Author: SearchMyLocal | Last Updated: 15 Mar 2022
Cockroaches are among the most common household pests in Australia. Cockroaches can be found in over seventy percent of Australian households every year, with Sydney residents finding themselves dealing with the pests almost twenty percent more often than other areas in the nation.
It comes as no surprise though—Australia is home to more than 400 species of cockroaches, with most of them endemic to the region. However, out of the 400, only six cockroach species are really considered as pests. The rest are considered native Australian species that live outdoors and rarely hang around human habitats like urbanized cities and homes.
As mentioned, there are six cockroach species in Australia that are considered as pests. So you know a bit more about what you could be dealing with, we’ll highlight the top three most common cockroach species lurking around Australian households:
Aptly named, the Australian Cockroach is one of the most common species one could find in an Aussie home. Australian Cockroaches are small in size, only about two to three centimeters long. They are also nocturnal, so when the sun is out, they will likely be settling into damp and dark areas of home (like under the sink or in a moist basement) and won’t be out and about until nightfall.
American Cockroaches are very distinct from Australian Cockroaches because of their sheer size: they can grow up to 5 centimeters long! Instead of a wood-brown body like their Aussie cousins, American Cockroaches are a warm red-brown with long antenna jutting from their heads. American Cockroaches are also very hardy since they can survive even in dry spots of the home as long as they have someplace to get water from within the area.
These cockroaches are the most difficult to spot because of their small size, coming out to only one centimeter long. Their light brown colour also helps them blend in with their surroundings, which only serves to make your life more difficult when trying to find them! Brown Banded Cockroaches prefer dry environments with quick access to food such as kitchen cabinets, pantries, but can also be found in wardrobes or household appliances with large vents or openings.
Now that you know the most common cockroach species you might encounter in Australia, it’s important to understand why swift action needs to be taken once you discover a cockroach infestation in your home. Cockroaches have horrible habits as insects that could result in you and you family catching diseases or illnesses.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls cockroaches “unhygienic scavengers in human settlements,” and that hits the nail right on the head. While cockroaches don’t bite humans, the spikes on their legs can scratch human skin and irritate the area. Worse, because of the bacteria that they carry on their bodies, the scratch site could become infected and lead to worse complications if not immediately addressed.
Some of the common illnesses that cockroaches can cause are salmonella, staph infections, and strep infections. Since domestic cockroaches’ habitats are always dirty—such as garbage bins, areas near leaky bathroom pipes, moudly undersides of the home—they are walking and flying bacteria bombs. Once they walk on food or dining and kitchen utensils, they can deposit these bacteria onto those surfaces. Unsuspecting humans could then eat the food or use those utensils and be in for a nasty surprise the next few days.
Cockroaches are also one of the most common causes of indoor allergies. Children especially are more prone to cockroach allergies than adults are, which is concerning if you have young children with asthma or any other comorbidities that could be exacerbated by an allergy. Some say that enzymes found in the faeces, eggs, or saliva of cockroaches are the causes of allergies; it is also possible that the body parts they shed (such as their skin or wings), when inhaled, can irritate the lungs and cause allergies.
Cockroaches are clearly a problem for any household, and it’s important to take steps to protect yourselves and keep your home from becoming a preferred breeding ground for these pests. While cockroach behaviour can vary from species to species, in general, they will not survive if you prevent them from accessing food, water, and shelter.
Be meticulous about your food storage containers and spaces. Ensure that there are no holes or slits in your cabinets or pantries where cockroaches can pass through, and make sure to regularly check these areas for any droppings or eggs as a precaution. Invest in reusable airtight containers for food storage such as glass jars with tight-fitting lids, airlock plastic or glass containers, or reusable zipper bags to store food. Clean up any food scraps from the kitchen area when cooking or after eating, and remind family members not to store food in their rooms to keep cockroaches away. Keep your garbage bins closed with the appropriate covers, and tightly knot any garbage bags you dispose of—especially those containing food waste and scraps.
Check pipes around the home regularly and immediately fix any leaks that you find, especially if they are in damp or not-easily-accessed areas such as basements or garages. If you collect water or have a water cistern, make sure it is tightly sealed and covered when not in use. Regularly inspect pet food bowls (both food and water). If possible, do not leave them out during the night, when most cockroaches are active and searching for water and food.
If you have stocked items in attics, garages, or basements, make it a point to regularly clean around and under them to ensure they don’t become nesting areas for cockroaches. Make your home as inaccessible to cockroaches as possible: seal any holes, use screen doors or keep doors closed during the evening, and try planting natural herbs that can repel cockroaches—lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint plants can all deter the pesky little insects.