Roaches

These medium-to-large, nocturnal insects are considered a major urban pest – they can scatter quickly, eat almost any food source available, squeeze into tiny hiding places and reproduce very quickly. If you’ve seen one or two, there are likely many more hiding where you can’t see. Cockroaches spread at least 30 types of bacteria and several other types of human pathogens, including salmonella, by picking them up on their spindly legs and contaminating all of the food and surfaces they touch (like your countertops). Their saliva, droppings and body fragments can also trigger allergies and aggravate asthma – especially in kids. The smaller (1/2 inch to 5/8 inch), light brown German variety is most prevalent; the American cockroach is one of the largest types (1½ inches).

Cockroaches congregate in warm, damp places where food and water is readily available, like kitchens and bathrooms. If you suspect an infestation, check out the spots where water enters and exits your home, like along and behind pipes and inside cabinets under your sinks. To reduce infestations, caulk or use steel wool to close up these entry points and practice good sanitation by wiping down countertops after you prepare food, sealing food containers and keeping trash cans closed and emptied often. Outdoors, trim shrubs and move woodpiles away from your house to reduce shelter for cockroaches.

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