The drought in California has subjected residents to quite a few indignities over the years including, painted grass and severe fines for not complying with water restrictions. Quite possibly the worst, however, is that the low water levels have galvanized a swarm of oriental cockroaches to invade area homes. Here's more info about this unfortunate situation and what you can do to prevent these pests from coming into your home.
Oriental cockroaches are outdoor insects that prefer to live in damp, dark, and cool spaces. They typically live in places like storm drains and sewers, but it's not unusual to find them under stones, in plant beds, and crawling through leaf litter in residential areas.
However, the drought has caused their normal living spaces to dry up and become inhabitable. So like true mooches, these bugs have invited themselves into the homes of their nearest neighbors in record numbers. According to local pest control experts, it's the largest influx seen in over 30 years.
Like other roaches in its class, oriental cockroaches feed on trash and rotting organic matter. Since they hang around this filth, they will track bacteria and other unsavory organisms onto any surface they come into contact with. The most common disease associated with them is gastroenteritis. However, their excrement can also aggravate allergies, leading to rashes, sneezing, asthma attacks, and other related health issues.
Signs of Infestation
In general, if you see one, you've got an infestation. Males and females look the same. They are typically dark brown to black in color and look glossy or greasy. Both have wings.
They like to hang around areas where water or moisture is accessible such as gutters and under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. You can also find them hanging out in landscaping beds, crawlspaces, and in cracks under porches. They are nocturnal creatures, so you're more likely to see them at night.
Another sign of an infestation is egg cases. These have a reddish or dark brown coloring and are about 10 to 12 mm long. These eggs can usually be found in sheltered areas, but may show up in crawlspaces or any place that's dark and relatively undisturbed.
Lastly, these roaches secrete a noxious odor to communicate with each other. When there are a lot of them in one area, it will smell musty. Additionally, the smell can alter the taste of food. So if your favorite foods start tasting funny for no reason, you may have some unwanted visitors.
Preventing an Infestation
Oriental cockroaches can survive for months without food, but they can only last a couple of weeks without water. It's essential that you fix any and all leaks in your home and keep all surfaces free of food and crumbs to make it an inhospitable place for them. Keep garbage as far away from the home as possible and separated from moist places.
Inspect your home for openings in the walls, windows, and doors and caulk them. This will provide a physical barrier that will prevent the bugs from getting in. It's also a good idea to purchase a pest control product designed to kill these bugs and spray or sprinkle it around the outside of your home. This will create a chemical barrier that deters an infestation.
Though you may be able to get rid of the bugs on your own, it's best to have an infestation professionally treated by a pest control company. A pest control expert can get rid of both the adults and any babies left behind to reduce the chances of getting another infestation. The professional can also recommend maintenance treatments that will prevent the bugs from returning.