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You hoped you’d never have to deal with water bugs in your house. But, now, you’ve discovered them crawling around in your kitchen, your bathroom, your basement.

Some folks might tell you to shrug them off as a nuisance, something to get used to seeing. But water bugs are dangerous pests. They contaminate your home and spread disease. And your water bug problem will only get worse if you leave it alone.

In this article, you’ll learn what brought water bugs into your house, what they’re doing behind the scenes and, most importantly, how to eliminate them.

Ready to get rid of water bugs in your house for good? Let’s get to work!

What are Water Bugs? Are They the Same as Roaches?

Two-grid illustration of 2 roaches - an American roach and an Oriental roach - considered to be house-infesting water bugs.

Water bugs are extremely common pests, especially in the southern U.S. They’re the big, brown or black bugs that probably first appeared in your kitchen, laundry room, bathroom or basement.

Even if you haven’t seen one before now, you’d probably heard about them from neighbors or friends who had already dealt with them.

What you might not have heard is that aside from a certain pond dwelling creature called the Belostomatidae (or Giant Water Bug) which rarely enters homes, water bugs and roaches are the same thing. Specifically, water bugs are one of two species of cockroaches: American roaches or Oriental roaches.

Note: The smokybrown cockroach which some people also call a water bug, is not discussed below. You can read more about it here.

American Roaches

American cockroaches are the biggest roaches you’ll encounter at home, measuring in at up to 2 inches in length. They’re reddish-brown, with flat, oval-shaped bodies and long antennae that make them look even larger. Both males and females have wings, with the male’s being somewhat longer.

Oriental Roaches

If you’re seeing big, black water bugs in the house, you’re dealing with Oriental cockroaches.

These roaches are 1 to 1.5 inches in length and often a bit rounder than other species. An adult Oriental roach sports a shiny black color. While a male usually has short wings that cover about 2/3 of its body, a female’s wings are tiny and rudimentary. Neither sex can fly.

Water Bug Nymphs

Comparative illustration of American and Oriental cockroach nymphs

What if you found small water bugs in the house? They could be nymphs—baby water bugs.

  • Baby American roaches look like smaller versions of the adults, with the same reddish-brown, oval-shaped bodies—but absent any wings.
  • Oriental roach nymphs tend to be lighter in color than the glossy black adults. They might appear golden or copper-colored but will still have the stout, round shape of the adults. Oriental cockroach nymphs also do not have wings.

There is another possibility to consider…

Water Bug or German Cockroach?

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size

If the bug isn’t a nymph, it could be a German roach—perhaps the only discovery worse than baby water bugs.

  • To tell a German cockroach from a water bug nymph, look for its light tan color and the dark pair of parallel stripes that run down its back.

American Roaches, Oriental Roaches and Your Home

Both American and Oriental roaches are primarily outdoor species. So what are they doing in your house?

These insects prefer to live among wet undergrowth and decaying organic material. Neither of these insects spends any time in the water (unless they have to); their nickname merely refers to their constant need for moisture.

They inhabit forest floors, the hollows beneath rocks and the landscaping around homes. Flying American roaches might live inside tree hollows or beneath loose tree bark.

In urban environments, they hide in dumpsters, gutters, sewers and storm drains. They’ve been discovered in septic systems and observed pouring in the thousands from city manholes.

The scenes in these places are grim: multitudes of water bugs thriving in the moisture, laying egg sacs that will increase the colony’s size exponentially. They’re surrounded by their own droppings and discarded exoskeletons, on which mold grows and adds to the already-disgusting stench.

What Causes Water Bugs in the Home?

Cartoon illustration of a small cockroach sneaking into a home's open window during the night.

Cold weather often drives water bugs indoors. Although Oriental roaches can tolerate cooler temperatures than other species, they also look for warm harborage as the weather changes.2

Extended periods of hot, dry weather can also make things uncomfortable. Without ample moisture in their environment, water bugs will dehydrate quickly.

When heavy rains flood American cockroach habitats, these water bugs might look for dry shelter in a nearby basement or crawl space. Entire colonies sometimes migrate together. They’ll follow the plumbing into the walls or climb into trees and glide onto the roof.1

How Do Water Bugs Get Into the House?

Water bugs often live around human dwellings. The area around your home is full of potential hiding places. Excessive watering makes mulch and garden soil perfect habitats for water bugs. Unruly piles of firewood store moisture and make ideal cockroach breeding grounds.

We’ve already mentioned that Oriental roaches are flightless. They also can’t climb smooth, vertical surfaces, so they’re usually going to search for entry points at ground level. Water bugs exploit openings in exterior walls, torn window screens, gaps beneath doors and other cracks and crevices.

These insects could follow your TV cable straight from an exterior wall to your living room. A water bug can even climb up the pipes of a rarely-used toilet or shower where the P-trap has dried up.

American roaches can glide from tree branches or tall shrubs onto a windowsill and climb in through a torn screen. They can even sneak under loose roof shingles to enter homes.

Note: There’s always the possibility that you’ve brought them in accidentally. Carrying a few logs for the fire into the living room or a box of tools from the garage into the kitchen might bring these unwanted pests inside, where they’ll find warmth, plenty of hiding places and the smell of food.

What Water Bugs are Doing in Your House

Illustration of a nest of Oriental cockroaches on the floor of a basement, egg case in the foreground.

Once a water bug finds a way inside, it starts searching for its basic survival needs: food, water and a dark, damp place to hide.

Within the walls are endless crevices where water bugs can hide and multiply. As they scavenge each night, they leave pheromone trails to help other roaches follow their routes to food.

Meanwhile, they contaminate your food with dangerous bacteria and leave excrement all around your kitchen and bathroom. They might feed on old documents, paper keepsakes or family photos. And they’ll lay eggs—dozens of them—deep in the walls or behind cabinets and appliances.

These insects multiply rapidly. One water bug could lay over 150 eggs in a year. Before you’ve even noticed them in your home, the infestation could number in the hundreds. And even as you spray or smack every water bug you see, plenty of eggs are waiting to hatch and make matters much worse.

Effects of a Severe Water Bug Infestation

Leaving water bugs alone is not an option. Playing whack-a-mole with one bug at a time or trying to pretend they’re not there gives them free rein to keep breeding and spreading.

You’ll see more and more water bugs, you’ll spend more and more time trying to squash and spray while these pests continue to spread bacteria and put your family at risk of stomach illnesses, allergies and asthma attacks.

When a roach infestation grows out of hand a home becomes unlivable. At that point, it’s up to a professional exterminator to save it.

How do you get rid of waterbugs in your house without an exterminator? And begin to do it today?

With “CIAO.” A system for getting rid of water bugs in house and apartment structures permanently.

Getting Rid of Water Bugs with CIAO: Clean, Inspect, Attack, and Outsmart Future Water Bugs

Water bugs aren’t easy pests to get rid of. That’s why professionals use an approach called IPM (Integrated Pest Management) to control them for the long term. CIAO, which stands for Clean, Inspect, Attack, and Outsmart is your at-home attack plan for putting professional IPM strategy to work.

Using CIAO, you’re going to:

  1. Clean your home, depriving water bugs of anything that could sustain them.

    Water bugs need food to survive and often find plenty to eat in the crumbs and clutter we leave behind. You can starve water bugs out by thoroughly cleaning your home.

  2. Inspect your home for areas water bugs are most active.

    As you clean, you’ll want to inspect for signs of water bugs, too. You’ll use the evidence you spot and uncover to create a battle plan.

  3. Attack water bugs in ways that substantially reduce their numbers.

    It’s payback time. You’ll use state-of-the-art tools and techniques to hit water bugs hard and drastically reduce their numbers.

  4. Outsmart water bugs that want to re-infest your home.

    Even after you’ve reduced their numbers or even eliminated them entirely, water bugs may still come back. In this final phase, you’ll take steps to anticipate water bugs’ next moves and beat them back before they have a chance to invade again.

Putting the CIAO System to Work

1. Clean

Cleaning is the most important first step you can take, and the keystone of the rest of the system. Put on some comfortable, old clothes you’re not afraid to get dirty. Grab a knee pad or use a folded towel to make yourself comfortable while you peer with a flashlight under appliances and furniture. You’ll need at least one large, sturdy garbage bag and your vacuum cleaner.

You should also grab a notepad and pen to write down each place where you find evidence of roaches. While we’ve listed inspection as the next step, you should always start inspecting while you’re cleaning to get the best high-level picture of the problem.

You’re going to start by emptying all of the cabinets, drawers or shelves in the rooms where you’ve seen water bugs. If you’re emptying kitchen cabinets, discard any food or ingredients that water bugs might’ve gotten into. If you’re cleaning the bathroom, throw away your toothbrush or disinfect the body and replace the head.

Put all utensils, pots and pans, personal hygiene items, toys and other sensitive objects aside to clean later. Water bugs might’ve touched them.

As you clean, remember to make a list of all of the places where you find roach droppings (which look like coffee grounds) dead roaches or discarded exoskeletons. You might also notice a musty stench emanating from areas with high roach activity. Give a quick description of each find so you can reference it shortly, when you’re setting traps.

Once you’ve emptied out your things and recorded the evidence, use the vacuum to suck up all of it—dust, crumbs and, potentially, dead water bugs and their eggs or exoskeletons. If you can safely pull the fridge or other appliances away from the wall, vacuum behind and under them, too.

Then, use a disinfectant spray or wipes to sanitize surfaces and remove the roach’s communication trails.

Find even more tips for sanitizing after water bugs in our Roach-Free Recipe.

2. Inspect

You’ve already started to make a list of the cockroach hotspots you found while cleaning. Now that everything’s cleared out, look for the holes and cracks where water bugs could hide and travel. Keep your eyes open for more droppings and dead roaches, too.

It’s important to check exterior walls, windows and doors, too. You’re looking for openings just half an inch wide through which water bugs can crawl. Pay close attention to areas near the ground where both Oriental and American roaches are most active.

Later, you’ll seal up these entry points. First, though, you’ll make these hot spots your targets for sticky traps.

Sticky traps—a.k.a. insect monitors—will show you where the insects are most active and help you estimate the size of the infestation. With these monitors in place, you’re also getting a head-start on the next step—attack. Sticky traps are your first wave of attacks, letting you start eliminating water bugs even as you gather information.

Place a sticky trap near each location you’ve written down on your notepad. You should also place sticky traps in other high-risk areas: behind the fridge, along basement walls, under pipes and near appliances.

Learn how to get the most out of sticky traps in our guide to inspecting for roaches.

3. Attack

There are lots of purported home remedies to kill water bugs instantly out there, from bleach to baking soda. We’re going to focus on the four tools the pros choose to use water bugs’ behavior against them:

  1. Baited traps
  2. Gel bait
  3. Insecticidal dust
  4. Insect growth regulator (IGR)

Deep cleaning has already removed the insects’ easiest food sources, starving them out. In addition, you’ve started catching the desperate pests with sticky traps.

Now, apply powerful gel bait to cracks, crevices and other hotspots you’ve identified to target the colony at its core. Gel bait is especially effective because the poison spreads from one roach to others as the insects return to the nest to die. Water bugs multiply fast; gel bait lets you fight back faster.

Insecticidal dust like boric acid, silica, and diatomaceous earth are better for less precise, harder-to-reach areas because it’s long-lasting and easy to spread widely.

Apply a thin layer of dust in places like wall cavities and floor voids. The deadly dust particles float through the air, stick to surfaces and kill roaches by dehydrating them. A silica dust like CimeXa is very low in risk to humans but extremely effective at killing water bugs. You can even mix in some powdered sugar to attract the bugs to it.

An IGR is an extra line of defense that prevents roaches from producing offspring. While traps and insecticides kill the adult water bugs, an IGR stops the colony from growing behind the scenes.

Read our guide for all the details on killing water bugs in your home.

4. Outsmart Them (How To Keep Water Bugs Away)

The final step in this water bug elimination plan is a long-term effort: preventing water bugs from getting back inside.

You know that a water bug wants a dark, warm, protected environment with plenty of moisture and easy access to food. Now, outsmart these bugs by closing all of their entry points, sealing up your food and reducing damp areas wherever possible.

Use steel wool and insulation foam to plug holes in your walls and floors. Repair window screens and door frames so there are no spaces for bugs to enter. Fix dripping faucets or leaky pipes that become water sources for roaches. Use fine mesh drain stops in the bathroom, especially in sinks and showers that you rarely use, and be sure to mop up standing water.

Finally, place a few glue traps in previous water bug hotspots to monitor for signs of new activity. You can also dust into walls, floors and other spaces before sealing up holes. As long as it stays dry, dust can kill roaches for over a year.

Get more tips for stopping roaches that invade homes in our guide to preventing roaches with exclusion.

Conclusion

As you read this article, the water bugs in your house were hiding safely out of sight, waiting until night to begin scavenging again.

They don’t know that you’ve learned all about their behavior and how to use that knowledge to eliminate water bugs. In-house[1] pest control methods, like the ones we’ve described in our “Ciao, Roaches” plan, give you the power to start clearing your home of pests today.

You’ve got this!


Sources

  1. Barbara, Kathryn A. (2014) American cockroach. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/american_cockroach.htm
  2. McCanless, Kim (2017) Oriental cockroach. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/oriental_cockroach.htm

Roach invaders, flea problems and bed bug bites can leave you at wits’ end.

When you need a pest control product that’s going to work day and night in even the hardest-to-reach areas to eliminate all of these bugs and more, you need insecticide dust.

Of the different dusts available, only one checks every box for super-effective and safe pest control: CimeXa insecticide dust.

By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to make your pest problems a thing of the past using CimeXa dust.

Remember, when using insecticides, the label is the law—read and follow the instructions carefully, not only for your own safety, but to make sure each treatment is as effective as possible.

All About Dusting for Insects

A Bed Bug with insecticide dust on its body, a cockroach approaching from the background

So What’s in a Bug Dust?

At a basic level, an insecticide dust is a fine powder that, whether by touch or after ingestion, will kill the bugs that get too close.

Insect dusts work against any bugs that rely on waxy or oily outer coatings to retain moisture. Most dusts are desiccants, so their tiny abrasive particles break down that protective coating and leave the insect to die of dehydration. Since there’s no poison component, cockroaches and fleas can’t develop resistance to the dust.

Dusts are great for dealing with infestations large and small. You get to treat right inside the insects’ hiding places, like wall voids, carpeting, furniture and tiny cracks and crevices. As long as they’re dry, these products are fantastic long-term residual powders.

