Cockroaches 101

There are over 4,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, but only around 70 species are found in the United States. Most of these live in wooded habitats and are rarely seen. Phew! But a few species are considered major pests, and the best way to tell them apart is their size. German cockroaches are small and light brown with two black stripes on their backs. Larger cockroach species are dark brown with developed wings and are often called “palmetto bugs,” especially in South Carolina.

Pain & Prevention

Aside from being downright icky, cockroaches are a health and safety issue. They are known to spread bacteria and trigger allergies and asthma. They will also contaminate any food, utensils, and surfaces they crawl on. Infestations can start when cockroaches come inside the home. Sometimes this is hard to avoid, but there are plenty of things you can do to prevent both small and large cockroaches from sticking around.

  • Keep both the inside and outside of your home clean, dry, and uncluttered.
  • Wipe up spilled food and water.
  • Don’t leave food sitting out, and don’t let trash accumulate inside.
  • Regularly clean appliances and countertops.
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture on a regular basis to remove crumbs and other food debris.
  • Eliminate moisture issues outside, like standing water, clogged gutters, or excessive amounts of mulch, pine straw, or leaf litter.
  • Keep bushes and tree limbs trimmed back from the house.
  • Store firewood away from the home, and eliminate as much clutter and debris as possible from around the foundation.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights at night, and don’t leave uneaten pet food out overnight.
  • Make sure screens on windows, doors, and vents are in good condition and seal up holes surrounding pipes in the foundation wall.

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Habits & Habitat

German cockroaches have adapted to living with humans for so long that they are now only found indoors near water sources. They like to live in warm, dark areas near moisture, including cracks, crevices, and voids around kitchen and bathroom cabinets, as well as around or inside appliances like refrigerators, stoves, toaster ovens, and microwaves. Large cockroaches, or palmetto bugs, prefer similar environments but mostly live outdoors. However, they will wander inside homes in search of food and shelter, and when conditions are right, they can live and breed indoors. Cockroaches will eat just about anything humans eat, and they need water on a daily basis.

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