Cockroaches, especially the large American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and the smaller German cockroach (Blatella germanica) are a major nuisance in a large number of Indian homes. They are very secretive by nature and only come out of their hiding places two hours after the lights were switched off. Cockroaches seen at day may indicate a major infestation, as they were most likely to be pushed out by overcrowding in their hideouts. As a rule of thumb, single cockroaches seen by day often translate into many more hiding. They do not only look nasty and send shivers done the spines of more sensitive characters, but they are also a major threat for our health. They live and breed in highly unhygienic places, such as drains and sewers, which results in the following points:
- They feed on a wide range of food, including feces and human mucus
- Cockroaches transmit food poisoning, and contaminate food
- Cockroaches are carriers for dangerous diseases such as dysentery, diphtheria, typhoid, hepatitis, food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
- Their feces, moulted skins contain allergens, able to cause asthma and allergies in more sensitive human beings.
To cope with these threats consider the following five point plan to make sure that cockroaches don’t thrive in your home. There are things that will make a cockroach’s life difficult; most measures include the elimination of food, water and hiding places. Indian summer has started and in the last years we have seen cockroach infestation peaks in the hot season. Especially in Bangalore, after the somewhat cool winter, we started seeing more cockroaches with the rising temperatues.
- Keep your kitchen clean. Try to maintain a proper sanitation for the whole kitchen. Promptly remove and crumbs and spills. A small crumb of food might actually be enough food for a few cockroaches for a few days. Fix dripping water taps and leakages Cockroaches require water to thrive and are attracted to water.
- Restrict their access to food. Store food in sealed containers and do not leave any food out for extended periods. Do not leave dirty dishes overnight, as cockroaches will have a feast on what you leave them. Empty the garbage bin regularly, and store garbage outside the home.
- Prevent cockroaches from hitchhiking into your home. Carefully inspect incoming LPG gas cylinders, as cockroaches often hide their egg cases in the handles and near the bottom of these bottles. Inspect the bags for cockroaches when bringing groceries home. Carefully examine second hand furniture and dispose of packaging materials fast.
- Deprive them of breeding places. Do not accumulate clutter. Cockroaches will nest in anything from paper to clothing. Especially cardboard is a favorite breeding ground for them.
- Seal all cracks and crevices inside your house. Like this you eliminate their preferred breeding and hiding places and their entry to the house. Fill every crack inside every cabinet; fill the cracks on both sides of floor, door, and window moldings; fill all openings around pipes in bathrooms and kitchens. A minimum number of hiding places will reduce the numbers of cockroaches in your home. Prevent cockroaches from coming up the drain. Put fine netting over the water drains in the kitchen and bathrooms. And regularly pour boiling water in these drains.
Do not postpone activities to get rid of cockroaches. Cockroaches are prolific breeders and the longer you wait the higher the risk of a major infestation that will be difficult to control. An egg capsule can produce up to 42 cockroaches. Given ideal conditions, a pair of cockroaches may be able to give rise to as many as 20,000 offspring in one year. That is, in a laboratory with loads of food. But even a fraction of those inside your home will be a lot.