Cockroaches are well-known pests. They can spread disease, damage items, and their populations can grow very quickly from a single egg-carrying female to a full-fledged, widespread infestation. While the extermination of this small pest can be difficult if the entire population is not eliminated at once, there are various methods used for control.
Pest Control Professionals
Today, pest control professionals most often use gel bait insecticides to control and eliminate cockroaches. This requires the placement of small beads of gel bait in areas where the cockroaches are known or expected to live, travel, or feed. Professional pest control operators (PCOs) will generally provide you with a specific list of preparation activities that their company requires you to complete prior to their visit. Because a lack of preparation could make treatment unsafe or cause re-infestation of the entire home or building, many PCOs will not treat areas that are not prepped to their specifications.
Although each company should provide its customers with a specific list of steps, there are some general rules of thumb for prepping for service. The following lists some of the most common requests or recommendations made by PCOs. These steps should also be followed prior to any DIY use of an over-the-counter pest control product. When using any pesticide, read and follow all label directions and safe-use guidelines prior to purchase and use.
- Clean the home prior to the pest control visit, and maintain the home as neatly as possible afterward for long-term results. This helps to eliminate competing food sources for insects. When the home is clean, the roaches will be more easily attracted to the bait rather than to other food sources.
- Cover and store any open food. Remove all foods, small appliances, and other small items from countertops.
- Store and/or cover baby toys, supplies, crib mattress, changing table, etc.
- Mop/scrub kitchen and other hard floors and woodwork with detergent. Thoroughly vacuum carpeted floors.
- Vacuum up any visible roaches and eggs just before the service visit. The vacuum's crevice attachment will help to get into cracks. After vacuuming, take the vacuum cleaner outside, remove the vacuum bag, seal it, and discard in trash. Take a damp cloth and wipe down the entire vacuum cleaner. If any cockroaches or eggs are seen after this is completed, re-vacuum or otherwise kill them.
- Always keep garbage in closed containers and take out the garbage every night.
- Remove items from the top of the refrigerator, stove, and any other large appliances that could not be stored. Just prior to service, move these appliances away from the wall and clean behind and beneath them. If the stove has a removable bottom drawer that opens to the floor, you can simply pull this out and clean it and the floor beneath. It will then not be necessary to move the entire stove.
- Be sure that the pest control professional has free and full access to anywhere that cockroaches have been seen (and anywhere specified by the PCO).
- Discard all excess paper products and any other piles of trash, as these will provide harborage areas for roaches and other pests.
- Homeowners should repair any water leaks immediately upon detection; apartment residents should report the leak to maintenance immediately upon detection.
- After service, keep sanitation to as high a level as possible to allow all products to work as swiftly as possible. Do not touch cockroach gel or allow children or pets to get near it for the appropriate amount of time.
If anyone in the home has special allergy problems, is pregnant, or is under the age of one, the PCO should be informed prior to the start of service and precautions will need to be taken. All people and pets should stay out of the area being serviced for the length of time specified by the PCO.
Whyatt RM, Camann D, Perera FP, et al. Biomarkers In Assessing Residential Insecticide Exposures During Pregnancy And Effects On Fetal Growth. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005;206(2):246-254. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2004.11.027