cockroach in a house

Where do cockroaches come from?

Cockroaches may have already been in your house before you even moved in. Roaches are also easily transported from infested dwellings to new places, so they may have moved with you from your previous home or from your travels. Additionally, they can come from a neighbor's property, or they may simply enter your house from their current outdoor habitat. A cockroach's route of entry will vary depending upon the type of cockroach in question.

How do roaches get in the house?

When you see a cockroach in your home, you may start to wonder why they chose your house or how they even got in. Remember, even the cleanest house can become infested if roaches discover they have access to food, water or shelter. If they want to get in, cockroaches are capable of finding the smallest cracks and holes to squeeze through. Here are a few ways that cockroaches may get into your home:

  1. Bags and boxes: Some species may hitch a ride in grocery bags, cardboard boxes, luggage or furniture. You may bring a pregnant German or brown-banded cockroach (or an egg case) home in a grocery bag or cardboard box without even knowing, so always inspect these containers. Check food for roaches before putting it away, and store your grocery bags outside. Using your own recyclable bags can help reduce the risks of cockroaches making their way indoors.
  2. Pipes and plumbing: Roaches can also get in the house through the plumbing. They migrate between neighboring apartments by traveling through the plumbing within a common wall and other utility lines. Some species of cockroaches will travel into homes via sewer lines and may emerge into the living spaces via floor drains.
  3. Sewers and drains: Sewers or drains are also popular cockroach entry points. Repairs on the sewer system may lead to displaced American cockroaches entering buildings.

The fact is, many houses have entry points that are easily accessible to roaches. Being aware of how roaches get into your home is the first step in helping to prevent an infestation.

What attracts cockroaches to your home?

Like every living creature, cockroaches need food, water and shelter to survive. If you spot one roach in your home, it means conditions are ideal for them to live there. Look for any possible sources of food and moisture. Roaches are omnivorous and will eat many things that most people wouldn't normally suspect, including wallpaper glue, and even human or pet hair.

Roaches also tend to prefer tight spaces away from people and light. Dark crevices, cracks and corners are ideal spots for them to nest, and if it's located near a water source, it's even more of a prime nesting spot. This is why cockroaches are often found in kitchens or bathrooms.

Additionally, cardboard can provide cockroaches with harborage, giving them a place to hide. It's all the more reason to keep your home free from clutter to avoid making it hospitable to cockroaches.

Where do cockroaches hide?

Spotting a cockroach infestation in your home can be tricky because they are masters at hiding. In many cases, it can be tough to even realize you have a cockroach problem until it has gotten out of hand. Each species of cockroach has a preferred environment, which is why it is so important to call a pest control professional. They can quickly recognize which species of roach you're having a problem with, so they can locate the nests and help curb the infestation.

Cockroach species commonly found in homes include the German cockroach, the Oriental cockroach, brown-banded cockroaches and American cockroaches.

German cockroaches

German cockroaches are the most common indoor roaches, particularly in multifamily residences. German cockroaches prefer dark, warm and humid places near food and water, where the temperature is 70 to 75° F. They're usually found in kitchens, in cracks and crevices of cabinets, near sinks or appliances, or in food preparation and storage areas. They're also commonly found in the bathroom.

Oriental cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches prefer cool, damp and dark places. Outdoors, you'll find them in areas where there's organic matter such as mulch and woodchips, underneath patio bricks and sidewalks, and between soil and the foundation. Indoors, you'll find them in sewer drains, basements and crawl spaces, or sometimes on the lower floors, especially near bathrooms and drains. You may also see them near leaky water pipes and under sinks, refrigerators, washing machines and floors.

Brown-banded cockroaches

Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warmer (greater than 80° F), drier places than German cockroaches. They live in high or elevated areas, typically at eye level or above. They may be hiding in cabinets and pantries, closet shelves, behind pictures, among books, underneath kitchen chairs and tables, and in shower stalls. You'll also find them near warmer, heat-producing areas, like electric clocks, timers, televisions and refrigerator motors. You may see their egg cases on your walls, textured ceilings, furniture or near the kitchen sink.

American cockroaches

American cockroaches are often found within homes and are known to commonly inhabit restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries – anywhere that food is prepared and stored. They prefer warm, moist areas and are commonly found in boiler rooms, basements, around pipes and water heaters, and near wet floor drains. They are also common in sewer systems.

Why do I have roaches in my clean house or apartment?

While a dirty house may be more attractive to roaches, even houses that seem perfectly clean may draw in these pests. A clean house or apartment can still have a water source (i.e. a leaky pipe), a food source, substances that could provide harborage (i.e. wood, cardboard) and a nice dark corner for roaches to call home. Sometimes, they may even seek out the warmth and safety of your home and travel to nearby areas for food.

Cockroaches can carry pathogens that cause disease, including foodborne illness, and can trigger allergies and even asthma attacks from discarded exoskeletons and feces that they leave behind.

How to help get rid of roaches in your home or apartment

Of course, it's important to know what species of cockroach is infesting your home, so you know the best strategy to tackle the problem. Here are some general tips that can help you keep roaches from invading in your home:

  1. Discard empty corrugated boxes immediately as these are a favorite breeding ground for roaches.
  2. Seal holes in common walls between apartments and around plumbing pipes.
  3. Use window screens and seal openings around doors and windows to keep cockroaches outside.
  4. Seal or use screens for large openings around outside drainage lines and sewer vents.
  5. Always clean up spilled food and crumbs immediately and don't leave dirty dishes out overnight. Store food in airtight, sealed containers. Put garbage in a sturdy container with a tightly fitting lid.

Even if you're vigilant about preventing them, cockroaches may still find a way into your house. If you're experiencing signs of an infestation, don't wait to act. Contact the pros at Terminix® to take care of your cockroach problem quickly, easily, and effectively.