There’s nothing worse for a homeowner than seeing a cockroach scurry out from a dark space and run across the kitchen floor. As great as it is to live in a warm climate where snow is almost certainly not a problem, Houstonians aren’t the only ones that love the climate. Cockroaches do too.
In Houston, two types of cockroaches can be found inside and outside of most homes. Outside, you’ll find the American cockroach. If you’ve ever been walking through a park or wooded area at night, you might have been startled when one of cockroaches flew across your path and jumped from one tree to the next. These cockroaches, sometimes called a palmetto bug, are big and brown, and unfortunately for us all, they fly.
Indoors, the cockroach that scurried past you and across your kitchen floor was a German cockroach. These cockroaches live indoors and make their homes in drains, walls and basically anywhere else that’s dark and out of the way. You’ll usually see them in the kitchen looking for food or in rooms where crumbs have been left behind.
For most Houstonians, there’s no true escape from cockroaches, but there are ways to deal with them. Here are our complete guide do-it-yourself cockroach control — and how to know when it’s time to call in an expert.
Everything to know about cockroaches in Houston
One of the foundations of integrated pest management, which we’ll explore more below, involves knowing more about your enemy. In this case, that’s the cockroach. By understanding how the pest lives, what it eats and where it likes to make its home, we can create DIY cockroach control that will help keep roaches out by making our environments less hospitable to them.
So what kinds of roaches are in Houston? We’ve covered two so far, but there’s a lot to know about the different types of cockroaches in Houston.
- American cockroaches: American cockroaches measure about one to three inches long, and they’re usually a dark red or brown color. They have wings, which means they can fly around your property. While they’re usually found in trees, they can make their way inside. When they do, they prefer undisturbed areas with high humidity and low light, usually in basements, roofs, roof voids, laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and under floors.
- German cockroaches: If you see a bug with dark stripes on its back scurrying across your floor, you can bet that’s a German cockroach. These pests have wings, but rarely fly, and they lay more eggs at once than the American cockroach. German cockroaches also love to live in undisturbed areas, especially ones that are wet and dark.
- Oriental cockroaches: In Houston, you might hear these pests referred to as black beetles or water bugs. These cockroaches do have wings, but thankfully, they cannot fly. They do, however, give off a terrible odor. You won’t usually find these pests indoors though. They prefer to stay outdoors and break down organic matter, such as leaves and twigs. You may find them in damp places such as sinks, drains and basements.
What do all of these cockroaches have in common? In the first place, cockroaches thrive in humid and dark spaces. They need access to water and food. They don’t like to be disturbed, so you won’t usually find them in the middle of your home. You will probably find their nests in dark corners of your basement or lurking under floor boards.
Cockroaches can multiply quickly, and they don’t need constant access to food and water. In fact, they can go weeks without either, which can make it difficult to tell whether they’re gone from your home or just waiting.
Using integrated pest management for DIY cockroach control
So what is integrated pest management? Simply put, integrated pest management uses a blend of science and common sense to keep pests out of homes. It’s a form of DIY cockroach control that doesn’t involve using a harmful chemical inside your home, and that’s better for the environment and your family.
So how can you use integrated pest management in your home for DIY cockroach control? You’ve already completed step one above. The first step is to know your enemy: where it lives, what it likes to eat and what attracts it. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can work on outfitting your home to make it uninhabitable for cockroaches.
For roaches, three things are vital: food, water and environment. Although cockroaches can go for a while without food and water, restricting access to both will make your home look less appealing to cockroaches.
Here’s how to get started:
- Put away all food and store it all in airtight containers. Don’t leave bags of chips and other food out on your countertops. If you have canisters of flour or sugar out on your countertops, make sure the canisters are shut and secured. While you’re at it, check your cabinets and make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks. If so, seal up them.
- Vacuum regularly. Crumbs to end up on the floor, whether we intended them to or not. This provides an easy food source to cockroaches, so vacuum your floors regularly so make sure those crumbs don’t become food.
- Cover garbage cans and recycling bins. Cockroaches will go for food sources wherever they can find them, and this includes your garbage cans and recycling bins, Make sure both cans and bins have secure lids.
- Cover pet food. Just because the food is for Fido doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be for a cockroach. Cockroaches will gladly eat pet food, so you will need to make sure these food sources are secure. Don’t leave pet food in a bag and roll it up. Pour it out into a plastic container and keep it in a secure place.
- Institute a no-food-in-your-bedroom rule. Want to spread cockroaches around your home? Let your kids eat chips and other foods in their bedrooms. Those crumbs are going to attract cockroaches, so don’t let your kids bring food into their bedrooms as a rule.
