The worst has happened, and you’ve suddenly found your home infested with cockroaches. You’ve called the exterminator, and they’ve come in, sprayed and baited and done their thing. But what happens next? Here is what to expect after an exterminator sprays for roaches.
Do not clean! Cleaning treatment areas, especially deep cleaning, can interfere with the exterminator’s treatment. You can do some light cleaning in the case of spills or similar messes and you can wipe up any visible dust with a damp paper towel. However, if possible, you should wait 5-10 days after treatment to do any thorough cleaning.
This doesn’t mean you should not clean anywhere. You should thoroughly clean your eating surfaces and any dishes or silverware left out prior to the exterminator’s arrival. Just avoid cleaning the treated parts of your home (e.g., baseboards). You don’t want to undo all that hard work! You should also keep your eating areas clean so that the roaches are attracted to the baits, not your leftover dinner. Similarly, keep sinks and bathtubs as dry as possible. The cockroaches will die more quickly without access to water.
So, the exterminator came, still have roaches?
This is common. Do not spray or use a bug bomb! This can interfere with the exterminator’s treatment and cause any remaining roaches to scatter away from the bomb, possibly causing an infestation in areas of your home where roaches were not previously seen. You can vacuum up the ones you see if you just can’t stand them, but don’t use any chemical controls.
You can expect to see roaches for a few weeks, even in the daytime, which you may not have seen before. This is because the treatment confuses the roaches, and their normal habits are disrupted.
They will usually be walking slowly, as they are dying. The number of dead roaches you see will eventually decrease as time goes on. Be sure to clean up the carcasses as you see them and keep track of problem areas. You can vacuum up the carcasses or collect them individually with a tissue and flush them down the toilet.
Should I be seeing baby roaches after extermination?
Yes, this is also perfectly normal. The life cycle of the German cockroach (the most common cockroach pest in homes and businesses) is about 100 days from egg to nymph to adult. The babies you are seeing are the nymphs.
At the time of treatment, the babies were likely still in their egg form — a normal cockroach egg sac can contain up to 40 eggs — but not to worry! The nymphs are hungry and will eat anything they can – including the bait and dead adults, which are poisoned themselves. They won’t be exempt from the exterminator’s treatment!
What to do if you are still seeing roaches after extermination:
Don’t panic – it takes approximately 2 weeks for all the roaches to be flushed out. Severe infestations may require a second treatment — your exterminator will let you know if this may be needed.
Continue to do light cleaning as mentioned above (keep eating areas clean, don’t leave out food or food waste, keep sinks and bathtubs dry). If they are finding food and water sources, it will take longer for them to die.
Keep paper and cardboard tucked away, and most importantly, away from the kitchen, especially if it’s wet. Wet paper products contain both food and water that cockroaches need to survive, so get rid of it — ideally in sealed bags outside, away from the immediate vicinity of the home.
Do roaches come back after extermination?
Although it is unlikely that roaches will come back, it is possible. This is most common in living situations where people are housed close together, such as in apartments, garden-style houses, and neighborhoods where houses are not spaced very far apart. It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbors, and check to see if they are experiencing problems as well. Roaches can migrate in after your successful treatment.
Even if you do everything right, roaches can find a way back into your life again. There are many ways this can happen; after all, roaches survive best with people.
Roaches can be brought back into your home through a garage sale and flea market finds.
Careful inspection with a flashlight can often tell if your new-found treasure is contaminated, but if you are unsure, you can leave it outdoors in full sunlight for a full day. Or, if the item is small, it can be placed in the freezer in a plastic bag for a day — if any hitchhikers were present, they’ll be dead inside the bag.
Sometimes even cans and beverages from the store can carry an unwanted invader. The corrugated cardboard boxes that everything is shipped in are the perfect breeding ground for roaches. Most stores you are likely to shop at work hard to keep their stores roach-free, but many get shipments in from all over the world, so it does happen from time to time. As soon as you get home, clean your cans and bottles before putting them away in the pantry, just to be safe.
Moving from place to place — in or out — can also bring along roaches. Wrapping clean clothing and belongings in plastic can help, but as we mentioned before — cardboard boxes are a favorite habitat.
If you’ve seen one or two but aren’t really sure if they are holdouts from the treatment or new roaches arriving, you can set simple sticky traps in cabinets under the sink, or wherever roaches are typically seen. It will be obvious if there is a continued problem, or if you simply caught a couple of strays. In any case, make note of the location, and keep an eye on it.
If you are still experiencing a roach problem after 6 months, it is a good idea to contact your exterminator and find out what is happening with another inspection.