A fully-grown cockroach has a flattened brown oval body with long spiny legs and measures 15mm (3/4") in length. Roaches can be brought into the home in the form of egg cases that have been laid in groceries, rugs, used appliances, etc. They are not always a sign of poor housekeeping.
Cockroaches rarely cause structural damage. They can, however, contaminate food and spread disease by walking over, and excreting on, food or food preparation areas after having travelled through garbage and/or sewers. People with asthma may have a negative reaction to their droppings (feces) and body parts.
Cockroaches will live in any area where food, water, and shelter are available. They are attracted to buildings because of the warm, damp conditions offered by kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and plumbing areas. Once inside a building, they travel quite easily. Because cockroaches are most active at night, they may go unnoticed for some time. Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that contain starches, sugars, and protein, but will eat almost anything when hungry.
Intensive cleaning measures and pesticides should be used jointly to control cockroaches. Pesticides alone will not be successful, since the living environment must be physically changed first.
Preventing access to food, water, and shelter, and keeping a clean home are important steps in preventing any pest infestation.
Steam cleaning, vacuuming, and freezing
If you think furniture, toys, or crafts have roaches, steam clean them if the material will not be damaged by moisture or heat. Regular vacuuming will remove food sources, cockroaches, and egg cases. Make sure they are all destroyed by placing the vacuum bag in soapy water. You can also freeze the infested items for at least 24 hours (but preferably up to a week) at -8°C (17.6°F).
Traps, including sticky traps, let you monitor the population and location of roaches so that you know where to concentrate your efforts. Cockroach traps can be bought or easily built.
Sealing hiding spots and entry points
Seal and caulk all cracks, crevices, and pipe openings to reduce cockroach hiding places. Put a fine mesh screen over cracks and crevices, vents, open pipes, and drains to reduce access to your home.
If you are a tenant:
Report the problem to your landlord as soon as it is discovered so that they can bring in a licensed pest control company to address the issue. Ensure contaminated food is discarded and contaminated surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. As a tenant, you are responsible for cooperating with your landlord’s efforts to control an infestation.
If you are a landlord, home or building owner:
Contact a licensed pest control company. Ensure contaminated food is discarded and contaminated surfaces are cleaned and disinfected.
If you would like to speak to a public health inspector about a possible cockroach infestation, please contact the Duty Inspector at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818.