With cold weather just around the corner for residents of the Windy City, many are once again thinking about the challenges they may face during the coming winter. One of these challenges is controlling the types of pests that are able to survive even the harshest Chicago winter by moving into warm homes and buildings.
The cockroach is one of the worst of these offenders, both because of their ability to reproduce quickly and because they often carry disease-laden bacteria that can be harmful to the homeowner and their family. A good way to prevent or eliminate a cockroach problem in your home is to learn more about them and their needs and then use that information to make proactive changes in your home. One thing to remember… our homes are normally about 70 degrees even in the winter, and to the bugs, inside is like Spring all year long.
Identify Your Enemy
Illinois homes and businesses can be plagued by several species of cockroaches, including:
- Blatella germanica or German cockroach: This variety is usually found in kitchen environments.
- Blatta orientalis or Oriental cockroach: These are also called waterbugs and can be found in very damp places, such as basements and crawlspaces.
- Periplaneta americana or American cockroach: These are commonly found in commercial food preparation areas, as well as in sewers and steam tunnels.
- Supella longipalpa or brownbanded cockroach: This type of cockroach is most often found in very warm areas where temperatures may exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, such as inside motor casings on appliances and machinery or inside lighting fixtures.
- Parcoblatta species or Woods cockroach: These are usually found around wood, but they are also seen indoors.
Because most species of cockroaches originated in tropical climates, they are not able to survive outdoors during the typical Illinois winter.
Instead, they seek out the shelter and warmth of residential housing, businesses, and other type of structures that are heated and have readily available food and water sources.
Recognize the Signs of Infestation
Although a home may harbor multiple species of cockroaches at any time, the German cockroach is the one that most often creates a problem for Chicago homeowners.
Like all cockroaches, the German cockroach is largely nocturnal. Because of this tendency to stay hidden, an infestation can become quite large before the homeowner is aware a problem exists.
As their numbers increase, however, they will begin to leave visible clues, including:
- Oothecae: These are the elongated brown, capsule-like structures laid by the female, usually containing 30 or more tiny cockroach eggs that can hatch in as little as 24 hours of being released by the female.
- Droppings: These are usually noted as reddish or darkly colored specks that contain pheromones capable of attracting additional cockroaches.
- Exuviae: This is the exoskeleton discarded by nymph cockroaches as they grow and mature. Typically these will be a translucent brown or reddish-brown in color.
If you notice any of these visible signs of cockroach activity in your home or business, take it as a sign of a growing cockroach infestation.
Understand the Health Risks
Families who live in homes where cockroach activity is found are at risk for a number of serious health issues. One of the most common of these risks is asthma, a respiratory problem that can be serious or even fatal.
According to information published by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma now affects more than 26 million Americans. Exposure to the saliva, droppings, or body parts of cockroaches is known to be a common trigger for asthmatic and other allergic symptoms in both adults and children.
Data collected by the National Pest Management Association suggests that cockroach activity in the home could be a significant factor in the development of asthma or the worsening of its symptoms. According to their studies, approximately 63 percent of non-urban American homes and 98 percent of urban residential housing likely contains cockroach-related allergens.
In addition to asthma, cockroaches are also believed to transfer bacteria capable of causing many of the gastrointestinal illnesses attributed to food poisoning each year.
Establish Proactive Habits
Proactive habits you can establish to prevent a cockroach invasion include limiting cockroaches’ access to the three things they need to survive: food, water, and warm shelter.
Some examples of proactive habits your family members can adopt include:
- Thoroughly cleaning food preparation areas, cookware, dishes, eating areas, and sinks immediately after each meal or snack
- Repairing leaky faucets and applying an insulating wrap onto plumbing pipes to prevent condensation from forming
- Using a dehumidifier, bathroom vent fans, and kitchen exhaust fans to cure high humidity issues
- Removing clutter that may be providing a place for cockroaches to hide and breed
- Cleaning the floors frequently in areas where the family eats or snacks or where pets eat
Another proactive habit that homeowners will want to adopt is a seasonal inspection by a reputable pest control professional.
The friendly pest control experts at A-Alert Exterminating Service have been helping homeowners throughout the Greater Chicago area eliminate cockroaches and other household pests since 1973.
If you are worried about a pest problem in your home, call and discuss your concerns with us. We are confident we can help you remove existing infestations and help you design a plan to prevent future pest problems.