It’s just not fair. Cockroaches are supposed to be tropical bugs. As in, from the tropics. Where it’s hot. Our weather definitely isn’t tropical! So why are these gross, disruptive, apparently-not-just-tropical roaches doing around here this time of year? Isn’t winter supposed to kill things like roaches? Isn’t that all winter is good for?
Unfortunately, winter continues to insist upon being the worst, in every conceivable way. While it’s true that cold can kill cockroaches, that doesn’t mean we get to stop worrying about them. In fact, cockroaches are more likely to invade homes during winter than they are any other time of year. Here’s everything you need to know about why roaches are around, what they want, and how to stop them.
Why They’re Still Alive
By far the most common cockroach encountered indoors in the Midwest is the German cockroach. This is the cockroach that actively tries to get indoors and reproduce. The “worst case scenario” cockroach, if you will. Unlike American cockroaches, the German cockroach has trouble surviving freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, they’ve acclimated to this inability by becoming very good at finding places to keep warm.
The roach will eventually die if exposed to freezing weather, but it takes time. In that time, they have ample opportunity to find a shelter where they can keep warm enough to survive. While they’d love to be inside, they can make due outside in a pinch just fine. Roaches frequently overwinter in firewood piles, garages, utility vents, dumpsters, or even sewers. Roaches have plenty of places to hide in urban environments, which is one reason why they do so well there.
Where They Came From
This is the question you want to ask yourself repeatedly. How do cockroaches get into your home? Unfortunately, the answer may not be easy to figure out. Roaches can squeeze through 3/16 inch gaps in walls, siding, baseboards, and ceiling tiles. They can climb to reach these gaps no matter where they’re located on your home. As highly temperature-sensitive creatures, they can even precisely locate the tiny drafts where hot air escapes the home.
It gets worse (we’re sorry): you may even bring roaches into your home yourself! Like bed bugs, roaches are prolific hitchhikers. They could hide in boxes, bags, firewood bundles, furniture, and… pretty much anything else you take into your home. You bring your stuff in, and in the process you bring a roach infestation along, too. Like we mentioned up top–worst case scenario, remember?–German cockroaches in warm environments can reproduce all year. That means even a small infestation won’t stay small for long.
What They Want
The German cockroaches in your home want four things: food, water, warmth, and shelter. First: food. Cockroaches will eat just about anything. Seriously, meat, bread, sweets, grains, cheese… soap. It doesn’t really matter. They do have a preference for starchy and sugary foods, however, as these provide them with the most energy. All living things need water, and roaches are no exception. German cockroaches prefer to live in humid areas where they can remain active and drink condensation or leaks.
Warmth is important for German cockroaches not just so they can survive, but so they can reproduce. Cold environments slow roaches down. They essentially become dormant to conserve energy when the temperatures dip below freezing. The warmer their living space, the more active they are. They require shelter so they can move around and reproduce without fear of predators or other dangers. If your home checks any (or all!) of these boxes off, you could wind up with a cockroach infestation, even in wintertime.
How To Stop Them
While it’s a myth that cockroaches only infest “dirty” houses, sanitation is still the best way to keep them out. Deprive roaches of the four things they want, and they’ll go elsewhere to get them. Clean up the kitchen and eating surfaces after every meal. Don’t leave dishes sitting out or crumbs leftover on the floor. Vacuum, dust, and mop regularly. Store food in airtight plastic containers–especially the food you keep in the pantry. Take the garbage out every night, and rinse out disposable containers before throwing them away.
Locate and repair plumbing leaks to reduce humidity and deprive roaches of a source of water. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for particularly humid areas of the home. Try to locate drafts, especially in the basement, attic, and near doors and windows. Seal up gaps using caulk. Try to inspect items that could transport roaches before you take them into your home. Finally, de-clutter as much as possible. The sooner you see cockroaches, the sooner you can take steps to do something about them.
Fighting back the cockroach menace can seem like an exercise in frustration. After all, we’re talking about the pests hardy enough to survive nuclear Armageddon, right? Wrong! That, like so many other assumptions, is another cockroach myth. Cockroaches aren’t invincible, and they certainly aren’t unstoppable. We’ll prove it.
Give Varment Guard a call with your cockroach problem any time, and we’ll happy drive the annoying bugs back out into the cold.BACK TO BLOG