How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in Tennessee

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To reduce the odds of a cockroach infestation in your Tennessee home, keep it in a clean 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 try to take your house back from your unwelcome guests.
When left to linger in your home, cockroaches can pose serious health risks. Certain cockroaches might also damage your prized possessions or take a bite out of some important documents. 
If you’re worried you may be dealing with a cockroach infestation, never fear. The home and car insurance comparison app Jerry is here to tell you what to know about some of Tennessee’s most common cockroaches—and how you can get them out of your house once and for all.
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Tennessee cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

Out of 4,000 cockroach species worldwide, nearly 100 can be found in North America, and each species has its own distinct characteristics. Only a handful commonly interact with human spaces, but those that do are certainly hard to forget.  
While cockroaches are a pretty diverse bunch, here are some characteristics many of them share:
  • Size ranges from half an inch to a couple of inches long 
  • Reddish, brown, or black in color 
  • Six spiny legs 
  • Many have wings, but not all cockroaches can fly (cue the relieved sighs).
In Tennessee, the following are some of the cockroach species you’re most likely to find in your home.

American cockroaches

The American cockroach has a reddish-brown color and can be identified by its signature yellowish figure 8 shape found at the back of its head. They can grow to become up to two inches long—or longer. 
They’re often found in restaurant settings, but they can also make their way into apartment complexes or houses. You might find their eggs and droppings hidden away in the dark spaces of your house.

German cockroaches

The German cockroach is one of the smallest cockroach species at a quarter to half an inch long, and these ones, in particular, prefer 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 spaces that are warm, dark, and moist, and it’s common for them to be lingering in the kitchen. They’ll sometimes bite when provoked, too.

Brown-banded cockroaches

Like German cockroaches, Brown-banded cockroaches are also relatively small at about half an inch long and are dark brown in color, which is why the two are often confused for each other. The brown-banded roach also has two distinctive yellowish or light brown bands across its back. Males have a full set of wings and are able to fly, but females are shorter and wider with smaller wings and can’t fly.
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 house, including closets or dresser drawers. They mostly prefer areas that are warm and try and usually avoid water.
The brown-banded cockroach can produce extremely quickly—under the right conditions, a female could produce hundreds of offspring over the course of a year.

Oriental cockroaches

At about an inch or so long, oriental cockroaches have shiny, very dark brown or black exoskeletons. They have small wings, but they aren’t capable of flight. 
Oriental cockroaches like cool, dark, and damp spaces like basements. Sometimes, they’ll find their way into a home through a sewer line.

A guide to cockroach identification

Here are some characteristics of Indiana’s most common cockroaches:
Type of roachAverage lengthColorCan it fly?Where to spot them
American cockroach1.5-2 inchesReddish-brownYesBasements, drains, crawl spaces
German cockroaches0.25 to 0.5 inchesLight brownYesKitchens, bathrooms, most indoor spaces
Brown-banded cockroaches0.5 inchesDark brown with lighter stripesMales yes, females noCabinets, pantries, closets, furniture
Oriental cockroaches1 to 1.25 inchesBlack or dark brownNoBasements, drains, crawl spaces
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Cockroach lookalikes

Some cockroach species can get confused with other cockroach species—but some insects only look like cockroaches. Here are some insects that are commonly mistaken for cockroaches, and how to tell the difference between them: 
  • Beetles: Like cockroaches, beetles come in many varieties. To distinguish the two, take a close look at their bodies. A cockroach's antennae are longer, while a beetle's are shorter and less mobile. A cockroach has long, spiny legs and is much faster than a beetle.
  • Crickets: Unlike cockroaches, crickets can make musical chirps with their hind legs, which are also longer. Those hind legs also give crickets plenty of jumping power, which a cockroach doesn’t have.
  • June bugs: While June bugs can appear similar in color and size to some cockroaches, June bugs’ bodies are rounder, while cockroaches are flatter.
  • Giant water bugs: While cockroaches prefer moist environments, they do not linger in standing water like a giant water bug. As predatory insects, water bugs have pincer-like parts around their mouths that they use to hunt. A cockroach, on the other hand, is a scavenger and lacks pincers.

