Man, oh man! Roaches, man. Yuck! Disgusting. In New York City, There are three things which are certain: death, taxes and cockroaches. The world headquarters of Roach Motel, Inc.
Crawling out of the drain. Scurrying across the wall. Hiding out in the cutlery drawer. And that’s a best case scenario. When it comes to roaches, it’s best to spray it, not say it!
Spraying is just one method. You will finish this article knowing more than you imagined you would ever want to know about cockroaches. Luckily, that information will include a variety of ways to rid your humble abode of the pesky nuke resistant creatures. Fast. Yes you can always call exterminators, but let’s learn a bit about the process along the way.
By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll practically be qualified to operate your own extermination company. Let’s start with some fun but repulsive facts about cockroaches.
Roach Round Up
Ever hear the joke about da American cockroach and die German cockaroacha? No? That’s because there isn’t one. But someone should make one up.
That’s right, there are two kinds of cockroaches: imported and domestic. Die German and Da American. Guess they came over on the boat decades ago. And have since spawned over 4,600 variations of the species that have even migrated as far as Australia.
German cockroaches, the most common in New York City, average about half an inch in length and are tan or dark brown colored. American cockroaches are darker, a little red-ish and significantly bigger, varying from one and half to two inches long.
Both German and American cockroaches come equipped with wings, but only American cockroaches are capable of flying. American cockroaches are more drawn to warm and humid climates such as Florida, for example.
The average lifespan of a German Cockroach is disgustingly long. It has three stages: egg, nymph and adult. They spend 40-60 days in the egg stage, the nymph stage, which can last between one and eight months, followed by about seven months of adult life.
Female cockroaches produce capsules of eggs approximately every two weeks and each capsule can contain up to 48 eggs. Adult females may produce up to eight capsules during their lifespan.
Here’s another cool fact: Roaches practically outdate dinosaurs and survived the same meteor blast that killed T. Rex. Cockroaches as a species are more than three hundred and fifty million years old.
Cockroaches can run nearly two hundred miles an hour – faster than a Maserati! They can withstand nine hundred times their body weight and live nearly a week without their heads.
They can regenerate limbs, antennae and even their eyes. They can run, jump and swim while holding their breath for up to 40 minutes. And with a uniquely strong immune system that murders harmful microbes, nothing is too inedible or unhygienic for them!
Cockroaches can survive pretty much anything and everything. Here’s the final fun fact: You might have heard that cockroaches can withstand a nuclear holocaust. This is because of a slower cell reproduction cycle. Unless the atoms catch them in the molting process, which is the exoskeleton growing phase, when they are weak and more vulnerable.
However, it is important to note they can survive blasts that would kill humans. But there are levels high enough that they too would succumb to the radiation. Phew!
Cockroaches could practically be superheroes if they weren’t so revolting. Now that you know a thing or two about their resilient powers, time to learn how to recognize an infestation.
The Rules Of Attraction
What might attract roaches to your home are first and foremost, unclean conditions. They are primarily searching for sources of food and water, which is why they are commonly found in bathrooms or kitchens.
They typically use water or sewage lines to gain access and travel into the home. Some of the common messes which attract cockroaches are dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter or the floor, pet food on the floor, leftover food in containers or cans, and garbage. These messes are mostly preventable.
Cockroaches can travel through a crevice as small as twenty five percent of their height in a matter of one second or less. Places they will be found are typically warm and moist areas – behind refrigerators, sinks, stoves and inside drainage systems.
How Do They Get In There?
Through cracks or crevices or holes in pipes and vents. Another thing to look out for – inadvertently carrying them home in cardboard boxes or shopping bags. Don’t move them with you if you change places! Even backpacks and luggage. Don’t leave your gym bag lying around – all that sweat is moisture, which attracts them.
What Do They Bring With Them?
Not just the smell. Cockroaches can carry deadly diseases, including salmonella, cholera, pneumonia and even tuberculosis.
They drop fecal remains and regurgitated food which can in turn contaminate your food. Plus the shells and other body parts can be an allergen and even adversely affect those who suffer from asthma.
How Do I Know If I Have a Serious Infestation?
Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, thus it can be hard to tell because they scram when you flip on the lights. So if you see them crawling around during the day, it means they are over on population and under on food and water supply. Indeed, infestation.
Cockroaches prefer to chill in warm, moist places. That is their safe space. If there is an infestation, they will be seen in more unsafe places because they have been forced to expand their residences.
You will know for sure if you start to see tiny oval shaped capsules the size of seeds or nuts. These are the empty egg sacks, which means they are reproducing at an unhealthy rate.. Also you might start noticing little specks of what looks like black pepper. This is their fecal matter and is highly unsanitary.
What Should I Do When I See Them?
