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All About Cockroaches and How to Eliminate Them

How do you get rid of cockroaches?

Cockroaches are one of the most difficult domestic pests to eliminate. Building-wide infestations can make addressing infestations on a unit-to-unit basis futile.

The earlier you identify an infestation, the quicker a treatment plan can become implemented and the higher degree of success with a single treatment.

In addition to a professional treatment plan it is imperative to eliminate food and water sources, keep the infested area free of clutter and debris, clean regularly, and as much as possible seal up cracks and crevices with caulking, grouting and other building materials.

At Addison Pest Control our goal is to eliminate an infestation as quickly as possible and keep your home roach free for good.

We combine three pest-control techniques applied on a single appointment on a single day and guarantee the effectiveness of the treatment to completely eradicate the infestation.

No pest control method is perfect, by combining three diverse methods, each one compensates for the shortcomings of the other, which yields quick and dependable results in eliminating cockroaches.  

Check out our treatment outline, or give us a call for a free no-obligation quote.


How to identify cockroaches

Cockroach species vary from a caramel brown to black. They are dorsoventrally flattened, oval in shape with antennae that are as long as or longer than their body. Largely incapable of self-powered flight, most species of cockroaches have vestigial wings that cover most of their dorsal abdomen. Strong legs permit quick running and even short jumps.

Cockroaches can range in size from as small as 5mm nymphs to 53mm adult American cockroaches. Nymphs have the same body morphology as adults but are darker in colour and lack the wing pads of adults.

Cockroaches reproduce by way of ootheca or egg sacks which either developed internally or are deposited in a sheltered substrate 1-7 days after formation in the mother. Egg hatching and nymphal development is highly dependent on environmental conditions and food availability. At higher temperatures of 35°C the eggs of the German cockroach will hatch in as little as 14 days whereas the eggs of a the Oriental cockroach can take up to 81 days to hatch at temperatures of 21°C or below. Eggs of most cockroach species lose viability below 0°C.

Identifying the cockroach species and eliminating the pest at the early stages of infestation is pivotal to the successful implementation of a pest control program.

Common cockroach species in North America are the Oriental, German and American cockroaches.

We offer a professional inspection service on short notice.


Signs of a cockroach infestation



The most urgent indication of a cockroach infestation is sightings of live adult or nymph cockroaches. Since cockroaches are nocturnal insects you want to be most vigilant after dark, normally they can be spotted scurrying for shelter when startled by a light or loud noises.

The use of professional sticky traps is an effective gauge of the presence and severity of an infestation.  Pheromones on the traps attract cockroaches from a surrounding radius. Evaluation of insects caught in these traps can give a very accurate picture of the number of pests, and the timeline of the infestation.



The most common early sign of an infestation are the fecal matter of cockroaches. For most species, these droppings are the size and colour of coarse coffee grounds. They are normally concentrated in the kitchen and bathroom around sheltered overhangs on countertops, radiators, pipes, cabinetry hinges and drawer tracks.

These droppings can contain pathogens such as salmonella, E.Coli,  Staphylococcus and other harmful bacteria.



Some species of Cockroach deposit their egg sacks in sheltered areas close to feeding or water sources, in a sheltered substrate. Mothers may chew up the substrate close to the deposition and cover the ootheca with debris as a means of camouflage.



This sign of infestation is normally only detectable in more severe infestations when other indicators of infestation are in plain sight. Some species of cockroach emit a foul odour when they are frightened or disturbed. Secreting oleic acid a distinct oily musky odour can be offensive and overpowering to the human sense of smell. This smell can remain on foods or in harbourage areas even after an infestation has been controlled or eliminated.


How did cockroaches get into my home?

Cockroaches can enter a home in a variety of ways. It is common for them to travel on paper products brought home from food distribution centres such as a box from the grocery store. Used appliances, furniture or clothing can also carry eggs, nymphs or adults into the home. Many find their way into a home in search of harbourage sites or food sources through insecurities in the foundation of a house, or through the ducting and wall cavities of an apartment building.

Cockroaches are capable of travelling within a neighbourhood. Species of German cockroaches have been found to travel up to 1km to find favourable foraging or harbourage sites.

