Cockroaches and Human Health
Cockroaches are a common household pest that can squeeze into the tiniest cracks and crevices where food water and shelter is present. Cockroaches are capable of contaminating food and surfaces and their droppings, body parts and secretions can contribute to asthma. While insecticides and pesticides are often used to control them, the chemicals can harm people. Integrated pest management (IPM) methods usually pose less of a risk and are more effective.
The Department of Health investigates complaints of cockroaches in lodging facilities and other settings. We can also provide information to help residents to get rid of cockroaches or prevent an infestation from occurring. If you wish to report a problem or need more information, please call 260.449.7459
There are three cockroach species that are most likely to be found in your home:
- The American cockroach is the largest of the three roaches at one and a half inches long, reddish-brown, and prefers food establishments.
- The German cockroach is the most common. It is about a half-inch long, tan, and normally found in kitchens.
- The Oriental cockroach is about one inch long, black or dark brown, and prefers to live in sewers. It may enter your home through broken sewer pipes.
Effective Cockroach Control
Prevent cockroach infestations from occurring by eliminating food, water, and hiding places.
- Store grains and cereals in plastic containers with lids.
- Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and free of clutter.
- Clean up spilled food and drink right away.
- Put all trash into a container with a lid.
- Fix any leaking pipes or faucets.
- Run the garbage disposal regularly.
- Remove any puddles in bathrooms or basements.
- Remove any clutter or unnecessary boxes.
- Screen vents or pipes that lead outside.
- Seal cracks and crevices along baseboards, behind sinks, inside cabinets and around windows. Seal around water and waste pipes under sinks.
Trapping and Baiting
Sprays and fogs may kill a few cockroaches but survivors will move on to the next room or apartment. A variety of glue traps, bait stations or gel baits can be used to catch and kill cockroaches more effectively.
Glue traps will help monitor how many cockroaches are present. Bait stations protect children and pets from accessing the poison. Gel baits can be placed into cracks and crevices. The cockroaches eat the bait, go to where other cockroaches gather, and die. The other cockroaches will eat the dead cockroach and die. This may occur over several generations of cockroaches.
If using insecticides, remember to apply insecticides to all areas where cockroaches hide and check 1-2 weeks after initial treatment and apply more if necessary.