How to Recognize and Eradicate Roaches in North Carolina

The North Carolina homeowner's guide to identifying and destroying all manner of roaches, from the huge American cockroach to the small yet destructive German cockroach.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Cockroaches are dangerous, resilient, and all too common in humid states like
North Carolina
. Vigilance and cleanliness are your best weapons against these six-legged invaders. 
These creepy-crawly insects are more than just unsettling—they also carry bacteria and disease wherever they go! The best way to handle roaches is to prevent a colony from forming in the first place. Make sure that your home is properly sealed, free of garbage and food debris, and well sanitized. This should minimize your risk. 
Roaches are a dangerous, determined, and stalwart enemy. But don’t despair! You’ve got help in this fight! Top-rated
car and home insurance
has got your back! In this article, we’ll go over how to identify, exterminate, and prevent cockroaches in North Carolina. 
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North Carolina cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

If you live in North Carolina, the likelihood of finding cockroaches in your home is quite high. The Tar Heel State, as it is known, plays host to the 6th largest roach population in the United States. In some
North Carolina cities
, as much as 32% percent of all homes are infested
Of all the home-invading pests, cockroaches are perhaps the most troublesome and difficult to eradicate. The first step in your battle to rid your home of roaches is to know exactly what species you’re dealing with. 
There are five types of cockroaches that are common in North Carolina. Here’s how to distinguish them. 

American cockroaches

American cockroaches are some of the biggest roaches around. Stretching two to three inches on average, these giant flying menaces are all too common in North Carolina.
You may have heard them called palmetto bugs. You can recognize them by their reddish-brown color
Fortunately, palmetto bugs usually live outside. You’ll most likely find them feeding off of your trash or decaying plant matter. Be careful, though. While not too common, American cockroaches do invade homes given the right conditions. 

German cockroaches

As bad as an infestation of American cockroaches is, worse by far is the smaller and more destructive German cockroach
Don’t be fooled by their size. They may only be about half an inch long, but these light-brown colored roaches are not the guests you want in your home. Worse still, they exclusively live inside
Keep an eye out for their transparent wings and distinctive dark stripes that run parallel down their back. These vermin like to huddle in any cool and dark spaces, especially ones where food is stored nearby. 

Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches, sometimes mistaken for “water bugs,” typically grow to about an inch in length. They are shiny and black or dark brown with rounded bodies. 
They like to worm their way into your home through gaps, cracks, under doors, through drains—really an opening is a potential entry point. 
They much prefer wet, damp, or moist areas. You’ll probably smell them before you see them; they release a foul odor that has been described as especially “musty.”

Brown-Banded Cockroaches

All roaches reproduce quickly, but Brown-banded cockroaches are especially prolific breeders. Infestations of these half-inch-long roaches can grow with terrifying speed. 
You can recognize these critters by their light-brown bodies with dark brown bands running across their wings. 

Brown-Hooded Cockroach

While they are common in North Carolina, you’re not likely to find Brown-hooded cockroaches in your home. Also called “wood roaches,” these insects prefer to live outside in wooded areas. 
If you do see them, you can recognize brown-hooded cockroaches by their dark brown coloring and 0.5-inch to 1.5-inch bodies. They’re most common in the
western regions
of North Carolina. 
MORE: How to get bugs off your car: a handy guide

A guide to cockroach identification

Here’s a more condensed guide to the roaches described above:
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
American cockroaches
2-3 inches
Basements, drains, crawl spaces, garages, garbage cans
German cockroaches
0.5 inches
Light brown
Kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages
Oriental cockroaches
1 inch
Dark brown or black shiny color
Anywhere wet, especially drains
0.5 inch-1.5 inches
Dark brown or black
Outdoors in wooded areas
0.5 inches
light-brown bodies with dark brown bands across the wings
Males fly but females do not
Warm and dry places, such as cabinets, pantries, and closets.
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Keep a sharp eye out for roaches, but don’t get paranoid. There are several insects that often get mistaken for cockroaches
Before you call the exterminator, make sure you’re not dealing with one of these common cockroach impostors: 
  • Crickets look similar to roaches, at a glance. They have a similar size, shape, and color. On closer inspection, however, it’s pretty easy to tell them apart. Crickets have a distinctive chirping noise and hop rather than fly or scurry. 
  • June bugs look similar to roaches but are noticeably smaller. They also have a thicker body shape. 
  • Giant water bugs look similar to cockroaches, only wider. They also live exclusively near bodies of water and have big pincers.  
If you’ve only noticed one roach the one time, it may be an isolated incident. If you’re not sure whether you have a roach infestation, watch out for these telltale signs:
  • Small black droppings like look like coffee grounds
  • Roach eggs that are laid inside a hard sack 
  • Shed roach skins
  • Smear marks around openings to your home
  • Musty or foul smell 
If you’ve seen more than one, seen one on multiple occasions, or noticed feces, then you’ve probably got a full-blown infestation on your hands. 

