Seeing a cockroach is enough to set off alarm bells for most people. However, these insects are more than just an unsightly nuisance. They can pose a danger to you and your food.
Although we might regard cockroaches as invaders, they have existed on our planet for millions of years. Wherever humans have gone, cockroaches have followed and adapted to their new surroundings. Indeed, they are so resilient that they could even survive a nuclear attack!
You might see cockroaches in a variety of places in your home: pipe holes, sinks, fridges, cupboards, wall cracks, boxes or bins. Nobody likes to see them scurrying around. However, many people regard them as nothing more than a harmless embarrassment. In fact, although cockroaches do not cause diseases themselves, they do spread germs and bacteria.
Cockroaches can attack your body and your food.
The most obvious way a cockroach can attack your body is simply by biting you. They tend to favour toenails, fingernails, and soft skin. Although their bites are usually not dangerous, they can be irritating. Be aware also that cockroaches could enter your body through your nose or ear while you are sleeping.
If you are prone to allergies, cockroaches can become a serious problem. The allergens in their bodies and saliva can cause rashes, sore eyes and sneezing. People who suffer from asthma are particularly vulnerable, and could have a serious reaction to a cockroach infestation. Cockroaches can even cause asthma to develop in people who are not asthmatic.
As well as directly attacking your body, cockroaches can attack the food you put into your body. Cockroaches will eat almost anything, including paper, leather, waste materials, and dead plants or animals.
When cockroaches attack food, they can spread bacteria through cross-contamination. They pick up bacteria while eating and these bacteria then reside in their guts. When they attack your food, they often leave their waste products (and the bacteria!) on the food. They also may carry the bacteria on their bodies, and pass it on to the food when then touch it. Humans who eat the contaminated food can then be infected by the bacteria and suffer food poisoning. Indeed, cockroach cross-contamination can lead to the spread of, among other bacteria, salmonella, streptococcus and pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Read more: Common cockroach species in Ireland
Like it or not, homes and business properties are ideal breeding grounds for certain species of cockroaches. With plenty of food, warmth, water and nesting sites, these formidable pests can remain active all year round. Hence, prevention is always better than cure.
The top 5 ways of preventing cockroaches from infesting in your property:
- Eliminate food sources - The most effective way to deter cockroaches is to deny them food, water and shelter. To get rid of them, get rid of what sustains them –
- Do not leave liquids in sinks or buckets
- Do not leave food sitting out on counters
- Store dry foods in tightly sealed containers
- Rinse cans, bottles and plastics before putting them in recycling bins
- Empty the rubbish on a daily basis
- Clean - Clear all waste food and liquid spillage, cleaning up food debris from food preparation areas, under sinks and appliances. Remove pet food, drink and litter trays before nightfall.
- De-clutter - Cockroaches release an aggregation pheromone in their droppings telling others they have found a safe harborage. Remove old stacks of newspapers and magazines, unused cardboard boxes and all other forms of clutter from the floor or bottom of cupboards where these pests have easy access.
- Take preventive measures -
- Varnish or paint wood shelves to seal them, and wipe them clean regularly
- Check key risk areas where cockroaches may gain entry into the home – cracks, crevices, vents, sewers and pipe drains
- Seal areas such as cracks in walls, around skirting boards, behind electrical sockets, under kitchen sinks and bathroom cabinets to reduce potential hiding areas
- Take prompt action - Without specialist know-how and equipment, cockroach control can sometimes be a losing battle. Should you have an existing cockroach problem not responding to a DIY approach, contact a pest control exterminator.
Professional Cockroach Prevention
The main issue with DIY solutions is that although they may seem to work, they don’t fully remove cockroaches from your property. This is because cockroaches often operate within dark areas, away from human sight. So, to the untrained eye, they may seem to have packed their bags and moved on, but more often than not they are just hiding in a different area.