Insecticide Dust Kills a Variety of Insects

Insecticide dusts work on more than just cockroaches. People use dusts to eliminate a wide variety of household pests, from fleas and ticks to carpet beetles and the dreaded bed bugs.

We’ve previously covered the benefits of powerful roach powders. We’ve even created a step-by-step Roach-Free Recipe for killing cockroaches with CimeXa.

Comparing the Different Dusts

Most insecticide dusts are pretty similar. You apply them with a handheld bellow or bulb duster—tools that feature a squeezable container and a nozzle that gives you some control over the spray.

A fine, almost invisible layer of dust is enough to kill bed bugs and other insects. If you can see a noticeable coating, it might scare the bugs away.

One key difference between dusts is their mode of pest control.

While most dusts are desiccants, some are poisonous. For example, boric acid kills roaches and carpet beetles by poisoning the insects. However, that means it has to be eaten, so it’s a little trickier to get bugs to bite (meaning that you have to mix it into a bait).

Others, like Delta Dust, contain a pyrethroid—a common chemical insecticide. However, certain insects have been able to build resistance to pyrethroids.

Here’s What Makes CimeXa Special

Illustration of CimeXa's mode of action - tiny sponges that soak up roaches' waxy protective layer
Silica gel: A bug dust that absorbs protective oils like a sponge

First thing’s first: What is CimeXa?

CimeXa is an amorphous silica gel desiccant dust (ASG dust)—a fine powder made from silicon dioxide, an extremely common natural compound.

The nearly-weightless silica particles float through the air, settling slowly onto every surface they touch. They’re statically charged, which lets them attach especially well to insects.

Like other dusts, CimeXa powder removes a bug’s oily protective coating. However, unlike others, silica works in a special way: it absorbs the oil, sort of like a sponge. While most dusts do nothing more than remove the coating, CimeXa also absorbs moisture from the bug’s body, along with its layer of oil. It speeds up the process.

That’s only one reason CimeXa is better than other insecticide dusts…

Fun fact: (Silica gel is the stuff that comes in little packets in electronics packaging to keep the components dry.)

Is CimeXa Toxic?

You might’ve heard that diatomaceous earth (DE) is also made from silica. What you might not know is that DE comes with potential health risks, including permanent lung damage. CimeXa, on the other hand, is considered safe to handle and use.

Like all insecticidal dusts, it shouldn’t be inhaled, shouldn’t be used around food or on any surface that comes into contact with food, and should be kept away from children and pets. But compared to most other dusts, CimeXa has very low toxicity.

Note: As with other dusts, CimeXa can mildly irritate your eyes or make your skin dry. It’s best to wear goggles and gloves when dusting.

For its safety score alone, CimeXa is the better choice for most households. Even better, it’s more effective at killing insects than other options.

Here’s a breakdown of features to look for in a good insecticide dust:

                                 CimeXa                     DE                     Boric Acid         
Anti-resistant
Desiccant 
Non-toxic  
Pet-safe  
Absorbent  
Chart: CimeXa insecticide dust vs. boric acid and diatomaceous earth

It’s pretty clear that CimeXa comes out on top.

Bonus features: it’s odorless, non-staining and has a shelf-life of 10 years! Keep this stuff dry and it‘ll keep way longer than you’ll ever need it.

How to Use CimeXa for Better Pest Control

Illustration of two bulb dusters on a work table, one with wand attached, the other with wand unattached

For most cases, a 4-ounce bottle of CimeXa will be plenty to start with. The dust comes with a handy applicator tip but we recommend purchasing a dedicated duster (either bellow or bulb). They’re both inexpensive and much better suited to reaching into crevices, beneath baseboards and behind electrical boxes.

  • Bulb dusters are simple, versatile tools for easy dusting. You fill the bulb end, point the stem and squeeze to spray puffs of dust. If the duster has a cap, you can store the dust inside until the next application.
  • Bellow dusters have a cylindrical container with a tube and nozzle attached. Again, you simply squeeze the container to apply.

Make sure the hand duster you choose comes with rubber or plastic tips so it’s safe when applying CimeXa around wiring. Look for ones that have long, flexible stems so you can wedge them into slim crevices.

Fill the duster about halfway with CimeXa to start. If you’re dusting small areas with a bellow duster, you can hold it upside-down to force less of the dust out.

CimeXa for roaches….

Most of your enemies won’t be visible; they’ll be well-hidden in the walls or among the boxes in your basement. Left undisturbed, they’ll continue to multiply and spread.

To dust for roaches, remove an electrical switch plate cover near the area where you’ve seen roach activity. Use a non-metal tip on the duster and use a screwdriver to pry the outlet casing away from the wall slightly. Fit the duster’s tip through the gap and squeeze 2 to 3 puffs of dust into the wall cavity.

Dust inside the hole where sink plumbing runs into the floor or the wall. Cockroaches commonly hide in attics and crawlspaces, too; treat these areas by dusting along walls and around cluttered shelving.

CimeXa for bed bugs…

Use a soft-bristled paint brush or cosmetic brush to “paint” a thin layer of the dry dust onto infested surfaces, especially your mattress and box spring. Focus on the seams of beds and upholstered furniture and the edges of mattresses.

Apply dust in the joints of bed frames and other hard furniture, too. As when using a duster, you shouldn’t see a significant layer of dust when you’re finished.

Dust under your bed, especially if your floor is carpeted. Before you do, remove any storage containers or items from underneath and put them outside or seal them in sturdy bags until you can treat them safely with dust or rubbing alcohol. Delicate items should remain in bags in direct sunlight or below-freezing temperatures for at least 2 weeks.

CimeXa for fleas…

Dust animal kennels, bedding and anywhere pets like to lounge (bed, couch, carpet). Keep your pets away while you’re treating these places; dust could irritate their eyes. Dust cracks and along baseboards near where your pet sleeps or where fleas might be hiding.

On carpets, start by vacuuming thoroughly. Then apply a light dusting onto the carpet and use a broom to spread the dust deep into the carpet fibers. This will help it settle in so future vacuuming doesn’t suck it all up.

Fleas reproduce every two weeks. Reapply dust at least as often until all fleas are gone (you might need 3 to 4 biweekly treatments).

CimeXa for carpet beetles…

Dust in small puffs in and around problem areas of the carpet. Stick the duster’s nozzle into the space between the carpeting and the baseboards, squeezing 1 puff per foot.

Don’t forget to treat baseboards, crawl spaces, and any crevices in nearby hardwood floors where the beetles could hide. You’ll probably have to apply more frequently since people and pets will pick up and kick up the dust much more quickly in a high-traffic room.

More Quick Tips for Using CimeXa Like a Pro

  • Each location really only needs 1 or 2 puffs at a time.
  • With heavy infestations, reapply weekly. Otherwise, biweekly or monthly applications should be enough.
  • For roaches, it’s a good idea to puff underneath and behind kitchen appliances.
  • CimeXa can be mixed with water at a ratio of up to 1 pound of dust per 1 gallon of water. However, evidence shows that this is less effective than dusting with a hand duster.1
  • If you need to clean up any excess CimeXa, simply wipe it up with a damp towel.

On its own, CimeXa has been extremely successful after 2 to 6 weeks of treatments. We recommend making CimeXa one part of your overall pest management strategy.

Conclusion

CimeXa dust is everything you want in an insect control product: it’s easy to use, inexpensive, long-lasting and very safe. It’s great both as a way to start killing cockroaches today and as a long-term protection plan to prevent pests in the future.

CimeXa Labels and Data Sheets

Download these to learn more.


Cimexa Dust Label

Cimexa Dust EPA number (73079-12) and registration
Learn more about CimeXa at the EPA

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CimeXa’s active ingredient?

CimeXa dust’s active ingredient is silicon dioxide, a naturally occurring compound. It uses no chemical insecticides.

Does CimeXa really work?

CimeXa has proven to be extremely effective both in research studies and customer homes. When applied following the tips in this article and the instructions on the label, you should expect to see significant results in as little as 1 to 2 weeks.
Users reported that it “decimated a flea problem” and that “CimeXa works much better than diatomaceous earth” to kill bed bug adults.

Is CimeXa toxic?

CimeXa is very low in toxicity. Because it’s a fine dust, there is a chance of minor eye or throat irritation, and it shouldn’t be inhaled. However, it poses no permanent health risks. That being said, it shouldn’t be used around children, pets, or any area it could contact food or surfaces where food is prepared.

I Need to Know Where to Buy CimeXa in a Store

It’s no surprise that CimeXa is easy to find on Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers. In a store, look for it in the insecticides section, along with roach traps and bait products.

What to Expect: How Long for CimeXa to Kill Bed Bugs?

Compared to DE, CimeXa is a relatively speedy bed bug dust. In one experiment, it killed over 80% of bed bugs after just one week. Six weeks in, 98% of the bed bugs were dead. When applied as a nearly-invisible coating, even bed bugs highly resistant to liquid pesticides died within seconds.1

Can CimeXa cause silicosis?

CimeXa consists of synthetic amorphous silica, which does not cause silicosis. It is completely safe. DE, on the other hand, is a type of crystalline silica dust and can cause this lung disease.

Can I vacuum CimeXa if I overapply?

As a crack and crevice treatment, CimeXa really shouldn’t be applied to areas like your open floor where you’d need to vacuum. If you do need to vacuum up CimeXa, keep in mind that the CimeXa particles can be quite tiny. You’ll want to use a shop vac with fine particulate construction bags or filters

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


Sources

  1. Potter, Michael F., et al. (2014) Silica Gel: A Better Bed Bug Desiccant. PCT Online. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
  2. Do My Own. Retrieved from https://www.domyown.com/cimexa-insecticide-dust-p-2513.html
  3. CimeXa Insecticide Dust and Amorphous Silica. Rockwell Labs Ltd. Retrieved from https://www.rockwelllabs.com/assets/cimexa-insecticide-dust-and-amorphous-silica-overview.pdf

Why waste your money on a cockroach spray that either doesn’t work the way you need it to, or isn’t safe around your kids and pets?

Roach sprays are perfect for killing roaches as you find them, and many keep working after they’ve dried. But if you choose the wrong one, you’re bound to be disappointed. And you might just make the problem worse!

We’ve created a simple guide to help you choose the best cockroach killer spray for your needs:

We’ll break down what’s good and bad about some of the most popular roach sprays out there and offer some handy tips for getting the best results out of whichever one you pick.

Ready to start spraying your roach problem away? Let’s go!

Note: This article will help you pick an indoor roach spray: aerosols and hand-held trigger sprayers. Looking for liquids to put in a pump sprayer? Check out the article here.

Remember, when using insecticides, the label is the law—read and follow the instructions carefully, not only for your own safety, but to make sure each treatment is as effective as possible.

Choosing the Best Roach Spray: Fast-Acting Killers or Poisons That Work Behind the Scenes?

Cartoon illustration of a dead cockroach with fast knockdown and residual killing features
Some pest control is fast. Some takes more time.

When it comes to killing roaches, not everyone has the same goal in mind. Some want to kill individual bugs quickly, while others want to attack the colony for a thorough eradication. You’ve got a choice:

  • Kill quickly with contact sprays: These are fine for those moments you discover a little monster crawling across the counter and need to kill it before it crawls out of sight.
  • Attack the hidden colony with residual sprays: these are made for a longer-term approach. They kill the roaches that are hiding out of sight and keep killing them for a longer period of time.

Thing is, most contact sprays also come with some residual effects. They just have different timelines in mind. A contact spray might be effective for anywhere between a few days and a few weeks after you’ve sprayed. A residual spray is designed to work for months at a time.

A Quick Word About “Knockdown”

As you read about roach spray products, you’ll frequently see the term “knockdown.”

Knockdown is when the active ingredients in a contact killer attack a roach’s nervous system, stopping the bug—but not necessarily killing it—in its tracks.

While residuals are typically judged by how long they work before having to be reapplied, contact killers are judged by how fast they stop a roach so you can get rid of it.

Since there’s a certain emotional component to killing bugs, know that a slower knockdown doesn’t mean the bug is going to run off to live another day. It just means it may take a few more minutes for the roach to die. In sprays with a focus on residual effects, this might be intentional. 

If your goal is to kill the roach as close to instantly as possible, look for a spray that focuses on fast knockdown.

Best Roach Spray Picks

Cartoon illustration of 2 dead roaches and a can of roach spray on a winner's podium
What’s the best roach spray for home use?

With plenty of products on the market, what’s the best roach killer spray? Let’s see…

Top Pick

Bengal Gold Roach Spray: Residual Spray

Powerful, professional-strength residual insecticide with added IGR (especially good for German cockroaches). Kills roaches and prevents them from reproducing. Indoor/outdoor.

Runner-Up

Zevo Roach Spray: Instant Kill

A pet-friendly, people-safe, naturally strong roach spray. Uses essential oils for fast knockdown. Indoor/outdoor.


#1: Bengal Gold Roach Spray

        Pro                  Con         
The most powerful cockroach killer spray on the list. A combination insecticide + IGRNot the quickest knockdown

Active Ingredient: 2% Permethrin

One of the most powerful roach sprays available in stores, Bengal Gold Roach Spray packs a punch to rival professional spray products. It’s a permethrin-based product that also features an IGR component (pyriproxyfen, a.k.a. “Nylar”) that stops juvenile roaches from completing their development (keeping them from reproducing). That’s a killer combination for eliminating an infestation.

#2: Zevo Roach Spray

        Pro                 Con         
Safe for people and pet-friendly“Lightly” scented might not be what you want

Active Ingredients: 0.25% Geraniol, 0.25% Cinnamon Oil

Zevo is an all-natural roach spray that kills pests with essential oils. Using a combination of geraniol (from flower oils) and cinnamon oil, and pumped from a spray bottle, it targets roaches’ nervous systems for fast (but not instant) knockdown.

#3: Hot Shot Roach Spray

      Pro                 Con         
12-week residual effectSlow knockdown; not for outdoor use

Active Ingredient: 0.75% Imiprothrin

Hot Shot Roach Spray is a basic, effective instant roach spray that kills on contact, albeit with a slower knockdown rate than other sprays. It’s a good multipurpose choice to start with.

As a bonus, it also disinfects surfaces (but shouldn’t be used on counters or anything that food touches). Choose one of several available scents so you won’t mind spraying it around your house!

#4A: Ortho Ant & Roach Killer 1

        Pro                 Con         
Kills on contact and eliminates germsWeaker formula

Active Ingredients: Cypermethrin 0.030%; Pyrethrins 0.011%ETOC (Prallethrin) 0.011%

Ortho Ant & Roach Killer 1 is the original Ortho contact spray. It uses a slightly weaker formula but kills cockroaches quickly and kills bacteria they’ve left behind.

