How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in Wisconsin

From the common American cockroach to the brown-banded roach, here’s how you can identify and get rid of roaches in your Wisconsin home.
Written by Kara Vanderbeek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Cockroaches of the American, Oriental, and German varieties are a common problem for
homeowners, but their residence in your home can be prevented and treated if you know the right steps to follow.
When you think of Wisconsin, you probably think of the Green Bay Packers, countless cheese manufacturers, and the noteworthy fishing and hunting scene. While the Badger State certainly has plenty to offer, residents do have to contend with the likes of six-legged creepy crawlies from time to time.
Fortunately, you can prevent an infestation and stop a growing colony if you have the right tools and know-how. To help you kick these creatures to the curb,
home and auto insurance
has created this guide for everything you need to know about cockroaches in Wisconsin.  
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Wisconsin cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

Although these six-legged creatures are common throughout the state, they’re most active during the night, which makes them difficult pests to catch. However, if you know what to watch out for, you can stop these pests in their tracks and send them packing. 
Keep reading to find out how to recognize the five most common roach species in Wisconsin

American cockroaches

American roaches are the most common roach species in the United States. These roaches are reddish-brown in color and can be up to 1.5 inches in length. They prefer to spend time in warmer areas near food sources, like sewers, trash, gardens, bathrooms, kitchens, and drains
If you see the fateful signs of an American roach population, act fast. This species can pick up a variety of bacteria as they move that you won’t want contaminating your home. 

German cockroaches

German cockroaches are the most common roach species in Wisconsin and, with three to four generations bred per year, they’re also the fastest breeding cockroach. German roaches tend to be 0.5 inches long or smaller, so they can be hard to spot.  
You can identify this species by the two dark stripes behind their heads and their pale yellow coloring. Watch out for them in your bathrooms and kitchens as they like to be near a water source.

Brown-banded cockroaches

These dark brown, glossy creatures are about ⅝ inches long and prefer to hang out in temperatures of at least 80 degrees. Watch out for this species of roach on your ceilings, around appliance motors, light switches, and picture frames

Oriental cockroaches

Oriental roaches prefer cool, humid areas, so watch out for them in your crawl spaces, basements, and floor drains. These roaches can be identified by their shiny black appearance and tend to be around 1 inch in length. 

Wood cockroaches

Wood cockroaches are native to Wisconsin and look very similar to their American counterparts. Dark brown and roughly 1.5 inches in length, this species prefers making its home under the bark of dead trees
If you bring firewood or other dead tree sources into your home, look out for this species as they may be lingering in your woodpile.
MORE: How to get bugs off your car: A handy guide

A guide to cockroach identification

If you’ve spotted a roach but are unsure which species you’re dealing with, it can be tough to know how best to go about killing the colony. 
To help you distinguish between Wisconsin’s most common cockroaches, you can refer to the table below:
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
American cockroaches
1.5 inches
Sewers, pipes, basements, kitchen sinks, drains
German cockroaches
0.5 inches
Light brown to pale yellow
Moist areas, water sources, warm appliances
Brown-banded cockroaches
5/8 inches
Dark cherry, black
Males have short wings, females are wingless
Ceilings, around appliance motors, light switches, and picture frames
Oriental cockroaches
1 inch
Dark brown, black
Damp, cool areas such as sewers or piping
Wood cockroaches
1.5 inches
Dark brown
Woodpiles, near a light source

How to get rid of roaches in Wisconsin

Before any diseases or allergens contaminate your home, you should take action against a roach population as soon as possible. You have a few options to address the problem depending on your preferred method of removal. 
All-natural solutions are a great extermination choice for those with pets or small children, while chemical bait stations may be the way to go if you need to get rid of the problem immediately. If all else fails, call in a professional to deal with the infestation for you.
In the meantime, you can remove any food sources from your home to starve the population, and seal any entry points into your home with wood filler, steel mesh, or silicone caulker, to prevent any further infestation.

Five natural roach killers

Worried about using a chemical killer in your home? These all-natural solutions will do the trick.
  1. Diatomaceous earth: Fossilized algae in diatomaceous earth will dehydrate the roach’s exoskeleton upon contact. Simply sprinkle a coating in areas of roach activity
  2. Baking soda: Create a DIY roach killer with the baking soda in your kitchen cupboard! The soda will cause high levels of gas in roaches when they eat it, causing them to burst and die 
  3. Boric acid: A spoonful of peanut butter and boric acid works as great roach bait Borax: If you mix borax with table sugar, it will dehydrate and kill any roaches that ingest it.  
Keep in mind that all-natural solutions, while effective, will take longer than a chemical insecticide and may require more applications. Additionally, many natural roach extermination methods will require you to locate and dispose of the dead roach bodies, so be prepared for a dead roach hunt. 

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

If you don’t mind the toxins in your environment, the following chemical roach control methods will provide efficient and successful results. 
  • Bait stations: All it takes is for one roach to munch on the bait and die, and the rest of the colony will feed on its dead carcass to effectively wipe out the colony. 
  • Gels: Place insecticide-saturated gels into the nooks and crannies of your house, beneath appliances, sinks, and in closets to stop the roaches at the source.
  • Sprays: Use an insecticide spray around water and food sources, along with home entry points, to tackle larger infestations.
Remember, chemical roach killers are toxic to pets and humans, so be sure to keep any insecticides in your home away from children, pets, and food and avoid the risk of contamination.
If you’ve attempted remedies on your own and your resident cockroach colony has proved to be stubborn, it may be time to call in a professional.

How to keep cockroaches from coming back

If you’ve gone through the process of exterminating a roach population from your home, there’s a good chance you’ll want to avoid ever having to do it again. Luckily, by following a few simple steps, you can avoid any future infestations. 
The best preventative measure you can use is to remove any cockroach food sources. To do so, frequently take out your garbage, mop your floors, remove any fallen crumbs, and keep your dishes washed and dried.
In addition, ensure any uneaten food is stored properly. Avoid leaving food on counters and seal all containers.
Finally, regularly eliminate any water sources from your home by checking for leaky pipes, spills, or other roach attractants. 

How to save money on home and car insurance in Wisconsin

While cockroaches might be an unpleasant aspect of homeownership, you can reduce your risk of infestation by maintaining your home accordingly. 
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Unfortunately, roach infestations are a common, year-round problem for Wisconsin homeowners, with the most common species being the German roach.
Wood cockroaches, the native Wisconsin species, are attracted to dead wood sources, while other roach species are attracted to food, water, and moist environments.
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