How long does it take to get rid of roaches? It’s one of the first questions someone saddled with a roach infestation has.
In fact, if you’re unlucky enough to find cockroaches in your home, you probably have a few more common questions. For instance, why me? Secondly, can I just burn the place down and start over somewhere new?
But once you’ve calmed down a little, you’ll find that, although a cockroach infestation is definitely difficult to get rid of, it’s not impossible.
Cockroaches have a reputation for durability that, while not totally baseless, is somewhat exaggerated. There’s a lot you can do to get the cockroaches out of your home before even calling a professional.
That’s not to say it’s easy. And it’s definitely not fast. Getting your home back to its cockroach-free state will take time and patience. Let us show you just how much time and patience you can expect to spend…
Roach Babies Grow Up So Fast
Consider the German cockroach. This is the most common species that infests human homes. It’s found throughout the world and has no particular connection to Germany besides its ruthless efficiency in establishing a population.
A German cockroach can grow from an egg to a sexually reproductive adult in as little as 50 days. And a single female cockroach can have up to 200 offspring over the course of her approximately nine-month lifespan.
The implications of this are… Not great. Let’s imagine that a single pregnant cockroach gets into your home. She will be carrying an egg case, or ootheca, that can be seen protruding from her abdomen as it grows. This egg case will typically contain 30 to 40 eggs.
Sometimes, the eggs start to hatch while the mother is still carrying the egg case, making cockroaches one of the rare insects that can at least seem as though they have live birth.
More commonly, though, the female will drop her egg case approximately 24 hours before the eggs hatch.
Baby cockroaches, called nymphs, are much like scaled-down versions of the adults. Cockroaches are careless mothers, and the babies will be left more or less to fend for themselves. Which they can do very well.
Baby cockroaches will feed on the same food as the adults, but they will also feed on the adult’s droppings. Not the most dignified start to life.
Like many insects with a hard exoskeleton, cockroaches need to molt in order to grow. The amount of molts a cockroach will undergo before becoming an adult varies, but around six is typical.
Each time a cockroach molts, it emerges from its old exoskeleton bright white. Within hours, though, they darken to their regular dull brown color.
Cockroach Math is Terrifying
So let’s imagine that on day one, our cockroach mother gives birth to 40 juvenile cockroaches. Let’s be conservative and say that it takes 60 days, two full months, for these cockroaches to reach maturity. You now have 41 adult cockroaches in your home.
Here’s where it gets really scary. A female cockroach only needs to mate once; after that, she’s pregnant for life and will continue to lay egg cases until she goes to the big garbage can in the sky.
Once she’s mated, she will begin to form an egg case. Those eggs will typically hatch within 28 days.
So in just three months after that first female laid her eggs, assuming the population is equally split between male and female, you could have 20 female roaches all dropping an egg case of their own.
At 40 eggs each, that’s 800 bundles of roach joy on the way.
And in another two months, all of those 800 will be having babies of their own. Assuming 400 females, that could be 16,000 eggs laid in the next generation.
It’s not hard to see how an infestation of cockroaches can quickly get out of hand. Because they have so many kids, a healthy roach colony is generally 80% juveniles.
The numbers are exponential; the more roaches you have, the more roaches you are going to have.
Is It Impossible to Get Rid of Roaches?
You’re crunching the terrifying numbers in your head and wondering…is it even possible to get rid of a roach infestation?
That’s a fair question. You can probably imagine the difficulty the cockroach’s phenomenal breeding rate presents when you’re trying to control them.
Once the population reaches a certain size, they can breed almost as fast as you can kill them. And if you miss one mated female, the whole problem will start all over again.
But as difficult as it is, it’s not impossible to get rid of roaches.
One of the best things you can do to keep a cockroach population in check is to not feed them. This means maintaining clinical hygiene in your home.
Roaches can feed on the smallest crumbs or spills, so you need to make sure that all food is stored in roach-proof containers, and that all spills are wiped up right away.
Spraying for roaches is a tricky business. While it will definitely kill a lot of them, it’s unlikely to reach them all. And cockroaches are highly mobile.
They know you’re trying to kill them, and they will run from any spray you apply. So sometimes, spraying for cockroaches can actually cause the infestation to spread further into the house.
For this reason, one of the most effective ways to get rid of roaches is to use a poison bait that the roaches will eat.
The best roach bait gel out there is Advion’s Cockroach Gel Bait – it’s one of the most effective cockroach killers on the market. It won’t cause roaches to scatter, but it is designed to be slow acting.
Juvenile roaches eat the droppings and the molted skins of the adults, and so the poison will spread through the whole colony. But it will take time.
Another smart solution to utilize in the meantime is to invest in Gentrol Point Source’s Insect Growth Regulator. This product gives you a significant advantage over the cockroach population’s incredible reproduction rate by simply making sure they can’t reproduce.
Yup, the Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) is effectively birth control for roaches. It doesn’t kill roaches – use the above for that – but it prevents roaches from reproducing. The result? No more roaches being born.
So How Long Does it Take to Get Rid of Roaches?
Cockroaches can survive for a month without eating. And most bait products inhibit the cockroach’s ability to digest food so that they can keep eating but will gain no nourishment from it.
Essentially, you’re trying to starve them out.
The length of time this takes will depend on the level of infestation, but the chances are that you’re not going to clear your cockroach infestation within a month.
Plan for more like a couple of months to be on the safe side. As horrible as that sounds – and is – don’t despair. It takes some time, but it is possible to get rid of cockroaches. Even when they are babymaking machines.