Call an exterminator! Make sure the exterminator is trained and licensed. But if that was the easiest option, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
If you live in New York City, chances are you live in a multi-unit dwelling. Talk to the on-site manager. It is probably not an isolated case. Also, talk to those living around you to see if they have a persistent problem too. Plus, it is common courtesy to discuss any pest control techniques you may be implementing with your neighbors, since they could be affected by it.
What Can You Do To Prevent Roach Infestations?
The best thing to do is not see them at all. You can take some preventive measures to increase your chances of a roach-free zone.
- Clear Out Clutter – The less places roaches have to hide, the less likely they are to stay and reproduce and to go undetected. Pay special attention to old newspapers and cardboard boxes.
- Thorough Inspection – The more potential hideouts you can uncover, the more effective your controls can be. This will help you in selecting the right kind of bait and traps.
- Fragrances – Some essential oils will repel roaches, including peppermint oil, cedarwood oil and cypress oil. And they abhor the aroma of crushed bay leaves and coffee grounds. Or in extreme situations, blend powdered sugar with some boric acid. But keep in mind if you have a cat or dog or ferret or a cute little hamster, keep them away because boric acid is toxic to them also.
- Proper Drainage and Plumbing – If you have any leaks or other plumbing issues, fix ‘em. This will make it harder for the roaches to get in in the first place. Faucets, sinks, refrigerators and appliances can also produce leakage.
- Don’t Feed ‘Em! – Keep your counters and corners free of crumbs and old food substances and your sinks dry. Take your pet food off the floor or use a dispenser.
- Sanitation – is the best prevention. That’s pretty much common sense. Sanitation includes sealing up leftovers and taking out your garbage regularly.
Ridding Yourself Of Those Rotten Roaches
Chances are if you are reading this article, it’s too late! In that not so rare case, especially in New York City, here are some methods to hand the pests a death sentence.
- Traps – You can buy these at most grocery stores or on Amazon (disclaimer: if you do buy from Amazon through our links, we’ll make a very small, but very valuable commission, at no extra cost to you). These traps use scents or bait and then trap the cockroach on glue. They can take up to two weeks to generate results and have to be checked regularly.
- Bait – You can use bait that is stuffed with insecticide. The roaches ingest the bait and then carry it back to the nest, where it spreads amongst the brethren. This kind of bait can also be found in stores.
- Liquid Concentrate – You can use specially designed liquid concentrates. Spray them into the corners and crevices you have inspected and those you haven’t. This can solve the problem overnight. Although you might have a frightening morning walking out of the bedroom to discover belly-up bugs all over your floor!
- Bug Bomb – This method will take some preparation and precautions. Like moving your furniture to the middle of the room and hanging plastic to guard the area where you will set the bomb. If you remain in the house, a breathing mask. Or you might have to spend the night at a friend’s place. And the sight of all those roaches trying to escape certain death and running up the plastic looks truly like a horror movie in your own home. But it’s very effective.
Homemade Roach Traps
For a homemade, do it yourself remedy, make a beer trap! Pour a splash of beer in a jar and the roaches will be attracted to the smell of the beer and will drown in it. You didn’t know cockroaches were alcoholics too, did you?
Keep in mind a few things – one, the do it yourself methods are not guaranteed. They can be chemically harmful to pets and humans and worst of all, can be not so environmentally friendly, especially the aerosol-based bug bomb. If this is a concern, check the various products to see which claim to be least harmful to the environment.
One environmentally friendly thing you can do is something you will want to make sure you do after you are finished eliminating the infestation. That is to seal all cracks and crevices and other holes or gaps you may find with caulk, including the outside perimeters.
Caulk will work for smaller fault lines but for the larger holes or gaps, especially near pipes, you will need steel wool and foam. You can also create a barrier with wire mesh.
The most common problem areas include windows and doors, gas, electric or plumbing lines, attics, crawl spaces, vents, chimneys, the foundation and the roof. Installing weather stripping on doors and windows can help prevent pest problems.
Why Are There So Many Roaches In NYC? Is It Normal?
Yes, unfortunately. There are any number of reasons the cockroach population in New York City is so high. Ironically, clean air legislation is one of them. Apartment buildings used to have incinerators and the garbage was burned. Now, garbage is placed in trash cans destined for landfills, which attract the pesky vermin.
Some areas of the city are older or cleaner, which affects vermin population levels, and especially during holiday periods there can be severe sanitation issues. Also, the fact that there are so many restaurants around contributes to the infestation, since restaurants are breeding grounds for the little critters.
Before this article finishes, be reminded that cockroaches can be fun! If you can stand to see the creatures when you’ve defeated them, try watching the fun classic musical movie “Joe’s Apartment”, based on a series of MTV skits. You might relate to this New York City set story.
Or read Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” where the lead character transforms into a cockroach. Or dance the dance of la muerta around the buggy corpses while singing the Mexican classic “La Cucaracha”! Sounds like a celebration!
Native New Yorker. Travel addict. Hardcore thinker. Analyst. Pop culture fanatic. I live in Queens with my wife Linda and our dog Clemenza.