The cliché reads like this – you go to grab a glass of milk and some cookies from the kitchen. It’s a midnight snack. When you flick on the lights, cockroaches scurry everywhere. Men holler. Women faint. The kids dart for their rooms and lock the doors.
But it doesn’t always happen that way. Unless you’re up late at night, you may not even know that you have a problem… or how big it really is. Sometimes weeks can go by before you realize your home is infested.
And I want to make this clear – just because you only saw a few bugs does NOT mean you’re walls aren’t brooding with thousands of cockroaches. There may be swarms crawling around your cupboards, right now, as you read this.
Besides seeing a roach running across the floor, there are other ways to know if you have an infestation. I call them The Four S’s. If you have roaches, you will notice at least one of these:
Cockroaches multiply rapidly. They make rabbits look like nuns. Fruit flies struggle to keep up. In fact, a single female cockroach can carry up to 40 eggs at a time and give birth to between 300 and 400 offspring in the course of a year.
No, that is not a typo.
In the process of child-rearing, most female cockroaches form what’s known as an ootheca. This is basically a protective shell that protrudes from the body, housing the developing eggs.
When the eggs are ready to hatch, the ootheca falls away from the mother. You can usually find these ootheca shells littered around the floor, behind the refrigerator, underneath the couch, between books or even in the crevice between your bed and the wall.
In order to attract mates, cockroaches emit a chemical known as pheromones. This is common to many animals, but roach pheromones are particularly pungent.
And when there are many cockroaches living together, they tend to give off a strong, ‘oily’ and repulsive smell. Most infestations are first noticed because of this unpleasant and sharp aroma.
Some kinds of cockroach actually hiss and/or chirp, usually due to provocation from other roaches in the nest. You may be able to hear them, through the walls, late at night.
One sure-fire way to set your skin to crawling is to be awoken by ‘humming’ walls. Watch this video to get an idea of what the roach hiss sounds like. Now multiply that sound by 100.
Cockroach feces look similar to black pepper, or maybe particles of dirt. The larger the roach, the bigger the droppings.
You can occasionally find droppings sprinkled across flat surfaces, such as cabinet bottoms, countertops or floors. If you notice a sizable amount of feces, that either indicates a major infestation, or that roaches have been present for quite some time.
Beyond being repulsive to look at, roach feces are also allergenic. Cases of asthma have be linked to their presence. There is also reason to believe that disease can be transmitted to humans if the droppings come into contact with the hands or any food source.