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.

Important: do not clean! Cleaning, especially deep cleaning, can interfere with the exterminator’s treatment. If there is some dust, it can be wiped away with a damp paper towel, but ideally, you want to wait for a week before giving in to that impulse to scour away dirt. Vacuuming may be all right but check with your exterminator first. You don’t want to undo all that hard work!

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 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. A tissue and a quick flush are the best way to make sure the bodies are completely gone.

Should I be seeing baby roaches after extermination?

Yes, this is also perfectly normal. The life cycle of the German cockroach (the most common household pest) is nine weeks to go through a metamorphosis from egg to nymph to adult. The babies you are seeing are the nymphs.

At the time of treatment, the babies you are seeing were likely still in their egg form — a normal cockroach egg sac can contain up to 52 eggs — but not to worry! The nymphs are young and 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 6 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.

Some things you can do include keeping sinks and the surrounding area clean and dry. Most treatments the exterminator uses cause roaches to need more water than normal in order to survive. Try to make sure any leaky faucets are fixed, and areas with heavy condensation are kept dry. The less water a roach can get, the faster they die.

The same goes for food sources. If there is no food for roaches to eat, they will go to the bait as their primary food source and will die that much more quickly. Try to keep tight control on the amount of trash, grease, and food debris available for their consumption.

Keep paper tucked away, and most importantly, away from the kitchen. The brown paper bags you get from the grocery store are a common favorite, but a wet paper is the worst. It contains both the food and water they 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, or even be flushed into a neighbor’s space temporarily, only to come back later.

Even if you do everything right, roaches can find a way back into your life again. There is any number of 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 they get shipments in from all over the world, so it does happen from time to time. As soon as you get home, cleaning your cans and bottles before putting them away in the pantry can be an excellent form of insurance against that occurring.

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 glue 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. Most companies offer a limited-time guarantee, so feel free to contact them.