You work hard to create a clean and comfortable home. Despite your best efforts, you may still find cockroaches scurrying around. That can be confusing and disheartening since rumor has it that cockroaches only invade dirty homes. However, that’s just a myth. Roaches enter homes for many reasons, and most of them aren’t your fault.
Cockroaches will seek an entry point into homes that offer food, water, and controlled temperatures. Certain parts of the country have a larger population of cockroaches than others. So, homes located where there’s extreme heat or cold, forests, or heavy rain are at most risk of getting an infestation. New homes are also vulnerable, as are those in need of urgent wall, foundation, plumbing, and general repairs.
In some towns and cities, it’s almost impossible to live completely roach-free. However, there are some factors that you can control. You can store fewer items outside, perform more yard work, remove vegetation, establish a home maintenance routine, and avoid leaving out food scraps or dirty dishes.
Why Do Cockroaches Enter Homes?
Cockroaches will enter your home because you’re offering them three things:
Living conditions inside homes and buildings are more attractive than the outdoors to certain species of cockroaches, especially when the weather turns. Extreme heat and extreme cold will cause roaches to move indoors.
Inside buildings, roaches can become a problem as they spread illness and disease. While they rarely bite, their presence alone can trigger asthma and other allergies. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, cockroach allergens may result in more severe symptoms than other allergens.
A small enough population often goes undetected. The presence of one or two roaches doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an infestation. If cockroaches remain, they will quickly multiply, so you should take action to remove them.
Do Roaches Mean Your House Is Dirty?
The cleanliness of your home rarely matters to a cockroach. If your living space is a source of food, water, or warmth, there’s a chance that roaches will move in. Even clean items can attract roaches, such as:
That’s because roaches are highly adaptable, and they aren’t picky. All your house needs to provide is sustenance and shelter. Then, if there’s a way for roach to enter, it probably will. The smallest crack is large enough for roaches, some of which can sneak into spaces 1/6 of their size.
Why Cockroaches Prefer Dirty Homes
With that said, unclean homes do attract roaches. That’s because food sources may be left in open reach of cockroaches, such as:
- Leftover, spilled, or unpackaged food
- Hair and skin cells not cleaned up or disposed of
- Pet feces
When not cleaned appropriately, this presents an open invitation to cockroaches. They will not only feed but do so with less effort. Likewise, cockroaches will be able to smell food sources. That’s more difficult if food, organic waste, and garbage are properly disposed of and sanitized.
If you tidy your home properly, this reduces the chance of a cockroach infestation. However, if roaches can’t find a dirty home, they’ll settle for a clean home.
Why Roaches Enter Clean Homes
If your home is clean, consider these four factors. They could explain why you still have a cockroach problem:
Where you live can explain why you have roaches in your home. In some areas, there is almost no way to live roach-free all the time. These include areas with:
- Forests, especially dense ones
- Extreme heat
- Heavy, regular rainfall
- Below-freezing temperatures
The outdoors will be less habitable for cockroaches, so they’ll seek out a more appealing haven, such as your home. If you constantly see roaches, especially in the daytime, you may have an infestation. If these nocturnal creatures are active during the day, there may be countless more scurrying around at night.
Entry Points In A Home’s Exterior
The exterior of your home plays a vital role in repelling cockroaches. Think about all the places that exist along your foundation and skirting. There are many options for a roach to choose from, such as:
- Gaps around walls
- Wood panels
- The underside of doors and windows
- Air conditioning units
A House That Needs Repairing
Sometimes, entry points are due to a lack of upkeep. Homes degrade over time, causing cracks and openings where roaches can easily get in. These include cracks in:
- Torn holes through screen doors.
- Broken pipes and open vents
Objects Stored Outside
While you’re outside examining your walls and pipes, check the surrounding area. If you store items outside, roaches can easily infest these items:
- Inflatable pools
- Yard toys
- Wood piles
- Christmas decorations
- Cardboard storage boxes
- Garbage cans
Even if you don’t bring these items indoors, they can attract roaches to move closer to your home. This can eventually lead to an indoor infestation.
Never store wood outdoors in an open-air setting. The elements will damage wood, and animals and insects will make it their home. After all, most roach species naturally live in wood.
Likewise, garbage cans can provide a feast for roaches. What happens when they get used to a constant source of food near your home? It’s just a matter of time before they find a way to move indoors.
Poorly Kept Yards
Even the nature around your home can impact a roach’s access. An unkempt yard or lawn provides the ideal hiding places for these pests.
- Thick bushes can give them ample cover to thrive and survive in darkness.
- Decomposing leaves or compost are a source of food for roaches.
When the weather gets cold, there’s a good chance that roaches will seek a way to move indoors.
While cats and dogs do not attract cockroaches, items surrounding them or that they use may. For example, do you keep pet food and water bowls outside? When left on a porch, this is an open invitation to hungry cockroaches.
Likewise, do your pets have full access to the outdoors and indoors? Roaches may use your cat or doggy door to pass into your home. Does your pet like to play in decomposing leaves or dig through woodpiles? In doing so, it may stir up a population of cockroaches. As a result:
- Your pet may carry the roaches indoors on its fur.
- The disturbance of the cockroach nest encourages them to seek a new home.
While their previous spot may have been sufficient, now they have the opportunity to find your home. Once they realize it’s food-rich and temperature-controlled, they’ll make it their new home.
Why Is There A Roach In My New Home?
Roaches are a common problem in new homes. Whether it’s newly built or you’ve just moved into an old home, roaches do not care. They will eagerly take up residence with you. You may have influenced this situation, but many factors lead to roaches infesting new homes. Some are entirely out of your control.
