Roaches are the one of the most successful and adaptive groups of animals in the world, with the United States having over 55 species of them alone (there are over 3,500 species world-wide). In Illinois and Iowa, we commonly battle 3 different types: the American roach, the Oriental roach, and most frequently the German roach.

German Cockroach

The German cockroach is a widely distributed urban pest. It is also the most common species found in houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and other institutions. This is true not only in Illinois and Iowa, but throughout the country and the rest of the world.

Adult German roaches are 1/2 to 5/8 inches long and tan to light brown in color. Although they have fully developed wings, they do not fly. Nymphs are similar in appearance to adults except that they are smaller and lack wings. The German roach is best identified by its 2 parallel lines running from the back of its head down to the wings. Its most commonly found in and around kitchens ( near dishwashers, stoves, and sinks) and in bathrooms of homes.

German roaches prefer a moist environment with a relatively high degree of warmth. They are mostly scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods. They are especially fond of starches, sweets, grease, and meat products. In many locations, garbage is their principal food source. As with other roach species, they are mostly active during night, when the dwelling is quiet and they can search for food, water, and mates without being disturbed. During the day they hide in cracks, crevices, and other dark places that provide that heat and humidity. Their flat bodies allow them to move in and out of cracks and narrow openings with ease. They may, on occasion, be seen during the daytime, particularly if the infestation is heavy or there are other stresses present, such as a lack of food or water, or an application of pesticides. (Which is why it is important to let a pest control professional battle these with products that the roaches cannot easily identify and don’t simply repel them from a certain area – which leads them further into hiding and makes elimination much more difficult, time-consuming, and costly.)

As mentioned, this particular species is very difficult to control, for several reasons. German roaches produce a large number of eggs per capsule and undergo the shortest time between hatching and sexual maturity, resulting in a rapid population growth. What sets them apart from the other 2 kinds is that the female German roach carries the egg capsule on her the entire time, rather than dropping them off and leaving them more exposed to control measures. Coupled with the fact that they are smaller than other roaches, allowing them to fit into and conceal themselves in places inaccessible to individuals of the larger species, and you have a very efficient reproductive pest.

German roaches produce odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of various foods. When populations are high, these secretions can result in a characteristic odor in the general area of the infestation. Disease-producing organisms like bacteria, protozoans, and viruses have been found on cockroach bodies. Different forms of gastroenteritis ( food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, and other illnesses ) appear to be the principal diseases they transmit. These organisms are carried on the legs and bodies of the roaches and are deposited on food and utensils as the roaches forage. Cockroach excrement and caste skins also contain a number of allergens to which many people exhibit allergic responses to, like skin rashes, watery eyes, sneezing, congestion of nasal passages, and asthma. If you or other family members have allergy symptoms like stuffy nose, sneezing, headaches, watery eyes, and shortness of breath, and your home has cockroaches, you may be allergic to the roaches themselves as well. About 1 in 10 people are allergic to cockroaches, and about 50% with asthma are allergic to them.

American Cockroach

Adult American roach

The American cockroach is the largest of the three. These are numerous in dumps and landfills, and are most commonly found in the basements and steam tunnels of restaurants, bakeries, food processing facilities, and grocery stores. The American roach can be identified by its large size and reddish-brown color with faded yellow edges on the thorax.

When found indoors, they are usually found in dark, warm, and moist areas of basements and crawlspaces, in and around bathtubs, floor drains, pipe chases, and sewers. Also common sight around manhole covers and the undersides of metal coverings for large sump pumps.

American roaches feed on a variety of foods, with an apparent preference for decaying organic matter. The adults can survive 2 to 3 months without food, but only about a month without water. Some different things that have been consumed by the American roach include cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, starch in book bindings, manuscripts, glue, hair, flakes of dried skin, dead animals, plant materials, soiled clothing, and glossy paper. The most important aspect of American cockroach damage comes from the insects’ habit of feeding and harboring in damp, un-sanitary places. Filth from these areas is spread by American roaches to food supplies, food prep surfaces, dishes, utensils, and other surfaces. These roaches contaminate way more food than they consume.

Oriental Cockroaches

Feamle Oriental roach

The Oriental Cockroach (also commonly referred to as “water bugs”) are dark brown to black in appearance and tend to travel rather slow in comparison to other 2 types. They’re often called water bugs because they prefer wetter areas and tend to stay close to areas like floor drains and sink/faucet areas. These are often found around wet, decaying organic matter and in sewer drains, wet basements, under porches with wet mulch, and other damp areas. They can also be outdoors in bushes, under leaf ground-c0ver, under mulch, and other wet places outside.

Oriental roaches are rather easy to exterminate with chemical treatments, because they really tend to limit the places that they hang out. The risk with this kind is the same as American roaches, but more un-likely because they don’t normally travel to far away from the water source and move slower, thus not traveling near as far to forage.

