Florida’s climate offers a myriad of benefits that Floridian homeowners enjoy year-round. Snowbirds from all over the country flock to the Sunshine State to soak up the tropical weather and avoid the bleak and freezing cold months up north. Unfortunately, while these tropical conditions may be perfect for humans, they are also perfect for roaches.
Halo Home Watch knows that many of its clients live in Florida seasonally, and homeowners can go months on end without being able to check if an infestation is creeping into their home.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, South and Southwestern Florida have some of the densest roach populations in the entire country. Their report found that 30.4% of Florida homeowners report at least one infestation per year. Shockingly, Tampa Bay and St. Pete had 37.6% of homeowners report a roach infestation per year.
This means that almost one in three homeowners within Halo Home Watch’s area of operation- Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Estero- will have to deal with some sort of roach infestation each year.
Cockroaches live in their own excrement, and they are hazardous to human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cockroach waste transmits many infectious diseases (e.g. Bubonic plague, Cholera, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Leprosy, Typhoid Fever, viral diseases).
Roaches, if left unchecked, will damage large sections of a home’s interior, especially if it is made out of paper or wood. Exterminators from Terminix, say that roaches will eat household products that contain starch such as book bindings, cardboard, ceiling boards, paper, and wallpaper.
The National Pest Management Association reports that 63% of homes in the United States contain cockroach allergens. In urban areas, that number rises to between 78% and 98% of homes.
Typical cockroach allergy symptoms are coughing, ear infection, nasal congestion, sinus infection, and wheezing. In many cases with cockroach allergens, these symptoms become chronic, lasting beyond typical seasonal allergies.
A professional allergist can evaluate whether you’re allergic to cockroaches.
Roaches track their fecal matter throughout the house, which leaves an offensive odor in the interior of a home. Further, according to David Rollo, professor of biology at McMaster University, when roaches die they emit the pheromone oleic acid, known as the “death stench,” this causes a horrible smell throughout the home that also has the ability to attract even more roaches!
Cockroaches emit pheromones that attract other roaches, which leads to an intense feedback loop. This is compounded by the fact that female roaches give birth to large broods. For example, one female German cockroach and her offspring can produce upwards of 300,000 roaches in a year. The below chart illustrates just how important it is to catch the problem early.
Researchers from the University of Florida say that only around 30 species of roach are considered “peridomestic,” or near-home dwellers. Despite preferring to live outside, cockroaches from the outdoors can still come into a property and infest it. Roaches will generally reside in a variety of different harborages outside, including:
Unfortunately, some homeowners in Southwest Florida (e.g. Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Naples), are unaware that their garden may be home to infestations of either American or Florida Woods roaches.
These pests frequently find ways to get into a house. American cockroaches are highly mobile and will travel from outside into a building. Researchers from the University of Florida say that most Florida Woods cockroaches are initially discovered outside. Expect them to be hiding in various plants found in gardens, yards, swamps, and palmettos.
Some species of cockroach will deliberately seek out the interior of the home instead of opting to live outside. These types of cockroaches have adapted to living in very close proximity to humans. Home-dwelling roaches will typically inhabit hard-to-see environments, such as:
For the German and Brown-Banded cockroaches, the inside of the home is a perfect habitat. While German Cockroaches prefer cooler and moist conditions (e.g. AC units, bathrooms, cabinets, sewage pipes, refrigerators), the Brown-Banded cockroaches prefer to inhabit drier and warmer conditions (e.g. attics, basements, furniture, paneling, wallpaper- all around 80°F).
Deterrence/prevention is the first line of defense against roaches. Homeowners in Southwest Florida (e.g. Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Naples) can reduce the chances of incurring a cockroach infestation by taking different preventative measures against these pests. Halo Home Watch professionals recommend that every home and business in Lee and Collier counties take various steps to “roach-proof” their property. Our professionals are knowledgeable in the various methods one can take to make their property less enticing to cockroaches. While roach-proofing a property may not stop all infestations, it will go a long way in preventing them.
Adult cockroaches can fit into cracks only about 1/16 of an inch. This means that you need to be very thorough when inspecting your home. Seal all cracks and crevices in your walls.
Cockroaches can fit under doors if they aren’t sealed as well. They can and will hide in products entering the home (e.g. grocery bags, book bags, cardboard boxes, lunch bags).
One of the best methods for preventing roaches is sanitation. Properties with clean interiors and exteriors are not enticing to roaches. Property-owners must clean any areas -both inside and outside- where waste can accumulate
For the American cockroach and the Florida Woods cockroach, a homeowner needs to constantly maintain their surrounding landscape. Researchers from UFL recommends the following landscaping practices for preventing roaches from entering the home:
*NOTE* It is recommended that homeowners not mulch next to the walls of their home, since it is so easy for roaches to find a way inside the house.
