How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in Missouri

If your Missouri home has cockroaches, you have several elimination options, including natural and chemical solutions.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Five types of cockroaches can invade
homes. While it’s best to prevent infestations by keeping a clean environment and sealing points of entry, you can bring an active infestation under control using DIY or chemical solutions.  
A cockroach infestation can cause serious problems for your household—they can worsen allergies, asthma, and other health conditions, and certain species might even damage your favorite outfits or important papers.
Dealing with a cockroach infestation can be the stuff of nightmares, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. To help you out,
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Missouri cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

Cockroaches are a pretty diverse bunch. There are about 4,500 known cockroach species across the planet, and nearly 100 different species reside in North America.
The majority of cockroaches reside in wild ecosystems and play important roles as decomposers, but some species prefer to congregate in human environments to snack on garbage and take advantage of the warmth.
The following are the five main cockroach species that can be found in Missouri. 

American cockroaches

Although the species isn’t native to North America, the American cockroach is the most common roach in the US. It’s reddish brown with a yellowish figure 8 shape on the back of its head. 
The American cockroach can be an inch and a half to two inches long, but in some cases they can grow even larger. 

German cockroaches

The German cockroach is the cockroach you’re most likely to find indoors. They’re light brown or tan in color, with two dark stripes by its head. They grow to about half an inch long and prefer dark, warm, and moist environments. You can commonly find them in places like cupboards, under sinks, or behind appliances.

Brown-banded cockroaches

Like German cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches are also relatively small at about half an inch long. They’re dark brown with two distinctive brown bands that run horizontally across their backs. 
Males have a full set of working wings, while females are shorter and wider with ineffective wings that don’t cover their whole back. They like warm, dry areas and tend to avoid water. 
Brown-banded cockroaches tend to chew on non-food items like papers and fabrics, and you’re likely to find them hidden away in just about any room of your home.

Oriental cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches are very dark brown or black, about an inch long, and appear to have a glossy coating. They have small wings, but can’t fly, and are partial to cool, damp spaces like basements. 
Unfortunately, they can often be found gathering in large groups, especially around moisture.

Wood cockroaches

Wood roaches are light to medium brown with white near the head and along the wing edges. Males are about an inch long and females are about half an inch long.
They’re more commonly found outdoors in places like hollowed-out trees or stumps, but they can also be found in gutters and even under roof shingles. 
While other cockroach species might scatter when you shine a flashlight on them, wood roaches are attracted to light, which is one of the things that can lure them indoors. If you live near a wooded area or have wood siding on your home, you’re more likely to encounter a wood cockroach.

A guide to cockroach identification

Since each cockroach species has different needs and preferences, being able to identify what kind of cockroach is in your Missouri home can help you determine what approach to use.
Here’s a summary of the cockroaches you’ll find in Missouri:
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
German cockroaches
0.5 inches
Light brown
Kitchens, bathrooms, and other indoor spaces
Wood cockroach
0.5 to 1.5 inches
Dark reddish-brown
Males yes, females no
Compost heaps, wood piles; occasionally, gutters, under shingles, garages
American cockroach
1.5-2 inches
Basements, drains, crawl spaces; industrial buildings, sewers, around food sources
Brown-banded cockroaches
0.5 inches
Dark brown with lighter horizontal stripes
Males yes, females no
Cabinets, pantries, dressers, furniture
Oriental cockroaches
1 to 1.25 inches
Black or dark brown
Basements, drains, crawl spaces

Cockroach lookalikes

There are plenty of bugs that look like cockroaches but don’t pose the same threats. Here are a handful of insects that are frequently mistaken for roaches:
  • Beetles: One way to distinguish most beetles from a cockroach is to pay attention to their bodies. A beetle’s head and body (thorax) are usually visually separate segments, while a cockroach’s head and body aren’t as noticeably distinct. A cockroach’s antennae are relatively long, while a beetle’s antennae are often shorter and don’t move as much. 
  • Giant water bugs: Water bugs are predatory insects, and as such, they have pincer-like parts around their mouths that help them catch prey. Cockroaches don’t.
  • June bugs: While June bugs can appear similar to cockroaches in size and color, June bugs have more bulbous bodies, while cockroaches are flatter.
  • Crickets: Crickets can chirp, jump, and have longer hind legs than roaches.

