7 Definite Signs of a Cockroach Infestation
There are few insects in the world that will illicit such a strong response as the mention of cockroaches. There is surely no other insect one would want taking up residence in their home than a cockroach. Unfortunately, cockroaches are not solitary insects. If you spot one, it is more than likely, if not altogether a certainty, that many others are nearby. It will only be a matter of time before they come out. How does one know, however, spotting a cockroach is an isolated incident, or something more? Before we get into seven sure-fire signs that you have an infestation on your hands, lets first take a deeper look into cockroaches.
Cockroaches belong to the insect family of Blattodea. The cousin of termites, there are roughly about 4,600 species of cockroaches known today. Of these, only about 30 prefer human dwellings. Cockroaches have been around since for over 315 million years. They are hugely adaptable insects and can thrive in the coldest of winters to the hottest of climates. Hence, the reason they are so plentiful. In fact, it is this great adaptability which makes these creatures so difficult to get rid of. The two most prevalent types of cockroaches are the German cockroaches and the brown-banded cockroaches.
1. Cockroach Droppings
It's off putting, we know. But just like mice, spotting cockroach droppings is one of the first signs you might have an infestation. The droppings themselves are a grainy black color, and they can be found in cabinets, alongside walls, or basically, any were where it seems like they might have walked. They tend to congregate around food sources, so if you notice and droppings near the vicinity of your food, it is best to discard, as a disease can spread through their contaminated droppings.They are very easy to spot- they usually resemble a piece of coffee grind or a small piece of black pepper.
The reason it is so vital to recognize and discard of any droppings is that the feces act as receptors. There are pheromones inside of them, which send a signal to other roaches urging them to congregate. To discard of droppings, use a vacuum, preferably with a HEPA filter. Dispose of the vacuums content immediately, and use soapy and hot water to scrub down the surface. However, there still may be fecal matter inside of the walls, in which case it is best to call a professional.
2. Bad Smell
The odor of cockroaches is distinct. In fact, many report it smelling like "death". This is not an exaggeration. The cockroaches emit a stench of oleic acid, found in decomposing flesh. It is not without reason. Scientists believe that by emitting this odor, cockroaches are helping themselves avoid such habitats where their life would be threatened by viruses or other unsurvivable environments.
3. Smear Markings
Due to their nocturnal nature, smear marks and droppings are much easier to spot than the insects themselves. Smear markings are indicative that water is abundant in your home. The markings themselves will be long with an irregular shape. They will be found in the same areas of roach droppings. While smear marks show evidence of water, droppings show a lack of water being ingested.
4. Molting Skin
Should you find hard, dried up, smaller looking shells, what you are seeing is not a dead cockroach, by rather the molted skin of a cockroach nymph. Shedding its skin is the only way in which a young roach cab grow because the hard outer shell will not get bigger along with the growing cockroach. It is a long process, which unfortunately is a sign of an infestation.
It is important for molted skin to be clean up immediately, as new casings will warn you of a new infestation, and rule out that the casings were leftover from a previous one.
5. Egg Casing
The female cockroach can have up to 160 eggs in a lifetime. And with a relatively short pregnancy lasting roughly 30 days, you can see haw quickly they can reproduce. Egg casings, also called ootheca, varies in brownish color its length is about 5mm, or sometimes as great as 10mm. The German Cockroach, one of the most popular found in human dwellings, have ootheca which can contain up to 50 eggs. American female cockroaches can produce up to 1,350 eggs in her lifetime! Obviously, it is paramount to kills these casings to prevent further infestation.
The difficult part, however, lies in locating them. They are nocturnal and view humans as a predator, so they want to steer clear of everyone. Casings will no doubt be tucked away in a safe place, to check ceilings, cupboards, bathrooms, appliances, pipes, furniture, etc. If you see casings, the best thing is to step on them, thus crushing them to death. The most important this do however is to dispose of the crushed casings immediately.
If you leave the casings, other roaches will venture out and feed upon it. Therefore, you are simply providing food to the current crop of cockroaches. Also, simply tossing them in the garbage not vacuuming them will not work. They can still hatch, Therefore, they need to be stomped on to truly end their lives. Boric Acid, Pesticides and using bait are also ways to rid your home of casings.
6. Signs of Damage
If you notice anything suspicious around food items, such a bag slightly torn or poked into, chances are you have an infestation on your hands. Cockroaches do not limit their diet however to food only- they will consume most anything organic such as leather products and paper goods. It is vital then to do a thorough check of items in your home. Glue and products which starch are also food for cockroaches. In addition, cockroaches have a preference for dark and damp places, to inspect closely wallpaper, drapes, and letters. It is also a good idea to keep track of the size of these holes. If you notice they increase in size over a time period, then you can be certain of an infestation.
7. You See Them
Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures. Therefore, if you spot them, be it day or evening, it must be assumed there are much more you are not seeing. If you do manage to spot this elusive creative, then there will be much more.
As for identifying the type, it is known that German Cockroaches are most prevalent in bathrooms, laundry rooms and in the kitchen. They are attracted to humidity and warmth, are are excellent climbers thanks to sticky pads on their feet. Therefore they are able to glide over the glossy surfaces in these rooms with ease.
Oriental cockroaches prefer cool and damp habitats, so are much more likely to be found in basement dwellings or drains. They lack the ability of the German cockroaches.
If you suspect you might have an infestation on your hands, the first order of business would be to contact a professional. It is not worth doing it yourself, The time and money spent on tackling an infestation are best spent on those who know exactly what they are doing, and know the means to get the job done.