You hear a lot of stories about cockroaches. That they can withstand radiation, extreme heat, and microwaves. That they can go two weeks without water, four weeks without food, and a bit longer without their heads. (Also, the chopped off head can continue to feed and wiggle its antennae for a few hours after death.) That they can get stuck in your nose or ears. That they can hold their breath for 40 minutes. That the quickest way to kill them is flash freezing.
You might have heard they can out-sprint Usain Bolt. (Actually, they run at roughly 5kph, but it seems a lot faster because they’re so small.) Or that they can fly. (Not all of them, but some do glide.) Or that they’re colour blind. (They can see in the green light, but not in red.) Or have colourless blood. (Female adult blood is usually orange.)
While these myths and facts have made roaches seem a lot more interesting, you probably still don’t want them in your house. They can live for a long time without food or water, resist many types of adversity, and reproduce at alarming rates, so infestations can develop quickly. As soon as you see the signs, you should call in a professional exterminator. Here are some things that signal roach encroachment.
If you suddenly notice large deposits of what looks like black pepper or coffee grounds (and if you haven’t recently spilt any black pepper or coffee grounds), then you probably have a cockroach problem. For larger cockroaches, their faeces are shaped like small brown barrels that look a lot like mouse droppings, except that mouse droppings twist a little at the end.
To be sure they’re roach leavings, put out a few roach motels. The glue will attract and trap some for you. Cockroaches are good at hiding, and prefer warm, dark, moist spaces, squeezing themselves into cracks and crevices. It’ll be hard to spot that cockroach leavings if you’re not looking for them. It can be helpful to inspect typical hiding places in the daytime.
Check under the sink, behind the cooker, in the folds of fridge doors, above curtain boxes, in the corners of cupboards, and between shelves. Many cockroaches are nocturnal, and even diurnal ones shy away from light, so do your investigation after everyone has gone to bed and the house has been quiet for a bit.
Cockroaches lay their eggs in long brown casings to protect them from harm and predators. These casings can hold anything from 10 to 50 eggs, so a single hatched case basically equals an infestation. For many of us, the instinctive response when we see a pest is to crush it. Smashing roach casings does release the eggs though, so it may cause a bigger problem.
If you spot cockroach egg casings, rather than risking dispersion, apply a product that inhibits growth. This will keep the eggs from hatching and can prevent more eggs from being laid since the growth regulator makes it impossible for younger cockroaches to mature further and lay eggs of their own.
Cockroach egg casings are called oothecae. Sometimes, you’ll see the casings on their mothers’ backs. These eggs remain on their mothers’ bodies until they hatch. Other cockroach species hide their rounded egg casings in a place they think is safe. You can check suspected hiding spots during the day when the adult roaches are inactive.
Now that we know roaches are mostly active at night, seeing some during the day is a sign of trouble. One or two are probably fine, but if you see a good number roaming around, chances are their numbers are so huge that these ones have to risk ‘hunting’ during the day just to survive. The sheer volume of cockroaches may have forced some out of their nests and into the open, where you spotted them.
When you have that many cockroaches, you might also detect a distinctly dank, musty, oily smell. The smell will attract more cockroaches, so the nest will continue to get bigger and bigger, in addition to the eggs that are being hatched. You might also see signs of dead cockroaches around the house. This will be in the forms of corpses, dead skin, or flaked wings. If you notice any of the above signs, consider calling your cockroach control Sydney.