Frequently asked questions about cockroaches

  • How do I know if I have a cockroach infestation?

    Signs of a cockroach problem can be identified by physical evidence such as:

    • Cockroach droppings
    • Unusual and distinctive odour — caused by their droppings
    • Smear marks
    • Shed skin
    • Cockroach eggs — called ootheca
    • Damage caused by cockroaches, such as chewed packaging
    • Actual sightings of live or dead cockroaches, or body parts, in kitchens, laundry rooms, drains, roof voids and damp basements

    See our main page on signs of a cockroach infestation for more details.

  • Where should I look for cockroaches?

    Some species of cockroach prefer warmer, damp areas while others prefer cooler conditions. These are the areas in a building where they are found:

    • Kitchens: cupboards, cabinets, hidden areas under sinks, behind machinery such as dishwashers, hidden spaces in appliances
    • Bathrooms: at the back of cabinets, around the plumbing, in the drainage pipes, and any sheltered/hidden dark places
    • Laundry rooms: in cupboards under sinks, around the plumbing, in hidden spaces in washing machines and dryers
    • Basements: in cracks and gaps in walls and floors, under floor boards, in boxes and piles of paper material
    • Drains: inside drains, entering through damaged covers or pipes, and gaps around pipes
    • Outdoors: beneath decking, in undisturbed areas in outbuildings, in rubbish tips

    See our page on signs of cockroach infestation for more details.

  • What species of cockroaches are there in Australia?

    There are over 530 known species of cockroach in Australia according to the Australian Faunal Directory, and 90% of those are considered to be endemic to the country. Australia has some of the world’s smallest (adults of Nocticola bolívar are 3mm long) and largest cockroaches (Macropanesthia rhinoceros is 80mm long).

    Most cockroach species are completely harmless. A few species, however, have found that human homes and businesses can provide abundant sources of food and have ideal environments for shelter and breeding — not just in Australia, but worldwide. Even the ‘Australian cockroach’ is not native to Australia but is common across the tropics. The most common pest cockroaches are:

    See our cockroach species page or click on a species above for more information on these species.

  • Can cockroaches fly?

    Most cockroaches have wings but not all of them fly and some tend to glide short distances rather than fly:

    • The oriental and German cockroaches do not fly
    • The adult American cockroach glides short distances
    • The brown banded, smoky brown and Australian cockroaches do fly

  • How do I prevent cockroaches?

    Cockroaches are attracted into homes and businesses by food, water and shelter. Therefore the most effective way to prevent cockroaches is to deny access to these:

    • Eliminate food sources: remove liquids; remove standing food, store food away, remove garbage that may contain food residues; empty bins regularly
    • Clean: remove any traces of food and liquids from work surfaces, floors, walls, equipment in kitchens and places where food is stored and eaten
    • Declutter: store items away and do not let items such as boxes and newspapers build up, to reduce hiding places for cockroaches
    • Maintenance: general building maintenance will help prevent cockroaches entering a property and deny them places to hide

    See our guide on how to prevent cockroaches.

  • How do I get rid of cockroaches?

    There is a range of consumer products that can be purchased from shops that can help with mild infestations, including:

    • Insecticidal sprays that give a quick knock-down or can be sprayed on surfaces to kill insects that crawl over them — these need to be used carefully to avoid poisoning yourself and other people
    • Insecticidal powder to spread on surface where insects crawl
    • Sticky traps to catch crawling insects

    Professional treatment is often the most effective way to get rid of a cockroach infestation in your home or business, especially in food businesses and healthcare where there is a legal requirement to maintain hygiene standards.

    See more details on how to get rid of cockroaches.

  • What are the treatments for cockroaches?

    Pest control professionals have a range of effective treatments and are trained in surveying properties thoroughly to find all the cockroach nesting sites and the reasons for the infestation. We can also provide detailed recommendations to prevent cockroaches from reinfesting.

    Professional treatments include a wider range of insecticidal sprays and powders and also cockroach baits, fumigation and heat treatment, which kills all life stages of the cockroach (egg to adult) and is pesticide free.

    See more details on how to get rid of cockroaches.

  • What types of cockroach killers are there?

    As a professional pest control company, we have a wide range of highly effective insecticides and insect control products which offer effective solutions to a cockroach infestation. These include:

    • Insecticidal sprays
    • Insecticidal powders
    • Sticky traps
    • Insecticidal baits
    • Fumigation
    • Heat treatment

    If you would like more advice on eliminating cockroaches, contact us.

  • Do cockroaches bite humans?

    The short answer is: yes they can, but read on! The common cockroach pest species are omnivores, that is, they eat almost anything with organic matter. This includes fruit, vegetables, meat from dead animals and each other, faeces from any source, cardboard, paper, glue and leather.

    If a cockroach can eat leather then it can bite through human skin. In 2015, researchers from Cambridge University, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, and the University of Stuttgart actually measured the bite force of an American cockroach and found its bite was strong for its size. The force was similar to that of carnivorous beetles, at around 50 Newtons/cm2.

    Cockroaches don’t actively seek to bite humans, however, in the way blood-sucking mosquitoes, bed bugs and fleas do. They are more likely to flee from any encounter with a much larger, active human, to avoid being harmed. They are opportunistic feeders, however, and there are cases where they have taken bites at people who were sleeping.

    There are records going back centuries of sailing ships being infested with cockroaches and sailors’ skin and nails being gnawed while sleeping. There are also records of cockroaches eating eyebrows of sleeping children (reported in the Rentokil publication, The Cockroach. A laboratory insect and an industrial pest, by PB Cornwell, 1968). But this is only likely to occur when there are heavy infestations.



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