New Foundation Leads To Disturbed Land
When there are roaches in newly-built homes, it’s likely due to the land itself. Laying down the foundation of the house can disturb a roach nest. This may be due to:
- Cutting down trees
- Digging up earth
- Changing water conditions
All of this disturbs roaches from their habitat, so they may move in with the new structure being built around them.
Construction Work Provides A Food Supply
While building, workers may leave out food and open trash cans. This will invite roaches from the surrounding environment to move into the building.
Building Materials Transport in Roaches
Roaches may live in the building materials your home is constructed from. When transferred to the building site, roaches will infest the area. As the home is erected, they’ll invade the walls, foundation, and floorboards.
Roaches may also infest building materials on-site. Wood that is otherwise pest-free, but left out in the open, can house roaches. They’ll come from the environment and then be transferred to your house as the wood is used.
Why Do Roaches Appear After Moving In?
If the building process doesn’t attract roaches, moving in could. This applies to homes that are newly built and homes that had a previous occupant. If you suddenly find roaches, don’t be too quick to blame it on the previous owner. Sometimes, your arrival is the explanation.
Roaches love moving trucks and do-it-yourself rental trucks. Companies that offer these services rarely check their trucks for pests. Cleaning will be minimal. However, there are many hiding places for cockroaches to find inside moving trucks. This includes the paneling and any crack or crevice inside the vehicles.
New homeowners often get their moving boxes from stores, offices, and neighbors. In most of these places, boxes are stored in backrooms for a long time. These places can have roaches, and they may hide away in these boxes.
Some people get their moving boxes for free from dumpsters. A study in the Journal of Economic Entomology determined that the heaviest infestations can be found next to garbage cans and dumpsters.
Brand-new furniture from a professional store is less likely to have exposure to roaches. Despite being stored in a warehouse, it’s heavily in the company’s best interest to keep these areas pest-free.
In contrast, thrift stores, strangers, or buy-sell-trade sites have no such mandatory standards. The previous owner may have experienced a cockroach problem, and a thrift store may not have strict pest-control policies for its warehouse.
Even if you do buy new furniture, the delivery process puts your furniture at risk. It may have become infested with roaches on the journey. As discussed, moving trucks can be a haven for cockroaches.
Of course, there is a chance that the roaches came from you and other members of your household. If you had cockroaches in your previous home, they might have come with you. This could be through:
- Moving boxes
- Your car
It’s even possible for cockroaches to lay eggs, unseen, in your belongings. Your electronics, appliances, or shoes could be storing eggs. If they’re not too heavily disturbed, they will later hatch in your new home.
If you’ve traveled a long way to your new home, the journey may have meant that you had to live with roaches temporarily. Staying in motels, hotels, inns, and friends’ homes can lead to cockroaches. Other reasons are that:
- Laundry may go unwashed if you’re on the road.
- The eggs are provided more time in undisturbed moving boxes.
- Items they’ve nested in may go unused, like with coffee makers or gaming consoles.
How To Avoid Bringing Roaches Into New Homes
If you move from an infested home, clean and inspect items before packing them. Don’t move the items from outside the home before packing them, including your backyard or front porch. That will keep new roaches from sneaking in while you’re not looking. Additionally:
- Launder clothes and other fabrics
- Check behind and inside all electronics
- Inspect boxes for signs of roaches (shed exoskeletons, poop, odors, etc).
- Vacuum all objects
Sudden Appearance of Cockroaches
You may be surprised if cockroaches suddenly appear. What if you don’t just find one or two roaches? What if you find several, sometimes even in the daylight? Let’s look at what could have caused this sudden change:
It’s possible the cockroaches haven’t entered your home. Instead, a small infestation may have existed in the living space already. When allowed to breed and lay eggs unseen, they multiplied in number.
Breeding season for cockroaches takes place in the summer. Eggs should hatch roughly 50 days after being laid. The sudden appearance of cockroaches may be due to the arrival of the next generation.
Note the size of your cockroaches. Are some large, while others are small? Do they appear to be the same colors and shapes, just different lengths? This indicates juvenile and adult roaches are living in your home.
Cockroaches are highly resilient. However, they do not like extreme cold or extreme heat. If your area recently experienced a cold snap or heatwave, this can motivate nearby cockroaches to seek shelter.
Although less common, your cleaning routine may have stirred up the roaches. These pests prefer dark, quiet places with little activity. If you’re recently done spring cleaning throughout your home, you may have stumbled across their hiding place by accident. If they escaped your notice, the roaches will seek a new area to hide.
That’s likely if you’ve sanitized with cleaning products, like bleach. The roaches may be unwilling to return to that spot because they don’t like the smell. Cleaning agents have an offensive odor.
This can give the impression that roaches have suddenly appeared. In reality, you’ve just disturbed them out of hiding with your deep-clean. Normally, they come out at night or when you aren’t around.
How to Keep Roaches Out of Your Home
The best approach to keeping your home roach-free is maintenance. Here’s how:
- Once or twice a year, check your home’s exterior for cracks, fissures, or gaps.
- Check your windows and doors for places a roach might slide through.
- Look over your pipes for leaks or cracks.
- Check the surrounding area for places roaches might live and thrive in. Remove what you can or place it farther from your home.
- Bar your pets’ access to places roaches may nest.
- Deep-clean your home quarterly.
- Keep food areas clean and the food itself properly packaged.
These steps can help keep roaches at bay. In some cases, however, battling roaches is just part of life. If you find roaches in your home, be sure to seek out extermination methods so that you don’t get a full-blown infestation.