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Fix those Roaches

Of the thousands of different species of roaches, the German cockroach is the one most often found infesting homes, apartments and restaurants and any other places where food is available. Most roaches are nocturnal and run off to hide when lights come on.

This is a small light brown insect about 5/8 inches long with two darker stripes along the length of the body. The female produces a rectangular egg case which is carried along the abdomen and protrudes beyond the tail end.

German roaches are also one of the most proliferous and their numbers can quickly rise to large proportions. A single female can produce 100 or more offspring during her lifetime of about six months. They will eat just about anything.

The brown banded cockroach is often mistaken for the German cockroach because it is a look-a-like and has similar habits. It can become just as big a problem.

There are several other roaches that may invade your home and could become a nuisance if not controlled early on. These include the large dark brown American cockroach (also known as palmetto bug) and the Asian cockroach. As a general rule, these roaches live and breed outside in damp places such as under mulch, leaves, pine straw and similar cover. In their natural habitats they feed mostly on rotting vegetation, but when venturing into your home, won't turn down your leftovers or garbage.

The palmetto bug is the largest of this group and can grow as long as 2 inches. They are dark mahogany brown with a yellow stripe across the back of the head. The adults can fly.

The Asian cockroach is a relative newcomer to the US originating from Southeast Asia. It is similar in looks and size to the German cockroach and measures about 1/2 inch long. Unlike most roaches that run and hide from light, this one is actually attracted to light. They normally live outside in grass and under leaves or compost. They are strong fliers and are known to come flying into homes at night focusing on a source of light.

Roaches, as all other critters, need food and water. Keeping this in mind when combating invasions, you need to eliminate this source. Look at your plumbing and make sure there are no dripping faucets or connections underneath cabinets. Eliminate any other leaks you may find in basements or porches. Keep a clean  kitchen. Don't leave edibles or leftovers on counters or open boxes of food in cupboards. Remove garbage every day on a regular basis.

If you have large numbers of roaches, you will almost surely need to hire a professional  exterminator. Otherwise, there are a variety of commercial insecticides including sprays, fogs, baits and powders you may try.

Here are some things you might want to try on your own:

Roaches hate bay leaves. You can purchase crushed or whole bay leaves in the grocery store. Sprinkle them around in cupboards and underneath the sink to repel roaches.

An excellent product that will kill them off is boric acid which comes in powder form. You can lay a trail around baseboards, door and windowsills, behind appliances and similar places.

Make baits using a little bit of soggy bread or a wet cracker sprinkled with boric acid and place in strategic spots.

Another method is to distribute borax laundry detergent over your carpets. Use a broom to get it down into the fiber.

Baking soda and sugar is said to be a deadly recipe. Put a 50/50 mixture into some empty jar lids or other flat 'serving bowls' and place in likely areas where your guests will be sure to find them.

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