Many of us associate cockroach infestations with foreign holidays – you turn your back for a moment after dusk and there they are, scuttling around on your holiday apartment floor. Nasty! But a warming climate means cockroaches are fast becoming more of an issue in Britain.
Cockroaches release a pheromone in their droppings, designed to tell other cockroaches they’ve found a safe place to live. Which means once you’ve got one, it’ll attract an entire colony. Here’s what you need to know about controlling these fascinating but disease-ridden insects.
Three types of cockroach to look out for
If you see a cockroach in the UK it’s more than likely one of three types. Thankfully they’re all fairly small, half an inch to an inch (2.5cm) long.
Oriental cockroaches don’t mind things cool and damp, commonly found in outbuildings, basements and drains. German cockroaches and brown banded cockroaches need warmth and humidity, and are often found in bathrooms and kitchens.
The German roach is the most common in Britain and also the most difficult to control, notorious for causing allergies and infections, skin rashes, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, dysentery and the runs.
Why cockroach populations need controlling
Cockroaches carry all sorts of diseases including Salmonella, which can make you very poorly indeed. They make houses, factories, restaurants and healthcare facilities dangerously dirty, and they’re incredibly tough creatures. They breed fast when living in the right conditions, can eat more or less anything, and often eat each other when they run out of food. In short, they’re survival machines, so much so that it’s tricky to get rid of them on your own.
How to spot a cockroach infestation
You can have a cockroach problem without actually seeing an insect. They’re nocturnal, so tend to spend their days in hiding. As well as food they’ll eat paper, plastic, fabric, animal poop, you name it. So one of the first signs you might notice is mysteriously-shredded materials.
Once well established, a cockroach colony gives off a really nasty smell which clings to everything they touch. You might see their droppings, 2mm long, brown or black and cylinder shaped. They can leave dirty smears on horizontal surfaces and at the place the floor and walls meet, and they also shed their skins several times before reaching adulthood, usually close to the place they’re living.
Preventing a cockroach infestation in the first place
Cockroaches are notoriously hard to control. The best way to deal with the threat is to prevent them settling in. Something as simple as keeping doors and windows shut can make a big difference, although it isn’t always practical.
Your first task is to make sure your building is well maintained. Pipes and drains need to be well-looked after, repaired when they get damaged and cleared quickly when blocked. The insects love old wood, especially when it’s full of cracks they can hide in. Simply sealing wood with varnish or paint, filling the cracks, can be enough to discourage them from settling in. It’s also good practice to seal up holes and cracks in the entryways they use most frequently, in walls, skirting boards, electricity sockets, underneath kitchen sinks, kitchen units and bathroom cabinets. If there’s a tiny gap, they will get through it.
It’s never wise to leave food hanging around, since cockroaches are such expert scavengers. They particularly like sugar, protein and carbohydrates, and they prefer to have a reliable water supply. Don’t leave water or any other edible liquid lying around and you’ll be less likely to attract them in. They have an excellent sense of smell too, so storing food in sealed containers is a must. Because they can easily eat their way through cardboard, it’s best to store things like cereals in proper airtight containers.
Cockroaches are perfectly happy to dive into your bin looking for treats, which means you can carry them indoors when you bring the bin back in. Empty bins regularly, and keep them clean and dry inside.
As a general rule, a clean house or premises works wonders. Make sure all your work surfaces are clear of food waste, clean up spills straight away, don’t let rubbish accumulate under the cooker or units, and put cat litter trays, pet water containers and pet food outdoors after dark if at all possible. If you run a business and your staff eat lunch at their desks, clear up crumbs and empty the office bins every evening.
Last but not least, cluttered spaces are the places the insects will gather and leave droppings. Clear up stacks of paper, de-clutter your house and premises inside and out, and you’ll discourage them from setting up home at your place.
How the professionals control cockroaches
Do you need pest control Tunbridge Wells, pest control Canterbury or anywhere else in London or Kent? No problem – we’ll help get rid of your roach infestation.
Cockroaches are brilliant at hiding. Their eggs are naturally protected from most over-the-counter insecticides. You really need someone with special equipment, materials and know-how to control them.
We don’t recommend sticky traps or glue strips for control, just for establishing the extent and location of the problem. We will thoroughly clean the area before using a specialist insecticidal treatment. We’ll take great care to find the places the insects are living, so we can target the right treatment to the right areas. And we pay particular attention to any cracks and crevices where eggs and nymphs – young insects – are hidden.
The insecticides we use are tailor made for the purpose, strong enough to kill any nymphs that might hatch later from unharmed eggs. We know exactly how to use these dangerous substances safely and professionally. We’ll caulk gaps where the insects are getting in from the outside, and we may bring special gel bait into play to attract and kill strays.
Whatever methods and materials we use to get rid of roaches, we’ll tailor them to your specific circumstances for the best results. For pest control West London or help dealing with pests anywhere in the capital and right across Kent, give us a call.