home. Make inspecting possessions part of your evening routine and wash your work clothes regularly. Keep work shoes out of the house if possible.
There isn’t much you can do to prevent cockroaches at work or school (besides alerting the relevant authority), but you can make your home unwelcoming to them by minimizing food spills and hiding spots. Be constantly vigilant and look out for signs of infestation – which we’re going to cover next.
How Do I Know If I Have Cockroaches?
How do you tell if cockroaches are making your home into their home? These bugs are actually very hard to spot because they only come out at night, and generally avoid lights. They will wait until you turn off the lights and go to bed before coming out to forage for food, and it might be months before an infestation is noticed.
If you see one cockroach, you should assume that there are a lot. It’s pretty rare to catch them, so usually, by the time you do, there is a big infestation to deal with.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to tell if cockroaches are living in your house.
Look For Cockroach Feces
Yes, it sounds disgusting, but cockroach feces are one of the clearest indications that these nasty bugs are around. They will appear as very small black droppings, or as brown smears on walls and cabinets.
You should clean thoroughly where you find these, as cockroaches spread a number of nasty diseases. Use them to try and locate the cockroach nest.
Use A Flashlight
Because they often come out at night and will flee if you turn on an overhead light, using a flashlight is a good way to catch cockroaches. Turn off the lights, leave the room, and wait for half an hour or so. Next, turn on a flashlight and quietly make your way back, shining the flashlight on the floor and sides.
Cockroaches are likely to be looking for food at night, so the kitchen is a good place to look for them. Remember that they can climb and fly, so they may be on your counters. They will probably run from the flashlight, but at least you will confirm whether they are there.
Look In Dark Spaces
As well as looking at night, you can search during the day by looking in their favorite nesting spots. Cockroaches like dark and damp spaces, although some can survive in drier spots than others.
You should investigate any dark, undisturbed areas, using a flashlight if necessary. Check under fridges and freezers, beneath the microwave, and beneath the kitchen sink. Look in the bathroom, too, especially in any unsealed areas where the cockroaches might be able to get under the floor or behind walls.
Any spot that is dark and rarely moved will offer cockroaches with a safe space, so try and think about all the possible spots in your home, and get moving them.
Keep An Eye Out For Shed Skins
If you have cockroaches, they will be dropping skins as they grow. This is often only done near their home, but you may notice them, and this should help you find the cockroaches. Juveniles will keep shedding their exoskeletons as they grow toward adulthood.
Remember that this shedding often causes allergic reactions in people, and make sure you clean it up – once you have used it to locate the nest. You may also find egg capsules, which are dropped by the females. Again, these indicate an infestation.
These two methods may prove less useful as they often only become relevant once the infestation is getting big, and you may already have found it before this point. However, it’s worth mentioning that cockroaches make a noise as they scuttle around, and they also produce an unpleasant odor once their colony gets big.
If you can smell something strange and you can’t find a source of the odor, you might have cockroaches in your home somewhere. Likewise, if you can hear little shuffling and scuttling noises at night, you should keep an eye out.
Cockroaches are pretty quiet, but when the house is still and they are active, you have a chance of hearing them, especially the larger species.
If you suspect a cockroach infestation but you haven’t yet managed to confirm that it exists, you can try laying some traps to catch the cockroaches. You might want to use glue traps or a gel bait to catch them.
Cockroaches will be attracted to the gel bait, which you smear around the home in small blobs. They eat it, and the poison inside the bait kills them. You can also use diatomaceous earth as a means of damaging their exoskeletons and drying them out, which will kill them too.
Killing cockroaches means that they can’t hide, so this is one way to confirm if you have an infestation. If you lay down traps and don’t catch anything for several nights on end, it’s likely that you don’t have an infestation – but do keep checking, just in case you’ve been unlucky thus far!
How Do I Keep Cockroaches Away?
If you’re worrying about cockroaches in your home, what should you do to deter them from taking up residence? There isn’t a huge amount you can do if you’re at risk of bringing them home from work, but we’ll look at some of the steps you can take to minimize the attractiveness of your home as a breeding ground.
Clean Your Home
Although dirt is only part of the problem when it comes to cockroach infestations, cleaning is still a very important aspect of keeping them away. Cockroaches need a ready source of food, and they will eat dirt and dust and bits of dropped food.
Cockroaches can manage for quite some time without food, but a clean home is much less attractive to them, so be vigilant and keep things tidy. Sweep and mop floors, wipe down surfaces, and keep your food in sealed containers to minimize what cockroaches can find to eat.
You should also make sure your trash can is a sealed container that the cockroaches can’t get to, and regularly clean the exterior of it to get rid of spills or the smell of food. This will again cut off a potential food source, and moving it frequently will make it unattractive for them to hide behind or under.
Mop Up Spills
Water is even more important to cockroaches than food; they can’t go long without something to drink. If you clean up spills and wipe down sinks regularly, there will be less water available to them.
You should also get any leaking pipes repaired promptly, and if necessary, purchase a dehumidifier to make your home drier. Many cockroaches will find this uncomfortable and will probably move elsewhere so that they have better access to water.
So, hopefully that has answered the question “where do cockroaches come from?” effectively. They can get into your home in a number of different ways, either under their own steam or by latching onto the things you bring into your home.
If you find an infestation, take quick action to remove sources of food and water, and use traps or poison to take care of it before the cockroaches can spread diseases to your food.