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Why Do I Only Find Dead Cockroaches In My House?

In the wild, cockroaches live in forests, caves, and brushes. They feed on and dispose of organic waste. They also live in and travel through unsanitary locations and many of them favor living in the warmth of our homes. Not only is it unpleasant to think of roaches living in our homes, but they do carry bacteria, which they leave behind when walking across work surfaces and in cupboards with food and dishes.

While it isn’t uncommon to see one or two dead roaches, if you see a large increase in the number of dead ones in your home and you rarely, if ever, see any living roaches, it is likely to be a bad sign. Often, seeing a large number of dead cockroaches in your home means that you have a sizeable infestation, but it could also mean that the roaches are being killed by predators including fire ants or lizards. In any case, it requires further investigation and steps to eradicate these bugs from your home.

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Cockroaches In The Home

cockroach
Image Credit: Poravute Siriphiroon, Shutterstock

Cockroaches prefer dark and safe spaces to live. In houses, this means that they will live in cracks and crevices of walls. They can reside in unused drawers, and they are regularly found behind the fridge, especially if there is a collection of crumbs and other food debris to be found there.

Roaches are tricky to spot and notoriously difficult to kill. They have a flexible exoskeleton, which means that they can squeeze through tiny gaps and can run the equivalent of 50 body lengths in a second. Even if you do spot one, and it doesn’t get away, a cockroach can survive pressure equivalent to 900 times its own bodyweight.

Typically, a cockroach will enter a house looking for somewhere to nest, shelter, food, or water. They feed on organic material, which can include leftover food, but even the most fastidious of housekeepers will not always prevent an infestation. You can reduce the likelihood of an infestation, however, by cleaning away dirty dishes straight away, wiping down worktops and units, and cleaning around and behind appliances. Pay particular attention to fruit bowls, perishable goods in the pantry, and to pet food that is left in open bags or in bowls overnight.

At the same time, look for signs of cockroaches. Typical signs include small droppings that are similar to those of a mouse, egg sacks that are shaped like small purses, and shed cockroach skins. Although unlikely, it is possible that you will see a cockroach when you turn the light on at night and catch them unaware.

Causes Of Dead Cockroaches

If you do see a large number of dead roaches, there are several possible causes:

  • Mice Or Rats – Mice and rats don’t necessarily prefer a cockroach diet, but both will eat them as a food source if hungry enough. While a rat infestation may get rid of a cockroach infestation, it just leaves you with another problem to deal with.
  • Lizards – Pet owners that keep lizards know that roaches are a good source of protein for their pets. If you don’t keep lizards as pets, but you do have a number of house lizards or geckos residing in your property, they could well be eating the roaches, although with rats, mice, and lizards, you are unlikely to find too many leftovers.
  • Fire Ants – Fire ants are predatory insects, and they will attack any insect that they find on what they perceive to be their property and land. They will eat cockroaches and may leave small parts of the body and the wings behind.
  • Playing Dead – Cockroaches do have some excellent defence mechanisms to help them elude capture. One such technique is playing dead, so the dead roach you see may not actually be dead but simply biding its time to make an escape. You are unlikely to find large numbers of cockroaches playing dead, at the same time, however.
  • Cockroach Infestation – Unfortunately, the single most common cause of their being multiple dead cockroaches in your home is that you have a considerably cockroach infestation that has gotten worse. More cockroaches means more competition for water and food, and this ultimately causes more of them to die. If you see a marked increase in the number of cockroaches you have, it may be time to call in a professional disposal service.
Cockroaches at home
Image Credit: RHJPhtotoandilustration, Shutterstock

Cockroach Eradication

There are some methods you can use to help get rid of cockroaches if they have nested in your home:

  • Baking Soda – Baking soda is used for a seemingly endless list of home remedies, including the eradication of roaches. It does cause quite an unpleasant end. When roaches consume baking soda, it creates gases in their stomach that cause them to explode. You will have to try and make the baking soda more inviting, however, which you can do by rubbing it into onions or fruit and then placing the laced organic material in a shallow bowl to make clean up easier. Just remember to keep onions out of the way of dogs and cats, because they are toxic to pets.
  • Citrus – Another solution that is readily available and that you might already have to hand is citrus. We humans love orange and lemon, but cockroaches less so. Add lemon juice to your cleaning solutions and mop it on the floor and use it to clean your worktops. The smell will put roaches off so you may not have to deal with the problem anymore.
  • Boric Acid – Boric acid is safe for dogs and people but less so for cockroaches. As well as sticking to their legs, it kills them quickly by causing their nervous and digestive systems to stop working. You can create your own trap by placing a food source in the middle of a shallow bowl and then surrounding it with a layer of boric acid.
  • Borax – Sodium tetraborate has the same base compounds as boric acid and you may know it by its more common name of Borax. The laundry product will cause roaches to dehydrate and kill them quickly. You may have to locate the bodies afterwards.
  • Peppermint Essential Oils – Peppermint essential oil works similarly to citrus. The roaches do not like the smell and they will avoid it. Place it around cracks and entry points while using other methods to kill off the roaches that are already in your home.
  • Glue Strips – Glue strips can be bought from DIY stores and other stores. Those that are specifically designed to capture and kill roaches are coated in a substance that has an appealing smell and once the roach steps on the glue strip, it is caught. You will need to monitor the strips and change them regularly.
  • Bait Stations – Bait stations, or bait tubes, are another commercial solution that can work well. As the name suggests, they contain a bait that attracts roaches. They also contain poison and once the roach gets in the tube and eats the poison they will die. Take care using bait stations if you have children, however.

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Cockroaches are unappealing and can be unhealthy, spreading bacteria and causing illness. They are also difficult to find, very difficult to catch, and equally difficult to kill. Seeing an increase in the number of dead roaches in your home should not be considered a positive sign, either. Yes, it means they’re dying, but it also likely means that you have a sizeable infestation, and you need to take action to eradicate the problem as soon as possible.


Featured Image Credit: Nicholas_Demetriades, Pixabay

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