How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in New York

New York residents deal with four species of cockroach. Here’s how to prevent and exterminate them.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
New York
residents may find up to four types of cockroaches in their homes. Make sure to clean your home thoroughly and seal any potential points of entry to prevent infestations. If you find cockroaches in your home, it may be best to call in professional exterminators. 
Let’s face it: cockroaches are one of a homeowner’s worst nightmares. They can rapidly reproduce, carry around diseases and agitate allergies, and altogether look creepy. These resilient bugs can thrive in the hot New York summer and the cold New York winters, and they like to hunker down in the crevices of homes and businesses.  
Knowing what to do if you spot a cockroach hiding spot will help you eliminate these pests faster. That’s why
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New York cockroaches 101

Of all the pests New York residents have to deal with, cockroaches may be some of the most intrusive. While there are thousands of species of cockroaches around the world, there are only four species commonly found in New York State. 

American cockroaches

The big bug in town, adult American cockroaches can reach two to three inches in length. These roaches have a reddish-brown color, are oval in shape, and have two sets of wings
American roaches are also known as Palmetto bugs, and these guys prefer dark and wet places like sewer systems and storm drains (or your bathtub).

German cockroaches

German cockroaches are some of the most common roaches in the world because they are expert adapters. Climate doesn’t really matter, but they love the hot and humid areas,so they can typically be found in bathrooms, kitchens, or by your hot water tank. 
German roaches can reach about half an inch in length in adulthood. 

Oriental cockroaches

Glossy black or reddish-brown in color, Oriental roaches can grow to about one inch long. They are fans of dark and damp spaces, so your basement or your garage could be vulnerable to this species. 
As if their creepy exterior and destructive habits weren’t enough, Oriental cockroaches are also described as being particularly smelly, but at least they’re flightless.

Brown Banded cockroaches

The Brown Banded cockroach is one of the smaller species, only reaching about 10-14mm in adulthood. These roaches have light-brown horizontal stripes across their bodies and prefer warm and humid spaces. 
They’ll often crawl up high, so look in your cabinets and in ceiling corners. 

A guide to cockroach identification

Banishing these pests from your home or business will be easier if you can identify which bug you’re dealing with. 
The table below can help you distinguish which of New York’s most common cockroaches you’re dealing with.
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
American cockroach
2-3 inches
Basements, drains, crawl spaces
German cockroach
0.5 inches
Light brown
Kitchens, bathrooms, garages
Oriental cockroach
1 inch
Glossy black, reddish-brown
Basements, leaf litters
0.5 inches
Alternating dark and light brown bands
Cabinets, ceiling cracks, furniture
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It is important to note that other bugs resemble roaches, including:
  • Crickets can be a similar size but a major difference lies in their movements. The cockroach crawls or flies around lazily while the cricket hops quite quickly. 
  • Ground beetles have a similar size and coloring, but unlike the cockroach’s leathery wings, their wings have a hard exterior. 
  • Water bugs like water (obviously). They are generally larger than roaches, but what sets them apart the most from cockroaches are the large pincers positioned at the front of their bodies (it hurts if they bite you). 
  • Asian Long-Horned beetles are similar in body shape to cockroaches, but they differ in color and antennae. These beetles are known as the Starry Sky beetles because of their black and white speckled exterior. 

How to get rid of roaches in New York

How you go about getting rid of the roaches in your home will depend on if you’re dealing with one or many.
The first thing you should do is to perform a thorough cleaning and sanitation of your home. Roaches will have much less reason to stick around if you have no dirty dishes, crumbs on the floor, or trash piled up.
After you’ve dealt with sanitizing your space, it’s time for exclusion. You’ll want to identify possible points of entry, like cracks in your door or window frames, and seal them off. Keeping cockroaches from coming in as they please will greatly reduce your risk of an infestation. 
With a little luck, a thorough clean and seal should do the trick. If not, well, you might be looking at more intensive solutions. 

Five natural roach killers

If you have small mouths (e.g., toddlers or pets) in your home, you may want to give these natural roach killers a try before reaching for chemical products: 
  • Boric acid: This naturally-occurring compound is harmless for people and pets, but it will wreak havoc on a cockroach’s internal systems. 
  • Baking soda: You probably already have this in your pantry. When combined with diced onions and placed near their habitats, baking soda will cause the roaches to explode. Don’t let pets near this, though, as onions are toxic to dogs. 
  • Borax: Place a mixture of borax and table sugar near roach infestations to kill the critters by dehydration. 
  • Diatomaceous earth: These fossilized remains of algae come in food-grade quality that is safe for people and pets. They will take this powder back to their nests to kill off the colony.
These natural remedies might be the best option if you have young children or curious pets, but they can take more time and be more tedious than other options. 

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

Chemical solutions are a popular option for their efficiency at killing roaches quickly, but make sure to take the appropriate safety precautions as you apply them. 
  • Bait stations: Roach bait stations are quite effective killers. The smell draws cockroaches in, and they’ll take the bait back to their nests, which kills the colony off.
  • Insecticide gel: This is a good option for more precise work in corners and cracks and is popular for roach infestations in boats, planes, and vehicles.
  • Roach spray: Many sprays are long-lasting (two to three months) and kill cockroaches on contact.
Beware that these chemical products are toxic to small children and pets upon ingestion.  
If natural and chemical products don’t work or you don’t want to wait for them to take effect, hire a licensed exterminator. The most extreme method of killing roaches is fumigation, where the exterminator drapes your house in a tent and gasses all pests to death. 

How to keep cockroaches from coming back

Cockroaches love anything dirty and damp, so the best thing you can do to discourage them is to maintain proper cleaning and sanitation practices.
  • Reduce moisture in your home, if you can. Dehumidifiers can help. 
  • Limit food consumption to one area of your house or keep up on sweeping and vacuuming. 
  • Identify water leaks that may tempt a roach infestation. 
  • Keep up with daily cleaning by emptying the trash, sweeping, mopping, doing the dishes, and sanitizing surfaces. 

How to save money on home and car insurance in New York

Dealing with pests, particularly cockroaches, in your home or vehicle can be a pain. So can finding the right car and home insurance quotes. 
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Cockroaches are considered to be one of the most common pests in New York.
Roaches are attracted to dirty and damp spaces, food crumbs, trash, leaky pipes, and even old electronics.
Although roaches typically prefer warm and humid environments, they are active all year round.
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