If you notice a cockroach while cleaning your home, it’s natural to want to vacuum it up. You may also want to use vacuums as a pest control method, capturing and safely removing them from your property.
Cockroaches can survive inside a vacuum cleaner. Even when deprived of air, cockroaches can hold their breath for about 40 minutes. If a cockroach is entirely stuck, it may struggle to breathe as the debris inside your vacuum blocks its spiracles. There’s also a high probability of them escaping the bag or container.
If you vacuum up a cockroach, you should empty the container right away. Put it into an outdoor trash can, but consider spraying it with pesticide first. This will kill the cockroach outright and prevent it from re-entering your home later. Vacuums are best used for removing cockroach eggs since they can suck up egg sacks (ootheca).
Vacuuming a cockroach might cause damage to its exoskeleton. However, it’s unlikely to kill the cockroach on impact.
If a cockroach is vacuumed and no other course of action is taken, it might live on for several days before dying of dehydration. The fine dust and debris inside the collection chamber will also cover the spiracles on the cockroach’s body. That will interfere with its respiration while also dehydrating it.
If the trapped cockroach is too incapacitated to crawl out of the vacuum, it will likely survive inside the collection chamber for a few days before dying. However, a vacuumed cockroach can escape the vacuum bag.
It’s not uncommon for cockroach eggs to hatch and develop inside vacuum cleaner bags before eventually crawling out. Delicate insects such as mosquitoes are killed instantly by vacuuming. However, highly robust insects like cockroaches are far more likely to survive the impact.
Just getting sucked up by a vacuum cleaner is unlikely to kill a cockroach, even if it’s injured. Vacuum cleaners have long been used to trap live cockroaches for laboratory studies.
Wild cockroaches can survive being vacuumed, especially if the cleaner is stored with the cockroaches inside afterward. The warm environment inside the vacuum cleaner bag is even conducive for eggs to hatch. This makes these devices less than ideal for removing a cockroach infestation.
There are ways to improve the efficacy of vacuuming. If you use a dry vacuum bag, leave it out in the sun or cold afterward. This will kill all surviving cockroaches and their eggs.
Alternatively, you can use a Shop-Vac that can handle water to kill cockroaches. Pour dish soap inside the water-filled machine, then vacuum any cockroaches you find. Cockroaches will not be able to escape this since the soapy water prevents them from breathing, resulting in suffocation.
Cockroaches that survive getting sucked into a vacuum may live inside the bag and crawl out. For this reason, disposing of the bag’s contents is important. This ensures that the captured cockroaches don’t thrive within it.
You can discard the bag in an outdoor trash can for maximum impact, then spray insecticides into the bag to kill the cockroaches. This prevents them from finding their way back indoors or entering a neighbor’s property.
The amount of time cockroaches can stay alive inside a vacuum depends on various factors. Each of them centers around how injured the roach becomes. While a vacuum won’t instantly kill a cockroach, but the impact may cause injury. This may include:
Rolling the wheels of a vacuum cleaner over a cockroach can crush its shell, body, and limbs. Then, it will be sucked into the vacuum bag afterward.
This may not lead to instant death. However, severe injuries can make it harder for the cockroach to crawl out of the vacuum. This also reduces its chances of survival inside the machine.
The intake of air inside a vacuum cleaner may fling a cockroach against solid structures inside the machine. This can be done with enough force to cause injury. That will immobilize the cockroach, preventing it from escaping.
When a cockroach is sucked into a vacuum cleaner, it’ll likely get entangled with strand-like debris, such as hair and fabric fibers. This can hinder the cockroach’s mobility and render it helpless inside the vacuum.
Furthermore, if there is grit-like debris (such as sand particles) inside a bag-less vacuum canister, this can be damaging. The debris can slam against the roach’s body at high speeds and cause injuries.
A cockroach might be able to survive these traumatic effects after getting sucked into a vacuum. However, the injuries sustained could make it impossible for the roach to escape the vacuum.
Consequently, the trapped cockroach will survive for up to 1 week before dying of dehydration. According to the Brazil Journal of Biology, this impacts the immune system of cockroaches, so they can’t recover long-term.
Trying to get rid of cockroaches by vacuuming them is not an ideal solution. That’s especially true for an infestation since it rarely ever kills them.
At best, the cockroaches will die from dehydration or starvation after 1-4 weeks, assuming the vacuum’s collection chamber is not emptied. Even in this case, there is a high chance that some might escape from the vacuum and find their way back into your house.
Vacuuming roaches can also disperse cockroach feces and body parts in the air, thus spreading allergens. According to Allergy, exposure to cockroach allergens may cause sensitization in individuals and increase the risk of asthma.
Vacuuming unhatched cockroach eggs will enable you to contain them. However, you shouldn’t just vacuum them and stop there. These eggs can survive inside the vacuum and hatch into adults before climbing out. Always leave the bag out in the sun after vacuuming to kill all cockroach eggs.
However, there are times when using a vacuum can be effective. Cockroaches are known to carry germs that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in humans. A professional vacuum cleaner can be used for getting rid of cockroaches without applying pesticides. The benefits include:
Instantly Reduces The Population
Vacuuming can reduce the cockroach population inside a home or other property in a short amount of time. It allows for the immediate capture of live cockroaches and their unhatched eggs. The captured pests can then be exterminated via pesticides or disposed of outside in a sealed bag to ensure they don’t find their way back indoors.
Diminished Reproductive Potential
Capturing live cockroaches with a vacuum can significantly reduce the rate of reproduction. That’s because fertile adult males and females are removed from the population. This makes it harder for surviving cockroaches to find partners.
Removes Pesticide-Resistant Roaches
Most cockroach species have become resistant to insecticides. This renders this method of pest control ineffective in many cases. In contrast, vacuuming helps to capture and eliminate both susceptible and insecticide-resistant roaches.
Reduces Allergen Levels with a HEPA Filter
Commercial vacuum cleaners with High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters are best for trapping cockroaches.
The containment cartridges suck up the materials themselves, leaving the machine clean compared to a multi-stage filter system. In addition, vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters can remove asthma triggers left in the air by cockroaches.
Before using a vacuum to get rid of cockroaches, ensure it has a containment bag to trap cockroaches and allergens such as droppings. Vacuum around and under kitchen appliances where cockroaches are likely to hide, such as:
Once you are done, detach the bag from the vacuum. Seal it tightly and put it in an outdoor trash can.
Should I Vacuum Before Pest Control?
While vacuuming on its own won’t resolve a pest infestation, it can remove a large number of cockroaches from your home. This gives you a head start with your pest control process.
Vacuuming also removes food crumbs and other sources of food for cockroaches. This can discourage cockroaches from nesting in certain locations and prompt them to move out.
Similarly, vacuuming gets rid of dust and debris from surfaces so that insecticide treatments are easier to apply and more effective. Not only that, but it also removes cockroach allergens from the air, thus protecting residents of a home from asthma and other allergic reactions.
Vacuuming doesn’t require vacating the entire premises. As such, it’s a convenient way to remove some cockroaches from your home before proceeding with more intensive pest control measures.
Cockroaches that aren’t killed by the suction force will continue to live inside the vacuum.
On average, they will either manage to crawl out or die from dehydration within 24 hours. Nonetheless, it can still be a good method for capturing and removing cockroaches from your home.