Cockroaches have powerful aggregation behaviour, which can often be the cause of exponential population growth in newly infested habitations. Aggregation is the chemical systems that insects use to attract similar species to favourable nesting and feeding areas.

A chemical pheromone is present in cockroach droppings that, at low concentrations, acts as an attractant, indicating to cockroaches in the area that an individual of the species has discovered favourable conditions. At high concentrations this pheromone has deterrent effects which serves to prevent overcrowding and high competition among cockroaches within a single harbourage area. This deterrent effect, however, can cause cockroach nymphs to leave the harbourage and seek new sites of infestation within the home or apartment.


What do cockroaches eat?

While most species are vegetarian omnivores native to Northern Africa and Southern Asia, their global geographical distribution is indicative of the cockroaches ability to survive and thrive in a range of extreme conditions.

Cockroaches can survive long periods without food or water and can continue to survive on a wide variety of feeding sources in human environments. While they prefer food scraps high in carbohydrate, they have been known to feed on soap, glue or even toothpaste in famine conditions.

Many species of cockroach live in the wild in self-sustaining ecosystems with adequate food and harbourage sites. Cockroach species become a pest threat when they become adapted to the climatic conditions and foraging opportunities in human environments and when they have a relatively long life cycle and a high reproductive potential.


How serious are cockroaches?

This highly adaptive insect can rapidly infest domestic environments with available feeding sources and favourable climatic and shelter conditions, posing significant health risks to humans through the spread of pathogens and bacteria that contaminate food preparation and work surfaces.

Cockroaches can pose serious health and safety concerns through the spread of dangerous pathogens and the aggravation of asthmatic sensitivity in certain individuals. They are also an unsightly nuisance to many homeowners.

During their foraging cockroaches come into contact with a variety of organic matter including garbage, sewage and other refuse.

Bacteria and pathogens attach to the hairs on the insect’s legs and abdomen and are deposited in a bacteria trail wherever they move.

Cockroaches regularly regurgitate and defecate on surfaces where they are hiding or feeding. Since cockroaches are largely nocturnal, they may pass over food preparation, and other work surfaces leaving behind dangerous bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis, typhoid, dysentery, poliomyelitis, salmonella, e.coli, staph infection and other illnesses.


Do Cockroaches Bite Humans?

Yes, cockroaches have been known to bite humans, though this is not their most common behaviour.

Under famine conditions, cockroaches will even feed on hair and nail cuticle as well as callused skin on hands and feet while we sleep.

Some infants have shown repeated cockroach bites in the facial area, as cockroaches are known to feed bits of food around the infant’s mouth.

This gruesome behaviour of the insect is a major concern for the health and safety of people living in infested homes. Cockroaches pass over a variety of organic material in their foraging activities and carry harmful bacteria in the setae of their legs. If these bacteria become deposited in a way that may enter the human body, they can cause a range of health problems and illnesses.


How Addison can help eliminate cockroaches

At Addison Pest Control our goal is to eliminate an infestation as quickly as possible and keep your home roach free for good.

We combine three pest-control techniques applied on a single appointment on a single day and guarantee the effectiveness of the treatment to completely eradicate the infestation.

No pest control method is perfect, by combining three diverse methods, each one compensates for the shortcomings of the other, which yields quick and dependable results in eliminating cockroaches.


Powder Crack and Crevice Treatment

We use a professional power duster to puff a fine silica powder inside cracks and crevices in infested areas. Cockroaches often establish harbourages in wall cavities or ducting. The powder coats the insides of the wall voids killing pests that are already established there and preventing pests from using these physically inaccessible areas as hiding or harbourage zones.

The powder is also used on sensitive electronic items that are at risk of an infestation such as a power bar or a wall outlet.


Gel Bait

Insecticide bait is an effective, discreet and safe method to eliminate a cockroach infestation.

We apply professional grade cockroach bait throughout the infested home. We focus the bait in areas that cockroaches are most active, where levels of temperature and humidity are favourable to their reproduction and that are close to available food sources.

The bait is contained in a white gel that is applied in small beads to the sides and backs of kitchen appliances, the hinges and shelving of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, radiators and other heating sources, and any other high traffic zones in the home.

