How to get rid of cockroaches

Cockroaches are stubborn pests that cause various health and habitation problems to human. In this article, we explain how to get rid of cockroaches in homes, commercial facilities and other facilities.

To understand how to get rid of cockroaches, it is important to understand the following;

  • What are cockroaches
  • The biology of cockroaches
  • The behavior of cockroaches
  • The various types of cockroaches
  • Cockroach habitats
  • The general human environment

With this understanding one can develop an effective plan to get rid or cockroaches.

What are cockroaches

The term cockroach refers to an insect of the order blattodea or blatattaria. Several species exist in this order. The common pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica,  the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis and the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai.

These species vary in size with the American cockroach being about 3 cm long; the German cockroach and the Asian cockroach being about 1½ cm while the  Oriental cockroach is about 2½ cm.

As far as Kenya is concerned, the large cockroach is the American cockroach and the small cockroach is the German cockroach. It is generally difficult to get rid of the the German cockroach than it is to get rid of the American cockroach.


Scientific classification of cockroaches

Kingdom:       Animalia
Phylum  :       Arthropoda
Class :            Insecta
Subclass:       Pterygota
Infraclass:     Neoptera
Superorder:  Dictyoptera
Order:            Blattodea


Morphology of cockroaches

Cockroaches have an oval body shape and are dorso-ventrally flattened. The flat shape enables them to crawl through very tiny crevices, an adaptation that is very important for their survival. They have shiny bodies and are brown to black in colour. As insects, their body is divided into head, thorax and abdomen. Cockroaches have long legs and feelers and have exposed mouth parts


Cockroaches are omnivorous. This means that they eat food that is vegetable or animal in nature. Some are known to eat wood. The ones that eat wood have a symbiotic relationship with a protozoa that enables it to digest cellulose in the wood.


Cockroaches reproduce by sexual reproduction. The males fertilize the females. These females lay eggs that eventually hatch beginning a new life cycle. The females can be seen carrying eggs on their bodies. They carry these eggs and deposit them in hidden areas from which the eggs hatch. When looking for cockroach eggs  in a house, you are likely to find them at corners of shelves and drawers.


Cockroaches will be found in very diverse climates. However, they thrive in warm and humid conditions and large numbers of cockroaches are found in tropical climates. In homes, cockroaches hide in dark, warm and humid areas. They can therefore be found in manholes, septic tanks and drain holes. Cockroaches are likely to be seen in kitchens where they hide under refrigerators, in the refrigerators, in microwaves, in drawers and many other dark places with food. Do not be surprised to find cockroaches in bedrooms. They lay eggs under mattresses and eat food debris dropped in bedrooms.


Many species of cockroaches avoid sudden light and will be seen scampering back to their hideouts. They therefore exhibit nocturnal behaviour. In a lit environment, cockroaches will come out to forage for food and will be seen crawling on surfaces. While cockroaches will mostly be seen crawling, cockroaches can fly for long distances.

Studies have shown that cockroaches exhibit group behaviour of collaboration and competition. One key trait that is relevant on how to get rid of cockroaches is that of leaving chemical trails in faeces. By using these chemical trails, cockroaches can find where other members are hiding and can trace the source of food.

The general human environment

The human environment contains all the factors required for cockroaches to thrive and multiply. The presence of food, appropriate temperature and moisture encourages cockroaches to inhabit human settlements. Urbanization is an important contributor of cockroach and other pest problems. Urbanization leads to increased human to human interaction and household to household interactions. In urban areas, utilities like sewerage, transport and other infrastructure are shared. This provides a perfect opportunity for cockroaches to inhabit new areas and to multiply.

How to get rid of cockroaches: Integrated approaches

We now understand cockroaches, their biology, behaviour and the general human environment. With this knowledge, we can formulate a plan to get rid of cockroaches.

Prevention is always better than cure. The first thing is to control the environment so as to make it less appealing to the roaches. This involves cleaning, fixing leaks, eliminating clutter and proper lighting of all areas in a room. These measures will prevent cockroach infestation as well as reducing their population.

We have understood the following;

  • Cockroaches are insects
  • Cockroaches are dorso-ventrally flattened allowing them to crawl into very tiny crevices
  • Cockroaches have a shiny body. This is the cuticle that protects the cockroaches body. Wetting the body of a cockroach is difficult
  • Cockroaches are omnivorous
  • Cockroaches reproduce sexually. The first stage in the life cycle is eggs and the last stage is a male or female adult.
  • Cockroaches can occur anywhere in the world
  • Cockroaches exhibit group behaviour and
  • Cockroaches coexist with mankind

With this understanding, it will be clear why many efforts to get rid of cockroaches fail. The knowledge also highlights the possible intervention measures that can be used to get rid of cockroaches.

To get rid of cockroaches, insecticides must be used. These must be applied so as to have a controlling effect. Since it is generally difficult to wet a cockroach because of its cuticle, the product must have a residual effect to be fatal. The product must reach the cockroaches at their hideouts if you have to get rid of cockroaches. This means, that the delivery method must be effective. Since cockroaches are omnivorous, effective stomach poisons have been formulated to get rid of cockroaches.

As far as the life cycle is concerned, to get rid of cockroaches, you need to target the most susceptible stage in the life cycle. In general, the adults stage is most vulnerable. The adult stage is not as protected as the other stages and the adults are more active.

To get rid of cockroaches, products have been formulated to take advantage of their group behaviour. This encourages the cockroaches to transfer an insecticide to the entire colony eliminating it.


In summary, to get rid of cockroaches, use an integrated approach that involves use of an effective contact poison and a stomach poison. Manufacturers have developed products that act as contact and stomach poisons. The insecticidal gels and powders are ingested by a single member and are transfered to the other members in the hideouts. This effectively gets rids of cockroaches in that hideout. Contact exterminators for advice on the best products and approaches to get rid of cockroaches. Once the numbers are high, external intervention will be required.

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