Generally, indoor roaches like the German cockroach and the Brown- Banded cockroaches require more internal home cleaning than external cleaning. The University of Florida recommends cleaning all surfaces in and around the home. Starting with warm, soapy water and/ or cleaning agents like Lysol, surfaces in and around the home should be wiped down everyday to prevent indoor roaches.
Since indoor roaches are attracted to moisture, a homeowner should always clean up spills and puddles, don’t leave out water for your pets constantly, and don’t overwater indoor plants. The kitchen, being a damp environment with ample foodstuffs for roaches, is a beacon for both indoor and outdoor roaches.
Exterminators recommend the following daily sanitary practices:
Cleaning inside also works very well for preventing outdoor roaches from venturing inside.
Halo Home Watch knows that proactive property-owners want safer, more natural ways to prevent roaches. There are certain plants and other natural substances that are very effective at repelling roaches from entering a home. These include cucumbers, planting certain plants, and other plant extracts. Some plant extracts can even be combined to make your own sprays!
Cucumbers are a very economical option for dealing with roaches. Cucumbers contain chemicals that repel roaches. All that needs to be done is to put some slices of cucumbers in places roaches could venture. The smell of cucumbers will keep them away.
Homeowners can grow different plants around their property to repel roaches. Certain plants contain compounds that naturally deter roaches via certain compounds these plants secret. With the added bonus of Florida’s ideal growing climate, these plants are easily grown around a property. Below is a list of some of the best plants used to deter roaches:
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, lavender and peppermint oils contain strong odors that repel roaches. They are totally harmless to humans and offer the added benefit of making a home smell nice.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences says many different home remedies exist for expelling roaches. Generally, these home-brewed roach repellents are concoctions of natural chemicals that are safe for humans but caustic to roaches. Listed below is an example of a natural insect repellent:
Natural Insect Repellent Spray Recipe (by Erika Yigzaw)
Blend all the ingredients and put into a spray bottle. Shake well before using.
Note: Both bergamot and lime are photosensitive oils. This is an aromatic blend meant to be diffused into the air around you and is not intended for topical or internal use.
Even if a Floridian homeowner takes all the necessary precautions towards preventing roaches from infesting their property, there is still a chance they can find their way in. Cockroaches are very sneaky pests, which is why it can be hard to detect the beginning stages of an infestation. Obviously, you know you have a problem if you see cockroaches, living or dead, but other signs include an oily or musty smell, shell casings, eggs, or feces.
Remember if you are a seasonal resident, also known as a snowbird, or a full-time resident who likes to take long vacations, it is vital to have a home watch professional caring for your home. The above-mentioned signs should be part of their home watch check. Make sure that whomever you use is looking for these signs every check. It is important that they keep a close eye to identify any infestations before they get out of control.
Even after thorough “roach-proofing,” cockroaches can still infest a property with ease. The next weapon in a homeowner’s arsenal against roaches after prevention is elimination. There are various chemicals a homeowner can spread to outright kill the bugs.
Baits and other insecticides can be applied to cracks, crevices, and anywhere else you find roaches around your property. The most typical form of bait is a gel bait that comes in a tube, however other versions exist, such as sprayed roach poisons and granular-poisons that can be spread like sand. Baits are a low-effort DIY tool effective for passively eliminating roaches. Most baits contain “Indoxacarb,” which is a highly effective insecticide but can be an irritant to humans if ingested.
Some of the most common roach repellents are dusts such as Boric Acid. Boric Acid is deadly to roaches but safe for humans and pets. Boric acid remains effective indefinitely and provides a one-two punch in terms of prevention and elimination since it both kills and repels roaches. It is best applied in hard to reach places such as attics, foundations, basements, and garages. Boric acid can be a mild irritant to humans and pets, causing sneezing, coughing, and runny eyes, so it should be kept away from open and busy spaces.
Insect Growth regulators (IGRs) are a type of chemical that breaks the life cycle of the roach. They are effective at eliminating roaches because it breaks up generational reproduction and limits the number of females that can reproduce. Common active ingredients in IGRs are hydroprene, methoprene, and pyridine. Common product names are Gentrol, Nygard, Surge and Archer. IGRs should be placed in areas where people and pets don’t frequently travel because it can be dangerous if ingested.
Pheromone Traps are a very cheap form of DIY roach prevention and elimination. They are simply cardboard boxes that contain cockroach pheromones like oleic acid that attracts roaches to a poison bait in the middle of them. Roaches end up ingesting this bait and eventually die. These should be kept away from children and pets.
While spreading chemicals can be effective and convenient, homeowners should be aware that these methods of roach-elimination contain insecticides, which are hazardous to human and pet health when ingested.
