Finding a roach nest. Even just writing the words feels a little bit gross. One cockroach is disgusting enough on its own, but the idea of a nest of these dirty little creatures is enough to turn anyone’s stomach.
But before we dive into the nauseating world of cockroach society, a quick note on terms. Technically, cockroaches don’t have nests. They are not social animals in the way that ants or termites are.
In the world of these bugs, it’s more or less every roach for him or herself. However, cockroaches do tend to gather together in what’s known as aggregations.
They do this for a couple of reasons. One is so that they can find partners. Another is because roaches aren’t above eating each other when food gets scarce.
Finally, while adult cockroaches don’t consciously take care of their offspring, the juvenile roaches do benefit from being close to the adults by eating their poop. Yes, that’s right. Baby cockroaches eat their parent’s poop. Just in case you didn’t think these bugs were gross enough.
Cockroaches also don’t build structures to live in like ants and termites. So again, they don’t build nests and the term ‘roach nest’ is a bit of a misnomer.
But if you find one of these cockroach aggregations in your home, it’s highly likely that you’re not going to worry too much about getting the terminology correct. It’s more important to know how to get rid of it.
Why You Want to Find a Roach Nest
Cockroaches are prolific breeders. A single female German cockroach, which is the species that most commonly infests homes and businesses, can have as many as 200 babies in her lifetime. And that lifetime is less than one year.
Which means that cockroach populations can get out of hand extremely quickly. As a consequence of this high reproductive rate, a healthy cockroach population is around 75% nymphs, which is scientist for baby cockroaches.
You can stomp on all the adult cockroaches you want, but if you don’t kill the nymphs, you’re never going to solve the problem. And the nymphs, especially the younger ones, tend to stay hidden in their harborages. This is why the babies eat the feces of the adults. It enables them to get food without having to risk leaving the nest.
This is why finding a cockroach nest or harborage is so important. The vast majority of the cockroaches will be there, especially during the day. To win the war against cockroaches, you have to take it to where they live.
Most Common Roach Hiding Places
Theoretically, roaches can hide just about anywhere. Newly hatched baby roaches can hide in cracks as small as 1/32”, and even relatively large adults can squeeze into gaps around 3/16 of an inch.
So it goes without saying that the average home contains dozens of places where roaches can hide.
However, the cockroach population has specific needs that make certain places more attractive to them than others. Perhaps most important of these needs is water.
While a cockroach can live for months without eating, it won’t last more than a week without water. So these pests like to stay close to water sources in the home. Usually, this means kitchens and bathrooms.
Cockroaches get a lot of their moisture from the condensation that collects on the outside of water pipes. So roach nests will often be found where water pipes come through the wall.
However, they will also drink from pet dishes, plant pots, dishes left in the sink, or anywhere else they can find a source of water.
Of course, cockroaches also need food. Again, the kitchen is usually the best place to find it. Cockroaches can live quite happily on food spills or crumbs that drop down behind kitchen cabinets and appliances.
However, anywhere food is stored or eaten can become attractive to these bugs. This is why cockroaches can be found throughout the house. If you eat in the bedroom, especially if you leave a lot of food lying around, the cockroaches will find it.
Other Roach Hot Spots
If you’re looking for specific places most likely to be harboring a cockroach nest, here are the places you’re most likely to find one…
Behind the fridge
This is probably the number one place to find cockroaches, especially German cockroaches. The area behind your fridge serves several of the cockroach’s needs.
Water collects on the pipes and in the drip tray at the back of the fridge, and the motor provides the warmth cockroaches like. Also, it’s always dark back there and usually undisturbed.
Basically, if you were trying to design a place for cockroaches to have a nest, it would look a lot like the space behind your fridge.
Behind the stove
This is another favorite place for roaches. Although the back of the stove may not offer them the water that the fridge does, it’s a great place to find food.
Even the smallest spill down the side of the stove can provide enough food to keep a population going for a long time. Plus, it’s a great way to stay warm.
Holes in the walls where water pipes enter the home
The high humidity and ready access to water make this a good place for cockroach nest. In the case of roach infested apartments, this is often how cockroaches first enter the home from a neighboring unit.
The small cracks and crevices inside kitchen cabinets are ideal places for cockroaches to hide. They can stay hidden and have easy access to the food stored inside the cabinets.
Cockroaches are anything but fussy. Our garbage is a perfect source of food and water for these insects. So often, they will happily live in or close to a garbage container.
Bags of pet food
Cockroaches will eat just about anything, but the high protein in pet food makes it an ideal food source for them.
The warmth and darkness a radiator offers can make it another great place for a cockroach nest.
Different Types of Roaches and Their Nests
German cockroaches are the species most commonly found in homes, but they’re not the only type of cockroach you could be dealing with. There are a couple of different species that can become a problem in homes, and the areas they nest in vary from one species to the next.
American Cockroach Nests
These patriotic bugs are the largest species in the United States. They often found in sewer systems and can enter homes through drains.
In the summer, they may even be found outside. But in the home, they are most likely to stick to drains and water pipes.
Brown-banded Cockroach Nests
Similar in size to the German cockroach, these roaches like the heat. While German cockroaches prefer temperatures around 70°F, brown-banded roaches prefer temperatures around 80°F.
This means they are often found close to radiators and heat pipes. And because heat rises, they often found higher up than other species. They can be found in ceilings, behind picture frames, on bookcases, and in light fixtures.
This is the species that shows the greatest willingness to nest outside the usual places in the kitchen and bathroom.
Oriental Cockroach Nests
This large cockroach often lives outdoors in warm climates. It can even endure several weeks of freezing weather.
They are not found inside homes as often as other cockroach species, but can sometimes enter through utility pipes and air ducts. Most typically, they are found in crawlspaces, basements, and cellars.
How to Destroy a Roach Nest
Okay, so you’ve battled your perfectly understandable disgust and tracked down where the cockroaches are hiding. What now?
Well, cockroaches move fast, and when you discover their hiding place, they will scatter. So before you even go looking for a roach nest, make sure to have everything you need to destroy it close at hand. The quicker you react, the more cockroaches you will kill.
While it can be tempting to spray the dirty roaches with pesticide and cackle maniacally as they choke and die, this isn’t the most effective way to deal with a roach nest. Especially since it can interfere with the surefire strategy you’re going to employ: cockroach bait.
Sure, you may kill a lot of roaches, and experience the savage joy of satisfying your bloodlust. In the long term, though, there are better ways to wipe out a roach nest.
A good vacuum is an effective and non-toxic way to remove a lot of cockroaches quickly. Suck up the bugs as they try to make a run for it. The process of being sucked up into vacuum will almost certainly kill cockroaches, but to be on the safe side, empty the vacuum outside the house once you’re done to ensure that no live roaches stay inside.
Once you’ve vacuumed up all the cockroaches you can see, the best roach killer to use is a bait. These products are designed to be attractive to the cockroaches, which will eat them.
The bait will slowly poison the cockroaches, and the dead bodies and feces of the cockroaches that ate the bait will ensure the poison is passed on to other members of the nest.
Because cockroaches are capable of such rapid reproduction, you want to make sure you kill each and every one of these creatures. And a poison roach bait is by far the best way to do it.
Want the full guide to cockroach destruction? Here’s how to get rid of roaches forever.