How to get rid of roaches in North Carolina

As tricky as it can be, identifying an infestation is by far the easiest part of dealing with roaches. Eradicating cockroaches is extremely difficult and you’ll almost certainly need to contact a professional. Otherwise, the problem will likely persist. 
Cockroaches are filthy and they spend time in the most unsanitary places. If you have roaches, they’ve probably been scurrying across your counters and getting into your food supplies. 
Keep all foods and dried goods sealed in air-tight containers. You should also sanitize the surfaces in your home often, at least until you’re sure the infestation is gone.  
You’ll also want to cut off their access. Plug up any openings in your home. Reduce the appeal your home has for roaches by keeping it clean and minimizing the amount of trash lying about.
The next step is to get to work eradicating the vermin. If you decide to attempt the extermination by yourself, there are a few things you can try. Begin with natural approaches that introduce less toxicity into the environment and move on to chemical treatments if needed. 

Natural cockroach killers

The natural route will be the safest option for you, your pets, and any small children in your home. Here’s what you can try:
  • Baking soda traps: Mix baking soda with sugar and leave it out where the roaches will find it. The sugar acts as bait and the baking soda will be poisonous to the roaches once ingested. 
  • Borax traps: Just like baking soda, mix this laundry additive (available at most supermarkets) with sugar and leave it out for the roaches. 
  • Glue traps: You can purchase these traps at a store or fashion a crude on your own. Leave the trap out and the roaches will become trapped and slowly die. 
  • Boric acid or Diatomaceous earth: Both of these substances are readily available and deadly to roaches. Sprinkle them in high-traffic areas. 
The natural approach has the advantage of being relatively affordable and non-toxic. But the benefits end there. This is the slowest and least certain approach to roach warfare. 
You’ll have to wait for each cockroach to individually fall into your traps, then clear away the corpses yourself. If that sounds too tedious and time-consuming to you, it may be time to kick things up a notch. 

Chemical cockroach killers

If natural methods aren’t working or are taking too long, the next step up will be to use chemical roach killers. These methods can be very effective but are often toxicto humans as well as roaches. Here are some common ones: 
  • Bait stations: these traps are especially ingenious. These store-bought stations lure a roach in with bait laced with slow-acting poison. The roach has time to make it back to the colony before it dies. Roaches are nasty scavengers who will eat anything and they’re not above a little cannibalism. The dead (and poison-filled) roach will be eaten by the colony. Before you know it, no more roaches! 
  • Insecticide gel: You can purchase home insecticides that come in gels. Just squirt a bit of it into the cracks and gaps in your house and say goodbye to roaches! 
  • Roach spray: You can purchase roach-specific poisons to spray on high-traffic areas. Unlike the natural methods, these sprays give the roach time to return to the colony and spread the poison before they die. 
You’ll find that chemical anti-roach sprays are infinitely more effective than natural ones. However, they can be harmful to small children and pets

Call for help

Cockroaches are some of the most adept survivors in the animal kingdom. Eliminating an entire infestation is much easier said than done. Fortunately, there are professionals who specialize in doing just that. 
If you haven’t had any luck eliminating the roaches yourself (or if you’d prefer not to try), you can always call a professional exterminator. This is the most sure-fire way to eradicate the pests. 

How to keep cockroaches from coming back

Whether you use natural insecticides, chemical weapons, or the services of a professional, removing cockroaches is a difficult task. Once you’ve finally eliminated the roaches, the last thing you want is to end up with yet another infestation. 
Employ the following strategies in order to prevent future roach invasions
  • Reduce moisture: Keep an eye out for leaky pipes and clogged drains. Use a dehumidifier wherever necessary.  
  • Minimize potential roach food sources: Limit food consumption to one or two rooms, wash dishes and take out trash bags at least once a day, never leave food out, and store all food and pet food in air-tight containers. 
  • Eliminate potential roach entry points: Caulk any gaps or cracks in your home, especially around windows, exterior doors, or the basement. Install door sweeps and mesh covers over drains and vents. 

How to save money on home and car insurance in North Carolina

Homeowners in North Carolina face a seemingly endless barrage of maintenance issues, such as storm damage, flooding, broken pipes, and of course cockroaches. 
Unfortunately, home insurance doesn’t cover pest removal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around to find the best rates and coverage options.
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Yes, roaches are very common in North Carolina. In some cities, as much as one-third of all homes are infested.
Cockroaches are attracted by grime, garbage, rotting/spoiled food, decaying organic matter, dirty dishes, standing water, moisture, and pet food. In short, anything especially messy will be inviting to roaches.
Cockroaches are active all year but will be especially active when it’s rainy since they need a lot of moisture. In the winter, they will be more motivated to get inside your warm home.
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