How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in Indiana

To reduce the likelihood of a cockroach infestation in your Indiana home, keep your home in a sanitary state and store food and trash in sealed containers.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To reduce the likelihood of a cockroach infestation in your Indiana home, keep your home in a sanitary state and store food and trash in sealed containers. If you find signs of a roach infestation in your house, there are a number of natural and chemical approaches you can take to get rid of your creepy, crawly intruders.
Cockroaches are ancient insects, and resilient ones at that, but they can pose serious health risks when they take up residence in a human house. Certain cockroaches might also damage your prized possessions or take a bite out of some important documents. 
Thankfully, addressing a roach infestation isn’t a lost cause—there are plenty of ways you can go about it. The
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Indiana cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

There’s a lot more to the cockroach than you might think. Across the planet, there are over 4,000 known species of cockroach, each with its own unique characteristics. Nearly 100 of those species can be found across North America.
When it comes to what cockroaches have in common, most ranges in size from half an inch to a couple of inches long and are reddish, brown, or black in color. To the relief of many, while many have wings, not all species are capable of flight. 
Generally speaking, most cockroach species stick to living in the wild where they have important roles in their ecosystems and don’t frequently interact with humans. Of the handful of cockroach species that are exceptions to that rule—well, they definitely leave a lasting impression when discovered in a home
If you live in Indiana, these are the five cockroach species you’re most likely to encounter.
MORE: How to get bugs off your car: A handy guide

American cockroaches

The American cockroach is reddish-brown and has a yellowish figure 8 shape on the back of its head. They can be an inch and a half to two inches long, but in some cases, they can grow even larger. 
They’re more commonly found in restaurants, but they can also make their way into apartment complexes or houses.

German cockroaches

The German cockroach in particular is partial to indoor spaces. They’re light brown or tan in color, with two dark stripes on their heads. They’re smaller than many other kinds of roaches at around half an inch long. 
German cockroaches like dark, warm, and moist environments, and you’re most likely to find them around the kitchen.

Brown-banded cockroaches

Brown-banded cockroaches are also relatively small at about half an inch long and are dark brown in color, which is why they can sometimes be mistaken for German cockroaches. They also have two distinctive yellowish stripes across their backs. While males have a full set of wings and can fly, females are shorter and wider with smaller wings that don’t work.
Brown-banded cockroaches are infamous for chewing on food and non-food items (like fabric or paper) alike. You could find them in virtually any room of the
, including closets or dresser drawers. They mostly prefer areas that are warm and try and usually avoid water.

Oriental cockroaches

At about an inch or so long, oriental cockroaches are a very dark brown or black and their exoskeletons appear to have a shiny coating. They have small wings, but can’t fly. 
Oriental cockroaches like cool, damp spaces like basements. They can sometimes find their way into homes through sewer openings.

Wood cockroaches

Wood roaches are light to medium brown with white near their head and along the edges of their wings. Males are about an inch long and females are about half an inch long. Adult males have a full set of working wings, while females have shorter wings and don’t fly. 
You’ll more commonly find them outdoors in wooded areas or a hollowed-out tree stump, but you might also come across them in gutters, or even under roof shingles. Wood roaches are attracted to light, which can end up luring them into your
, especially if you live near a forested area. 

A guide to cockroach identification

Here are some characteristics of Indiana’s most common cockroaches:
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
American cockroach
1.5-2 inches
Basements, drains, crawl spaces
German cockroaches
0.5 inches
Light brown
Kitchens, bathrooms, most indoor spaces
Wood cockroach
0.5 to 1.5 inches
Dark reddish-brown
Males yes, females no
Compost heaps, woodpiles; occasionally, gutters, under shingles, garages
Brown-banded cockroaches
0.5 inches
Dark brown with lighter stripes
Males yes, females no
Cabinets, pantries, closets, furniture
Oriental cockroaches
1 to 1.25 inches
Black or dark brown
Basements, drains, crawl spaces
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Cockroach lookalikes

Some cockroach species can get confused for other cockroach species—but some lookalike insects aren’t cockroaches at all! The following are just a handful of insects that are commonly mistaken for cockroaches.
  • Beetles: Like cockroaches, there’s plenty of variance among different beetle species. One way to distinguish most beetles from a cockroach is to pay attention to their bodies. A beetle’s head and body (thorax) are separate segments, while a cockroach’s head and body aren’t as noticeably distinct. A cockroach’s antennae tend to be longer, while a beetle’s antennae tend to be shorter and don’t move as much. A cockroach will usually have long, spiny legs and tend to be (frighteningly) quicker than beetles. 
  • June bugs: While June bugs can appear similar in color to cockroaches, June bugs have rounder bodies, and cockroaches are flatter.
  • Crickets: Unlike cockroaches, crickets make chirping noises with their back legs, which are also longer. Those hind legs also give crickets plenty of jumping power, which a cockroach doesn’t have.
  • Giant water bugs: While cockroaches like moist environments, they won’t necessarily congregate in and around standing water like a giant water bug will. Water bugs are also predatory insects, so you should be able to notice their pincer-like parts around their mouths, which they use for hunting. A cockroach, however, is a scavenger, so you won’t find pincers on them.