#4B. Ortho Home Defense Ant, Roach, Spider Killer 2

        Pro                 Con         
Kills on contact and disinfectsPets and children must stay away until dry

Active Ingredients: 0.030% Cypermethrin, 0.011% Pyrethrins, 0.011% ETOC (Prallethrin), 0.008%

As a newer replacement for Ortho 1, Ortho Home Defense 2 is a non-staining aerosol that kills cockroaches quickly when sprayed directly on the insect.

#4C. Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices

        Pro                 Con         
Expanding foam boosts coverageCan must be held upright when spraying

Active Ingredient: 0.030% Deltamethrin

Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices sprays on as a liquid, then turns into an expanding foam, reaching into spaces a normal spray would miss. The active ingredient, Deltamethrin, degrades over a period of one to two weeks.

#4D. Ortho Home Defense Ant & Roach Killer with Essential Oils

        Pro                 Con         
Safe for use around kids and petsWeaker than other sprays

Active Ingredients: 0.950% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, 0.364% Cinnamon Oil, 0.213% Geraniol, 0.142% Castor Oil, 0.069% Cornmint Oil, and 0.069% Clove Oil

Ortho Home Defense Ant & Roach Killer with Essential Oils uses a combination of roach-killing essential oils along with a surfactant (a compound similar to dish soap) which coats and attacks their bodies.

#5. Black Flag Dry Ant & Roach Killer

        Pro                 Con         
One of the stronger formulas on the listSlow knockdown; fumes may cause irritation

Active Ingredients: Imiprothrin 0.100%; Gamma-cyhalothrin 0.025%

Black Flag Ant & Roach Killer spray uses a powerful 0.1% Imiprothrin formula to kill cockroaches on contact and keep killing them for up to 6 months. This dry spray is non-staining and easy to wipe up after you’ve sprayed.

#6: Raid Ant & Roach Spray

        Pro                 Con         
Odorless residual effects for up to 4 weeksWeaker formula than Hot Shot

Active Ingredient: 0.6% Imiprothrin

Another kill-on-contact spray with lasting impact, Raid Ant and Roach Spray is good for about 4 weeks after application. Just spray until the surface is wet (or the bug is dead) and let it dry.

#7: Black Flag Roach Killer Spray

        Pro                 Con         
Fast knockdown, lasting effectsNot the strongest formula

Active Ingredient: 0.1% Imiprothrin

Black Flag roach spray kills roaches on contact and keeps working as a residual insecticide for up to 16 weeks (longer than several other sprays). With a 0.1% pyrethroid-based formula, it’s a product with a mid-range power level.

#8: Combat Max Ant and Roach Killer Foam Spray

        Pro                 Con         
Foam expands so you can see exactly where you’ve applied before it dries invisiblyNot for use on porous or delicate surfaces

Active Ingredient 0.05% Neo-Pynamin, 0.05% Cypermethrin

Combat Max And and Roach Killer Foam Spray kills roaches on contact with a fast-acting foam formula. Spray it in cracks, crevices and holes and watch the foam expand to coat the entire surface with roach-killing insecticide. It dries and disappears but its active ingredients keep working for months.

#9: Temprid Ready to Spray

        Pro                 Con         
Non-aerosol, Bag-on-Valve system for 360º sprayingWeaker formula; not for spraying directly on roaches

Active Ingredient: 0.05% Imidacloprid, 0.02% beta-Cyfluthrin

Temprid Ready to Spray is a versatile home roach spray that sprays in any direction—even upside-down—so you can apply it in very hard to reach areas. It’s best used as a spot treatment for cracks and crevices.

Tips for Using Roach Spray

Cartoon illustration of an angry cockroach beside a sign that says GAME OVER

Check out these tips for using the above roach sprays to kill cockroaches and keep them out of your home!

How to Get the Best Results from a Spray’s Residual Effects

If you’re using an instant-kill spray, your target is obvious: hit the darn roach

But if your spray comes with days or weeks of additional residual coverage, we’ve got some tips for maximizing your success.

The kitchen and bathroom are usually the biggest hotspots; that’s probably where you first spotted the roaches. When you kill one in those rooms, let the spray dry. Other roaches (yes, there are probably more hiding nearby) might come out at night and fall victim to the leftover insecticide themselves.

If the roach escaped into a crevice before it died, have no fear! It’ll still die. And in the process, may spread the poison to other roaches that come into contact with it, poisoning them, too.

Avoid overuse. If the spray doesn’t contain a residual meant to be left behind, (such as Zevo), go ahead and wipe up any excess. If you’ve left a puddle on the floor, go ahead and wipe it up. You don’t want anyone slipping and falling on the stuff (or a pet licking it up).

And most importantly, use sprays smartly. Read product labels and follow directions exactly, not just to be as effective as possible, but to keep your family safe.

Which brings us to…

Are Roach Sprays Safe Around Kids, Pets and… Bees?

While most cockroach sprays are mostly safe to use around your family and kids (our bodies break down the active ingredients quickly), that’s not always true for your pets.

Those active ingredients known as pyrethroids can seriously harm cats if ingested, and though dogs fare better, pyrethroids in quantity can hurt them, too. Pyrethroids aren’t known to be dangerous for birds, but fish are much more sensitive. Pyrethroids can easily kill your fish if these chemicals contaminate their water.

The solution for pet parents is to either buy a different roach spray that doesn’t contain pyrethroids (for example, Zevo Roach Spray, which uses essential oils to kill roaches)… or to take precautions:

  • Don’t spray near your dog or cat’s food and water, and don’t spray directly on or near them—you don’t want them licking the insecticide off. 
  • Don’t leave a puddle of spray where a dog or cat might want to lick up—that’s probably too much to be safe. And cover your fish tank carefully any time you use a cockroach spray nearby.

Also worth noting: Pyrethroids and neonicotinoids are toxic to certain beneficial insects that you may find occasionally buzzing around inside your home. These bugs tend to flowers and generally help the environment. Better to catch a bee or dragonfly in a cup and usher it out the door than have it land somewhere that’s been treated with cockroach spray, which might kill it.

Why You Might See More Roaches Coming Out After Spraying

No, you’re not imagining things! There’s a chance you’ll see more of these annoying pests emerging in the day or two after you’ve sprayed.

These are the roaches that are trying to escape, and they’re signs that you’ve sprayed the correct areas! The more important metric is how many roaches you see after one or two weeks of treatment.

You might also see more dead roaches lying on the floor. For some reason, roaches seem to come out into the open to die, often lying on their backs. It’ll look weird at first but it’s actually a positive side effect of your roach spraying efforts!

Do Roach Sprays Kill Other Bugs?

Yep! Many of the same active ingredients that get rid of cockroaches also kill fleas, ticks, spiders, mosquitoes and ants. In fact, many products include “Ant & Roach Spray” in the name.

Add Roach Spray to Your Roach Control System

Even the best cockroach spray shouldn’t be your only weapon when you have a serious cockroach problem.

Why?

Because roaches are adaptable creatures that have a habit of outsmarting a lot of the ways we use to kill them. Go ahead and “knock down” that ugly roach in the bathtub, but dab some gel baits in cracks and crevices elsewhere in the bathroom to kill even more roaches as they feed.

When you discover a cockroach nest, feel free to spray it! While you’re at it, puff some insecticidal dust like boric acid, diatomaceous earth—or better yet, CimeXa—into the area where you found it. Dust behind outlets, in cracks in the floorboards and in holes in the wall, too.

A spray may be great for taking care of a stray roach or even a dozen if you hit the right crevice, but they’re just not designed to target the heart of the colony like poisoned baits and deadly dusts.

Roach bait complements sprays by killing roaches as they feed. Even better, they attract roaches out from their hiding spots and spread their poison among the colony. Insecticidal dusts work with sprays by killing roaches as they crawl around searching for food.

And cockroach traps (like roach motels) are especially useful because they’ll show you whether or not your spray treatments are working. How? By counting the cockroaches they’re catching over time, you’ll know if your problem is improving or getting worse.

Pair your chosen spray with some great DIY roach-killing remedies, too! From duct-tape traps to roach cookies, there are home remedies for every skill level in our guide.

Or, take a cue from Zevo’s formula and use your own essential oils to repel and kill roaches! In minutes, you can make a homemade roach spray that works with just peppermint essential oil, cedar essential oil and water.

Conclusion

The best roach spray for most people does one thing well: it stops a sprayed roach in its tracks with the fastest knockdown. As a bonus, a good roach spray keeps killing any roaches that come by for days or weeks after that first spray.

Choose one that meets your needs—nontoxic for pet owners, residual-focused for wide applications, quick knockdown for anybody who doesn’t want to chase a half-dead roach under the fridge.

With the right spray, a little determination and a healthy side of sanitation, you’ll be on your way to a roach-free home sooner than you might think!

You can do this!

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


Sources

  1. Pyriproxyfen: PubChem Compound Summary for CID 91753. (2020) National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Pyriproxyfen.
  2. Martins, Ademir Jesus and Denise Valle (2012) “The Pyrethroid Knockdown Resistance.” Soloneski, Sonia and Marcelo Larramendy, eds. Insecticides: Basic and Other Applications. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=_-GdDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA17&ots=8WOEUp0YpJ&dq=pyrethroid%20knockdown&lr&pg=PA17#v=onepage
  3. Brutlag, Ahna and Dr. Heather Handley. Pyrethrin/Pyrethroid Poisoning in Dogs. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pyrethrin-pyrethroid-poisoning-in-dogs

Wouldn’t it be great to repel roaches instead of playing a game of catch-up with them? And if that was possible—using a roach repellent—wouldn’t it be even better to have one that worked in a safe, simple, eco-friendly way?

There’s a lot of good news—along with some things to consider—on the cockroach repellent front. So set aside your roach motels, pull up a chair, and learn how to repel cockroaches like a pro.

The Science of Cockroach Repellent

Cartoon illustration of a laboratory, with a cockroach and a magnet on a blackboard

If repelling roaches was as easy as you wished it could be, there’d never be a need for a cockroach exterminator. But sadly, there often is, because cockroaches are not an easy insect to keep away.

Adaptable and persistent, roaches like living with us. So much so that certain species don’t even live outside in nature anymore.

And that’s bad news.

Not just because they destroy everything they touch and pose major health concerns. But because they ruin a lot about what we enjoy about our homes, and can drive us a little crazy.

With so many reasons to want them gone, scientists identified chemical roach repellents years ago, all of which turned out to be quite toxic.

Then someone came up with the idea of a plug-in roach repellent, which would have been awesome except for the fact that ultrasonic repellents just don’t work (you’ll find more about that below).

So if so many roach repellent products are ineffective or even dangerous, what’s a roach-weary human to do? What repels roaches safely and for real?

Enter the power of plants.

Nature, as it turns out, has been taking a whack at bugs long before humans ever gave it a try. And it’s done that largely through the insecticidal properties developed by certain plants. Properties developed as a means of self-defense.

Our ancestors knew about, and exploited the properties in these plants, and if you’ve ever fended off mosquitoes with citronella oil (the real stuff, which actually works), you know how effective natural repellents can be.

Are cockroaches an exception?

Nope.

Just like mosquitoes, cockroaches are repelled by certain natural substances, notably (but not limited to) certain plant essential oils. At higher concentrations, some of these oils will actually kill roaches, while lower concentrations will handily repulse them.

About Roach Repellent Essential Oils

Cartoon illustration of an angry cockroach, shaking its fist at a bottle of essential oil.

Safe, pleasant-smelling, and effective to varying degrees (at least the ones below), essential oils are the single best answer for most folks looking for a store-bought or DIY roach repellent. But they’re also not a perfect solution.

Essential Oil         Effectiveness          
Peppermint oilHighly effective, and recommended
Citronella oilHighly effective
Clove oilHighly effective
Cinnamon oilHighly effective
Rosemary oilHighly effective
Lemongrass oilHighly effective
Thyme oilHighly effective
Oregano oilHighly effective.
Catnip oilHighly effective.
GeraniolHighly effective, but not for Turkestan roaches
Eucalyptus oilModerately effective
LimoneneModerately effective
Sesame oilA carrier oil with roach-repellent properties
For a complete guide of Essential Oils to Repel Roaches go here.

All these oils are capable of repelling roaches, but:

  • They need to be used in sufficiently high concentrations. Because below a certain threshold (like, misted from an oil diffuser), roaches simply won’t care.
  • Since they evaporate, they need to be regularly reapplied (oregano oil for example, can last about a week).
  • They need to be applied strategically (like in areas you want to keep roaches away the most). Otherwise, they might just head deeper inside your walls.
  • Used too frequently, there’s a possibility roaches will get used to them (but right now, no one really knows).

For more about Essential Oils for Roaches, click here.

Herbs and Plants That Repel Roaches

Cartoon illustration of a bowl full of bay leaves, small silhouette cockroaches on either side.

If you’re hoping to repel cockroaches by planting your garden with lemongrass or placing pots of rosemary around your porch or kitchen, you may be disappointed.

Living and dried plants like rosemary, lemongrass, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and others, do contain the same cockroach repellents found in bottled essential oils. It’s just that there’s too little of a concentration in them for roach repellent plants to make much sense.

Read On: Natural Cockroach Repellent: What Works and What Doesn’t

Roach Repellent Spray

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach being sprayed

There are about a dozen commercial cockroach repellent sprays, most of which use essential oils to do the heavy lifting. Most also kill roaches when you squirt the bugs directly.

The best roach repellent sprays (at least for killing) contain an additional ingredient like soap or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (substances known as surfactants) that coat and smother the insects. They also contain concentrations (3-4%) of essential oil.

That 3-4% may not sound like much, but it’s enough to work. And besides, at any higher concentration, your nose may not forgive you.

Examples?

Mighty Mint Cockroach Repellent uses 4% peppermint oil with no surfactant, while Wondercide Indoor Pest Control uses a combination of oils and surfactant. They both achieve the same ends, but work in different ways.

You can also make your own homemade roach repellent spray using any of the oils above.

Roach Repellent Home Remedies

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach on a kitchen table beside a bucket labeled "Home Remedies"
What smells repel roaches beside essential oils? Certain cleaners and possibly some dryer sheets.

Cleaners

If you’re interested in pursuing a more chemical route and don’t mind trying products made outside the U.S.A., there’s evidence that certain cleaning products provide a roach deterrent.

Chloroxylenol, a strong-smelling, relatively non-toxic disinfectant used in the cleaner Dettol appears to repel roaches at an impressive rate.