Due to the cannibalistic nature of many cockroach species, more and more cockroaches will be exposed to the insecticide in the bait as their dead bodies are consumed by other individuals in the harbourage sites.


Residual Surface Spray

At Addison, we use the highest quality residual spray available on the market. Unlike the sprays used by many competitors, our spray has a 3-month residual value, which means it remains active and continues to kill bugs for a full three months.

Our spray is a non-toxic pyrethroid, which means it is a synthetic replica of a naturally occurring insecticide manufactured by plants to ward off potential predators.

The spray is applied to the backs, sides and bottoms of beds, furniture and kitchen appliances, inside kitchen and bathroom drawers and cabinets, as well as all the floors and baseboards.

Any time a cockroach passes over a surface that has been spayed, it will die-off within a short period after making contact.


How Addison can help prevent cockroach infestations in the future

Sealing up potential access points is crucial to ensuring a pest free home.

As part of our service, a trained Addison technician will identify and seal up potential entry points or bring more critical structural issues to your attention.

Since cockroaches can gain access to the home in so many ways, many homeowners take up Addison’s a quarterly preventative treatment plan. This treatment plan will offer you complete protection against a variety of insects including bed bugs, cockroaches, carpet beetles, ants, meal moths and other invasive pests. As part of this program we apply a preventative treatment 3-4 times/year, conduct regular inspections for potential new entry points or structural insecurities, and revisit your home whenever you need a further inspection or treatment at no extra charge.

Give us a call for a free no obligation quote a preventative program.


The most common cockroaches in the North American urban environment.


American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

This species of cockroach is the longest-lived and largest of the common peridomestic cockroaches in North America.


Adults American cockroaches are a shiny reddish brown to brown colour. A pronotum with yellowish white margins and a dark brown interior covers the backs of their heads.

Males grow to be between 34-53mm, while females grow slightly shorter to reach 29-36mmin length.

One of the longer-lived species of the Cockroach family, the American cockroach, has a lifespan between 90 and 706 days.

In temperatures of 21°C or higher adult individuals are capable of self-powered flight.

The nymphs are pale brown, 5mm in length and develop into mature adults in 5-15months dependant on food availability and environmental conditions.


Reproductive Behaviour

The reproductive potential of American cockroaches is greatest at temperatures between 20-29°C.

The cockroach mother deposits the 8-10mm blackish brown ootheca in a sheltered substrate 1-6 days after it develops inside her body.

Each ootheca contains 14-16 eggs that hatch in 57 days at 24°C and 32 days at 30°C

A single female will produce up to 90 Oothecae in her lifetime, and she can derive enough fertilization from a single male spermatophore from a single mating to fertilize all of her egg sacks over her entire lifespan.

These pests are restricted to a warm and humid habitat to ensure the viability of incubation of their young.

Foraging Behaviour

  • Highly adaptive foraging behaviour, being found in both indoor and outdoor environments closely linked to human activity
  • Prefer food high in carb such as grains, sugars,
  • Can survive without food or water for 29 – 42 days and with water but no food for 43-90 days


German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)


Adult German cockroaches can vary from light tan to brownish black in colour with two dark stripes running the length of their body along the pronotal shield on their backs directly behind their head.

Adults grow to be between 13-16mm, females being somewhat darker and more round than the male.

The lifespan of the German cockroaches ranges based on temperature and availability of food from between 100-200 days.

Even though German cockroaches have prominent wings that cover most of their back, it is uncommon for them to engage in self-powered flight.

With the strongest legs of cockroach species, they are some of the fastest runners among cockroaches, known also to be adept jumpers, using their vestigial wings for the purpose of gliding to a soft landing

The nymphs are black, 2-3mm in length. Nymphs pass through 5-6 instar stages before becoming full adults. At temperatures of 24-26°C nymphs can take up to 215 days to become sexually mature adults. At 30°C or above and humidity of over 40%, German cockroach nymphs can reach maturity in as little as 52 days.