Halo Home Watch knows that families with small children and pets are especially concerned with spreading potentially hazardous chemicals, given how small kids and pets have a proclivity for putting everything in their mouths. Therefore, Home Watch has also outlined some more natural solutions for eliminating roaches.
Diatomaceous earth is a powdery “soil” made up of ancient fossilized algae plants mined from sediment deposits of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans and is extremely common. It’s also extremely effective at killing indoor insect pests. While diatomaceous earth feels like baby powder to human hands, the tiny granules actually have jagged edges that are razor sharp to insects. The abrasive particles nick the insects’ bodies at the same time as the absorbent dust soaks up the oils in their exoskeletons, killing them by dehydration. It can be dispersed in roach hotspots and will passively eliminate roaches with no risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.
According to Tee et. al., ensign wasps (Evaniidae) are predators of most common forms of cockroach (e.g. Florida Woods Cockroaches, American Cockroaches, German Cockroaches, and Brown-Banded Cockroaches). Female ensign wasps attack the eggs (ootheca) of cockroaches, implanting wasp larvae inside of them and eating the cockroaches before they even hatch. These wasps and their larvae are totally harmless to humans.
Bug-enthusiasts from Rincon-Vitova Insectaries recommends keeping a healthy population of ensign wasps in your garden to help deal with roaches in a biologically natural manner. Rincon-Vitova Insectaries even offers modestly priced guides and training manuals for introducing and maintaining ensign wasps in a garden or yard.
Inevitably, some roach problems are too big to deal with on your own. If a homeowner finds that all preventative measures were taken to exclude roaches and DIY elimination methods haven’t worked, there’s a big problem. When roach populations begin reaching thousands of individuals, an exterminator is needed.
For seasonal or full-time homeowners in Southwest Florida who spend months away, it is important to have a preferred exterminator for your Home Watch professional to contact. If you do not have one, make sure your Home Watch professional has a list of preferred vendors for you to choose from that you can trust. If an issue does arise the Home Watch company should coordinate the appointment with the exterminator and be present during the visit. The goal is for the Home Watch technicians to work with the exterminators to swiftly deal with the problem to give you peace of mind while you are away.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of exterminators in Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Estero. However, not all exterminators are created equal, and it is important to find a reputable business employing the best practices.
Halo Home Watch provides its customers with the best service possible, and our experienced staff has identified two exterminators that we feel comfortable pointing our customers towards. The first exterminator that we work closely with due to their reputability is Hughes Exterminators, who have been operating in Lee County for 55 years. The other exterminator that we recommend is Truly Nolen Pest Control, a family-owned business that services over 150,000 individuals in SW Florida.
Miami Times. Zachary Sampson. (2015, August 2). Miami, Tampa among the most roach-infested areas in the country. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article29790634.html
The World Health Organization. Division of Vector Biology and Control. (1985). Cockroaches. The World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resources/vector288to301.pdf
What Do Cockroaches Eat?: Terminix. (n.d.) https://www.terminix.com/blog/bug-facts/what-do-cockroaches-eat/
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2018, February 1). Cockroach Allergy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/cockroach-allergy
McMaster University. (2009, September 13). ‘Death Stench’ Is A Universal Ancient Warning Signal, Biologists Discover. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090911133656.htm
Henkal Co. How Often Do Cockroaches Lay Eggs? (n.d.). https://www.combatbugs.com/en/home/pest-identification/bug-files/how-often-do-cockroaches-lay-eggs.cky.html
Miller, D, (Ph.D.). (n.d.). School IPM. http://schoolipm.ifas.ufl.edu/newtp3.htm
American Cockroaches. (2019). https://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/american.htm
Terminix. (2019). Where Do Roaches Come From & How They Get In: Terminix. https://www.terminix.com/pest-control/cockroaches/where-do-roaches-come-from/
Koehler, P. G.,et al. (2017, February 17). Cockroaches and Their Management. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig082
Meenakshi Chaudhary. Rid your home of cockroaches with cucumber. (2015, June 2). https://www.onlymyhealth.com/rid-your-home-of-cockroaches-with-cucumber-1432701863
O’Brian, B. (n.d.). Plants to Keep Roaches Away. https://www.hunker.com/13420385/plants-to-keep-roaches-away
Yigzaw, E. (2017, April 24). Green Cleaning: 10 Essential Oils that Naturally Repel Insects http://info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-repel-insects
Straus, R. (2019, May 3). Diatomaceous Earth Is The All-Natural Way to Save Your House (and Plants!) From Pests. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/diatomaceous-earth-uses-258804?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Tee, H.-S., Saad, A. R., & Lee, C.-Y. (2011, December). Evaluation of Aprostocetus hagenowii (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) for the control of American cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattidae) in sewers and crevices around buildings. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22299367
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