Cockroaches are serious business. It doesn't matter how many types of roaches there are or how many millions of years they've been around, they carry disease, contaminate everything, and live in almost every part of the country. If you don't have them, count yourself lucky. If you have them, you're in trouble. Here are a few tips on how to get rid of them and keep them away.
Don't Invite Them In
There are two major things that attract just about every living organism, and roaches are no exception: food and water. The best way to not attract them is to keep food cleaned up and eliminate wet areas around the house. Those include anywhere a leak might occur, such as under sinks and around the laundry. Damp areas in the yard are also tempting, such as around hoses, downspouts, or woodpiles. Once they find these places, it's an easy transition into the house. Letting dirty dishes build up in the sink is a double invitation to infestation. Also, seal up any possible ways they might find their way into the house. Keep grains, flour, and similar foods, as well as pet foods cleaned up and in sealable plastic or metal containers. Some commercially available treatments prevent them (and other insects) from entering in the first place.
How to Deal With Them
Usually, if you've got roaches, you know it, or you soon will. If you see one, it's too late. If you live in an apartment building or other type of shared living space, you have to enlist the aid of everyone in the building or it will be a never ending uphill battle. Your first line of defense is the preventative measures mentioned above. Make your home uninviting to them. Then it's time to fight back.
Roaches need water to survive, which is why they are more prevalent in moister climates such as the southern part of the country. If they dry out, they're done for. Most and the best extermination measures involve a substance they carry back to the nest and will then spread and dehydrate them. There are poisons that kill them outright, but those can be hazardous to members of your household. Borax, as in the cleansers of the same or similar names, is one approach. There are several methods of application, some of which can be messy, but that still beats living with the nasty little critters. Some commercially available products that don't necessarily make it back to the nest are poison-free and come in aerosol sprays, chalk, gel, and the ever popular Roach Motel. There's even a build-it-yourself electric roach trap. Many more devices and applications exist; too many to list them all here, which is an indication of just how serious the roach problem is. And try not to step on them, as you may spread their eggs, making your problem worse.
Of course, if these kinds of treatments are beyond your capabilities or desire, call a pest-control specialist.