Of all the bugs we see around the state, one of the most hated is the cockroach. They crawl around in the dark, sometimes fly around, and just thinking about them gives some people the shivers. But Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, spent her undergrad and post-grad career with these little menaces and says there’s no reason to fear. They serve a special purpose in our ecosystem, and are not hard to keep out of your home.
How do I identify what type of cockroach I am looking at?
“Cockroaches are nocturnal, so they come out at night. If you’re seeing cockroaches in your house during the day then that could be a problem. It’s an indicator that you might have a large population. We have probably about three kinds that I normally get calls on. One lives strictly indoors here, and then the other two typically come in from outside. The German cockroaches are the ones that live indoors, those are the smaller ones. Then the two ones that are coming in from outside are the American cockroaches – which are also called ‘waterbugs’ commonly around here – and then the other ones [are] the smokey brown cockroach.”
What steps can I take if I find some in or around my home?
“The one that lives indoors is maybe about half an inch. It’s small, kind of a tan color and those are going to be indoors only. If you have them you need to get some cockroach bait and clean up your food as best you can so they pick up the bait and take care of them that way. If you have the larger species which are usually the reddish brown to dark reddish-black ones that fly at your heads, those ones are typically coming in from outside. If you’re dealing with them and seeing them indoors then typically you need to go outside of the structure to see how they are getting in and fix that. So you could do that by checking around doors and windows making sure that they are sealed really well making sure that any weep holes in stone and brick buildings are stuffed with something like a copper mesh screening. Cleaning our your gutters because they love crawling in gutters and getting int the attic form there…and then if you want to you can also do a pesticide spray around the foundation of your house.”
Why should I like these creepy crawlers?!
“People should not hate cockroaches because they help to break down organic matter. They serve a purpose, they’re also in the food web. And they’re cute!”