Signs of a cockroach infestation

The following are some signs you may notice if cockroaches have taken up residence in your Tennessee home:
  • Finding the actual cockroaches 
  • Cockroach droppings in hiding areas (which can look similar to mouse droppings in both shape and size) 
  • Musty smell: Cockroaches give off a pheromone to communicate with each other that leaves behind a musty odor. 
  • Cockroach eggs: The appearance of cockroach eggs varies by species. They have a hard reddish-brown or black casing. An 8 millimeter long (or a little wider than a pencil) bean-like creature, they are usually found near food sources.
  • Stains or smear marks: As if they couldn’t get more charming, cockroaches can leave behind a memorable mark on a place where they’ve been active in the form of brown smudges or stains.
  • Damage to items: You might notice evidence of chewing on items in your house, like food, packaging, paper, or fabrics, which could vary depending on the species of cockroach and their dietary preferences. 

How to get rid of roaches in Tennessee

If you discover a cockroach infestation in your Tennessee home, don't delay taking action (as if you want to). Cockroaches can cause health issues or aggravate allergies and spread pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli.
Experts often recommend starting with integrated pest management (IPM) first—especially if you live in a home with pets, children, or people who have serious health conditions
Rather than immediately reaching for harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals, IPM approaches pest management by limiting the resources a pest needs to thrive. For cockroaches generally, that mostly means limiting their food and water sources
Here are some examples of what those IPM approaches could look like:
  • Keep rooms and surfaces clean and sanitary
  • Keep food and trash in sealed containers
  • Wash dishes promptly to limit leftover food sitting out
  • Put away pet food and water dishes at night
  • Vacuum regularly (using a vacuum with a HEPA filter where roaches have been can help get rid of eggs and other debris that have spread through the air)
  • Fix plumbing problems and water leaks promptly
  • Address structural problems like cracked walls where cockroaches could enter

Five natural roach killers

If your roach problem persists and you still want to avoid using toxic chemicals, consider trying some of the following options:
  1. Baking soda: One of your pantry's most versatile items also kills roaches quickly and easily. When roaches eat it, their digestive systems produce gas, which causes them to essentially explode from the inside.
  2. Borax: A common laundry product, borax can be extremely effective at killing roaches. 
  3. Mix it with equal parts sugar and sprinkle some in areas where you’ve found roach activity. Once they eat it, the borax will dehydrate and kill them. 
  4. Boric acid: Boric acid, which is naturally present in fruits and plants, has a low level of toxicity for humans and pets in small amounts, but that’s not the case for roaches. Boric acid will prove fatal for them once they’ve ingested it. Sprinkle some where roaches have been gathering, along with some bait to really entice them, and wait for it to take effect.
  5. Citrus scents: You can either leave lemon oil on roaches or mix it with soap and water before mopping or cleaning other surfaces. This won't kill roaches, but it will deter them by making your home less appealing to them. Peppermint oil also works.
  6. Sticky traps: Perhaps in a less dramatic fashion than baking soda, scented glue traps designed specifically 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 gentler methods just aren’t making the necessary impact, and you find yourself considering using stronger chemicals. You can find baits, sprays, and insecticides targeted at cockroaches at most hardware stores.
Just make sure to follow the product’s directions closely and pay attention to any hazards or warnings. Also, some roaches are resistant to certain insecticides, so it helps to know what kind of roach you’re dealing with first before picking out a product.
If you haven’t had luck on your own controlling your roach problem, it might be time to call in a pest control professional. A good exterminator will be able to identify what kind of cockroaches you’re dealing with and how to best address the infestation, using the appropriate safety precautions with the products being used.

How to save money on home and car insurance in Tennessee

As you protect your home from a cockroach infestation, it’s also a good idea to make sure it’s protected for even more of the unexpected with the right insurance policy. With Jerry, finding affordable car and home insurance is easier than ever.
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Getting started takes less than a minute, and the average Jerry user enjoys a savings of $887 per year on car insurance alone!
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FAQs

Roaches are a common pest in Tennessee. Fortunately, though, there are steps you can take to prevent them, the most important ones being keeping your home in a clean and sanitary condition and sealing off any cracks or gaps that could allow roaches entry.
Different cockroach species have varying dietary and environmental preferences but are generally attracted to leftover food, garbage, and damp spaces.
Cockroaches are common throughout the year in Tennessee, but thanks to the extra heat and humidity, summer is peak cockroach season.

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