Cockroaches could be the vilest organism on earth. Whether outside or inside our homes, we recoil in disgust when we see these filthy, germ-ridden pests. We can tell you how to get rid of outdoor cockroaches for good. Unfortunately, for effective control, you must know thine enemy.
Outdoor roaches prefer a life where they hang out and breed in filth, dirt, and debris. Roaches hang out on your porch at night and welcome you home. Gross; but we’ve got you. The following article includes information on the most common outdoor roach species, their hiding places, and the best pest control methods.
Here’s how to prevent outdoor roaches from spawning more nightmare-inducing roaches:
- How to Get Rid of Outdoor Cockroaches
- The Cost of Professional Extermination
- Cockroaches: A History
- Cold Climate vs. Warm Climate Cockroaches
- Typical Cockroach Hiding Places
- Types of Outdoor Cockroaches
How to Get Rid of Outdoor Cockroaches
Controlling and preventing outdoor roach problems involves several steps. Start with prevention and sanitation, which assists in preventing the roaches from finding an entry point inside the home.
The University of Florida notes that an integrated pest management (IPM) approach is 80 percent successful in the elimination of roach infestation and the prevention of future roach problems. IPM also includes chemical (as a last resort) and natural pest control methods we discuss later in this section.
Prevent Entry and Sanitize
Prevention and sanitation are broken into the following categories:
Excluding Roaches from Your Home
- Seal cracks and crevices around your home’s exterior. An adult cockroach can fit into spaces as small as 1/16th of an inch.
- Keep doors and windows shut.
- Repair openings in soffit and window screens.
- Caulk openings around pipes or plumbing.
- Caulk cracks around windows, doors, and electrical outlets.
- Repair screens or seals around sewer vents, drainage lines, and attic vents.
Eliminating Outdoor Water Sources
- Eliminate old tires, holes in trees (fill with spray insulation), or waste (old pans and cans lying around).
- Don’t overwater plants where the area remains wet for long periods.
- Repair leaking hoses or plumbing pipes. Fill with spray insulation.
- Empty outdoor water dishes for pets daily.
Eliminating Food Sources
- Keep compost piles sealed.
- Dispose of outdoor trash properly and don’t leave laying around.
- Keep lids on trash cans.
- Empty outdoor food bowls for pets daily.
Eliminating Common Breeding/Hiding Areas
- Keep mulch pulled back from the house by a foot because adult roaches breed prolifically in organic matter. Alice Covington, a horticultural specialist with Nelson’s Landscape and Nursery in Grant, Fla. suggests replacing organic flower bed mulches around the house with gravel or pebbles. Roaches won’t live or breed in them.
- Keep firewood or wood piles off the ground and away from the house.
- Keep shrubs trimmed and maintained so they don’t touch the house or roof. (According to the University of Florida, roaches find ivy a favorite breeding location.)
- Clean up trash or debris in the yard.
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches Naturally
If you prefer to fight the roach population in a natural way, there are powders and proven “old-timey” recipes that don’t contain harmful chemicals. They may require regular or spot application routines but can be as effective as chemical applications.
Powders and dusts are applied in populated roach runs, but be careful: They can be diluted by rain and moisture. Sprays require close contact with the pests, which might not be your favorite household chore.
Sprinkle Effective Powders
Boric acid: This powder occurs naturally in nature. It is found as a colorless or white powder and dissolves in water. The great thing about it is that it kills cockroaches and stays in a cockroach’s system. If any other roaches eat the remains, they will be killed too. Follow instructions for use.
Diatomaceous earth: This natural powder works on contact to dehydrate their soft bodies. Also, when other cockroaches party all night long in the powder, they carry it back home to their progeny in the walk of shame.
Baking soda and sugar: You only need a bowl of baking soda and a teaspoon of sugar to make the medicine go down. The sugar lures them in and the soda does the deed.
Use Liquid Sprays
If you prefer spraying roaches individually, here are a few DIY roach sprays to try. Note: This method will not control an infestation. If you see roaches outdoors near your home, roll up the welcome mat by removing food, water, and shelter sites around your home for long-lasting control.
Fabric softener and water: Mix three parts fabric softener with two parts water and use the spray directly on the roach.
Soap and water: Mix three parts dish soap with two parts water and use the spray directly on the roach.