Comparison of three common roaches

RoachGerman cockroachOriental cockroachAmerican cockroach
Size12 mm (1.2 cm) to 15 mm (1.5 cm)25 mm (2.5 cm) to 30 mm (3.0 cm)28 mm (2.8 cm) to 43 mm (4.3 cm)
HabitatHeated buildings, optimum 32 °C (90 °F)20 °C (68 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F)Same as German
Nymphal development time6 to 12 weeks6 to 12 months4 to 15 months
Life Span6 to 9 months1 to 1.5 years1 to 1.5 years
Able to fly?NoNoYes

Getting Rid of Cockroaches

Getting rid of roaches can be a very difficult ( if not impossible ) task to do on your own. The fact is the public is just not given access to the right materials it needs to eradicate a cockroach infestation. The store-bought materials all have major limiting restrictions that provide very little residual and that act as a repellent, which in turn the roaches make an educated response to and change their travelling and foraging habits. There products temporarily make you believe you had success, only to find out a month later the roaches just became much better at hiding and now have gotten out of control.

Anyone, no matter how neat or tidy they keep their home, can get cockroaches. Roaches can arrive in a grocery bag or a case of soda from the store, in new or used furniture, in electronics, in a friend’s over-night bag, or the apartment 2 floors down below yours. In warmer months they’ve actually been known to travel through the grass across the yard into a home after their home had been vacated.

So, regardless if currently have an issue with roaches, not sure if you do, or don’t have them and never want them, there are a few things you can do right now to help better the situation. Roaches can grow into a huge population very rapidly with little food or water. That’s why it is so important to reduce all possible sources of food, water, and harborage for them now.


even if you don’t notice a cockroach problem

  • Wipe off your kitchen counters and dining room table (or any other place where you eat) after every meal or snack.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes on the kitchen counter overnight. If you need to soak a pot overnight, make sure it’s filled with hot, soapy water. If you need to leave dishes overnight, rinse them first.
  • If you use a dishwasher, make sure you don’t leave dirty dishes in it overnight.
  • Wipe any grease off the stove top and burners every night.
  • Clean up all food spills promptly, especially on carpets and furniture.
  • Garbage and compost should be kept in containers with lids and disposed of as often as possible.
  • If your bathroom has a fan, use it after every bath or shower to reduce humidity.


especially if you already have cockroaches:
All foods stored in kitchen cupboards should be kept in sealed containers. Put store-bought foods packaged in paper or plastic bags (such as sugar, flour, rice and cookies) in glass jars or plastic containers with tight lids.

  • Vacuum and sweep your home regularly to help remove bits of food. Use the narrow, crevice attachment that comes with your vacuum cleaner to suck cockroaches out of cracks, from under your refrigerator and stove, from cupboards and off furniture.
  • Hard-to-clean areas are probably the main sources of your cockroach problem and they need regular (monthly) attention: if possible, pull out refrigerators, stoves and freezers, and clean behind, beside and under them.
  • Wash the outside of kitchen appliances and vacuum dusty areas around motors, such as at the back of the refrigerator.
  • Regularly clean the inside of your oven and the air vent (fume hood) above your stove to remove grease.
  • Regularly check water faucets for leaks and make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing underneath the kitchen or bathroom sink.
  • Empty your dog’s or cat’s water bowl at night and fill it again in the morning. Empty and wash pet food dishes daily.


After depriving cockroaches of food and water you need to reduce the number of hiding places they need for shelter in your home. Cockroaches like tight, small places. Try to remove as much clutter as you can:

  • don’t stuff paper bags in the space between your refrigerator and a kitchen cupboard. Store them in a cupboard or drawer away from the kitchen or bathroom.
  • try to keep cupboards as tidy as possible, without a lot of clutter, so cockroaches don’t have narrow, dark places to hide in.

Making Sure Your Home is Well Maintained

In addition to the good habits that you can adopt to get rid of shelter places for cockroaches, your kitchen and bathroom must be in good repair. If you are a tenant, you need to discuss structural improvements with your building manager, superintendent or landlord. These may include:

  • Sealing holes in walls around plumbing and electrical lines between apartment units,
  • Caulking cracks and crevices in cupboards and walls,
  • Fixing leaking taps and toilets.
If you own your home, you can do structural improvements yourself or hire someone to do them. One of the most important things to do is to caulk and seal up the many cracks and crevices in the typical house or apartment. These are the tiny “doorways” that cockroaches use to get into their dark hiding places behind the walls. If they can’t get there, they can’t keep multiplying.

So knowing what you know now, give us a call and we will send out our trained technicians that have years of fighting roach control issues and let us show you how we can eliminate your individual problem for you at a fair cost. Our technicians have creative and safe ways to eliminate infestations that include the IPM approach to pest control, that is the way to do your service with the least invasive and least amount of spraying possible. We know our products are safe, but that added peace of mind that we don’t just spray everywhere is nice when you have little ones or pets putting their hands and paws all other the place. So let our experience and personalized service work for you and stop wasting your money with the other options!

Adult German Roach

Adult German Roach

Adult American roach

Adult American roach

Feamle Oriental roach

Feamle Oriental roach

Important to eliminate food sources

Important to eliminate food sources