Signs of a cockroach infestation

These are some signs you might discover if you have cockroaches hiding around your Indiana home:
  • The cockroaches themselves
  • Cockroach droppings in hiding areas (which can look similar in size and shape to mouse droppings) 
  • Cockroach eggs: The appearance of a cockroach’s eggs will vary a bit depending on the species. Generally, they have a hard casing that could be reddish to brown or black in color. They can sort of look like a small bean about 8 millimeters in length (basically, a little wider than a typical pencil) and will usually be found near food sources.
  • Musty smell: As if cockroaches couldn’t be more endearing, they also happen to give off a pheromone that leaves behind a musty odor.
  • Stains or smear marks: Cockroaches can really leave their mark on a place—and those will usually look like dark brown smudges, which you might notice in areas where they’ve been active.
  • Damage to items: You might notice evidence of chewing on items like food, paper, or fabrics, depending on the cockroach and their dietary preferences. 

How to get rid of roaches in Indiana

If you’ve discovered a cockroach infestation in your home, dealing with the matter isn’t something you want to put off—they can exacerbate allergies or health issues of people in your household or spread pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella. 
If you have a roach problem, or you just want to make sure they stay away, experts often recommend taking an integrated pest management (IPM) approach first, especially if you live in a home with pets, children, or people with serious health conditions
Instead of using harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals as a first resort, IPM approaches pest management by evaluating what the pest needs to thrive, then limiting those resources.
Here’s what some of those approaches look like:
  • Keep rooms and surfaces
    and sanitary
  • Keep food and trash in sealed containers
  • Put away pet food and water dishes at night
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp spaces like basements
  • Vacuum and wash dishes regularly
  • Fix plumbing problems and water leaks promptly
  • Address structural problems like cracked walls promptly
MORE: How to remove bugs, tar, and sap from car paint

Five natural roach killers

If your roach problem persists and you still want to limit your use of toxic chemicals, you could try some of the following methods:
  1. Baking soda: One of your pantry's most useful items may also help with roaches—a baking soda and sugar mixture will attract roaches. When the roaches eat it, their digestive systems produce gas that causes them to explode from within.
  2. Boric acid: Boric acid has a low level of toxicity for humans and pets, but the same can’t be said for roaches. Spread some in areas where roaches have been congregating and wait for it to take effect.
  3. Borax: Borax can be mixed with sugar or other roach-approved foods and strategically placed in areas where roach activity has been found. The borax will dehydrate and kill the cockroach once eaten.
  4. Baited traps: Cockroaches can be caught by baiting a jar with cockroach treats. To prevent roaches from crawling back out, coat the inside lip of the jar with petroleum jelly and then dust it with talcum powder.
  5. Sticky traps: Perhaps in a less dramatic fashion than some of the previous options, scented glue traps designed for roaches can help stop them in their tracks.

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

If you’re dealing with an extensive roach infestation, or if milder methods just aren’t having much of an effect, and you’re comfortable using stronger chemicals, you can find sprays, baits, and insecticides that target cockroaches at places like hardware stores.
Just make sure to follow the product’s directions closely and heed any of its warnings. Also, certain roaches are resistant to certain insecticides, so it helps to know what kind of roach you’re dealing with first.
If you’re not having success addressing your roach problem on your own, you might want to consider calling in some pest control professionals. A good professional exterminator will be able to figure out what kind of roaches you’re dealing with, how to address it based on your particular circumstances, and what safety precautions to take with the products they’re using.

How to save money on home and car insurance in Indiana

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Roaches are a common pest in Indiana, but there are steps you can take to reduce the odds they’ll end up in your house, like keeping spaces clean and storing food and trash in sealed containers.
Different cockroach species have different preferences, but generally, they’re attracted to leftover food, garbage, and damp spaces. Some will even prefer non-food items like paper.
Roaches are most active in the spring and summer months in Michigan.
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