- Seal up cracks and holes in your walls. Cockroaches don’t need a lot of space to squeeze into your home, so don’t give them the opportunity. Go through your hole and repair any potential holes and use caulk to seal up spaces.
- Repair leaks. Have a pipe that won’t stop leaking? You need to get that repaired as quickly as possible. Cockroaches are attracted to moisture, so if they know a space is constantly wet and moist, they’re going to make a home around there.
- Bring light to otherwise dark spaces. This doesn’t mean you have to shine a light on every single area of your home all day every day. You can remove dark spaces from your home by getting rid of clutter in your home. This means piles of clothes or books or newspapers will need to be sorted and put away. Cockroaches love to make their homes in these dark spaces, so clearing them eliminates a potential home.
In short, keeping your home clean and tidy is one of the best defenses against cockroaches and it’s a great type of DIY cockroach control. This helps you in two ways.
In the first place, you’re making your home look less attractive to cockroaches. If there’s no food, water or shelter, then cockroaches won’t want to move into your home. While they can go for some time without food or water, cockroaches won’t want to live in a place where all three are scarce.
Second, you’re making it easier to spot a potential infestation before it gets to be serious. If your home is free of clutter, then you’ll be able to spot a roach moving across your floor. This will alert you to a potential problem and help you stop the infestation before it becomes a real problem.
How to research pesticides for DIY cockroach control
At Natran, we believe in green pest control above all else. Spraying insecticides around your home as harm your health, your pet’s health and the environment’s health. However, there are some insecticides that can help you fight back against roaches without putting your family or the environment in jeopardy.
First of all, stay away from Raid. According to a recent article from the Houston Chronicle, Raid only works when sprayed on places where cockroaches are living. If you spray it in spots where you’ve seen a cockroach run across your floor, it won’t have any effect. Sometimes, spraying Raid can actually result in cockroaches becoming immune to its effects.
You can also try powders such as boric acid and diatomaceous earth. These powders can be mixed with sugar to attract roaches. Once ingested, the powder will slowly dry out the inside of the cockroach, slowly killing it. Unlike Raid, these powders don’t have to be sprayed right on nest or area where roaches are living, so if you only spot them scurrying in your kitchen, you have a way to get rid of them.
The problem with these powders is, of course, the possibility of ingestion. Your pets and children are most at risk because both are prone to eating things right off the floor or touching the floor and putting their fingers — or paws — in their mouths. This can lead to poisoning.
You can also try bait traps in your home. These are usually the safest option when it comes to insecticide, although you do still need to warn your children not to play with them and keep them away from pets. Bait traps should be put in corners where roaches like to congregate. When the traps are full, toss them. Keep in mind though, those poisons will be going into a landfill somewhere, so while bait traps may be safer for kids and pets, they’re not always safer for the environment.
All of these options can be confusing, so it’s important to do your own research before buying an insecticide. Here are a few sources to get you started:
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- National Pesticide Information Center
- Environmental Protection Agency
Don’t forget to read the labels on the products you by. You can always research these chemicals to learn more. Remember though: Just because a chemical can be dangerous on its own doesn’t mean it still is when mixed with other chemicals. A good example is chlorine. On its own, chlorine is poisonous, but when mixed with sodium, you get table salt.
How to know when to call in an expert
Sometimes, when you’re licked, you’re licked. You can try patching up holes in your home, removing all food sources from countertops and cleaning all the clutter in your home, but cockroaches are known for their resilience. Even the most cautious homeowners shouldn’t be surprised when cockroaches make their way inside — and refuse to leave. Although it can be effective for a while, there’s only so much that DIY cockroach control can really do for your home.
When you’ve been doing integrated pest management and you’ve tried a few insecticides and neither have gotten rid of cockroaches, then it’s time to call in an expert. At Natran, we pride ourselves on taking a botanical-based approach to cockroaches, and just because our products are plant-based doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. Our experts have seen just about everything in Houston, and they’ll walk around your property and help you better understand how you can protect it from pests.
When you feel like you’ve tried every form of DIY cockroach control, it’s time to call in the green pest control experts at Natran. We’ll make sure those cockroaches go running from your home and stay out once and for all. We’ll help you locate nests and look for places where cockroaches are entering your home, and we’ll use on botanical-based products around your home. This ensures that your family and the environment will not be harmed as we’re working.
So share with us: What types of integrated pest management works for your home? Leave us a message in the comments.