German cockroaches seek moist, dark, warm areas to establish harbourage zones, leading to high rates of infestation in kitchens, bathrooms, furnace rooms, locker rooms, etc. They are sensitive to severe cold, often dying off in temperatures below 0°C, which leads them to seek shelter in human dwellings during colder months


Reproductive Behaviour

The reproductive potential of the German cockroaches is greatest at temperatures between 15-35°C.

The cockroach mother carries the ootheca (egg-sack) in her body during the entire development of her young. At a favourable temperature of 35°C, a mother will hatch a generation of young approximately 14 days after fertilization.

The eggs in an egg sack will no longer be viable if the ootheca is removed from the mother’s body prematurely.

Oothecae are 7-9mm long, light brown in colour and contain 35-48 eggs.

A single female will produce 4-8 oothecae in her lifetime.

Because each ootheca contains such a large number of eggs, an infestation can become severe in a very short time with astounding exponential population growth.


Foraging Behaviour

German cockroaches are nocturnal, undertaking foraging during night hours. They will emerge during day hours in an advanced infestation or if their habitation has become disturbed in some way.

German cockroaches are highly effective omnivorous scavengers. They will eat almost anything including glue, soap or toothpaste, though prefer foods high in starch and carbohydrate.

As with all species of Cockroaches, an effective method of restricting German cockroach population growth is cutting off food and water sources for the pest.

A particular challenge with German cockroaches, however, is their ability to survive eight days without food or water, and females can survive up to 42 days with water but no food.

German cockroaches are cannibalistic; they will feed on dead adults or moulted nymphal skins. This tendency serves the effectiveness of bait treatments, as a single poisoned adult that dies in the colony can effectively  

German cockroaches are a more adventurous species of cockroach. Large numbers of German cockroach individuals are known to undertake migrations of up to 1km to find appropriate foraging, feeding, and harbourage areas.

German cockroaches are also unique in the speed with which they develop physiological and behavioural resistance to pest-control techniques.

By increasing the metabolic degradation of bait chemicals in their body and increasing the impermeability of their cuticular exoskeleton, German cockroaches can quickly reduce the effectiveness of baits and sprays on a targeted population.

In addition, German cockroaches will change foraging routes, and relocate harbourage sites in order to avoid pesticide residues.


Oriental Cockroach (Blatta Orientalis)


Oriental cockroaches also known as the black beetles or water bug are dark brown to black in colour and grow to be between 18-29mm.

Like the long-lived American cockroach the lifespan of the Oriental cockroach can reach up to a year and a half depending on the temperature and humidity of their environment

Oriental cockroaches are incapable of flight. Females have rudimentary wings that cover part of their backs, while males have longer wings that cover approximately ⅔ of their backs.

The nymphs are reddish brown, 6mm in length. Nymphs pass through 5-7 instar stages before becoming full adults. Nymphs will take at least 165 days to reach sexual maturity.

Oriental cockroaches require cooler and moister habitations than other species of cockroach, leading them to seek harbourage in drains, basements and porches.


Reproductive Behaviour

The reproductive activity of the oriental cockroaches is greatest in the springtime when temperatures exceed 10-15°C. They prefer temperatures between 20-30°C

The cockroach mother carries the fertilized egg capsule in her body for anywhere from 12 hours to 5 days after fertilization. The ootheca is then deposited in a sheltered substrate close to a food source where the eggs will incubate for about 42 days at 29.5°C and 81 days at 21°C

Eggs will no longer hatch if the temperature drops below 0°C

Oothecae are 10-12mm long, blackish brown in colour and smooth containing 16-18 eggs.

An average female will produce of 8 oothecae in her lifetime.

Due to a longer incubation and fewer eggs per ootheca, oriental cockroach infestations normally take longer to establish themselves than German or American cockroaches


Foraging Behaviour

Oriental cockroaches are nocturnal, undertaking foraging during night hours. They tend to be more common in outdoor habitations because they are more tolerant of cooler temperatures.

Oriental cockroaches feed on natural debris and have been known to aggregate close to refuse facilities or garbage cans.

Like the German cockroach, Oriental cockroaches are capable of surviving extended periods without food or water. Adults have demonstrated the ability to survive 11 days without food or water and up to 32 days with water but without food.

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