Signs of a cockroach infestation

Are you worried you might have cockroaches around your home but not sure what to look for? Here are some of the most common signs that you might have a cockroach infestation:
  • You see the roaches themselves.
  • You find cockroach droppings, which can be mistaken for mouse droppings, in areas more typical of cockroaches.
  • You find cockroach eggs. Roach eggs have a hard shell that could range from reddish to brown or black in color. They sort of look like a small bean that’s about 8 millimeters in length (a little wider than your average pencil), and you’ll usually find them near a roach’s food sources.
  • You smell a musty odor. As if you didn’t need more reasons to love cockroaches, a pheromone they give off can produce a lingering musty odor. 
  • You see stains. Cockroaches can leave behind dark brown smudges in areas where they’ve been active.
  • You notice unusual evidence of chewing on items like food in your kitchen and non-edible items around your house, like paper or clothing.

How to get rid of roaches in Missouri

Roaches can exacerbate allergies and asthma and carry around pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, making them a significant health risk. For that reason, you don’t want to put off addressing a roach problem—especially if pets, small children, or people with health conditions live in your house.
To address a cockroach infestation (or to just make sure they stay away), experts recommend first taking an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. IPM is a method that manages pests by limiting the environmental factors they like rather than using harmful chemicals.
Here are some steps to take to make your environment less roach-friendly:
  • Wash dishes right away and don’t let leftover food sit out
  • Keep rooms and surfaces clean and sanitary
  • Keep food in sealed containers
  • Eat in one area of your home to contain food and crumbs
  • Put away pet food and water dishes at night
  • Keep trash in a sealed container
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp spaces like basements
  • Vacuum regularly (using a vacuum with a HEPA filter in areas with known roaches can help get rid of eggs and other debris that might spread through the air)
  • Fix plumbing problems and water leaks when they occur
  • Address structural problems like cracked walls

Natural roach killers

If your roach problem persists but you want to avoid using toxic chemicals, the following are some milder options to try:
  • Boric acid: When used in small amounts, boric acid isn’t harmful to humans or pets, but the same can’t be said for roaches. Distribute some where roaches have been congregating and wait for it to take effect.
  • Baking soda: You can mix baking soda with sugar to attract roaches, which will explode the roaches’ gassy digestive systems from the inside after they’ve eaten it.
  • Borax: This laundry staple, when mixed with sugar or other roach-tempting bait, can be left in high traffic areas. When ingested, the borax will dehydrate and ultimately kill the cockroach.  
  • Pyrethrin: Pyrethrin is an insecticide that’s made from chrysanthemums and is typically available as a spray. In small doses, it has low toxicity but can cause skin irritation. With roaches, it’s most effective for spraying them directly or forcing a group out of hiding.
  • Sticky traps: A scented glue trap can lure in a cockroach and bring its days of exploring your home to an end.
  • Baited traps: To catch a cockroach, you can add tasty treats like apples or banana peels to a jar. Spread some petroleum jelly around the jar’s inside lip and dust the inside with talcum powder to prevent roaches from escaping once they’ve climbed inside.

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

If you’re still not having luck and you’ve decided you need something stronger, there are various roach sprays, baits, and insecticides that can be found at hardware stores. Just make sure to pay attention to any product warnings and read instructions carefully.
Some cockroach species are harder to get rid of than others—and some are resistant to certain insecticides. If none of the methods you’re trying seem to be solving your roach problem, it might be time to call in a professional pest control company
A good exterminator will be able to identify what kind of cockroaches you’re dealing with and determine the best way to get rid of them based on your circumstances.

How to save money on home and car insurance in Missouri

Having the right home insurance policy can make it much easier to afford unexpected home repairs—especially for problems like burst pipes, which could create a too-inviting environment for roaches if left unaddressed too long. But how do you find a policy that’s actually affordable?
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Roaches are commonly found in Missouri, and it’s not unusual for them to end up infesting a house. Luckily, there are a wide range of approaches you can take to address an infestation when it happens.
What attracts cockroaches can vary by species, but generally, roaches are attracted to leftover food, garbage, and damp spaces.
In Missouri, cockroaches are most active during spring and summer when temperatures are above 50 degrees.
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