Cockroaches are persistent pests that can seemingly multiply in the blink of an eye. There are two main species that homeowners typically deal with when it comes to roaches: the German cockroach and the American cockroach. German cockroaches have light brown bodies with two dark, parallel stripes running down their back. They are typically about 1/2″ to 5/8″ in length. This species is typically found indoors. American cockroaches are reddish brown in color and larger than their German counterparts, usually about 1-1/2″ to 2″ in length. They are predominantly found outdoors in mulch or garbage piles but can make their way indoors in search of food and water. Both species of cockroach are active year-round. They both usually come out at night in search of food and water and hide out during the day in dark, sheltered spots around your home.

Roaches thrive in warm, humid environments. They are generally attracted to dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs or pet food spilled on the floor, leftover food stuck to cans or containers, garbage, cardboard and newspaper, excess moisture, or warm areas in your home (like behind appliances). Roaches are also resilient. They are difficult to control and can squeeze into tiny spaces less than 1/4″. Roaches will get into your home through gaps around doors and windows, holes in screens, cracks and crevices, holes in or around vents and pipes, or by hitching a ride on things you bring indoors, like groceries, packages, old furniture, and used appliances.

Roaches can be detrimental to the health of you and your family. These pests can contaminate your food, transmit dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, and trigger allergies and asthma.

The best way to get rid of roaches is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips for cockroach prevention:

1. Clean It Up

Roaches will come indoors in search of food and water. Eliminating their food source is one way to discourage them from coming into your home. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight; wash them and put them away after each meal. Clean up any crumbs or spills immediately. Wipe up any grease from the stovetop and other appliances. Seal food, including pet food, in airtight containers. Mop and vacuum on a regular basis. Don’t leave pet food or water out overnight. Take out the garbage before going to bed. Use garbage cans with tight fitting lids. Wipe out the trashcan regularly. Make sure to check behind cabinets and appliances for spills/crumbs. Roaches like these areas because of the warmth the appliances give off combined with the likelihood of spilled food.

2. Declutter

Roaches hide out during the day so they will seek out dark, protected areas to hole up in until nightfall. Declutter your home and get rid of anything they can use for shelter. Roaches also love to breed in cardboard and newspaper. Recycle any old newspapers and get rid of unused cardboard boxes. Try to use plastic storage containers rather than cardboard boxes if possible.

3. Seal Them Out

Roaches are very creative when it comes to finding ways into your home. A good rule of thumb is if you can see daylight around a door or window, roaches can get in. Inspect at least once a year around windows and doors, along foundations and the roof, attic and crawlspace vents, and around holes used for electric, gas, and plumbing lines. Seal any cracks and holes you find. Use caulk to seal smaller holes, steel wool or foam for larger holes, and fine wire mesh on chimneys and attic vents.

4. Dry It Out

Roaches (along with many other pests) are attracted to moisture because they need water to survive. Regularly inspect your home for any leaking faucets, sinks, or pipes and check refrigerators and appliances to make sure they aren’t producing excess moisture. Get any known leaks or plumbing issues fixed immediately.

5. Call A Pro

Prevention can only get you so far when it comes to keeping roaches out. Nothing eliminates a pest as well as professional service. If you suspect you have a roach infestation, contact a pest control company who can thoroughly inspect your home to help identify which species of cockroach you are dealing with, help identify any potential areas where they are getting in, provide you with the most up-to-date elimination and control methods, and help you with a prevention plan going forward.