Cockroaches

Cockroaches are a common pest found inside homes, apartments, restaurants and commercial buildings.  They tend to only come out when it is dark.  The most common species of cockroaches found in Ontario are the German Cockroach and the Oriental Cockroach.

Controlling Cockroaches

Cockroaches can quickly increase in numbers if they aren’t quickly controlled.  To control cockroaches in your home, you have to get rid of the three things they need to survive: food, water and shelter.

Image of German Cockroach
Credit: P.G. Koehler, University of Florida

Image of Oriental Cockroach
Credit: P.G. Koehler University of Florida

Signs of Cockroaches
Look for clues that cockroaches are living in your home.

  • Cockroach droppings that look like ground pepper or coffee grounds. 
  • Finding live or dead cockroaches, or cast cockroach skins.
  • Oblong, brown sacs containing many eggs.  When the eggs hatch, the sac is left behind.
  • An oily, musty odour. 

Places that cockroaches hide
Cockroaches usually prefer dark, moist and warm places that are close to food and moisture.  Kitchens and bathrooms are common places to find cockroaches.

  • In kitchens, cockroaches often hide in cupboards, beneath appliances and in hidden areas around water pipes and drains. 
  • Cockroaches often hide near the motors of appliances.  Check below and behind stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers.  Also check small kitchen appliances like microwaves, coffee makers, toasters and blenders. 
  • In bathrooms, cockroaches often hide at the back of bathroom cabinets and around water pipes and drains.  Cockroaches will eat soap residue, toilet paper, tissues and even shed skin flakes and hair. 
  • Other cockroach hiding places include:
    • Inside electronic devices;
    • In crevices around baseboards, door frames and mouldings;
    • Around and inside drains, pipes or conduits;
    • Inside furniture crevices;
    • Near garbage cans and recycle bins;
    • Inside, behind or below cabinets and cupboards.

Cockroaches are attracted to places where they can find an easy meal.  Kitchens can be a perfect home.  To prevent cockroaches, make it harder for them to find a meal:

  • Keep all food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Never leave dishes unwashed in the sink or on the counter – especially at night.
  • Do not leave food sitting out on counters.
  • After your pets have eaten, remove and wash their bowls.
  • Clean your pantry and cabinets for crumbs and spills.
  • Wipe your counters thoroughly to remove crumbs and grease from surfaces – these are common food sources for cockroaches.
  • Clean all surfaces, especially between appliances and counters.
  • Vacuum and clean under the refrigerator and stove.  Scrape food deposits from the corners.  Clean under stove burners.
  • Cockroaches feed at night, so sweep or vacuum your kitchen floor each night.
  • Vacuum or sweep around furniture where people eat, such as the dining room table, coffee table and sofa.
  • Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids so pests cannot find a meal by getting into your trash.
  • Rinse bottles, cans and plastics before putting them in the recycle bin.  Small amounts of soda, beer, wine, milk and juice can be a feast for cockroaches.
  • Empty your garbage and recycling often.
  • Do not leave liquids in sinks or buckets.
  • Empty pet water dishes.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Dry the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bathtub and shower with a towel each night.
  • Keep wet towels out of cabinets or drawers.
  • Fix leaking pipes and dripping faucets

Cockroaches prefer being in tight spaces, so take away their places to hide:

  • Caulk cracks in walls and around baseboards and door frames. 
  • Caulk gaps around water pipes in the kitchen and bathroom.  These provide great places to hide and to move from room to room.
  • Cockroaches can live inside cardboard boxes and paper bags.  They will eat the glue that holds boxes and bags together and will lay their eggs in the corrugation. 
  • Remove any old newspapers, magazines, cardboard, paper bags, rags or boxes.  Unwanted, broken or out-dated items should be thrown away.  These all provide great hiding places for cockroaches.
  • Clean behind furniture, appliances, televisions and electronics.  Look for dark hiding spots and crevices.  

It is important to take immediate action if you suspect that you have cockroaches.

  • If you live in rental housing, report the cockroaches to your landlord as soon as possible. The landlord is responsible for providing pest control services.  Cooperate with pest control efforts of your landlord.
  • If you own your own home, purchase cockroach traps or bait available at most hardware stores.  Follow all safety precautions that came with these items.  For difficult infestations, hire a licensed pest control company.
  • Cockroach baits, traps and other methods to get rid of cockroaches will only work if food sources have been eliminated.