Cockroaches are one thing above all else: resilient. It is not for nothing that they have earned the reputation of being able to survive a nuclear war unscathed. It is all the more difficult to fight them successfully in the household. However, it is not impossible.

German cockroach or common cockroach?

Although the terms cockroach, cockroach and cockroach are often used interchangeably, they represent different species. The German cockroach, for example, has a light or dark brown color and two characteristic parallel longitudinal stripes at the head end. It measures 1.0 cm to 1.6 cm in length and is comparatively nimble. It is also a proven carrier of various diseases.

The common cockroach, on the other hand, is up to 3 cm long, reddish brown to black in color and the fastest crawling insect in the world. It can also transmit diseases. Both the German cockroach and the common cockroach primarily feel at home in households, where they quickly become a nuisance due to their relatively long lifespan and explosive reproduction.

Not so forest cockroaches. They are similar to the German cockroach, but they can fly. If they appear in the house, they are simply lost. Combat is not necessary here.

Fighting cockroaches successfully – why is it necessary?

Cockroaches are primarily a nuisance. Not to mention the disgust and shock that comes with cockroaches scurrying through the closet or over the wall.

Apart from that, the aforementioned German cockroaches and common cockroaches transmit numerous diseases, such as tuberculosis and anthrax. They can also spread salmonella and worms and make allergies and asthma worse. If they occur in the household, they pose a health risk and must be combated urgently and quickly.

Causes of an infestation

Cockroaches are magically attracted to leftover food. One of the main reasons for an infestation is therefore open garbage cans. Other causes for an infestation are:

  • Open or badly packaged food
  • dirty dishes that have been in the dishwasher for too long
  • Food residues in recycling
  • Leftovers and rubbish in niches
  • Eggs registered with cardboard boxes
  • Clutches or cockroaches brought from vacation in suitcases and travel bags

Typical hiding places

Cockroaches primarily feed on leftover food. Textiles, cardboard and paper, wood and leather are not spared by them either. They can therefore occur practically anywhere in the home. However, they prefer prolonged warmth, moisture, and darkness. So they prefer to be in the bathroom, boiler room or laundry room. Because of the close proximity to high-energy food, the cockroach’s favorite habitat is the kitchen. Here the cockroaches look for dark corners and niches in which they can hide during the day. They sit between cupboards and the wall, behind the refrigerator, under the oven or even in electrical appliances – such as the toaster.

This knowledge is important when fighting the cockroach, because it determines the success of means and applications.

Prevent infestation

Although it is not always possible to prevent an infestation, the following tips can significantly reduce the risk.

  • Do not leave leftover food open
  • Rinse dirty dishes before placing them in the machine
  • Dispose of kitchen waste outside of the apartment promptly
  • Choose rubbish bins with tightly fitting lids
  • Pack dry supplies such as pasta and rice securely
  • Ventilate humid and warm rooms regularly and let them cool down – for example overnight
  • Clean regularly behind and under furniture and large appliances
  • Seal cracks and gaps in the masonry, window frames and floor
  • Remove rubbish in the basement and in the attic
  • Dispose of cardboard boxes, especially those from the supermarket, directly outside the home
  • Unpack travel bags and suitcases in the shower or bathtub
  • Wash laundry immediately after traveling
  • Thoroughly clean luggage after the holiday

Of course, there is no need to carry out a major cleaning every day. Two to four times a year, however, the kitchen, bathroom and all other rooms that are comparatively warm and humid should be cleaned thoroughly. This also applies to the electrical devices it contains. Because even the crumbs in the toaster or under the stove can attract cockroaches.

Find the pests

Cockroach infestation is not always easy to determine. Because the cockroaches are mostly in the dark, hiding in niches and cracks, they are barely visible during the day. At least if it’s only a small number of animals. Or there are numerous hiding spots available.

If you do see the cockroaches in the light, you should act quickly. Often times, this is a sign that there are more cockroaches than there are hiding places. Even then, however, a clear identification is not certain, since both the German cockroach and the common cockroach are very fast.

Another indication of a cockroach infestation is a musty, sweet smell. In order to be really safe and to use specific measures to control the cockroaches, glue traps should definitely be set up. This quickly shows which pests are up to mischief. Such traps are also a first step in combating cockroaches.

Natural means and measures

Before resorting to chemical clubs, natural active ingredients and applications should first be the means of choice. Incidentally, these are also useful as additional measures in the event of a more aggressive destruction of the cockroaches. Helpful measures:

  • Thorough removal and destruction of all leftover food and supplies
  • The setting up or laying out of glue traps or double-sided tape
  • Seal all cracks and holes in the masonry

The aim of this procedure is, on the one hand, to deprive the cockroaches of their livelihood – namely their food. On the other hand, eggs that have already been laid are removed, entrances and hiding places are closed. The glue traps are used to combat individual cockroaches.