Methyl neodecanamide, an ingredient used in Ajax Expel (out of Mexico), apparently worked in studies, too.

Whether cleaners work for you or not, a clean home will certainly not attract as many.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are another oft-debated home remedy for repelling cockroaches. Some dryer sheets contain linalool, a natural ingredient that gives the sheet its pleasant aroma. Research has shown that linalool does repel cockroaches (and is an insect killer, too).

As part of a more complete cockroach prevention plan, why not? A few dryer sheets may not be the best cockroach repellent on our list, but could convince some roaches to stay out.

Insect-Repellent Candles

Citronella candles and similar products are popular worldwide for keeping bugs away from people’s picnics and parties. Unfortunately, these candles are more effective against flying insects… and are not a very good cockroach deterrent. It’s also not realistic (or safe!) to keep candles burning at all times.

Myths

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach laughing at an ultrasonic roach repeller

Ultrasonic Roach Repellent

So. Do ultrasonic pest repellers work on roaches?

We wish they did, and would love to find an ultrasonic roach repeller that actually did the job—as would the scientists and companies who’ve studied them.

These products claim to repel cockroaches by emitting a roach repellent sound—a sound that confuses and startles them, keeping them away.

And unfortunately there’s no evidence to support that claim.

We can’t speak definitively for other kinds of critters, but a 2006 study that tried repellent devices on German roaches found they didn’t do much, and there’s been no effective proof since then.

So the bottom line on succeeding with an electronic roach repellent is no, at least not until more encouraging research turns up. You’re better off with a proven product like essential oil than with an electronic roach repeller that to this point, is simply too good to be true.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to repel roaches with certain safe, proven, easily found tools, there’s something else we need to mention. Which is that the best roach repellent isn’t really a product. It’s an anti-cockroach lifestyle that makes roaches want to stay away.

You can learn about that here, in our How to Get Rid of Cockroaches Forever section, which shows you not only what repels cockroaches, but how to get rid of roaches completely.

Ready to repel some roaches?

You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Vinegar repel roaches?

Cheap and potent, vinegar might sound like the perfect thing to repel roaches. Unfortunately, it’s usually not the vinegar in popular cockroach repellent recipes that actually does the repelling. Use the vinegar for cleaning, instead, and keep away cockroaches by removing their food sources.

Does Cinnamon Repel Roaches?

While cinnamon oil does repel cockroaches (and kill them if you use enough of it), sprinkling powdered cinnamon around your floor or cabinets is unlikely to do much good. Transcinnamaldehyde, the active ingredient in cinnamon, won’t be highly concentrated in the powdered spice, and what there is of it will quickly evaporate into the air.

Do Mothballs Repel Roaches?

Naphthalene, the active ingredient in mothballs, does repel roaches along with other insects. But with potentially serious health consequences from ingesting, touching, or inhaling, you don’t want to use mothballs for roaches and might want to reconsider its use for other pests.

What About Lemon Juice for Roaches?

The above advice applies to lemons, lemon peels and lemon juice, too. These items are great for cleaning and freshening but they don’t naturally repel roaches.

Do roaches like coffee grounds?

While some people claim coffee grounds repel cockroaches, others maintain that they’re a great way to attract roaches to traps. And we say… that doesn’t add up.

Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence to back either claim. The closest thing we have is a 2018 study on ants that showed some repellency from coffee extracts.

Do Pine-Sol and Fabuloso repel roaches?

Pine-Sol and Fabuloso are strong, all-purpose household cleaners. Similar to bleach, these products kill roaches on contact.

Some homeowners suggest spraying Pine-Sol around the outside of your house to keep cockroaches away. Others claim it repels flying insects, such as wasps. However, these cleaners probably won’t repel cockroaches. But could be useful as roach-killer sprays.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


Sources

  1. Appel, Arthur G. et al. (2001) Repellency and Toxicity of Mint Oil to American and German Cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattidae and Blattellidae). Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University. Retrieved from https://scentsoc.org/Volumes/JAUE/v18/149.pdf
  2. Haunt, Fangneng and Bhadriraju Subramanyam (2006) Lack of repellency of three commercial ultrasonic devices to the German cockroach (Blattodea: Blattellidae). Insect Science, 13, 1. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744–7917.2006.00069.x
  3. Petersen, Dorene (2017) Green Cleaning: 10 Essential Oils that Naturally Repel Insects. American College of Healthcare Sciences. Retrieved from https://info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-repel-insects
  4. Maia, Marta Ferreira and Sarah J Moore (2011) Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malaria Journal, 10, 11. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/1475–2875–10-S1-S11
  5. Zhu J J (2009) Efficacy and safety of catnip (Nepeta cataria) as a novel filth fly repellent. Medical and veterinary entomology, 23, 3. Retrieved from https://chemport.cas.org/cgi-bin/sdcgi?APP=ftslink&action=reflink&origin=npg&version=1.0&coi=1%3ASTN%3A280%3ADC%252BD1MrosFWrug%253D%253D&md5=3dd9af2b97744fab5ddc13abc812c15e
  6. Peterson, Chris J. et al. (2002) Behavioral Activity of Catnip (Lamiaceae) Essential Oil Components to the German Cockroach (Blattodea: Blattellidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12020017/
  7. Breedlove, Byron and Paul M. Arguin (2016) Inspiration and Insecticide from the Flower Garden. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 22, 5. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.3201%2Feid2205.AC2205

You’ve seen a cockroach before but not one like this—not one carrying a strange protrusion like a brown bean or a tiny purse behind it. That “purse” is an egg sac carrying precious cargo: dozens of roach eggs!

And you’ve discovered a pregnant cockroach.

That’s a truly rare encounter, one that might inspire awe if it didn’t trigger such a terrifying thought: all of those baby roaches are about to invade your house!

We’re going to show you what to do when you find a pregnant roach, how to deal with its offspring once they hatch, and how to keep all roaches, including pregnant ones, out of your home for good.

Let’s dive in!

Overview of the Cockroach Life Cycle

Simplified 3-stage illustration of the cockroach lifecycle- egg, nymph, and adult

We’ll use the German cockroach, arguably the worst cockroach pest in the United States, as our life cycle “lab rat.”

A German cockroach goes through 3 stages of life:

  1. Egg
  2. Nymph
  3. Adult

In the right conditions, a roach could sprint through these stages in just 100 days.7

The Pregnant Cockroach and Her Eggs

Illustration of a pregnant roach and egg case in foreground revealing unhatched nymphs inside.
What does a pregnant roach look like? Here, a pregnant German cockroach carries her purse-shaped, light brown egg case, called an ootheca.

A female cockroach can begin to reproduce as soon as she reaches adulthood. The roach is oviparous, which means her offspring grows outside of her body in eggs. In the case of cockroaches, eggs develop in an egg sac, called an ootheca.

The oothecae is a tiny, purse-or bean-shaped capsule that contains as many as fifty eggs. The larger the egg case, the more eggs it contains.

A female roach produces one egg sac at a time but could tally ten or more over her lifetime.

You’ll know you’ve found a pregnant roach if it appears to have a pill-shaped protrusion sticking out like a fat, ribbed tail. This extends further as more eggs develop inside it.

The “pregnant” female carries her egg case for about 1 month until the eggs are ready to hatch. She might continue to carry it; otherwise, she’ll deposit it in a safe and hidden location, usually deep in a wall crevice, under a heavy appliance or deep in a cluttered cardboard box.

Within a day or two—provided it stays hidden and moist—the eggs will hatch.2

Cockroach Nymphs

Illustration of an ootheca surrounded by cockroach nymphs- newly hatched and later instar.
Cockroach nymphs are white when first hatched, then quickly darken.

From the eggs come many tiny cockroach nymphs. Cockroaches have hard exoskeletons that don’t change in size. As the baby roaches grow, they need more room to breathe… literally.

To molt, a nymph inhales until it bursts out of its old exoskeleton. Then it grows a newer, larger one.

Just after molting, roach nymphs appear white until their new outer covering forms.

A German cockroach nymph reaches adulthood in about 2 months.7

Adulthood

Illustration of two German roaches mating inside a wall.
A pair of adult cockroaches mating.

As soon as a cockroach “gets its wings” (if it’s a species with wings, that is) and reaches adulthood, it’s ready to start reproducing.

In lab studies, about 85% of nymphs survived to adulthood.7 Just 3 days after their final molt, these bugs are already mating!

A female can often reproduce for her entire life from just a single mating.7

Adult German roaches live about six months, during which time one female might produce anywhere from 400 to over 1,000 roaches!

Cockroach Egg and Nymph Development by Species

5 Grid Illustration of various cockroach egg sacks: German, American, Oriental, brown-banded, and smokybrown
Egg capsule examples from 5 species of cockroaches. Left to right, eggs of the German cockroach, Oriental cockroach, American cockroach, smokybrown cockroach, and brown-banded cockroach.
Species         How long till egg hatches         No. of Nymphs per hatching         How long till adulthood         
German30 days40–502 months
Oriental60 days15–201 year
American 40–50 days156 months to 1 year
Smokybrown 45 days20320 days
Brown-banded70 days15160 days
Source: Oklahoma State University

What Does It Mean to Find a Pregnant Roach?

Cartoon illustration of a gleeful pregnant cockroach

Bad news: finding a pregnant roach means if you don’t already have an infestation, you’re about to.

How fast does a cockroach infestation grow?

Think about it.

One female German roach produces 40 eggs. Let’s say it’s an even split between males and females. A month later, the 20 females each produce 40 offspring. If that pattern continued, in just 4 months you could have 16,000 roaches running riot in your home!

It depends on the species, the environment and a few other factors but it’s not hard to imagine one pregnant roach becoming thousands, if not ten-thousands, within 6 months. Various studies have shown that German roaches can achieve a 20x in just 3 months.7

Already, the exact number of zeroes hardly matters; it’s too many cockroaches and a huge safety risk.

What to Expect: Seeing and Smelling

You’ll see plenty of signs as a roach population multiplies that quickly.

  1. First, you’ll start to see droppings in more and more places. Roaches spend most of their time hiding but as the population grows, more of them will be forced out into the open. Hence, the clusters of tiny black specks you’ll see popping up in new places every week.
  2. Second, you’ll see more and more roaches, living and dead. Maybe you’ve gotten used to spotting a roach or two in the kitchen every few days. If you do nothing, that could become a daily encounter with half a dozen roaches or more. Eventually, they’ll find their way into your appliances, your outlets, your floors and walls, your closets and your drains.
  3. Third, there’s a chance you’ll start finding egg sacs in cardboard boxes in the attic and beneath your favorite furniture.
  4. You might also start to smell the bugs. Cockroaches in large numbers produce a stale, musty odor that will become noticeable in heavily-infested rooms.

Act Fast: How to Stop a Roach Infestation

We know all of this sounds scary but you have the power to stop the spread of roaches starting today!

Let’s break down exactly what you should do when you find a pregnant roach to ensure that’s the last one you’ll have to deal with!

Effective Roach-Killing Tools

Cartoon illustration of several roach treatment tools-sticky traps, gel bait, and insect dust
Some of the most effective pest control tools: Sticky traps, Gel bait, and Insecticidal dust.

You’ve got a number of cutting-edge roach control tools at your disposal, from good old fashioned sticky traps to advanced gel bait formulas.

  • Start with traps, positioning glue traps or roach motels in high-risk areas like the kitchen and bathroom. You can trap roaches along baseboards and behind appliances, too.
  • Move on to gel bait, applying pea-sized drops of the gel in cabinets, beneath appliances, behind shelves and in cracks and crevices. Make it easy for the roaches to take the bait, which they’ll unwittingly share with other roaches after it kills them.
  • Shore up your defenses with insecticidal dust, spreading a fine layer of CimeXa or boric acid on shelves, floors and other surfaces where roaches frequently travel. You can even dust in wall cavities and floor voids to kill cockroaches where they’re hiding.
  • Finally, the backbone of it all: sanitation and exclusion. Keep things clean and closed up to prevent roaches from finding food, water or places to hide!

Prevent More Baby Roaches with an IGR

Cartoon illustration of two defeated cockroaches beside a sign that says Game Over.

Ready for the secret weapon that’ll take your roach elimination plan to the next level?

It’s called an IGR and it stands for Insect Growth Regulator.

What does it do? It throws a big ol’ wrench into the cockroach baby factory!

An IGR prevents cockroach nymphs from reaching adulthood. By now, you can probably guess what that means for the colony. No adults means no new babies and no new babies means no future adults.

An IGR spray travels through the air and gets absorbed by the roach’s outer shells. It won’t kill the young roaches it reaches but it’ll render them slow, weak and not likely to survive long in the harsh world you’ve created through sanitation and exclusion.

More importantly, it’ll take care of the hidden threat: the hundreds or thousands of hidden eggs about to hatch. The IGR makes sure these weakened roaches are the last wave by cutting off their development before they can grow up into thousands of egg-laying adults.

Spray the IGR in any area where you’ve seen roach activity or suspect they’re hiding to freeze the colony’s growth.

With this plan of attack, you can deal with anything from one pregnant roach to thousands of the pesky pests roaming around your house.

Now, get answers to a few common questions about pregnant roaches.

Conclusion

A pregnant cockroach is a sign of the worst—an infestation that’s primed to explode if it hasn’t already. You’ve made a rare and fascinating discovery but inside your home it spells nothing but trouble.

Find a pregnant roach and it’s time to act fast. Set your traps, choose your bait and spray an IGR to hit the colony from all angles.

You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to squish a pregnant roach?

Lots of people wonder if squishing a pregnant roach will just release all of the baby cockroaches she’s carrying.

Cockroaches are tough to squish. If you crush it but don’t kill it, it’ll just stroll away and hide its eggs per normal.

Even if you do kill the roach, the egg case might survive and hatch just a few days later, spawning a much bigger problem than that one roach.

Make sure you dispose of the dead roach and its egg case outside, in a sturdy bag as far from your house as possible.

Can pregnant roaches fly?

Most cockroaches aren’t great fliers to begin with. A big, awkward egg sac is nothing more than added weight throwing a cockroach off-balance as it tries to lift off.

So yes—a pregnant roach can fly, but it won’t fly far and it won’t make the trip with much grace. Call it a gliding jump.

Do any roaches give live birth?

Beetle mimic cockroaches give live birth to their offspring, making them one of the only insects in the world to do so.

These aren’t household pests but they are fascinating bugs to scientists, who are studying them to try to learn more about mammalian pregnancy, including how stress during pregnancy affects the development of the embryos.1

A few other roach species are ovoviviparous—their young grow inside the mother’s body. These also give live birth.2

How do roaches get pregnant?

