Cockroaches in the Home

Cockroaches are one of the most commonly encountered household pests. While they are a low-level health risk, they thrive in unhealthy conditions and can transmit a number of diseases.


Cockroaches have a broad, flattened body and a relatively small head. Although winged they are not adept fliers. The most common cockroaches in New Zealand are the German and American.

Where they live:

Cockroaches prefer dark places, and thrive in warm and damp conditions. They are often found inside walls, subfloors, and in cupboards. No buildings are completely immune to cockroach infestation however, as they are attracted to food deposits, they are commonly found in unclean homes. They prefer to feed on decaying grease, sugar and other organic matter, as well as inanimate, starchy food sources such as glue, wallpaper and even book bindings.

Pepper-like specs in kitchen cupboards are an indication of cockroach infestation, as is the observation of adult cockroaches or their egg sacs in hard-to-reach locations, such as cracks and crevices in kitchen cabinets, drains, and behind dishwashers and refrigerators.

Health risks:

Cockroaches transmit diseases like dysentery, salmonella and diarrhoea. Their eating habits also expose humans to dangerous diseases. Cockroaches can eat a range of foods, from faecal matter to fresh food intended for people to eat. If cockroaches contaminate your food or the surfaces you use, you could get sick.

Health risks


You can reduce your chances of a cockroach infestation by:

  • Seal off cracks and entry points into the home, such as cracks around baseboards, pipes, windows, cabinets, and doors.
  • Keep living areas dry and clean, vacuuming frequently.
  • Keep all food in sealed containers, use trash cans that have tight-fitting lids, and do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Removing human waste and food waste from the home quickly and efficiently.
  • Repair dripping taps and leaky pipes, broken roof tiles, and any other condition that might allow moisture to enter areas where cockroaches can establish harbourage.
  • If you already have cockroaches, you might need to set baited traps or apply an insecticide to the area. Insecticides work best when applied to areas where cockroaches hide during the day or where they pass through at night time.
  • If infestation persists, contact a reputable exterminator.

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