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New Information on Cockroach Control

July 22, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about new information on cockroach control.

Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Doctor Blake Layton, Mississippi State University Extension Entomologist. Doctor Layton, are all cockroaches the same or is there more than one species of cockroach?

Blake Layton: Well, Amy, we actually have quite a few dozen species, and most of these people just never see because they live out in the woods or in grass thatch, or places where we just don't encounter them. They're outside species and they cause us no problem at all.

Amy Myers: What are the main pest species of cockroaches and where do they occur?

Blake Layton: So we have two main groups of cockroaches that cause us problem. The first is a little small cockroach people are familiar with called a German cockroach. It has those two little dark bands on its back. We see this most often in multifamily housing units and apartments and things like that. It can occur in houses as well. This cockroach only lives inside. You won't ever find it out in the woods. It can't live without us.

Then the other group we have are, I call them large roaches because there's about three species, the big American cockroach, and Brown cockroach, and Smoky Brown cockroach. They're all kind of the group the same. They're the ones that live outside around people's houses, come inside sometimes. And so they're kind of an indoor, outdoor roach. And again you won't find those living out in the woods. They want to live around houses, but they can survive outside. So you see these more commonly down in the south part of the state. Their numbers dwindle as you get up north, but we still have quite a few of them like here in Starkville and on throughout the state

Amy Myers: And what exactly is the biggest issue that we have with cockroaches? Are they just unsightly, or do they cause health problems?

Blake Layton: Most people just don't like roaches because there is a potential for them to carry and spread food-born illnesses. Now that's not just really clear cut, in science it's sometimes hard to show that there's a really clear cut link, but they do have those kinds of health issues. The biggest health issue with cockroaches occurs with these German cockroaches, and it's because they live inside, they die in there, their bodies crumble up, they go to dust, their feces becomes dust. And this creates asthma, and so asthma problems due to German cockroach infestation is a major health concern for children, as well as adults, that live in infested homes and apartments.

Amy Myers: What are some of the most effective ways to control cockroaches?

Blake Layton: Well, Amy, a lot of people are surprised to learn that the most effective tools we have for cockroach control don't come in a spray can. The two key things we can do are called sanitation and exclusion. And so that sanitation is especially important with German cockroaches. Things like just making sure we keep all the food crumbs cleaned up, we have covers on our garbage cans so they're bug tight at night. That we don't leave dishes out, dirty dishes at night. If there's any exposed food anywhere, they'll find it, they'll feed on it, and it only takes a little bit to cause a lot of population growth in a cockroach population. Even things like spills around a stove where it runs over between the cracks and goes down where it's kind of out of sight and out of mind, but the cockroaches can get in those cracks. So that kind of deep cleaning is also important.

The exclusion comes in more with the large roach control that people see. Because I said, you know, they live outside, they come inside. So if they can get under cracks in the doors or around the doors or windows, they're bigger, they're easier to seal out than the German cockroaches. And so that's where exclusion really comes into play is with these larger cockroaches.

Amy Myers: To learn what the methods are that we need to use in order to control them, where can our listeners go for this information about cockroaches?

Blake Layton: So we do have a new publication called Control Cockroaches in and Around Your Home, and it talks about how to do these sanitation and exclusion practices as well as gives you a list of some of the insecticides that can be used once you've done that sanitation and exclusion. There are some very useful insecticides, mostly applied as baits. So this publication gives that information.

Another thing I should mention is that there are times when it is just necessary to hire a professional pest control company.

Amy Myers: So how do we locate that publication?

Blake Layton: Of course, you can get this in hard copy from your local county extension office, but if you want to find it online, what I would do is I would do a search for cockroaches, Mississippi State. Then you'll look for the title of that publication, Control Cockroaches in and Around Your Home. It'll be the first thing that pops up, usually.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Doctor Blake Layton, Entomologist. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology

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