German cockroaches are one the most common household insect within the United States. This pest typically infests kitchens and bathrooms but will live anywhere inside heated structures where there is food, water, and harborage. German cockroaches gain entry into structures in grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink cartons, and infested equipment such as used furniture and appliances. Once cockroaches become established they are prolific breeders capable of producing several thousand offspring in a year. They feed on all types of human food as well as pet food, toothpaste, soap, and glue.
Oriental and American cockroaches are not common in most homes. They usually prefer dark, damp areas such as basements, floor drains, crawl spaces, and utility closets. They can be abundant in sewers and commercial facilities such as groceries, prisons, restaurants, hospitals, offices and apartment buildings.
- The German cockroach reproduces the fastest of the common cockroaches: a single female and her offspring can produce over 30,000 individuals in a year, but many succumb to cannibalism and other population pressures.
- Observations of foraging cockroaches during the day is a good indication that there is a significant population.
- Cockroaches have been found to be an important source of allergy in people, second only to house dust.
- Unlike many household pests, cockroaches are prevalent year-round, causing homeowners and businesses to eventually seek some form of relief.
- Containerized, paste, dry, and gel baits are effective tools for eliminating cockroaches.
- Prime locations for placing baits include under sinks and toilets, beneath refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves, next to trash containers and inside cabinets and storage areas.
An effective cockroach management program depends on good sanitation to eliminate the food, water, and harborage they need for survival. Cleanup efforts to reduce cockroaches in the home and office environment focus on food residue in and around coffee machines, microwave ovens, stoves, refrigerators, trash cans, furniture, and areas where exposed food is stored. It is also critical to reduce clutter as cockroaches like to hide in stacked boxes, cartons, and stored paper and cardboard materials, especially in dark, damp locations, near food. Vacuum cleaning can be used to physically remove exposed cockroaches. Permanent reduction of cockroach populations can be achieved by caulking to eliminate harborage. The most important cracks to eliminate include those at which sinks and fixtures are mounted to the wall and/or floor, around all types of plumbing, baseboard molding, and corner guards where shelves and cabinets meet walls and door frames, and cracks on or near food preparation surfaces. Sticky traps are available to help pinpoint and monitor sources of cockroach infestation. They are not intended for control, but rather to guide and evaluate control efforts as part of the inspection and control process.