Although these measures are indispensable in destroying the infestation, they alone will not lead to complete eradication. For this reason, they should first be combined with the use of natural remedies. Effective, natural means:

  • Kieselguhr, also known as diatomaceous earth
  • Plankton fossils
  • Pyrethrum
  • Borax
  • Boric acid

These should be sprinkled or sprayed on in a targeted manner in the areas where the cockroaches look for food and hide. So behind cupboards and around the trash can. The advantage of these natural remedies is that they can be used without problems and without risk to health and can be removed again after the end of their use.

As effective as these are, they can prove to be inadequate if the infestation is severe.

Heat and cold

In addition to natural active ingredients and the measures mentioned, heat and cold can be helpful allies in the fight against cockroaches. Eggs as well as larvae and cockroaches die if they are exposed to freezing temperatures for long periods of time. So what can be frozen should be stored in the freezer for a few days.

The same applies to the temperature range above 60 ° C. Hot washing, one to two hours in the oven or the use of a steam cleaner are sensible alternatives. If this approach does not help either, retailers always offer more aggressive means.


Eating baits, hormone-based baits and so-called anti-cockroach gels have proven effective in combating cockroaches.

These reach a large number of cockroaches and larvae. The eggs that have already been laid are, however, not reached. They should also be placed out of the reach of children and pets. Because they are not only toxic to cockroaches.

Be careful with sugar

Special baits and traps contained, and in some cases still do, contain some form of sugar – such as glucose or fructose. And until a few years ago, this addition served its attractive purpose perfectly. In the meantime, however, more and more cockroaches have shown themselves to be immune to the sweet scent. Instead of being attracted by it and seduced to absorb the poison, the sugar has a repulsive effect.
Evolution is responsible for this. Cockroaches, whose receptors react to the smell of sugar like that of bitter substances, have a better chance of survival. Therefore, they can spread better.
If the traps do not show the desired destructive effect when they are infested, it is worth taking a look at the ingredients. And if necessary a change of traps and bait.

Patience pays off

Cockroaches have a lifespan of 100 to 200 days. During this time, the females lay an average of five egg sacs, each containing about 36 eggs. And the hatching rate is high.
A single large-scale operation in which larvae and adult cockroaches are destroyed is not enough. Because often these have already laid eggs or are still laying them in agony.
It is therefore necessary to repeat the cleaning and the use of insecticides regularly. An interval of two weeks is ideal. During this time, the offspring hatch, but have no opportunity to reproduce.

Tip: There should always be glue traps during the treatments. These alone only destroy a few cockroaches, but provide information about the success. If there are no new cockroaches on the traps for several weeks, the cockroach control was successful.

Combinations make sense

Cleaning, freezing, heating – even that can involve a lot of effort. If there is also the setting up and changing of traps, the use of natural means and bait – and this is repeated every 14 days – a lot of work is necessary.

However, savings and abbreviations should not be made here. Because only a combination of traps, bait, insecticides and cleaning can really destroy all stages of development at the same time, deprive the cockroaches of their livelihood and prevent both a renewed spread and a new infestation. Anyone who stops fighting too early or does not proceed thoroughly enough will only increase the overall effort.

When is professional help needed?

Cockroaches are extremely resilient and adapt to their habitat at a rapid pace. In addition, thanks to their flat physique, they fit into even the smallest cracks and can easily survive for several weeks without food.

It is therefore not uncommon for cockroaches to appear again and again, especially when the infestation is already very pronounced. Or, despite all efforts, their number cannot or can hardly be reduced at all.
In these cases, and if there is no time to fight the cockroaches yourself, a professional exterminator should be called in. He will first determine the extent of the infestation and search for hiding places. Afterwards, professional agents are used to prevent further spread and to destroy the cockroaches that are already there. At the same time, possible hiding places are closed and the food supply is withdrawn.

In fact, the exterminator does nothing else than laypeople should do.
The difference here, however, is that expert pest controllers have experience and extensive knowledge of the way cockroaches live. Therefore, they can usually better assess where the targeted control has to take place. And what means and in what quantity should be used to get the infestation under control.

Fighting cockroaches requires some dedication and patience. However, if it is carried out thoroughly and various means and measures are combined, the infestation can be successfully destroyed. In addition, the risk of a renewed spread in the future is minimized.

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