Roach Treatment & Roach Killer Products

Roach First

For good reasons, cockroaches have the reputation for being the most hated of all pests in the US. Appearing unexpectedly in homes and businesses, this disease-carrying bug is considered by many to be the ultimate pest insect. Not only can they eat just about anything but also survive for weeks with no food. Roaches can even remain mobile for a few hours after being decapitated.

There are 69 species of cockroach in the US. That number is increasing with new invaders arriving every few years. Until they appear as unwelcome visitors in the home, most people have little contact with roaches, as the majority live in the wild.

Although cockroaches can survive in a less than ideal environment, most species have a preference for a particular climate or habitat. For example, the American and the Smoky Brown roach are most likely to be encountered in the warmer southern states. But cockroaches can be found in all states, even becoming a growing nuisance in Alaska.


Roaches are fast-moving insects, easily recognized by their flat bodies and long antennae. Not all species have wings and those that do often prefer to run rather than fly when disturbed.

Of the reported pest infestations 95% are caused by only five of the 69 US species. Other species may occasionally appear in homes but these rarely cause trouble.

The pest species fall into two categories, large or small. Each category may be controlled in a different way, due to their habits.

American roaches are not the most common pest but can grow up to 3 inches in length. Other large species are the Oriental and the Smoky Brown cockroach, which grow to 1.25 and 1.5 inches in length respectively.

The German cockroach is the most prevalent roach pest in the US and at around half an inch in length is classed as a small roach. They make up for their size with the speed at which they reproduce and quickly become a serious problem if not dealt with swiftly.

Another common pest species in the small roach category is the Brown Banded cockroach.

Life cycle

Like all insects, cockroaches reach maturity through various stages of metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult.

Eggs are protected inside a small hard capsule, called an ootheca. Each ootheca may contain between 10 and 50 eggs depending on the species and is normally laid out of sight. Nymphs hatch from the eggs and force their way out of the ootheca.

Nymphs of most species will undergo six skin changes before they become adults. They look like small versions of adult roaches, except in species with wings, which only become visible after the last molt.

German roaches differ from other pest roaches as the females retain the oothecae in their body until the eggs are close to hatching.

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The lifespan of larger species is typically a year or more. Smaller species may live only six months or less but breed prolifically in that time.

Some roaches leave pheromones to advertise a good feeding or resting place to others of their species.

Health threats

Cockroaches in themselves do not cause disease, but because they visit drains and other dirty places they pick up bacteria which can be transferred to human food. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that roaches have been blamed for many diseases including diarrhea, food poisoning, cholera and typhoid fever. In addition, they may bring the eggs of parasitic worms with them into the home.

Roaches have a protein in their body, saliva, and droppings that trigger asthma and other allergic reactions in many people. Those who suffer from asthma are likely to experience an increase in attacks during a roach invasion. The symptoms of allergies may include skin rash, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.

When a roach dies, its body parts disintegrate to become part of the dust in a home. Unless removed, the dust causes the allergens to continue long after the death of the roach.

Only in the worst of infestations and when food is scarce are people likely to be bitten by roaches but reports of bites are rare.

Signs of infestation

Roaches can gain access to a building in many ways. They may hitch a ride in boxes, food bags, clothing or anything that is moved into a building. Other means include gaps around water pipes, cables, or cracks in walls. Drains and vents are well-known entry points.

Roaches prefer to be active at night. Any seen in the daytime have normally been disturbed or forced into the open through overcrowding by other roaches. It is reported that for every cockroach seen, another hundred - or perhaps as many as a thousand - are lurking out of sight.

Indicators of an infestation are:

  • Seeing live roaches
  • A strong, unpleasant smell, which could suggest many roaches hidden from sight.
  • Oothecae found behind furniture or in dark, undisturbed places in the home.
  • Droppings or feces, which depending on the size of the roach may be like small brown pellets or speckles of black pepper.
  • Dead roaches.


Cockroaches are survivors, so it should be no surprise they can be challenging to kill. The longer an infestation goes undiscovered or is ignored, the more difficult it is to eradicate. This is made harder by the resistance in some species to certain chemicals. It is further compounded by the difficulty in destroying the eggs inside their protected ootheca.

Treatments differ between species of roach, so glue traps are often used to catch specimens for identification. Remedies may include insecticide sprays, poisoned baits, granules or desiccant powders. Pheromone traps are also used to good effect.

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Bug bombs are not particularly effective and may expose nearby people or pets to unwanted levels of pesticide. Electronic repellents have yet to be proven useful.

Boric acid works by desiccating any roach that comes into contact with it. Normally it’s mixed with an attractant but must be applied in the correct places to be successful.

German roaches are notoriously hard to eliminate. Their nymphs have a feeding behavior that makes them less susceptible to normal poisons until they are larger. They are best treated with Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) which interfere with the nymphs’ development. Some strains of German roach have developed a dislike of the attractants often found in certain baits.

Most of the DIY remedies for roaches can be bought over the counter or online. For all but the most persistent infestation, these should prove effective if used in accordance with the instructions.

Before buying any DIY treatment a correct identification of the invading roach and knowledge of its habits is required in order to get the appropriate one. These pests are hardy and secretive, often remaining well-hidden during the day. It only takes a few oothecae or a pair of roaches to survive the treatment for the whole cycle to start again.


Heavy infestations or any DIY approach that does not yield fast results will require the services of a professional pest controller. The longer the problem is left, the worse it will become. And the health risks multiply.

Trained experts can quickly identify the species, know its behavior, and be aware any local issues relating to pesticide resistance.

Prevention Treatment

Once treated it is important to discourage the roaches from returning. This involves components such as denying them food by keeping the premises clean and blocking entry points:

  • In the kitchen, keep floors and surfaces clear of food scraps before going to bed.
  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Kitchen waste bins should be emptied every night and kept covered during the day.
  • Remove any piles of old cardboard, newspapers, magazines or waste paper.
  • In locations where roach threats are common, fix screens around all windows.
  • Seal all gaps around pipes and cables in walls that could allow entry.
  • Put roach covers over drains and vents.


DIY costs start at a few dollars for traps or $50 and up for IGR treatments.

The cost of a professional exterminator will depend on the size of the property, the extent of the infestation and the methods used to remove the roaches. For a standard sized home, the price ranges from $50 to $400. Repeat visits may be necessary.

Any warranties given will normally be linked to preventative action being taken by the homeowner.