How to Get Rid of Roaches With Chemicals
If the steps above aren’t successful, it’s time to break out the roach-killing chemicals (or call a professional exterminator).
Cockroach baits are recommended due to their effectiveness and because the application is targeted specifically at roaches. Bait comes in various forms, but when used in outdoor bait stations, granules and gels work best.
- Apply granule cockroach baits around the perimeter of your house, in flower beds, and in mulched areas.
- Apply cockroach gel baits in any crevices or cracks in outdoor walls, foundations, or around doors and windows.
Insecticidal sprays labeled for outdoor use can also be effective. When using any type of pest control product, always follow directions on use and repeat applications.
Keep children and pets out of the treated areas. Don’t use cockroach bait and insecticide sprays in the same location, as the spray will chase the roach from the bait, but not kill it.
- Spray any cracks or crevices around doors or windows that you suspect the cockroaches are using as a hiding place.
- Seal any foundation cracks or crevices. Spray around the perimeter of the home’s foundation and any entry points into the home where larger cockroaches can enter.
Use protective gloves and clothing, and always wash your hands after applying any insecticide.
Expert Tip: Although there are insecticidal dusts used for cockroach problems, the vast majority contain boric acid. It is highly toxic to plants and becomes ineffective once wet. Their use is most effective when controlling an indoor cockroach infestation.
Insect Growth Regulators
Although insect growth regulators (IGR) can’t kill roaches, they do disrupt cockroach life cycles. As they go from egg to nymph and then to an adult, roaches have changing needs. IGR baits help to keep adults from reproducing and prevent eggs and nymphs from continuing to grow.
IGRs have a low toxicity level and are not considered harmful to humans or animals. The baits are not an immediate solution to a roach problem but serve well as an end to future progeny.
The Cost of Professional Extermination
Though the sight of a cockroach may create nightmarish thoughts of marauding roach encampments, one or two are a natural sight in your outdoor world. However, if you’re being overrun, it may be time to call in a pro.
A one-time treatment could be more expensive due to the chore of sealing entry points. Cockroach extermination services typically cost $125 to $335.
Cockroaches: A History
Cockroaches have been skulking around the planet for more than 300 million years, and because they seem so indestructible, some believe they’ll be the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust. With more than 4,500 known species of cockroaches and approximately 69 species of cockroaches calling the United States home, the roach family is quite large.
Unbelievably, according to the University of Florida, outdoor cockroaches do serve a role. They function as decomposers, existing by feeding on dead and dying plant matter, as well as dead animals. However, outdoor roaches also pose health hazards to humans, as they are carriers of diseases, including Salmonella.
Roaches in your home are disgusting but know that outdoor cockroaches can also negatively affect your health. They spark allergic reactions in some people, causing asthma and skin disorders. So, dealing with cockroaches outside the house is imperative before the germ-ridden pests find their way into your home.
P.S.: For info on controlling indoor cockroaches, learn all about 8 Types of Cockroaches Found Around the Home.
Cold Climate vs. Warm Climate Cockroaches
If there’s anything positive about outdoor cockroaches, you’re likely to come across only several of the six most common roaches that call the great outdoors their home.
Not all of these cockroach species reside in both the colder and warmer regions of the United States. People in colder northern locales will see a reduction in outdoor cockroach infestations as the weather cools in fall and winter.
People in southern regions or consistently warm areas of the United States will deal with outdoor cockroach infestations year-round, as the warmer temperatures allow the cockroaches to be active all year. This raises your level of pest control efforts to keep the outdoor roach problem under control.
Typical Cockroach Hiding Places
All species of cockroaches prefer the same type of outdoor hiding places and harborage in the landscape, no matter your location. The first step — and maybe the most important step — in cockroach control and eliminating your outdoor roach problem, is finding their hiding places.
When you find where the problem lies, it allows you to perform important pest control and prevention tactics where the roaches feel most at home. If you see cockroaches outside the house at night, it’s because cockroaches are nocturnal, so you’ll find most activity in the evening hours when they come out to feed. During the day, they’ll be hanging out in their hiding place.
Common outdoor places where cockroaches hide include:
- Flowerbeds (especially mulched beds)
- Piles of wood, trash, leaves, and other organic debris
- Garbage cans
- Open compost piles
- Damp areas
- Outdoor food sources
- Sewage systems
- Inside tree holes and palm trees
Once you discover where the cockroaches are hiding during the day, you can carry out prevention and pest control options to control the population of cockroaches outside your house. This prevents further infestations and helps to keep roaches from making their way indoors.
