You can help prevent cockroaches from coming into your home by inspecting all incoming food products, all boxes, and any used furniture or appliances for the presence of cockroaches or their egg capsules.  Do not store paper bags anywhere in the kitchen.  Seal any holes or crevices around plumbing under sinks and behind toilets.  Regularly vacuum and clean floors under the kitchen appliances.  Keep all of your drains closed at night to prevent them from coming up from the sewer system.  Also, get your attic and crawlspace, if you have one, dusted with food-grade diatomaceous earth.


There are a number of good baits available for controlling cockroaches.  You can put equal amounts of baking soda and sugar out in flat containers and they will take it.  Make a roach dough by combining ½ c. powdered sugar and ¼ c. shortening or bacon drippings. Add ½ c. onions, ½ c. flour and 8 oz. baking soda. Add enough water to make a dough-like consistency. Make balls of bait and put them wherever you see roaches. However, there is a very good roach bait available commercially. It is Niban Bait and it is made from boric acid.  It would probably be easier to get this product and use it if you are in an area where roaches are very common.  You can’t buy Niban in stores, but it is available online. One good supplier is  When using Niban, put it under and behind appliances, around hot water heaters, inside lower cabinets, in the garage and other places roaches will hide.


German roaches, Oriental roaches, Australian and American roaches all originated in North Africa. German and Oriental roaches traveled on Phoenician or Greek vessels to Asia Minor and areas around the Black Sea. Then they moved from Russia to Western Europe and eventually to America.  I don’t know where or why they got their common names. It is thought the American cockroaches came to America from Africa on slave ships.


American cockroaches

This common roach feeds on a wide variety of plant and animal material and it is commonly found in sewer systems.  It will come up the drains at night and enter the living space of a home.  It also likes the homes that have crawl spaces under them. In some parts of the country, particularly the southeast, they frequently live outside.  The is the largest of the home-infesting roaches in the country.  It will reach a little over 1 ½ inches in length. It is a dark brown with yellowish band around its thorax (section behind head).


One beneficial aspect of this cockroach is that it will feed on bed bugs.  Of course most people don’t want roaches in their bed feeding on the bed bugs that are feeding on the humans.  Niban Bait is a very good commercial bait that works well on controlling these insects.  Other methods of control are discussed above.  American roaches are called “Palmetto Bugs” in Florida.  They can fly unlike most roaches.


Oriental cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches or “waterbugs” are found throughout the United States but they aren’t seen very often in the southeastern states.  They are about an inch long.  The female is all black and the male has two brown wing tips, but it cannot fly.  These roaches are common in sewer systems and will come up the drains into the homes.  They are also common under debris on the ground outside and love stacks of firewood.  These roaches will readily take Niban Bait as well as the homemade baits discussed above.


German cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most prolific of the roaches.  It is small, dark brown with two distinct black stripes on its thorax.  It will feed on almost anything edible and a lot of things we wouldn’t consider edible.  They go from egg to adult in as little as 45 days and, if left unchecked, can severely infest a home or business. Usually they are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms.  When you are controlling German roaches, you should use German Roach Pheromone Traps as well as some of the baits.  The traps will attract and catch the roaches.  They are available online.  One good supplier is


German cockroaches are also believed capable of transmitting staphylococcus, streptococcus and

coliform bacteria and are known to be responsible for many allergy and asthma problems. In addition, German cockroaches have been implicated in the increase of asthma and the spread of typhoid, AIDS, dysentery and leprosy organisms. Living roaches, dead roaches, roach feces, saliva, cast skins, cockroach eggs and their decaying body parts all contain allergens, can contaminate the air with aeroallergens and cause allergic reactions in people.


Richard Fagerlund