Don’t worry, we’re not about to give you the talk.

Cockroaches don’t technically get pregnant because most species (see above) don’t give birth to live young. But when they do get “pregnant”, they form the egg sac that will hold their eggs until they hatch.

Some species only mate once; they’ll keep reproducing from that first mating for the rest of their lives.

Do roaches die after giving birth?

That’s a big no. A cockroach can continue to reproduce as long as it keeps on living. That’s why one female can be responsible for hundreds of offspring and why it’s so important to use an IGR and the other roach control tools we’ve discussed to kill these bugs as quickly as possible.


Sources

  1. Fuller, Dawn (2016) Study of a pregnant cockroach paves a new direction in genetics research. University of Cincinnati. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105133257.htm
  2. Wilson, Tracy V. The Cockroach Life Cycle and Behavior. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/cockroach2.htm
  3. Vector Control – Methods for Use by Individuals and Communities (1997) WHO. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/docstore/water_sanitation_health/vectcontrol/
  4. Smokybrown Cockroach. Oklahoma State University Entomology & Plant Pathology. Retrieved from http://entoplp.okstate.edu/ddd/insects/smokybrownroach.htm
  5. Oriental Cockroach. Oklahoma State University Entomology & Plant Pathology. Retrieved from http://entoplp.okstate.edu/ddd/insects/orientalbrownroach.htm
  6. Newbern, Elizabeth (2016) Mom Genes: This Cockroach Species’ Live Births Are in Its DNA. Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/53480-cockroach-pregnancy-unraveled.html
  7. Ross, Mary H. and Donald E. Mullins (1995) Understanding and Controlling German Cockroaches. Oxford University Press.

To the surprise of no one who has ever lived in Texas, it’s one of the “roachiest” areas in the entire United States.

With multiple climates, many of which are pretty close to “cockroach heaven,” and weather events that are kind of like “cockroach hell” (floods and heat waves tend to drive roaches into nearby homes), Texas is not a place well suited to folks who can’t get at least a little used to having these bugs around.

Does that mean your home has to be stuck with a Texas cockroach infestation? Absolutely not.

Let’s take a look at roaches in Texas and nail down the best ways to get rid of them.

Types of Roaches in Texas

American Cockroach

American cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale
Known variously as a tree roach, palmetto bug, or wood roach, Texas has lots of these.

About

The biggest roach gets the most nicknames. Whether you know it as a tree roach, a palmetto bug, a wood roach, or Cockroach Rex (a current favorite of ours), the American cockroach is one monster of a bug.

Appearance

If you were to hold a ruler to a random Texas cockroach and found it well, really big—this is the roach it would be.

American roaches are oval-shaped and flat, with spiny legs, long wings and long antennae. They’re reddish-brown in color and often feature a yellow ring behind their heads. With the distinctive color of their wings and their often massive size, American roaches are easy to ID.

Habits

American cockroaches don’t mind living outdoors most of the time, where they live comfortably in harmless places like compost, trees, and decaying logs, as well as some of the worst places—storm drains, city dumpsters, and sewer systems.

However, they’re quite happy indoors, too, where they’ll nest in basements, boiler rooms, kitchens, and other spaces with lots of moisture.

Flight

Illustration of a huge tree roach flying in an open window
The flying cockroach, Texas-style

While there are actually four kinds of flying roaches in Texas, the American roach is the one everyone remembers—and with good reason. With a wingspan up to four inches, the American roach looks huge mid-air, makes a flutter you can hear, and has a bad habit of flying right toward you. (sometimes landing right on you).

German Cockroach

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size
The German cockroach: Texas has them even in cooler, drier regions.

About

Of the various types of cockroaches in Texas, German cockroaches usually do the greatest harm. Like a video gone viral, once German roaches take hold somewhere, they’ll spread and spread until they’re everywhere.

Appearance

Tiny and light brown, German cockroaches are among the smallest roaches, and partly because of that, often go unnoticed until an infestation is widespread.

Aside from its tiny size, you’ll know a German cockroach by the distinctive dark stripes running down its back. Most visible on the cowl behind its head, the markings appear bolder and thicker on younger roaches that haven’t yet grown wings to cover them.

Habits

German cockroaches can squeeze into tiny crevices with their flat bodies and leave behind dozens of eggs at a time. They prefer well-hidden, tightly confined spaces near lots of food and water. In most homes, that means a concentration of them in kitchen and pantry areas, with a seething, filthy nightmare often brewing in the spaces behind and underneath the fridge.

Most roaches actually prefer to live outdoors, but not the German cockroach. Texas droughts, floods, and searing temperatures never touch them because they always live indoors, and always inside human structures.

Though also technically a flying cockroach, Texas residents won’t see them do it often. What they will see is the damage this evil Texas cockroach does. They get into everything, defiling open food, and leaving cockroach droppings everywhere they go. They also spread disease.

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroach identification: adult, nymph and egg capsule beside penny for scale

About

With its striking, shiny black exoskeleton, the Oriental cockroach is one of the most distinctive and easily identified roaches in Texas. With its seriously potent stink (you will smell them), it’s one of the strangest too.

Appearance

At about 1.25 inches in length, Oriental roaches are mid-sized insects. They’re rounder than German or brown-banded roaches and have shorter antennae.

To identify the Oriental cockroach, first look for its jet black color, then look for wings. If wings are short or nonexistent (and it’s not a wingless cockroach baby from another species), you’re probably looking at an Oriental.

Habits

Oriental roaches live in cool, damp areas. You’ll find them in basements, garages, bathrooms, laundry rooms and along the perimeter of your house.

Much less agile than other species, slow-moving Oriental roaches feed on crumbs from the floor and find shelter under appliances. These bugs don’t fly or climb; you might catch one in the shower at night or as it explores your basement.

Brown-banded

Brown banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg case size comparison

About

Brown-banded cockroaches should head straight to East Austin because they’re the hipsters of the cockroach scene. Refusing to act like other roach species, they don’t like moisture, don’t like doing things at ground level, and regularly (if they’re males) fly to high-up hiding places.

Appearance

The brown-banded roach is named after the signature set of brown bands that cross its back. Its body is light brown to tan in color while the stripes are typically dark brown.

These roaches are nearly as small as German cockroaches and can be just as nasty to find in your home.

Habits

Being the moisture-hating outliers that they are, brown-banded cockroaches enjoy drier areas of Texas and prefer higher elevations.

They’ll nest in ceilings and attics, hide beneath roof shingles and even attach their egg cases behind wall decorations.

Asian Cockroach

Asian cockroach adult, nymph,and egg case relative in size to a penny

About

It might sound like we’re about to describe the German cockroach all over again but this is in fact another cockroach species to watch out for in Texas.

Appearance

About 1/2 inch long, light tan and featuring two dark stripes, the Asian cockroach looks so much like a German roach that researchers sometimes confuse the two species.

Habits

Although they look like German roaches, Asian roaches in Texas do mostly live outdoors.

They’re much stronger fliers than their German cousins—but not nearly the threat to your home. More of a nuisance pest than a homewrecking one, it’s their flying that gets under most people’s skin. Leave a window open in a well-lit room on a warm Houston evening and you might find yourself swatting Asian roaches for a good part of the night.

How to Solve a Texas Cockroach Problem

Getting rid of Texas cockroaches for good takes a multi-step cockroach control strategy that the pros call integrated pest management (IPM).

Sanitation and Exclusion

Start with the keystone steps—sanitation and exclusion—that hold up the rest of the plan.

Sanitation Tips for Texas Roaches

Sanitation cuts off roaches’ access to food and water, making them desperate to eat anything they can find.

  1. Use the vacuum to pick up crumbs, dust and dead and living roaches. Be sure to reach behind and under appliances and furniture.
  2. Wash the dishes every day and change the garbage bag as soon as it’s full.
  3. Store all of your food and ingredients in hard containers with tight-fitting lids.
  4. Repair leaky pipes, dripping sinks and loose hose faucets to remove water sources.

Exclusion Tips for Texas Roaches

Exclusion kicks them out of their hiding spots and makes it difficult for roaches to get in, get comfortable and get away from your traps.

  1. In eastern Texas and especially along the Gulf, battle moisture with dehumidifiers and fans.
  2. In western Texas, make sure your storage areas—especially in upper floors—are well-ventilated and decluttered.
  3. Cockroaches love a good cardboard box for nesting; use plastic containers to store things safely.
  4. Keep your landscaping clear of debris and avoid over-watering the soil. Look for the dark spots that signal trapped moisture around shrubs and trees and thin out the mulch.
  5. Seal gaps around water meter boxes, pipes, dryer vents and basement windows.
  6. It might be necessary to cover soffits with screens to keep out flying roaches in Texas.
  7. Texans already know to check their shoes for spiders and scorpions; you’ll want to check ‘em for roaches, too.

Texas Cockroach Control Plan

Once the roaches are desperate for food and displaced from their usual haunts, it’s time for a choreographed attack with the latest and greatest pest control tools.

  1. Traps – Use baited traps, like roach motels, or any of these great roach traps to start catching the pests ASAP. You’ll start to see where most of them are hiding and kill plenty along the way
  2. Gel bait – Use pea-sized drops of gel bait to target the colony—the heart of the roach infestation that’s hidden well out of reach. Insecticidal dust works well along with baits, killing any roaches that walk through it. You can treat wall cavities with dust to get as close to the colony as possible.
  3. Outside – Opt for a quality perimeter spray or granular bait to create an anti-roach barrier along walls and in mulched areas. This is especially important if you’re finding American or Oriental roaches in your home or business.

Need an exterminator?

If you’ve ID’d more than a few German, Asian or brown-banded roaches in your home, consider enlisting a professional pest control service. These bugs can explode into truly nasty roach infestations if they’re not controlled quickly and completely.

Since the climate and environment vary widely across Texas, research local exterminators that have experience treating homes in your area.

Ask about the specific products they use and inform them of any pets or other special conditions you might have. They should start with a walkthrough where you show them places where you’ve seen activity and they get an idea of how best to move forward with treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common are roaches in Texas?

Texas is a huge state with plenty of pests and certainly no shortage of cockroaches. From the arid west to the Gulf Coast, roaches pose an ongoing threat to homes and businesses, spreading bacteria and contaminating food.

Are there flying roaches in Texas?

Yep! American roaches can fly, although they prefer to walk. Asian and brown-banded cockroaches are strong fliers that can cause problems in attics and ceilings. German roaches fly also, but prefer to crawl.

Why are roaches so bad in Texas?

It’s a combination of the climate, weather events, and the mix of urban centers and rural sprawls that makes Texas like one big cockroach hotspot.

The warmth and varying humidity make different areas ideal for different species of cockroaches. Put it all together and it’s a recipe for roach problems just about everywhere.

Texans, you’re not alone in the uphill battle against roaches—just ask anyone from Florida.

Conclusion

Roaches in Texas come in nearly a half dozen flavors but whatever the species, they’re disgusting bugs to find in your home.

With the details in this survival guide, you can identify the roach(es) you’ve seen and kickstart your plan to eliminate cockroaches for good.

Say goodbye to the Texas cockroach today!

Sources

  1. Brown, Wizzie et al. Cockroach Biology and Management: How to Control Them? Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Retrieved from https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/insects/cockroach-biology-and-management/
  2. Hurt, Harry III (1976) The World’s Most Despicable Bug. Texas Monthly. Retrieved from https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-worlds-most-despicable-bug/
  3. Wu, Gwendolyn (2019) Roaches are everywhere. How do I get rid of them? Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/houston-how-to/article/Roaches-are-everywhere-How-do-I-get-rid-of-them-14446305.php

Finding a cockroach, even a tiny one, can be enough to ruin your day. But what about a roach so big it casts a shadow? So big that someone in your family actually starts to scream?

That my friend, is a giant cockroach, and yes—it’s real. The bad news? It’s not so much their size that’s the problem. It’s what they do.

They hang around in filth, and dirt, and sewers. And when they pay your home a visit, deposit germs and allergens that can make your household sick. If they decide they like your space, they’ll settle in. Then begin to multiply. Sometimes faster than you can imagine.

The good news? You can kill most roaches—even a giant roach, faster and more easily than you might think. Beginning with products that may be around your home right now.

Ready to say goodbye to giant roaches?

Let’s go!

What Exactly Is a Giant Cockroach?

American cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale
With its reddish brown body and a cream colored cowl behind its head, the American cockroach has a distinctive appearance, even beyond its size.

If you were to start poking around homes, yards, and sewers across the United States, you’d find several different species of cockroaches, some of them fairly large. None of them come even close however, to the size of a bug called the American cockroach, also known as the “palmetto bug” or “water bug.”

Tip: Is the above American roach not the one you saw? Also see these other large cockroach species: the Oriental cockroach, the smokybrown cockroach, the Pennsylvania wood cockroach, and the Australian cockroach.

With a body that grows well past 2 inches long, and antennae that equal its body length, the American cockroach is truly massive, sometimes unforgettably so, to people who see one for the first time.

And there’s something else to know about this monster bug: its long brown wings aren’t just for looks. They work—

Meaning that the giant flying cockroach isn’t just some bizarre and hideous internet meme. It’s an honest to goodness thing.

Illustration of a huge tree roach flying in an open window
Yes, the giant flying cockroach is a thing.

Though American roaches aren’t particularly good flyers actually, they use flight, along with impressive crawling and climbing skills (they mostly live outdoors), to make their way into homes in search of food, water, and a safe place to breed and lay their eggs.

Once inside, they’ll zero in on a few favorite haunts where they’ll eat, drink, and mate—typically at night or in the shadows. Then occasionally (and to your horror), they’ll pop up in places you can actually see them.

That’s when most people try to squish them, swat them, spray them down the drain, or suffocate them with anything that seems potentially lethal, or at the very least, handy. No luck.

There are better ways.

Let’s begin with (and rate) several products you may have around your house right now—some that can kill a giant roach almost instantly, others that take a little time:

Household Products That Can Kill a Giant Cockroach

Cartoon illustration of common household roach killers-sugar and baking soda- on a kitchen table.

#1 Soap, Detergent and Fabric Softener

Rating: 4/5 – Handy, fast, and cheap (but you’ll need a lot to kill giant roaches).

Surfactants might sound like a special pest control term but it’s really just a class of products like hand soap and detergent that can also kill a giant cockroach dead. Crazy, right?

Mix shampoo, dish soap or fabric softener with water in a spray bottle. Spray enough onto a giant roach and it’ll kick the bucket in under a minute!

