Homeowners in Columbus, OH, see all sorts of pests year-round. Most of these pests are completely harmless, although often annoying to deal with. However, if you plan on living in Ohio during the winter months, there’s one pest you absolutely must watch out for: cockroaches.
As the weather cools down, these pests want to warm up in your Columbus home. Most people know how repulsive cockroaches are — they look weird, smell funky, and pop out at the worst times. However, cockroaches also pose serious threats to your well-being. Let’s go over how to identify these pests and prevent the havoc they can cause on your property.
How To Identify Cockroaches
Several different cockroach species live in the Columbus area. Though each species has slightly different features, they all share the same basic characteristics. Cockroaches have six legs, body-length antennae, and flat, oval-shaped bodies. Some cockroaches have wings, though most do not fly; rather, cockroaches scuttle from place to place. These nocturnal pests move around most often at night, so you often won’t see them until dusk or after dawn.
Different cockroach species mainly vary in size and color. Here's how to tell them apart:
- The American cockroach, the largest of any U.S. cockroach, grows between 1-3 inches and has a reddish-brown body.
- German cockroaches, the most common U.S. cockroaches, only grow around half an inch and have tan-to-brown bodies. Additionally, German cockroaches have two black stripes on their heads.
- Less common but still problematic, Brown-Banded cockroaches measure around half an inch long. They have a light-to-medium brown color, and they have distinctive bands running across their wings.
- Finally, Oriental cockroaches (also known as water bugs) have black, shiny bodies and grow between ¾ and 1¼ inches.
While other cockroaches exist in Ohio, these are the cockroaches most commonly found in local homes. No matter the roach, cockroaches can wreak havoc on your health. Let’s explain why.
The Threat Of Cockroach Diseases
Cockroaches carry a variety of serious pathogens. This is in part because cockroaches hang out in dirty places. Dumpsters, sewers, and alleyways are all common spaces for roaches. Although these insects exist naturally in the wild, they congregate anywhere they can consume organic matter, especially waste.
Naturally, roaches pick up diseases in the process of living in dirty environments. If a roach enters your house, it probably didn’t come from a soap factory; it came from a disease-ridden environment. Roaches carry common diseases, including salmonella, cholera, dysentery, listeria, giardia, typhoid, and the plague. Name an infectious bacteria, and a roach somewhere has it.
Additionally, roaches can make your allergies worse or even cause asthma attacks. Roaches release proteins that some people are sensitive to, especially people with asthma. Long-term exposure to these proteins results in serious respiratory problems, and these problems persist long after the infestation is over.
Step-by-Step Cockroach Prevention Tips
These facts aren’t meant to terrify you, though you should be worried about the presence of cockroaches. That’s why the best thing you can do is ward off a cockroach infestation before it occurs. Consider the following as part of your cockroach prevention plan:
- Step 1: Make your house less attractive to roaches. These pests often come into your home because there’s enough trash, compost, or food for them to feast on outside the home. When they find your property, these foragers then move inside, so clean up your yard of any organic matter that roaches can gorge themselves on.
- Step 2: Clean under appliances. Cockroaches will congregate in undisturbed areas, so sweeping beneath heavy appliances and removing indoor clutter will scatter these pests away.
- Step 3: Reduce the humidity. Cockroaches prefer warm, damp spaces that they can hide out in during the day. This includes crawl spaces, basements, bathrooms, and the kitchen. Check the humidity in these spaces, and respond accordingly.
- Step 4: Seal any cracks in your windows, door frames, or home exterior.
- Step 5: Regularly check all bags and packages you receive. Some cockroaches like to hitchhike, meaning you can pick one up in your bag, or some stray roaches can scuttle around a package and get in your house surreptitiously.