How to avoid a cockroach infestation in your California home

Have you noticed an increasing number of cockroaches in your home, garage or yard lately? If so, you are nowhere near alone, say pest control experts.

Cockroach infestations are becoming increasingly common in the area, stretching from South Placer communities like Lincoln and Granite Bay to Sacramento.

Stressed by rising temperatures and drought conditions, cockroaches that normally live in municipal sewer systems are making their way into homes in search of moisture and cooler temperatures, said Rich Sartain, general manager of Rocklin Pest Control.

Sartain said it has been a widespread problem for months. He and others in the pest control industry reported an increase in new customers seeking help removing cockroaches from their homes.

“You’re really driving the business right now,” he said.

The phenomenon has become so problematic for some Placer County residents that Supervisor Suzanne Jones, who represents the Granite Bay area, told a board meeting on June 22 that she had received messages of concern from her constituents.

One voter, she said, wrote that the lawn in his back yard looked like it was moving at night from all the “creepy crawling animals”.

“The cities experience it more than the country,” said Sartain. “We get more calls from South Placer to Sacramento than, say, Auburn and Loomis, because these people are sitting on drinking water tanks, not the public sewer system.”

Sartain has a customer who lives in Loomis and hasn’t seen a cockroach on his property in months. But his Lincoln business had to be treated for an infestation, Sartain said.

The infestation is fueled not by native cockroaches but by an invasive species called the Turkestan cockroach, said Dustin Whitehead, owner of White Line Pest Management.

Whitehead said he started seeing the Turkestan cockroaches in the area about five years ago and they have quickly become the largest species of cockroach in the area.

Drought conditions make the problem worse, he added.

“They’re looking for water … and the high temperatures are stressful for them, so they’re looking for a cooler place that is often in houses because of the air conditioning,” said Whitehead.

Turkestan cockroaches breed twice as fast as native roach species, Sartain said. The males are colored red and the females are black, mimicking the appearance of other native species, he said.

“If you have a sink, toilet, or bathtub that you don’t use that often, you can climb straight up the plumbing to the bathroom,” said Sartain. “The outside of your house is drier, so they’re trying to get into your garage or bathroom where it’s cooler or more humid.”

Homeowners often first notice the pests in their garages, he added.

“It carries bacteria on their legs when they get to your home,” Sartain said. It’s not as bad as a German roach infestation, but it’s still not good. “

Whitehead said homeowners can mitigate the problem by sealing crevices, cracks, and other types of pests that could enter their home. People can also replace mulch on their property with products that use less water.

Sartain agreed, saying people need to seal their homes by filling cracks and fixing door sweeps. He said a pest control professional can treat in the house and on the property as well.

“But there is no magic wand that can make them disappear and not let you see,” he said.

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Molly Sullivan covers Folsom, Roseville and Placer Counties, as well as police responsibility for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of the state of Chico.

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