Tip: Smaller roaches die more quickly from surfactants, and with less spray. To kill a giant cockroach with surfactant, you’ll need to seriously douse it. Be prepared to do a lot of squirting (and clean up a slippery floor)!

#2 Borax and Sugar

Rating: 4/5 – Easy to apply and effective.

If you keep a package of borax handy for the laundry, you’ve got a great weapon to use against giant cockroaches!

Borax is deadly poisonous to roaches that ingest it, and when you leave a wispy trail in areas they walk through, it will cling to them, then kill them later after they try to groom it off. Even if the roach doesn’t ingest the powder, it can pass through its exoskeleton, killing it that way, too.

You can also combine borax (or boric acid) with sugar or sprinkle it onto small dollops of peanut butter to make a bait. Placed in cupboards and behind appliances, the mixture will begin to slowly poison roaches before the sun comes up tomorrow.

For more simple recipes, check out our guide to killing cockroaches with borax.

Tip: Borates such as borax and boric acid may be natural products, but they’re not entirely harmless. Don’t let children or pets ingest the powder or any baits you make, and keep the powder stored away.

#3 Baking Soda

Rating: 4/5 – Easy to find, cheap and effective.

Chances are you’ve got a box or two of baking soda in the pantry. If you do, you’re in luck! This kitchen staple makes a deadly recipe for giant cockroaches.

Use some diced onion, a fragrant fruit peel or some fine sugar to bait these bugs to their doom. Simply place the powder in jar lids or on paper plates and leave them out for roaches to eat overnight.

#4 Duct Tape Trap

Rating: 3/5 – As simple as it gets; only catches 2–3 at a time.

Lay a strip of duct tape sticky-side-up and start catching roaches tonight! Not technically an instant-kill solution, it’s a near-immediate way to begin knocking roaches out of commission. Don’t forget to place a small piece of bait right in the middle. Set a dozen of these and if the bait is tasty enough, you’ll find at least that many roaches in the morning.

Tip: Poorer quality duct tape won’t be sticky enough, so use the good stuff. When you do, keep the strips well away from areas pets or small children travel. You don’t want to have to unstick a terrified pet or child.

#5 Glass Jar Trap

Rating: 3/5 – Requires some setup but it’s reusable and effective.

You can make a simple glass jar trap with just one mason jar and some petroleum jelly. Add a piece of bait to the bottom of the jar and spread the petroleum jelly all around the inside of the glass. Coat it well so even a giant roach has no chance of finding a foothold to climb out.

You can attach a straw or ruler to the side to form a ramp so it’s as easy as can be for the roaches to find their way in. In the morning, empty the jar into a sturdy bag and dispose of it outside immediately. Then reload and catch some more!

#6 Beer/Wine Bottle Trap

Rating: 2/5 – A bit steep and narrow for the biggest giant cockroaches.

The strong smells of beer and wine should be enough to attract roaches to this simple DIY trap. If you don’t have petroleum jelly handy, use cooking oil to coat the inside of the bottleneck as far down as you can reach. Roaches climb up, fall in and can’t get out.

Check out even more home remedies that you can whip together to kill roaches.

Commercial Giant Cockroach Killers

Cartoon illustration of a live cockroach and a dead one outside a roach motel.

While the common household products above can help you start the job, commercial ones generally pack a bigger wallop and have more certain outcomes.

#7: Bengal Gold

5/5 – As powerful as it gets (but not cheap).

The two active ingredients in Bengal Gold Roach Spray combine to make one of the strongest insecticide formulas available to non-professionals. This product is an odorless pyrethroid spray that delivers fast knockdown and a nearly instant kill. It’s pricey but with a can of Bengal at the ready, there’s no hope of escape for the next giant cockroach you see.

#8: Ortho Home Defense Max

5/5 – Super-effective! Doubles as a preventative spray.

Ortho Home Defense is one of the most popular names in cockroach control and their kill-on-contact spray is among the best. Another pyrethroid spray, it kills roaches quickly and leaves behind a residue that’ll keep taking down bugs for up to a year on hard surfaces. Use it to kill the next giant cockroach you see and spray it anywhere you think roaches are coming from to kill future invaders.

#9 Wondercide spray

4/5 – Skip harmful chemicals without sacrificing strength.

Wondercide Pest Control Spray is an all-natural way to kill giant cockroaches with just a few sprays of their cedar oil formula. Combined with a surfactant to boost absorption, this spray delivers a nearly-instant kill and leaves behind a fresh scent.

It’s rather expensive but it’s completely safe for homes with pets and small children. It’s naturally repellent, too!

#10 Zevo

3/5 – Works well but leaves a strong smell.

Want to rotate in another eco-friendly spray? Zevo makes a line of roach-killing products that use a combination of essential oils—cinnamon, lemongrass and geraniol—to knock down roaches in seconds.

#11 Roach Motels

5/5 – Don’t kill instantly but their success rate is top-notch.

Roach motels take the duct tape concept and turn it up to 11. Place them in kitchen cabinets, behind the fridge and in the bathroom, basement and closets to catch as many roaches as possible. By morning, they’ll be stuck for good and set for their date with the dump.

Make sure you buy the large size!

Roach-Killing Products That Don’t Work

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach triumphantly standing over a roach bomb.

As you might expect, not every commercial product or home remedy is what it’s cracked up to be. Here are some to avoid:

Vinegar (and Most Other Products That Would Make a Tasty Salad)

Lots of people think the strong smell of vinegar will either kill roaches or keep them away. Unfortunately, neither is true. Cleaning with it can’t hurt but don’t count on it to solve your pest problem.

Others claim lemons, lemon peels and lemon oils kill roaches but this is also a myth. Stick to lemon-scented pyrethroid sprays, instead.

Bug Bombs

Oh, and the possibly surprising thumbs-down? Bug bombs, roach foggers—whatever you call them, they’re not the solution. While they will kill a giant cockroach caught in the open and at just the right time, they won’t kill any of the dozens more that are hiding deep in cracks and holes.

After the Emergency is Over: How to Say Goodbye to Giant Roaches Forever

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach munching on a treat in a kitchen, a stop sign in the foreground.

Ok, you’ve got what it takes to kill the next giant cockroach that dares to cross your path.

But the real problem lies waiting in the walls in the form of who-knows-how-many cockroach eggs.

So how do you get rid of cockroaches forever?

With a strategic and proven battle plan, broken into 5 steps (check them out!):

  1. Sanitation to eliminate food sources
  2. Traps to kill some roaches and monitor progress
  3. Roach bait and insecticidal dust to take down the colony
  4. A solid prevention plan for keeping them gone for good.
  5. Exclusion to keep them out.

Conclusion

Let’s face it. Going toe-to-toe with a giant cockroach can be a special kind of horror. In the past, you may have lost that fight, but it’s one you can easily win.

Armed with a few simple weapons, you can solve even a giant roach problem. Then with a plan moving forward, make sure its solved for good.

Good luck!

Folks who live under the southern sunshine are no strangers to the prevalence of Florida roaches.

It’s almost a rite of passage to flick on the lights in your kitchen or bathroom and watch a roach skitter away under the fridge or behind the sink.

These bugs are dirty, smelly and ugly… and, unfortunately, they love the Florida weather as much as tourists do.

Ready to solve your Florida cockroach problem?

We’ll introduce you to the most common types of roaches in Florida and kickstart your pest control battle plan with some pro tools and tips.

Let’s dive in!

Types of Roaches in Florida

American Cockroach

American cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale
The American cockroach: the huge flying cockroach Florida natives call the “Palmetto Bug.”

About

Anyone native to the south, knows this roach as the “palmetto bug,” and indeed, it’s a fact of life in the humid Florida climate. The nickname might sound friendlier than cockroach but it’s still just that—the imposing, and to strangers unforgettable American cockroach. This big bug can create big problems for homes and businesses.

Appearance

The American roach measures between 2 and 3 inches long, making it one of the largest pests in Florida. If you see a huge, reddish-brown bug flee under the fridge when you flick on the lights, you can be fairly sure that it’s an American roach.

Look for six spiny legs, long antennae thin as strands of hair, and importantly, long dark wings which it sometimes (though awkwardly) puts to use.

The American cockroach is in fact one of several flying roaches in Florida, and has a way of startling even long-time residents as some will occasionally fly right at you.

Habits

American roaches are peridomestic pests—they mostly live outdoors in dark humid places like wood piles, mulch, dumpsters and storm drains but they can thrive indoors, too. They feed on decaying organic material, refuse and food scraps.

Florida Woods Cockroach

Florida Woods Cockroach compared to the size of a penny

About

The squat, beetle-like Florida woods cockroach is known for its putrid defense mechanism—a potent stench it releases to deter predators. Find a few of these insects in your bathroom or closet and you’ll discover why people call them “stink roaches”.

Appearance

Dark brown with a reddish-mahogany hue, the Florida wood roach grows to about 1.5 inches in length. It’s wingless and stout, like a tiny armored bug with a serious stink.

Sometimes, you’ll notice yellowish stripes along their sides. The easiest way to distinguish them from American roaches is the lack of wings.

Habits

These detritivores love living in gardens and piles of firewood where they can feed on the fallen plant parts and decaying logs. You’ll also find them in palm trees and under the eaves of your roof.

Florida residents often uncover colonies of dozens of these bugs living under rocks or in the mulch outside their homes.

They’re not well-adapted to survive inside, so they don’t pose the same threat as American or German roaches. They’ll stink and they’ll startle you in the bathroom at 2 am but they’re not likely to become a huge indoor infestation.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach adult, nymph and egg beside a U.S. penny for scale

About

Smokybrown cockroaches are some of the most prevalent flying roaches in Florida. They’ll flutter around patio lights and fly from palm branches onto your roof looking for a nesting place that’s warm, humid and safe.

Appearance

These cockroaches are a darker shade of brown (think mahogany) than Americans. At about 1 inch long, they’re slightly smaller than the previous two species, with shorter, curved antennae. They’re also slimmer than Florida woods roaches and shiny.

You won’t find tan or yellow markings on smokybrown roaches. They have long wings that reach beyond their bodies when folded.

Habits

Smokybrowns are fliers—they’ll use their wings to fly into planters, gutters and trees. These roaches nest in peculiar locations, like inside water meter boxes and beneath shingles. They often choose high-up locations that are protected from wind and rain.

Have an attic? Smokybrown roaches could be a serious problem.

One other thing about these flying roaches—they’re strongly attracted to lights. If you find one in your house it’s probably because it flew in through an open window at night.

German Cockroach

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size
The German cockroach: Florida has plenty of these, too.

About

Of the various types of cockroaches in Florida, the German cockroach is arguably the most destructive. It’s a strictly indoor, domestic roach and that makes it all the worse.

Appearance

At about 1/2 inch long, it’s the smallest roach you’ll face in Florida. These bugs are light brown or tan with small semi-transparent wings and two dark vertical stripes along the cowl-like area behind its head.

Saw a tiny but wingless roach? It could be a baby German cockroach. Look for the dark stripes along its back and molted exoskeletons lying nearby. Baby cockroaches are bad news—it means the colony is growing.

Habits

Being an indoor species, German cockroaches will multiply out of control once they’ve made it into your home. They like the dark and the damp, so the state’s humidity makes spaces like garages and crawl spaces perfect nesting grounds.

Like the other species we’ve mentioned, German roaches are most active at night when the lights are off and the party’s moved out to the backyard. Someone walks in for the cheese plate, flips the light switch and there it is—a tiny German roach beat them to it! Yuck.

And unlike their activity in other, cooler places where they can’t survive in homes without heat, German roaches in Florida can pop up just about anywhere, and at any time of year.

Other Possibilities

Three grid illustration of an Australian, brown-banded, and Asian cockroach compared.
Australian roaches look a lot like American cockroaches, but are smaller. Brown-banded roaches and Asian roaches are similar in size to German roaches.

Think the roach you saw was something else? There are other roaches out there, but these three Florida cockroach species are worth a special look:

  1. The Australian Cockroach
  2. The Brown Banded Cockroach
  3. The Asian Cockroach

How to Solve a Florida Roach Problem

To eliminate any of the roaches above, take an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. That means addressing the problem with a combination of tools and techniques to target the colony, not the individual insect.

Sanitation and Exclusion

Florida roach control starts with two key concepts: sanitation and exclusion. With one, you take away their food and water sources, making them desperate to feed. With the other, you remove their entry points, escape routes and, most importantly, nesting places.

If eliminating food sources for a bug that eats seemingly everything seems like a tall order, break the task into sections.

  1. Clean the kitchen – Sweep and vacuum for crumbs, wash dishes daily and change the garbage frequently.
  2. Clean the pantry – Seal all foods in hard containers with tight-fitting lids.
  3. Clean the bathroom and patio – Try to fix dripping faucets and hose bibbs where roaches could get a drink. Check under sinks, where a leaky pipe could create ideal conditions for a roach nest.

Next up, exclusion:

  1. Try to reduce moisture with dehumidifiers and fans, especially in attics, kitchens and laundry rooms.
  2. Seal off any gaps around windows, doors and lanai screens that could let roaches in. Use screens wherever possible, including laundry vents and the attic fan. Repair damaged weatherstripping.
  3. Trim shrubs and palm trees away from your roof.
  4. Check any firewood or boxes for roaches before you bring them in from the garage or outside.
  5. Don’t leave your car’s windows open for extended periods. Cockroaches infest cars, too. Or, they’ll sneak into your purse or backpack and wind up in the house.

Florida Cockroach Control Plan

Once sanitation has made them hungry and exclusion has displaced them, it’s time to strike with heavy-duty roach-killing tools.

  1. Start with traps such as food-scented roach motels or read our guide to buying and building roach traps.
  2. Then, treat those high-activity areas with gel bait and insecticidal dust.
  3. Use granular bait products outside to treat landscaping, garden soil and mulch.

Tips for Working With an Exterminator

Hiring an exterminator takes the work out of your hands and ensures it’s done right.

Look for a pest control service that’s fairly local so you know they’ll be familiar with the most common pests specific to your area. When you call, ask for the details of their service plans. How often do they schedule treatments? Do they guarantee extra appointments if pest activity increases?

Since most of Florida’s common cockroaches are peridomestic, expect your exterminator to treat outside and inside the house.

If you’re concerned about pesticides and other chemicals, inquire about their commitment to the environment. Some companies offer eco-friendly treatments.

If you find a dead cockroach or manage to kill one with a spray or some soapy water, use gloves to place it in a zip-closed bag. Keep it in the freezer until you can show the exterminator so they can I.D. it.

