If there’s any one thing that most folks can agree on, it’s that they hate cockroaches. That’s probably one of the few things that’s true anywhere in the world. In fact, no matter where you go, to which country, or what language the people there speak, pretty much everyone hates roaches.
Don’t feel sorry for the cockroaches, though. They brought it upon themselves. Roaches are among the most important disease vectors in the insect world. They’re known to transmit more than 40 different diseases and six different parasites. Just two of these diseases, E. coli and Salmonella, sicken untold millions of people every year.
Cockroaches also can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Proteins found in cockroaches’ saliva, feces, and shed skins easily become airborne and can trigger or worsen asthma attacks and allergic reactions, especially in children and the elderly. So don’t shed any tears for cockroaches. They have earned every bit of our hatred.
Cockroaches of the Pacific Northwest
There are many species of cockroaches. Most of them live outside in the forest and don’t bother anyone; so we do the polite thing and don’t bother them, either.
Four species of cockroaches, however, are rude enough to infest homes and businesses in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington areas. Those species are the German cockroach (Blatella germanica), the brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa), the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), and the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis).
The German cockroach is the most common cockroach pest in homes and businesses in the Portland and Vancouver areas. Adults range from about 5/8 to 3/4 of an inch long, are winged (but don’t fly), and have two longitudinal markings on their pronotums (the area right behind their heads).
German cockroaches avoid light and air currents, and exhibit a behavior called thigmotaxis, which basically means that they like to have some surface touching both their feet and their sides or backs at the same time. In simple terms, that means that they like to hang out in cracks and crevices when they’re not feeding.
German cockroaches aren’t too picky about what they eat. Their diet ranges from fecal matter (including their own) to pretty much anything that humans will eat. This is one of the reasons they’re such serious disease vectors: German cockroaches will go from feeding on poop to feeding on the food we eat, carrying germs on their bodies the whole time.
Because they prefer warm places and absolutely must have moisture, German cockroaches are commonly found in or near kitchens, bathrooms, and other places that are close to food, heat, and water. Once they find a suitable home, they invite their friends to join them by secreting attractant pheromones.
German cockroach control consists of correcting sanitation problems (if any), removing sources of food (for example, by storing food in insect-proof containers and washing dishes immediately after meals), removing harborage such as corrugated boxes, caulking and sealing cracks and crevices whenever possible, and the precise application of carefully-selected insecticides.
Brown-banded cockroaches are a bit smaller than German cockroaches and have two brownish bands across their abdomens. Males average about 5/8 inch in length, have full wings, and can fly. Females (shown here) are slightly shorter and broader, have only short wings, and can’t fly.
Compared to their German cousins, brown-banded cockroaches prefer a drier environment. They’re usually found in furniture, electrical and electronic equipment, in closets, and behind baseboards and trim, in rooms other than the kitchen or bathrooms. It’s possible to have both German roaches and brown-banded roaches in the same home or apartment, but usually they won’t be in the same rooms.
Brown-banded cockroaches are omnivorous, but they seem to prefer starchy foods. They also happily munch away on stuff that humans don’t consider to be food, such as wallpaper paste, book bindings, and the glues used to seal some cardboard boxes.
As with cockroach control in general, proper sanitation is vital to controlling brown-banded cockroaches. Removing food, cardboard, and clutter are especially important.
American cockroaches are sometimes (and incorrectly) called “water bugs” or “palmetto bugs.” They’re also called a lot of other words that we can’t print here.
By whatever name, American cockroaches are the biggest cockroaches you’re likely to come across in the Pacific Northwest, or in most of the country for that matter. Adults average a bit over an inch and a half, and it’s not uncommon to come across individuals that are nearly two inches in length. They have a yellowish margin on the edges of their pronotum, which is easy to see because of their large size.
In urban areas like Portland and Vancouver, American cockroaches can travel between buildings through utility chases, sewers, and other common passages. This can make them more challenging to eliminate than other roach species. It also makes them a significant health problem because they carry filth and germs from sewers to human-occupied areas.
American roaches are most often seen in basements, boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, and other dark, warm places; but they can also travel through wall voids to living areas, especially kitchens and bathrooms. They’re often found in the spaces under and around bath tub and shower enclosures, for example.
Eliminating American cockroaches can be a challenge even for professional exterminators. Control methods usually include trapping to rapidly reduce populations, supplemented by precise application of insecticides into voids and other harborage and travel paths. Whenever possible, passages to sewer and utility chase ways should also be sealed to help prevent re-infestation.
Oriental cockroaches average about an inch in length and vary in color from brown to black. Males have wings that extend almost to the rear of their abdomens, and are capable of short, clumsy flights. Females have only short wing pads and can’t fly at all.
During the warmer months, American cockroaches can be found indoors or outdoors in warm, dark, damp places. In homes and buildings, they’re commonly found in sewers, pipe and utility chases, basements, boiler rooms, under porches, and in crawl spaces. They can also be found outdoors in dark, moist places such as in rotting tree stumps or under leaf litter or pine needles.
When populations are high or food is scarce, Oriental cockroaches may migrate into human living areas, especially kitchens and bathrooms due to their need for high humidity.
Effective extermination of Oriental roaches varies greatly depending on where they’re found. In some cases, sanitation improvements, removal of harborage, correction of moisture problems, sealing around water and sewer pipes, and using traps are enough to eliminate Oriental cockroach problems. More often, however, precision use of insecticides or insecticidal baits are also needed to completely eliminate an Oriental cockroach infestation.
Bugaboo Pest Control provides high-quality cockroach control solutions for both homes and businesses throughout our Vancouver and Portland service areas. We also offer a variety of comprehensive pest control programs that include cockroach control, along with many other pests. All of our services are based on our Earth-friendly, “green” approach to pest control, which emphasizes non-chemical pest control methods whenever possible.
Please contact us for more information about cockroach elimination or any of our high-quality services.