In his 1915 novella “The Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka describes how the story’s protagonist Gregor Samsa faces ostracism and rejection from his parents, his sibling, and society at large. That’s not a strange theme in and of itself, but the way in which Kafka chose to embody it was. Just consider the novella’s inimitable first line: “One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.” And if you’re wondering just what kind of vermin Samsa found himself metamorphosed into, Kafka makes it clear that he’d become a cockroach.
Such a compositional choice makes a lot of sense when you consider just how disgusting cockroaches are. These hardy and hard-to-kill insect have troubled humanity since time immemorial, and if you’re dealing with roaches in the kitchen, you know how true that is. This post will detail how to tell if you have a cockroach infestation, synthetic and biological roach control solutions, and how to get rid of roaches for good.
Signs of a Cockroach Infestation
Simply seeing a roach at all is enough to make most people feel queasy. They soon find themselves wondering whether they’re dealing with an unpleasant isolated instance or a full-on infestation. That sense of unease only grows when it involves one’s kitchen, the place where you prepare food for family and friends — and a place where you definitely don’t want dirty pests.
While there’s no definitive test to determine the seriousness of your cockroach problem, you can apply several general rules of thumb. The more of them that apply to your situation, the greater the chance you have major cockroach problems. They include:
- Seeing cockroaches during the night or day. Cockroaches don’t tend to make their presence known unless they’re scavenging or unless there’s an overabundance of the insects all living in the same space. It’s one thing to see cockroaches in the kitchen at night since these insects are nocturnal. But when they start appearing during the day? That might mean you have a problem on your hands.
- Discovering cockroach droppings or egg casings. By the time the little dark granules or smeary black stains left by whatever species of cockroach is plaguing you have appeared, these disgusting bugs have begun breeding in earnest. Understand that roaches don’t produce individual eggs. They lay egg masses known as oothecae, and when you find the remains of these cases, you know that roaches have started exponentially multiplying.
- Finding out that your neighbors have cockroaches. This sign doubly applies to apartment complexes, duplexes, and similar multi-unit dwellings. See, cockroaches don’t like to stay in one place, and when they have the opportunity to spread, they will.
- Smelling their distinctive odor. When roaches gather in great numbers, they secrete distinctive chemical markers. This is part of how they communicate, and it’s also why they smell really, really bad. Some people have described their stench as comparable to mold, except that its mustiness combines with a sour, biological odor that puts the smell in a category all its own.
Why Cockroaches Hide in Kitchens
When people discover they have cockroaches in their kitchens, they often ask us why they congregate there. Now it’s true that roaches love to hide everywhere in the kitchen, secreting themselves away in places like drawers, dishwashers, sinks, appliances, and even dish drainers. It’s enough to make you want to purchase a bug-proof toaster! But here’s a pest-control secret: Roaches don’t specifically seek out your kitchen. They’re looking for any — and we mean any — place where they can supply an ample supply of moisture and food. Given those two elements, along with a little shelter, cockroaches will thrive just about anywhere.
There’s a reason, though, why people tend to become extra vigilant when dealing with cockroaches in the kitchen is the “gross” factor. No wonder. Experts have proved that cockroaches spread illness and disease in their wake. They’re not quite as bad as the fleas and lice that spread the Black Death throughout medieval Europe, killing millions. But as PestWorld notes, “In total, cockroaches are known to spread 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella species, six types of parasitic worms and seven kinds of human pathogens.”
The message is simple. If you have a cockroach problem, you need to deal with it immediately. The only question is how.
Best Overall Solution: Professional Pest Control
When it comes to how to remove cockroaches from your kitchen, allow us to suggest professional pest control. As you’ll soon see, it’s far from the only choice available, but we like to think it’s the most effective in the vast majority of serious infestation situations. Let us explain why.
Smithereen Pest Management Services doesn’t simply “exterminate” nuisances like cockroaches. We don’t seize our strongest chemicals, spray and pray, and hope that we’ve solved your pest problem. Instead, we employ an integrative pest management (IPM) approach. Not only has this approach proved effective over the long run, it’s safe for people and the environment.
An IPM approach involves a fourfold process, which includes:
- We conduct a thorough pest inspection of your property
- We identify pest infestations and any potential problem areas
- We communicate our findings and our recommendations
- We’ll address any current pest issues and develop a proactive program for your specific needs, eliminating pests as needed and then designing a preventative program that addresses your specific needs
What does this mean in practice? Smithereen will seek to understand what kind of cockroach problem you’re dealing with, remediate the conditions contributing to it, spray for cockroaches, and help implement a plan to keep them away once and for all. We have more than a century’s worth of experience in dealing with common and uncommon pests, and we’d like to put it to work to help you.
Best Over-the-counter Solutions
That being said, your first inclination might not be to pick up the phone and contact a professional. That’s fine! If your infestation isn’t serious, you may very well be able to remedy smaller roach problems with over-the-counter products, many of which are quite affordable. If you’re wondering how to remove cockroaches on your own, this is the place to start.
For instance, both Business Insider and The Chicago Tribune praise the Combat Max line of roach-killing bait stations. These self-contained plastic wafers are filled with a long-lasting poison that promises to eradicate roaches. Some of the line offerings also say that roaches will carry the enclosed poison back to their nests, greatly increasing the insect body count. Note, though, that these traps may not work on every species of roach due to their size and/or pesticide formulation.
You won’t have that problem with Advion Cockroach Gel Bait, a pesticide that comes in a syringe-link tube. Since it’s a gel, you can apply it in any cracks, crevasses, or similar hard-to-reach places that render ordinary bait stations impractical. However, there are downsides. Because the gel isn’t encapsulated, you or your loved ones can accidentally come into contact with it. Also, applying it is messy and inelegant, a task not everyone will want to tackle.
Finally, if you’re looking for what kills cockroaches instantly, Raid Ant & Roach Killer Insecticide Spray just about does the trick. Apply to any roach you see, and it’ll shuffle off this mortal coil not long after. Still, a firm thwack with a shoe will do the same thing, and these sorts of bug sprays are very temporary solutions to what is most likely a long-lasting problem.
Best DIY Solutions
If you prefer to take a more natural tack and whip up your own cockroach killer powder, you’re in luck! Homemade remedies have been used for decades to eliminate pests. Please note, though, that these solutions will necessarily be far less strong than over-the-counter pesticides and professional services. Set your expectations accordingly.
Some of the best DIY solutions for cockroaches include:
- Boric acid. A poisonous powder you can sprinkle in hard-to-reach corners. Don’t let it get wet!
- Peppermint oil. Put 10 drops in one cup of water, then spray around affected areas.
- Baking soda and sugar. The sugar serves as a lure to cockroaches, and the baking soda eliminates them.
- Effective in either oil or powder form.
- Fabric softener. When mixed with water and sprayed directly on an unsuspecting bug, fabric softener can double as an impromptu insecticide.
The effectiveness of these solutions may vary from case to case. The most important thing you can do to eliminate a cockroach infestation is to remove all sources of food and water. In addition to thoroughly cleaning, you should also address any leaks that may let unwanted moisture into your home.
If you’d prefer not to tackle persistent cockroach problems on your own, reach out to us at (800) 336-3500. Smithereen has helped clients throughout the Midwest deal with all sorts of pests since 1988.