What Attracts Cockroaches in Your Home?

Things in your household that attract German and American cockroaches

In the United States, there are 2 household species of cockroaches that are generally considered to be the most common: the American cockroach and the German cockroach.

In this article (and video), pest expert Kevin Carrillo from MMPC explains what attracts cockroaches in your home and how to stop them.

American Cockroaches

American cockroaches are large, dark, and reddish-brown in color.

They have strong wings that allow them to fly for short distances. There are variants of this species in the South that are actually very aggressive flyers.

In New York and California, if you see a large, dark, brown cockroach, it’s most likely an American cockroach.

American Cockroach

What Attracts American Cockroaches

American cockroaches are attracted to decaying, organic matter (i.e. garbage) as well as moisture. If you’re seeing a large number of American cockroaches, it may be an indication of a plumbing issue. For example:

  • There may be a crack in the sewage line under your house or in your building’s basement.
  • There may be an opening around the wall that leads out to where these plumbing lines are, which is how the cockroaches are getting in.

American cockroaches won’t generally nest in your living spaces, because they need a relatively high temperature and an even higher humidity level in order to thrive. Most of us don’t keep our homes as humid as they like. So instead, where you usually find them is wherever your boiler is kept.

American cockroaches love nesting in boiler rooms. Your boiler line is basically the heart of the building, and your radiator lines, water lines, showers, and sinks all radiate out from the boiler.

Cockroaches travel around buildings following these pipes and water lines, which is why they seem to pop up in your home around radiators, under sinks, and in bathrooms.

How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches

The best thing to do in this scenario is to identify all of the areas where pipes are entering your home. Make sure that they’re fully sealed around (e.g. with caulk or foam sealant).

After that, you should also consider contacting a pest control professional to take a look at the boiler room in order to address your cockroach problem at its source.

Other things you can do to get rid of American cockroaches in your home include:

  • Eliminate food sources: Clean and vacuum regularly. Store food in sealed containers, clean crumbs and spills immediately, and avoid leaving dirty dishes and pet food out overnight.
  • Perimeter treatments: American cockroaches often thrive outdoors in warmer climates, so applying residual insecticides around the foundation and potential entry points will hinder them from coming inside.
  • Basements and crawl spaces: American cockroaches prefer these damp environments, so keep these areas dry and fix any moisture issues.
  • Granular baits and bait stations: Granular insecticide baits can be effective outdoors and in large indoor areas where American cockroaches are common. They consume the bait, return to their nest, and subsequently poison others.

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are the most commonly-encountered species in peoples’ homes.

These roaches are relatively small in size and known for being really good at hitchhiking their way into peoples’ homes.

They tend to find rides in packages, shipments, and boxes — often without you even realizing it.

Cockroach Nymph

Many large warehouses (such as Amazon warehouses or food warehouses) are so massive that it’s hard to keep track of these tiny pests, which can easily get into boxes and then come into your home.

We’ve even heard of people finding German cockroaches inside cases of soda from the grocery store!

German cockroaches are proficient breeders. A single female German cockroach can produce around 50 baby cockroaches within a timespan of 1–2 weeks. With just a little bit of food and water, they can create a huge population very quickly.

What Attracts German Cockroaches

With German cockroaches, what attracts them is food debris. When dealing with these scavengers, the number one thing to do is remove their access to food. Go through your pantries and cupboards to make sure that there’s no food or crumbs out in the open and keep everything bone dry — no water.

These cockroaches also like to search for harborage (places to live and nest) in very narrow crevices that are only slightly wider than their bodies. They can fit into gaps as small as 4 millimeters, or the thickness of two credit cards. Here are some examples of places where you can find these 4 mm gaps where German cockroaches like to nest:

  • In your kitchen under the countertop
  • Between countertops and drawers
  • In the backs of your cabinets behind the shelving

How to Get Rid of German Cockroaches

If you’re not too skeeved out by them, you can take out all of the things inside your kitchen cabinetry and get rid of any German cockroaches you find with a vacuum.

By aggressively vacuuming and going through your cabinets one by one, you can usually take out around 90% of the German cockroach population.

Other things you can do to get rid of German cockroaches in your home include:

  • Eliminate food sources: Clean and vacuum regularly. Store food in sealed containers, clean crumbs and spills immediately, and avoid leaving dirty dishes and pet food out overnight.
  • Declutter: Due to their small size, German cockroaches thrive in cluttered areas where they can easily hide and find food. Reduce clutter to eliminate hiding and breeding areas.
  • Inspect and treat appliances: German cockroaches are often found inside of refrigerator motors, microwaves, stoves, and other appliances.
  • Void treatments: They also love to hide in voids, such as those in cabinets, behind walls, and under counters. Using insecticidal dust like boric acid or diatomaceous earth in these voids can be effective. Dusts should be applied sparingly to ensure cockroaches walk through it.
  • IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators): Because German cockroaches reproduce so quickly, IGRs are especially effective against them. They work by disrupting their lifecycle and preventing the roaches from reaching maturity or reproducing.

Watch Video: How Do You Attract Cockroaches?

Kevin Carrillo is a pest control specialist and a senior project manager at MMPC, as well as a contributor to wikiHow.

Based in Long Island City, MMPC provides reliable and eco-friendly pest solutions for clients of all sizes in and around the Tri-State Area. With over 25 years of experience, MMPC is one of NYC’s highest-rated pest control companies.

If you need help with cockroaches or other pests, call (212) 219-8218 or click the button below to contact us today!