Since we’ve been covering pests like odorous house ants and wolf spiders that cause frequent problems for Knoxville home and business owners, we might as well discuss another pest that probably ranks near the top of a list of East Tennessee’s most troublesome creatures. Today, we’ll cover some information about German cockroaches, the most problematic roach species in our area.
A lot of people in the South think of roaches as big insects (the infamous “water bug” in Florida is really just a species of roach). German roaches defy that stereotype. They are dwarfed by their larger cousins and are likely to only reach half an inch in length. This species can also be distinguished from its relatives by its pale brown coloring with two darker brown or black stripes running from the tip of their heads back toward their wings.
There are few pests that give people the creeps the way that roaches do. This is reasonable because they are completely filthy. During a night of feeding, it would not be at all uncommon for a single roach to look for food in the toilet, on your toothbrush, in the garbage disposal, and inside the pantry. They are shamelessly indiscriminate eaters, so you should expect that if roaches are moving through a structure, they are spreading germs as they go.
However, the real problem with German roaches is not just their poor eating habits; it’s also their unbelievable biological potential. The average female German roach will lay about thirty eggs in a little package that she’ll carry around until the young are ready to hatch. That same female will lay about five batches of eggs, which means her reproductive capacity is about 150 young.
But here’s the kicker. Most roaches take a full year to reach adulthood, so you have twelve months to kill them before they have the chance to add to the population. German roaches reach sexual maturity in three months. That means that you will get four generations of egg-laying females in the time that it takes another species to produce one. The rate of reproduction grows exponentially with each generation. In other words, it is not even slightly difficult for a single female cockroach to start the creation of hundreds of thousands of roaches in a single year. We have seen well-founded speculation that several million roaches could be produced under ideal conditions in that amount of time, but we don’t need to consider only their maximum breeding potential if we’re looking for alarming numbers.
Now that you’re completely disgusted and worried, what should you watch out for when trying to avoid a German cockroach infestation? Unlike most other roaches, this species actually prefers to be inside. You are most likely to have them come to your home or business inside something you brought in yourself. One of our customers bought a very nice toaster at a garage sale that had a blossoming roach population in the bottom of it. In fact, all second-hand electronics are potentially risky (particularly if they’ve been stored in the garage) because, for some reason, roaches are fond of making nests inside electronics. Cardboard boxes also provide pleasant housing material for them, so be sure to throw away packaging in a timely manner (this is particularly relevant for boxes that come from warehouses, like those used when you order an item online).
In addition to paying careful attention to what you bring into your home, you can also make your house unattractive to roaches by keeping it clean and relatively tidy. Dishes left in the sink for long periods provide easy meal access to roaches, and excessive clutter offers them comfortable shelter away from disturbances.
If you think you have a German roach problem, act immediately before they have a chance to establish a thriving colony at your expense. Baits are almost always the best course of action against roaches; they will carry the bait back to the nest, thereby killing many young roaches that you could never find. Also, roaches are cannibals, so if you use a slower-acting bait, you increase the chance that a roach will die in the nest and provide yet another poisonous food source for its family.
If you are unable to get control of a roach problem immediately, call a trusted professional like Russell’s Pest Control. A roach problem that is identified early can be treated quickly and effectively. Waiting until the population has exploded will only increase the amount of time needed to exterminate them. If you have questions, you can reach Russell’s on our contact us page, or just give us a call.