Types of Outdoor Cockroaches
Certain species of roaches prefer to nest in specific locations in the landscape. Some species prefer outdoor environments and only mistakenly make their way indoors. Some types are very happy invading your indoor spaces.
Many types of outdoor roaches will try to find an entry point into the home when outdoor conditions are especially hot and dry. Common roach species you are likely to find outdoors include:
Florida Woods Cockroach
- Prefers to live outdoors and cannot live for long in an indoor environment.
- Ranges from 3/4 inches to 1 1/4 inches in length and are tan to light brown in color.
- Prefers damp areas like mulch piles, rotten logs, woodpiles, and under the loose bark in trees.
- The largest of the cockroach species found in the United States.
- Often referred to as the palmetto bug.
- Is approximately two inches long, reddish-brown in color, and has a yellow figure-eight pattern on its head.
- Worst of all, they can fly.
- Live inside and outside, preferring warm/humid outdoor locations. When the weather cools in winter, the cockroach will make its way indoors through available entry points.
- Preferred outdoor locations: compost piles, trash cans and trash piles, around sources of water, mulch and decaying plant debris, sewer systems, steam tunnels, wood piles, pet feeding areas.
- Are found mainly in northern climates of the United States.
- Are often mistaken for beetles or water bugs due to their thick and round shape.
- Typically enter homes through water drains.
- Are dark brown-black and average around 1 1/4 inches long.
- Don’t fly.
- Considered one of the filthiest roaches due to the foul odor they emit.
- Live in damp areas like sewer systems, drain pipes, woodpiles, water meter boxes, trash cans, and trash piles.
- Like feeding areas under moist areas of the house and densely-vegetated flower beds.
- Are often mistaken for an American cockroach, but uniformly dark brown or mahogany and shiny, and lack yellow markings on the head.
- Are able to fly and average around 1 1/4 inches long.
- Are typically found in warm locations, but also inhabit northern locales.
- Require water every three to four days.
- Love damp areas outdoors that are warm and dark, including the canopy of palm trees, holes in trees, inside flower bed mulch, and cracks in block walls.
- Were first introduced to Miami from Cuba.
- Live in all portions of the United States.
- Due to their small size — around 5/8 inches long — are often mistaken for German cockroaches.
- Females are reddish-dark brown with two yellow bands across their bodies and don’t fly.
- Males are dark-brown with two yellow bands across their bodies and can fly.
- Prefer warm, outdoor environments around electrical equipment, pet feeding stations, window frames, and other warm, secluded locations.
- Are approximately 1 inch long.
- Females are often confused with Oriental roaches, but female Turkestan cockroaches have cream-colored markings.
- Males are often confused with American cockroaches, but are smaller than American types (have tan-yellow wings and edges that are cream-colored).
- Are found in potted plants, leaf debris, compost piles, water meter boxes, and cracks and crevices in concrete.
Once you are able to identify the particular cockroach species, you are better able to find their hiding place and perform methods of pest control and prevention to control present and future roach problems.
Yes, you can step on them. Some also say they die when bleach or PineSol is sprayed on them.
Yes, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but some species of roaches can fly. These include the male-only brown-banded cockroach, the smokeybrown cockroach, and the American cockroach.
Depending on your circumstance, all applications have merit. The best way to send roaches packing is to uninvite them by removing sources of food, water, and shelter. If you don’t want physical contact with the roaches, chemical pest control is probably best using baits and sprays.
Natural deterrents, including dust and powders like boric acid and diatomaceous earth, work well, too but may need to be applied more frequently outdoors. But, if you love the hunt, and physical proof they are dead, natural sprays or tap dancing on their heads is best.
Keeping your Yard Roach-Free
What if the sight — or even the thought — of dealing with these multi-legged, revolting, creepy crawlers makes you break into a sweat? No worries; hire a pest control professional to take this creepy chore off your to-do list.
Pest control pros are licensed to use very effective products that aren’t available to the general public and they have experience dealing with cockroach habitats in the landscape. One thing is for sure; they’ll lay your fears and those nasty outdoor cockroaches to rest.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. Consult a professional exterminator for assistance if you encounter cockroaches on your property.
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Main image credit: Mr. TinDC / Flickr / CC BY 2.0