For more on this topic, read our full guide to hiring a professional exterminator.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common are roaches in Florida?

Cockroaches are more than a nuisance in Florida—they’re seemingly everywhere. Roaches aren’t the only pests in Florida but they’re certainly some of the worst to have in your home. Many homeowners in the sunshine state simply accept that cockroaches thrive in the warm, humid climate outside and it’s only a matter of time before a few wander inside.

Is the palmetto bug a roach?

It is! There’s no getting away from roaches, even with a nicer nickname. Typically, a “palmetto bug” is an American cockroach. But people use the name to refer to any of the big outdoor cockroaches that they’ve seen climbing in palm trees and flying around their patios.

Do palm trees attract cockroaches?

Some cockroaches are attracted to palm trees as nesting places. Florida woods roaches and American roaches like the safety provided by palm tree branches. They can find a sturdy shelter atop the tree’s crown, where they’re out of reach of most dangerous predators.

Can I break my lease because of roaches in Florida?

In severe cases, a Florida renter can break their lease because of roaches.

Before taking that step, though, contact your landlord and request pest control service. A professional exterminator should be able to eliminate all but the most severe problems in 1–2 months.

If they decline, you might have grounds to break the lease.3

The key legislation is Florida Statute 83.51:

“The landlord … shall, at all times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for: > 1. The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants…

If your landlord refuses to “make reasonable provisions” and you’re still dealing with a serious pest problem, the landlord might be in violation of this statue. In that case, you should provide them with a written notice that, in 7 days, you intend to vacate.

Per Florida Statue 83.56:

If the landlord materially fails to comply with s. 83.51(1) … within 7 days after delivery of written notice by the tenant … the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.5

The most important thing is documenting the problem in as much detail as possible.4 Take lots of time-stamped photos and videos and record everything in writing. If your landlord’s not cooperating with your pest control needs, there’s a decent chance they won’t willingly cooperate with your desire to break your lease, either. You’ll want good evidence to back up your claims.

Conclusion

For so many people, enjoying the Florida lifestyle means living with Florida roaches. It doesn’t have to be that way!

You’ve met the most common types of roaches in Florida. Now, use the roach control tips above to start eliminating these pests and keep your home clear of cockroaches for good!

You can do it!

Sources

  1. Koehler, P. G. et al. () Cockroaches and Their Management. University of Florida Extension. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig082
  2. Cockroach Prevention Tips for Lake Worth Homes & Businesses. NozzleNolen. Retrieved from https://www.nozzlenolen.com/blog/post/cockroach-prevention-tips-for-lake-worth-homes-businesses
  3. Latham, Kate (2020) Can I Break My Lease Because of Roaches? Insect Cop. Retrieved from https://insectcop.net/break-lease-because-of-roaches/
  4. Morley, Miranda (2017) How to Break a Lease Due to Cockroaches. Sapling. Retrieved from https://www.sapling.com/11399631/break-lease-due-cockroaches
  5. 2011 Florida Statutes. The Florida Senate. Retrieved from https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/83.51

There comes a time when you realize quick fixes won’t solve your cockroach problem. You’re fed up, tired, and just want to be done with the bugs for good.

If that’s you, it’s great news. Because there’s no better place to start. Effective, long-term cockroach control will treat the root of the problem and put you back in charge. It’s also easier than you might think.

Consider this your guide to a permanent, no-fail roach control plan—an introduction to the best tools and techniques (including home remedies) that control roaches, along with advanced advice for doing the job cheaply, safely, and well.

Ready to solve your roach problem? Let’s go!

Roach Pest Control: Do You Really Need an Exterminator?

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach exterminator and a shocked cockroach underneath a home's floorboards.

We’ve all taken on projects that at some point, became more than we could handle. Roach control can be like that too, when you underestimate what you’re facing.

A moderate cockroach infestation will leave you feeling pretty satisfied once you’ve cleared the critters out. But discovering a horror show pulsing behind your walls will make you wish you’d called a pro.

Before deciding to do the job yourself, try to make at least a general assessment of the infestation, judging its severity.

You may have a serious infestation if…

  • You’re seeing lots of roaches, even in the daylight. Roaches don’t usually come out during the day, so seeing them in broad daylight could be a sign that there are many roaches hiding.
  • You’re finding a lot of cockroach egg cases around your home. Roaches don’t like to leave eggs where predators (like you) can find them. Stumbling onto eggs with any regularity could be a sign that a roach population is ready to explode.
  • You’re seeing (and smelling) cockroach droppings everywhere. Roaches aren’t picky about where they do their business, but whatever droppings you see out in the open is nothing compared to what’s happening behind your walls.
  • You live in an apartment or condo where you have no idea what bugs are doing elsewhere in the building. For all you know, the roaches you’re seeing are the tip of the iceberg, and the ones enjoying your neighbor’s apartment will be headed for yours soon.

Tip: If you’re an apartment dweller, do make contacting your landlord or property manager the first task on your list. Legal responsibilities aside, they may already have a cockroach/pest control service under contract—which would make everyone’s lives easier.

If you do have a serious roach infestation—a truly ugly one, it may be smart to skip the DIY, and bring in a cockroach exterminator to clear it up.

Short of that, roll up your sleeves. Because the plan below has helped thousands, and will probably help you, too.

Part 1. The Roach Control Secret Weapon You Must Have

Cartoon illustration of an open book, turned to a page that discusses cockroach glue traps.

We live in an age of wonders, but many things that work best in life don’t come with a lot of sizzle. Cockroach control products are a case in point, with some that are chemical marvels and others that seem almost crude.

This “secret product” (secret because it’s sort of hidden in plain sight from consumers) is one of the crude ones. And besides being easy to use and gratifyingly cheap, it will also be a game changer for you. In fact, it’s one of the few products most professional exterminators simply couldn’t do without.

It’s the cockroach glue trap, a flat or folded piece of cardboard coated with glue and lure. If you’re like most folks who’ve dealt with roaches before, you’re probably familiar with sticky trap products like the roach motel, and you’re fairly satisfied with how they kill.

But killing isn’t the best thing sticky traps do. And if that’s all you know them for, you’re not benefiting as much as you could.

Because as it turns out, pest professionals don’t use use glue traps so much to kill roaches as to collect intelligence about them—to measure an infestation so they can make choices about the next steps to take.

If you’re serious about succeeding long-term with a roach control plan, you’ll want to use them that way, too. Doing it that way, you’ll place sticky traps throughout your home, then later count the catch from each one.

From that count, you’ll gain two important pieces of information:

  1. Where roaches tend to congregate.
  2. And where they tend to travel.

By starting your plan with sticky traps, you’ll learn where you needn’t waste your time. And where to hit roaches hardest.

Sticky traps are your secret weapon in this battle. Because you’ll know where to bring the fight.

Tip: Pick up a couple dozen sticky traps regardless of any other approach you use. They’re inexpensive, show you where to focus your efforts, and help to reduce roach populations, too. Use half your traps at the beginning of the job, and the other half when it’s done. The second set will alert you should any new roaches appear.

Part 2. Three Killer Cockroach Control Products That Eliminate Roaches Completely

Cartoon illustration of an open book, turned to a page that discusses three important roach control products- bait, dust, and IGR

Twenty years ago, cockroach elimination was a different, more troublesome story. Back then if you had an infestation and were committed to the cause, you’d rent a pump sprayer, lug it around your house or apartment, and pump lethal poison into every room.

The bugs would die dramatically—scores of them, right before your eyes. And while the carnage was sort of satisfying in its way, it wasn’t nearly as extensive as it appeared.

Because what you were really doing wasn’t solving the problem. You were doing what a cockroach bomb does today: killing all the dumber bugs, and sending the smart ones into your walls.

A few weeks later, your cockroach problem would be back. And you’d hire an exterminator to finish the job.

So much for the good old days. Because today’s cockroach control products are far better and go about killing in a very different way.

Gel Bait: Cutting Edge Poison and Lure in a Gel Matrix

Cartoon illustration of an open book, turned to a page about cockroach gel bait

Poison insect baits are nothing new in the cockroach world and have been used in one form or another for a very long time. They also weren’t particularly exciting killers—that is, until someone put them in a gel.

At their most basic, gel baits are just a matrix of lure and poison that kill roaches when they nibble. But the beauty lies in how they do it.

The gel matrix keeps the lure and active ingredient (the poison) moist, fresh, and tempting for up to several weeks. While the special poison does its job slowly—often leaving cockroaches to die in the heart of the infestation.

There, other roaches see its body as food, and get poisoned themselves when they eat it. When those roaches die, there may be enough poison in their tissues to kill still more. It’s an effective system that strikes the problem at its source.

Cockroach gel bait is sold in convenient bait stations, but syringe-based applicator products are the ones you’ll want.

To apply gel bait from an applicator, you’ll squeeze out tiny drops in areas your sticky traps have shown you they tend to go—inside and behind kitchen cabinets, around pipes, wiring and vents, under sinks, beneath appliances and in any cracks you find in walls.

Within a month of applying gel bait, you’re likely to see a lot of dead roaches, and then a dramatic (and satisfying) reduction in cockroach populations. Many people who try the product happily stop there and assume they’ve solved the problem.

But that’s typically a mistake.

Because roach problems respond far better to a multi-pronged attack, and can win out even over the power of gel bait if that’s all you ever use. To permanently beat roaches down, you’ll want to hit them with at least one, and possibly two more potent tools.

To learn more about using Gel Cockroach Bait, go to the guide here.

Silica Gel: Deadly to the Touch

Cartoon illustration of an open book, turned to a page about silica gel insecticidal dust

Roaches are not exactly sedentary creatures. To find food, water, and mates, they need to move around, which is what makes our next product—silica insect dust so effective.

Insect dusts are fine powders applied to the areas roaches travel. The dust sticks to their legs and bodies, either damaging their exoskeletons or passing into them. Roaches die eventually, succumbing to dehydration or internal damage.

You may already be familiar with insecticidal dusts like boric acid and diatomaceous earth (DE), but neither is as effective (or as safe) for cockroach control as silica gel.

Silica gel doesn’t grind into roaches like DE, and doesn’t poison them like boric acid. Instead, it soaks up their protective oils like a sponge, leaving them to fatally dry out. Silica gel is applied in the same way as boric acid and DE, but kills roaches faster and with fewer escapees.

Silica gel is packaged in the product CimeXa. In addition to being wildly effective, it’s one of the least toxic insecticides available, and is a great choice for homes with pets or small children.

To apply: Cimexa is applied with a special “puffing” tool called a hand duster. It’s also sold in containers that can be used in the same way. Spread a fine dusting across surfaces where roaches walk. It’ll keep working as long as it stays dry.

Production Freeze: Block Baby Cockroaches with an IGR

Cartoon illustration of an open book, turned to a page about insect growth regulator

Though gel baits and dust are effective, cutting-edge tools, they don’t destroy cockroach eggs waiting to hatch in your walls, your basement, or the back of your cupboards and drawers.

That means that even after you’ve wiped out every single living roach, you could still be in for a second wave.

An insect growth regulator (IGR) protects you from that wave, not by killing, but by stunting the growth of new roaches that emerge. Those roaches never fully reach full maturity, so don’t successfully breed, effectively breaking the next cycle of infestation.

You may not need an IGR to completely solve your roach problem, but it’s a great insurance policy against the sort of sneaky re-infestation that could ruin all the other work you’ve done.

To apply IGR: Spray it into cracks and behind cupboards or stick self-contained devices in areas roaches hang out. IGR’s can also be mixed with other insecticides and applied with a pump sprayer.

Part 3: Home Remedies for Cockroach Control

Blackboard illustration of a few cockroach control home remedies

Few home remedies even remotely compare for effectiveness against store-bought traps, bait, and dust. But if you’re short on cash or want to get started before more heavy-hitting products arrive, try these:

DIY Duct Tape Glue Traps

DIY sticky traps? Duct tape doesn’t work as well as store-bought traps, but does work. Tear off a couple 6-inch pieces and lay them sticky-side-up along baseboards, countertops, the bathroom floor and kitchen cabinet shelves. Stick a tiny piece of food to the center as bait. Replace daily or as needed.

Plaster Roach Bait

Have some leftover plaster in the garage? Mix it with cornstarch and spread it in cracks and crevices to give roaches a toxic snack. Or, if you have borax, sprinkle it onto a dollop of peanut butter.

Your Vacuum as a Roach Killer

Don’t forget to vacuum! An oft-forgotten but powerful tool is your vacuum. Use it to suck up dead and living roaches you might find out in the open. Just remember to discard its contents into the garbage can outside right away.

Interested in more home remedies for roaches? Click here.

Part 4: Natural and Environmentally-Friendly Cockroach Control

Cartoon illustration of a testy cockroach encountering a bottle of essential oil

If you want to control roaches without using man-made chemicals, there are alternatives that can help with mild to moderate infestations. You can also use them to supplement your other cockroach control supplies, so long as any strong scents (like peppermint) don’t cross paths with them.

Check out these easy eco-friendly alternatives:

Boric Acid and Powdered Sugar

A simple mixture of boric acid and powdered sugar becomes a deadly natural bait. If you have a bag of food-grade diatomaceous earth you’re using in the garden or as a supplement, that’ll also work as a roach treatment.

Essential Oils

Among the many essential oils that bring us calming relief and fresh fragrances, a few also kill cockroaches. Peppermint oil shows the strongest roach-removal potential.

Natural Sprays

You’ll find environmentally-friendly cockroach products online and in stores, too. Wondercide indoor pest control spray does the trick. Another effective roach control product, Zevo Roach Spray uses a different blend of oils to kill these nightmare pests.

Want more natural roach killers? Click here.

Part 5: Ongoing Roach Control Through Sanitation and Exclusion

Cartoon illustration of a small cockroach sneaking into a home's open window during the night.

While your roach control products are working in the background, you can prevent future roaches by cleaning, sealing and organizing your home.

If you’re thinking, Oh great, more chores, think of these as battle strategies, instead:

  1. Cleaning = starving roaches out by removing their food sources.
  2. Sealing up = eliminating roach entry points.
  3. Organizing = getting rid of nesting and egg-laying locations.

Anything roaches could possibly eat or drink: take it away from them. Every hiding place, entry point and escape route: close it off.

Focus on problem areas, like the kitchen, bathroom, basement and any other space that’s dark and cluttered.

Controlling Problem Areas

To Control Roaches in the Kitchen

Use your vacuum to suck up all the crumbs cockroaches would love to eat from behind the stove and under the table. Wipe the grease splatter off of oven knobs and clean cooking scraps out of the drain and garbage disposal. You should be washing dishes (and wiping down pet bowls) every night, too.

