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Don't Be Bugged By Cockroaches
By Marcela Cartagena
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Preventing cockroaches can be a challenge even in the cleanest homes, but cures are available when these intruders invade.
"Cockroaches have been around for thousands of years indicating they can adapt well to environmental changes," said Dr. James Jarratt, an entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Jarratt said a reason for their success may be related to their diet -- they will eat anything organic, from meat products to hair. Cockroaches normally spend the day in the dark, hiding under stoves, refrigerators, cabinets and other places. At night, they leave their hidden sites in search of food and water.
"Cockroaches do not necessarily live in unsanitary places. You can find them anywhere. Like all insects, cockroaches carry microorganisms in their legs and mouth, but they are not known to carry diseases," Jarratt said. "Their presence during the day may indicate infestation."
To avoid cockroach invasions inside the house, or to eliminate cockroaches without the use of insecticides, people can sanitize their houses, inspect items entering the house, trap and kill the cockroaches.
Follow these rules to avoid infestation of cockroaches:
- Do not accumulate dirty dishes,
- Keep foods in the refrigerator or in containers with tight-fitting lids,
- Keep food bowl clean and don't leave food out overnight if pets are at home,
- Remove garbage often from the home,
- Keep the evaporation pan under the refrigerator or freezer clean, and
- Keep stove and cabinet areas clean.
Jarratt recommended inspecting items coming into the house, such as furniture, clothing, appliances and food containers. This prevents hidden cockroaches from entering the house.
Besides sanitation and inspection of items, people can trap these insects by placing traps out overnight. Jarratt said cockroaches that enter these boxes, are trapped and die.
Exclusion is another way to keep roaches out of the house.
"Cockroaches usually enter through wall, cracks, doors, windows and other places," Jarratt said. "Seal these areas to avoid their entrance."
When a person decides to use insecticide control in the house, several methods are available. Before controlling cockroach populations, identify the type of cockroaches present, to best attack the cockroaches where they live.
Jarratt said there are nearly 3,000 species of cockroaches in the world. The United States has about 50 of these species, but only four reside in Mississippi homes: the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brownbanded cockroach and the smokybrown cockroach.
The differences among these cockroaches rely on their size, body color, reproductive period and habitat.
The German cockroach is about 1/2 inch long, it has a light brown color, and females reproduce more eggs than any of the other three species. The brownbanded cockroach's body size is also about 1/2 inch long, and has a light brown color along with two lighter colored bands running across its body.
The American cockroach has reddish-brown color body and is about 1 1/2 inch long. And the smokybrown cockroach is similar in size and shape to the American cockroach, and are usually seen in wooded areas.
"Baits are one of the most effective methods to control cockroaches," Jarratt said. "It has insecticides combined with an ingredient that attracts cockroaches and eventually kills them."
Place baits in areas where cockroaches are usually found.
Insecticide sprays can also be helpful. Jarratt said the person can spray the insecticide in certain areas in the kitchen, in the corners, under the sink and oven; do not allow the spray to contact kitchen utensils.