Cockroaches have ruled the cracks, crevices, and dung heaps of the earth for 350 million years. They outlived the dinosaurs, sabre-tooth tigers, wooly mammoths, and countless other species. But while cockroaches have been here a long time, it doesn’t take long to get rid of them when they invade your home. And that’s a good thing.
When they’re in your abode, cockroaches leave a trail of fecal matter and saliva to mark their trails. They contaminate food with deadly Salmonella and Shigella bacteria. Decaying cockroach corpses become a fine powder which triggers allergies and asthma attacks. If you see a cockroach or three, you're likely have hundreds—or thousands—living in a nearby nest. But if you act fast before the population has taken hold, you may be able get rid of cockroaches within a week to ten days. And most of them will be gone in a day or two.
The first thing to do when you see a roach is resist the urge to spray it with aerosol insecticide. This will kill the roach you see but likely drive the ones you don’t see deeper into your walls and floorboards. Instead, you want to feed your new pets with roach bait which contains a blend of food and insecticide. The poison in the killing bait strips takes about 24-hours to kill roaches that eat it. The critters live long enough to carry the bait back to the colony and share it with their nest mates. In what is called a secondary kill, roaches that haven’t even darkened your doorstep end up belly up. Within a week or so, the nest is dead.
To prevent new infestations from the other trillion cockroaches crawling the earth, take a few preventative steps:
Clean up your kitchen, paying special attention to hidden grease and crumbs under the fridge and between the stove and counters.
Get rid of roach food like newspapers, fabric, and books stored in boxes.
You will also want to seal up cracks in the foundation, gaps between windows and outer walls, and unsealed areas where utility lines enter the home.
While all this work might take longer than actually getting rid of your initial cockroach problem, it will save you problems down the line.