Kitchen cabinets, especially the ones where you store food, are high-risk targets for hungry cockroaches. They’re prime locations for placing gel bait or silica gel.

If you’re not already doing so, store foods and ingredients in glass or metal containers (that roaches can’t chew through). If there’s extra space in the fridge, take advantage of its tight-fitting seal to store some food products there.

To Control Roaches in Storage Areas

These pests love using cardboard boxes to hide and lay their eggs in (they’ll feed on cardboard and paper, too). Send them packing by switching to plastic bins with tight-fitting lids.

Controlling Roaches That Try to Make Their Way Inside

Several kinds of roaches live outside, but will invade your home when conditions are right. Take a notebook and inspect the entire exterior of your house for cracks and holes that they could use to enter. Make it a priority to seal them up with steel wool, caulking or insulating foam to stop them well before they become a problem.

Part 6: About Common Types of Roaches

4-Grid illustration of some common cockroaches- German, American, Oriental, and Asian.

Before you go, we’ve put together a quick guide to identifying the common types of cockroaches you might be dealing with. Check out each link for our full species overview.

German cockroaches are the tiny cockroach species that terrorize homes, grocery stores, restaurants and warehouses around the world. Light brown with two dark stripes, they spread quickly and thrive indoors, especially in apartment buildings.

American cockroaches are the big, reddish-brown ones—your classic ugly cockroaches that can be up to two inches long. They live outdoors and indoors, forming colonies of thousands in sewers and drain pipes.

Oriental cockroaches are glossy, black cockroaches that people often mistake for beetles. They’re mid-sized, winged but flightless. Oriental cockroaches live outdoors so, if you’re seeing them inside, focus on sealing up any exterior cracks and holes through which they could have entered your home.

Asian cockroaches are the German roach’s doppelgängers. They’re both yellowish-brown with dark stripes running down their backs. To separate them, you’ll have to look closely at its back: a German roach has brown coloring around its dark stripes while an Asian roach has white coloring.

Conclusion

When a roach problem hits home, you need to hit back with a cockroach control plan that puts you back in charge.

Identify your target areas, assemble the best modern tools, and get rid of roaches with methods that work for the long-term.

You can do this. And there’s no better time to start.


Sources

  1. Desiccating Dusts. Beyond Pesticides. Retrieved from https://www.beyondpesticides.org/resources/safety-source-on-pesticide-providers/what-is-integrated-pest-management/desiccating-dusts
  2. Nagro, Anne (2019) Rethinking German Cockroach Control. PCT Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/rethinking-german-cockroach-control/
  3. Potter, Michael F., et al. (2014) Silica Gel: A Better Bed Bug Desiccant. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
  4. Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.
  5. Potter, Michael F. (2018) Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. University of Kentucky Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614

The worst part of your cockroach nightmare is waiting for it to end. You’ve seen them crawling around, you’ve caught them eating your food and you just want them gone.

How long do cockroaches live? As long as you let them.

We’re going to explore the cockroach lifespan from birth to death, explain what can shorten it and show you how to stop waiting and start getting rid of roaches today.

Ready? Let’s go!

The Roach Lifespan: From Egg to End

Early Life

Illustration of German and American cockroach eggs under a magnifying glass
Illustration of two cockroach egg cases: from an American cockroach (top), and a German cockroach(bottom).

The cockroach begins its life as a minuscule egg, one of as many as fifty held inside an egg case, called an ootheca. The female cockroach carries its egg case for 1 to 2 months until shortly before the eggs hatch. Then, it attaches the ootheca to a well-hidden surface.

Growing Up

Illustration of an American and German cockroach nymph against a piece of rotted wood.
Two cockroach nymphs, American and German.

The baby cockroach—called a nymph—goes through as many as 10 instars on its way to adulthood. During each of these phases, it sheds its exoskeleton and begins to grow a larger one. A newly molted nymph might appear translucent white before its brown or black exoskeleton develops anew.

All of this occurs over a period of months, which varies from species to species.

During its final, “young adult” stage, the cockroach nymph looks much like its parents. This is also where it earns—er, grows—its wings if it’s going to have any. By this point, it’s ready to join in with the adults… terrorizing homes.

Adulthood

Illustration of an American cockroach and a German cockroach in closeup, terrorizing a woman in her kitchen
Adult cockroaches: German left, and American right.

As soon as it reaches adulthood, the cockroach is ready to mate and reproduce. It’s also in the prime of its life, doing the maximum amount of exploring and scavenging for food anywhere it can—dumpsters, sewers, warehouses, bathrooms and kitchens.

A Day in the Adult Cockroach’s Life

An adult cockroach has 3 jobs:

  1. Hide. Roaches spend most of their time in hiding. Even fully-grown roaches can squeeze into coin-sized crevices and holes the width of a pen. Because they’re so good at hiding, it’s tricky to guess how many there really are. One or two roaches out in the open might mean dozens or hundreds hiding in the walls or beneath the floor.
  2. Eat. If a cockroach isn’t hiding it’s probably out looking for food. Roaches are primarily nocturnal and do most of their scavenging in the dark. They need very little food to survive but search daily for it, and eat just about anything, including paper, book bindings, fingernails, and hair.
  3. Breed. Finally, cockroaches are prolific breeders. Remember the ootheca with 50 eggs in it? Well, one female can produce 8 or more of these egg cases—a lifetime total of 400 offspring!

What All That Activity Means for You

For roaches, that daily grind is simply what cockroaches do. For you however, it can mean trouble.

Those sewer trips and sneaky dumpster runs leave bacteria and viruses clinging to their bodies. Then when they show up back at your place to eat your food, they deposit it on your shelves, your drawers, and in your food itself.

And then there are the droppings!

Cockroach droppings are yet another way roaches bring dangerous bacteria into your home. All those tiny black specks you’ve noticed lately? They’re cockroach feces. And along with all the egg casings roaches leave behind, they can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, too.

How Long Do Roaches Live; Or, WHEN DO THEY DIE?

Closeup illustration of two dead cockroaches on the floor, one an American roach, the other German.

Not soon enough…

The average lifespan of a cockroach is about one year.

But their lifespan depends heavily on food and water availability, climate and habitat. Some roaches freeze. Others fall into the mouths of predators. Most cockroaches die of dehydration or starvation.

What if you could take advantage of that weakness? What if you could get rid of cockroaches by taking away their food and water?

How long can a cockroach live without food and water?

These bugs can live up to a month without eating! That’s a bad sign for the starvation system.

However, they’re extremely sensitive to dehydration: a cockroach can’t survive longer than a week without water. Even a few parched days can make a roach too sluggish to get by.

When you take away their food and water, a cockroach immediately begins shedding weight.2 Its cells die at a higher rate. Mitosis—cell division—slows by up to 50% as part of the insect’s natural response to a lack of food and water. You’re winning!

Of course, you wouldn’t see this happening. Here’s what you would see:

  • Reduced cockroach activity: Without adequate food and water, cockroaches become weak and lethargic. They’ll stop scurrying around as much. If you were seeing a lot of roaches, you’ll notice a big difference within a few days. The change in a small infestation will be harder to notice but, after a couple of weeks, you’ll hardly see any living roaches.2
  • Dead cockroaches: A few roaches might kick the bucket on the floor or behind an appliance but most will die in their nest, out of sight and out of reach.

So, is it possible to starve roaches out?

If this sounds like a solution to your pest problem, remember that cockroaches eat almost anything. These insects have survived for over 300 million years because of their ability to scavenge food and find water almost anywhere.

Unless you’re sleeping in a lab, it’s practically impossible to starve them out. You’d have to eliminate every crumb, scrap of garbage and drop of water. And you’d have to keep it up for a month or longer!

Then there’s the problem of roach eggs—your sanitation won’t have any effect on the baby roaches already waiting to hatch in the walls or crawl spaces. They’ll grow up just when you think you’ve won and emerge as an even larger second wave facing an exasperated, exhausted enemy force.

Finally, there’s no way to know if you’re winning. You might not see any dead roaches, even if your plan is working.

It’s simply not worth the work, not when there’s a better, more powerful, proven and provable system at your disposal.

A state-of-the-art, professionally-inspired pest control system.

How long can cockroaches withstand an all-out attack?

Cartoon illustration on 4 grids of important tools for controlling roaches- Baits, Traps, Dusts, and IGR's.

We’re going to eliminate cockroaches using 4 state-of-the-art tools:

  1. Bait
  2. Traps
  3. Dust
  4. IGR

But it all begins with sanitation. Along with thorough cleaning, scrubbing and vacuuming, exclusion plays a vital role in eliminating roaches. You want to make sure they can’t find anywhere to get comfortable or, more importantly, lay their eggs.

Exclusion involves sealing up every potential entry point, crack and crevice that would allow roaches to enter and escape. That way, new ones can’t find any way to enter your home and existing ones can’t escape the doom you’ve laid out for them.

What happens when you clean, seal and organize?

Immediately, roaches will have to change their habits. Their normal food sources are gone, their pathways are cut off and they’re looking for new places to breed. Without easy access to water, they’ll start dying within the first week.

Now that they’re weakened, it’s time to roll out your cannons.

Baiting Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a fisherman using bait to catch a cockroach.

Your main weapon against cockroach infestations is gel bait, or a set of bait stations.

When there’s no easy food around, the smell of gel bait becomes irresistible to hungry roaches.

It’s going to look like you’ve attracted even more roaches but those are simply the ones that were hiding.

It means the baits are working. You might even observe roaches limping out into the open to die. Baits will start to kill roaches within 2 days. Some infestations could be completely eradicated within 2 weeks.

Learn all about choosing and using roach bait.

Trapping Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach sneaking into a spring-loaded trap.

Traps like insect monitors and roach motels catch lots of roaches on their own. They’re baited with a food scent that will drive starving roaches crazy. Good traps can kill roaches overnight but eliminating an infestation takes longer.

Read up on 15 of the best roach traps.

Dusting for Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach sitting glumly with a pile of insecticidal dust on its foot.

A strategic sprinkling of insecticidal dust in the places where your traps caught the most cockroaches will kill any that managed to escape.

Anywhere roaches travel, sprinkle CimeXa, boric acid or another deadly dust that will stick to their legs.

The insecticide poisons the cockroach while it grooms itself. A cockroach won’t survive longer than a day after walking through the dust.

Get our step-by-step guide to using insecticidal dust.

IGR to stop reproduction

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach inside a lab beaker, next to a ruler, shaking its fist.

An insect growth regulator (IGR) prevents cockroach nymphs from reaching full maturity. Any nymphs that absorb the IGR will have their growth stunted and their strength weakened.

More importantly, these roaches can’t have babies. While your other control methods kill as many adult roaches as possible, an IGR ensures that any that survive (for the time being) aren’t able to lay any egg cases to surprise you later.

IGR-affected roaches probably won’t survive more than a few weeks in a harsh world with limited food and water. These weakened insects will bumble around until they fall prey to a trap, bait or dust that’s left after the initial extermination.

Conclusion

How long do cockroaches live? Left to their own devices, they’ll survive about a year.

But there’s one factor that can affect the cockroach lifespan more than anything else: you.

If you heed the advice above and follow our comprehensive guide to killing cockroaches, you could be enjoying a roach-free home this time next month.

Be patient. Be determined. Be brave.

You can do this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the German cockroach lifespan?

From hatching to death, the German cockroach lifespan is only about 100 days.1 But these bugs are the worst of the worst. During that short time, one female can produce hundreds of offspring. Their population growth is exponential.

What’s the American cockroach lifespan?

The American cockroach is one of the hardier roach species, with a lifespan of up to 2 years. That’s for the females, which, because they’re the ones producing offspring, makes it that much worse. An adult male only lives about 1 year.

What’s the Oriental roach lifespan?

The Oriental cockroach lives for up to 2 years but its adult lifespan is just 6 months under ideal conditions.

How long can a cockroach live in the cold?

any cockroaches don’t survive well in cold environments (finally, some good news). For example, the German cockroach struggles to live through cold winters in homes that lack central heating.

The lifespan of a cockroach decreases drastically in a cold environment. It also reproduces less frequently in the cold.

How long do roaches live in the freezer?

Roaches won’t survive 24 hours in a freezer. Sub-freezing temperatures kill these resilient pests after just a day of exposure, effectively shocking their cold-blooded bodies.

Obviously, you can’t plunge your whole house into subzero temperatures! But if you’ve got a couch or other piece of furniture that’s infested, placing it for a few days in a garage or shed where it’s below zero will kill the bugs inside.

How long do cockroaches live without air?

In a total vacuum, a cockroach will be dead in minutes. If you’ve found cockroaches in your clothes and thought about sealing them in a vacuum storage bag overnight, the results might disappoint—a normal vacuum won’t remove all of the air.

They won’t suffocate but they will die of dehydration in a week or so!

Pro tip: While you have the vacuum out, use it to suck up every roach you can find—dead or alive. Then empty the chamber or discard the vacuum bag into a sturdy garbage bag you can seal. Freeze it overnight or place it immediately in the dumpster, far from your home.

How long do roaches live after professional extermination?

After a professional exterminator has sprayed, fumigated and baited your home, how long do you have to wait until the roaches are finally gone?

If you’re lucky, you’ll see noticeable results within 3 days of the treatment. In most cases, you’ll start seeing fewer roaches after 1 to 2 weeks. After a month, all but the most severe infestations should be dead and gone.


Sources

  1. German Cockroach: Biology, Identification, Control. (2013) North Carolina State Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/german-cockroach/
  2. Reynierse, James H. et al. (1972) The Effects of Hunger and Thirst on Body Weight and Activity in the Cockroach (Nauphoeta Cinerea). Animal Behavior.
  3. Park, Moon Soo and Mario Takeda (2007) Starvation suppresses cell proliferation that rebounds after refeeding in the midgut of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Journal of Insect Physiology. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.10.011
  4. Park, Moon Soo, et al. (2009) Starvation induces apoptosis in the midgut nidi of Periplaneta americana: a histochemical and ultrastructural study. Cell and Tissue Resesarch. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441–008–0737-y
  5. Valles, Steven (2017) German cockroach. University of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/german.htm
  6. Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.
  7. How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food? (2019) PFHarris. Retrieved from https://pfharris.com/how-long-can-cockroaches-live-without-food/
  8. Hahn, Jeffrey (2018) Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/cockroaches#pennsylvania-wood-cockroach-137714
  9. Wilson, Tracy V. V. How Cockroaches Work. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/cockroach2.htm