The Ultimate Guide to Cockroach Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Cockroaches have been around on earth for more than 300 million years. They are one of the most common insects infesting households. There are more than 4500 cockroach species in the world, but less than 1% of them are known as pests.

Most cockroach species are in the wild. The ones that are associated with human habitats are classified as pests. Cockroaches play essential roles in the natural ecosystem. Some people even regard them as pets.

Types of Cockroaches in Singapore

common types of cockroaches in singapore

As mentioned earlier, only less than 1% of cockroach species are pests. Here are three species commonly found in Singapore:

American cockroach

The American cockroach may be the most commonly seen cockroach in Singapore. It has a reddish-brown body and a yellow band at its pronotum (plate-like structure behind the head). The size of an American cockroach can reach up to 40 to 50mm in length. American cockroaches are active both indoors and outdoors as they infest the sewer system.

German cockroach

German cockroaches are around 20mm big. They have a light brown or tanned colour. Adult German cockroaches can be recognised by the two dark stripes on their back.

These are some places where you’ll commonly find German cockroaches:

  • Indoors
  • Kitchen
  • Food preparation areas

Large German cockroach infestations cause nightmares to owners of restaurants and F&B outlets. The control strategies for this species is more challenging compared to the other species. This is due to the development of insecticide resistance and its high reproductive rate.

Brown-banded cockroach

The body size of brown-banded cockroaches is similar to that of German cockroaches. The males are light yellowish or brown, while the females have a darker colour. The brown-banded cockroach gets its name from the transverse stripes that are present on its bodies. This species is also responsible for cockroach infestations in homes and offices.

Life Cycle and Biology

Cockroaches undergo incomplete metamorphosis. They develop from egg and a few instar stages to adulthood. Newly emerged nymphs are miniature wingless adults. They will need to moult several times to reach the adult stage. Different species of cockroaches will have varying development periods and amounts of moults.

Cockroaches like to hide in cracks and crevices.

In common areas, they prefer to move or venture along the side of the wall. An interesting thing about cockroaches is that they feed on almost every organic material, preferably starchy food. They can feed on moist cardboards and even a piece of paper! Cockroaches are often reluctant to forage food far from their nesting area unless being deprived.

facts about cockroaches

Medical Importance

Mechanical vectors of diseases

The living and feeding habits of cockroaches are commonly associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. This exposes them to a wide range of pathogens. They pick up the pathogens with their body and legs and transmit them to food, kitchen utensils and food preparation areas as they crawl past the surfaces.

Cockroaches are known to carry pathogens that cause diseases such as:

  • Food poisoning
  • Salmonellosis
  • Cholera

The pathogens are invisible to the naked eyes so we must eliminate their vectors to avoid being infected by them.

Asthma and allergy

The body parts, excretory waste and even saliva contain allergens that may trigger allergic reactions. Typical allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rash

Cockroach allergies are a common cause of asthma in both adults and children. If you have a cockroach infestation at home, you are at risk of developing prolonged allergic reactions that may lead to other medical problems.

Katsaridaphobia

Katsaridaphobia, or more commonly known as cockroach phobia, is the irrational and extreme fear of cockroaches.

Katsaridaphobia is not the same as being disgusted after seeing a cockroach. People with katsaridaphobia have unwarranted fear towards cockroaches that may cause them to:

  • Stay frozen
  • Have an elevated heart rate
  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Get panic attacks

One of the causes of katsaridaphobia is a bad or traumatic experience with cockroaches in the past. Katsaridaphobia is a mental disorder that can be overcome via psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Signs of Cockroach Infestations

signs of a cockroach infestation

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects, most active at night. During the daytime, they hide in dark and moist areas. Hence, we often don’t notice their presence until the infestation becomes severe. Here, we’ll describe the tell-tale signs of a cockroach infestation.

1. Droppings

Cockroach droppings look something like black pepper with a cylindrical shape. Their droppings are usually scattered along the wall or at the corners and edges of the cabinets. These are their main pathways and hiding areas.

2. Shed skins

Cockroaches go through moulting to reach a mature stage. Therefore, they will need to shed their skins periodically, around 5 to 8 times. If you see brownish shed skins at the potential areas mentioned above, that’s probably the evidence of a cockroach infestation.

3. Oothecae (cockroach eggs)

Oothecae are oval-shaped casings (inside full of multiple eggs), which are bigger and much more evident than cockroach droppings. It is vital to remove the ootheca before it hatched. The hatching of one cockroach ootheca can worsen a cockroach infestation.

4. Unpleasant smell

The scent released by a cockroach is usually undetectable by human beings. However, when it comes to a major cockroach infestation, a musty odour can be present.

How to Prevent Cockroaches from Invading Your Home

tips to prevent and get rid of cockroaches

1. Identify their entry points and hiding places

Inspection is a key activity in identifying the entry points and hiding places of cockroaches. Since cockroaches are nocturnal insects, it would be best if the inspection is carried out at night.

Cracks, crevices or gaps formed around the utility line and pipes are their potential entry points. Silicone-based caulk can be used to seal those entry points found. Besides, remember to inspect, clean and ventilate areas underneath the kitchen sink and refrigerator as these are the humid places which can become cockroach harbourages.

2. Eliminate food and water sources

Food and water are the primary necessities of cockroaches. One of the best ways to prevent cockroaches from entering your property is to remove all available water sources. Maintaining the housekeeping of the house is vital.

We cannot forget to clean stains, grease and food scraps left in the kitchen as these can act as the food and water sources for cockroaches. Furthermore, make sure all stored food is sealed correctly to deny access. Cockroaches can squeeze their bodies through a gap as small as 2mm wide.

3. Clean and organise your home

Messy and cluttered areas, especially those with paper and cardboards, are ideal harbourage and nesting sites of cockroaches. The paper products do not only serve as their hiding place. They also serve as food in case other food sources are not available.

It is essential to keep your home tidy and remove clutters regularly. The use of carton boxes for storage may allow cockroaches to hide in them. Thus, other alternatives, such as plastic boxes, can be used to prevent cockroach infestations.

DIY Methods

Traps can capture and remove cockroaches from your home. The most common method is a sticky trap. These traps can be purchased from regular stores.

You may wonder the effectiveness of using pandan leaves to prevent cockroach entry. Here, we tell you the truth. Pandan leaves release some pleasant smells which may serve as a weak natural repelling agent to deter cockroaches from coming near. However, when the leaves dried out, it can actually turn into a harbouring place for cockroaches! Hence, the use of pandan leaves is not a permanent solution for a cockroach infestation.

Professional Cockroach Treatment

Treating a cockroach infestation is more than just hitting them with your slippers or spraying insecticide aerosols on the cockroaches.

Insect monitoring stations are useful tools to detect the presence of cockroach infestations in Singapore. In premises with cockroach infestations, these stations can provide trained pest management professionals (PMP) with information such as the:

  • Level of infestation
  • Type of cockroach species
  • Location of the nests or breeding sites

This information is important in determining a suitable treatment method. It has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of the control programme.

Residual spraying is the most common method used to eliminate crawling insects, including cockroaches.

The insecticides used in professional cockroach treatments are different from those available to the general public. Residual insecticides offer long-lasting protection against cockroaches. Its effect can last for months after application. Trained PMPs carry out residual spraying at locations where cockroaches are usually found, such as cracks and crevices.

Cockroach baits combine insecticides with food attractants to kill cockroaches. The bait does not kill cockroaches immediately, but it intoxicates the cockroaches once they feed on the bait. The intoxicated cockroaches may leave behind their toxic vomitus, faeces or even their own dead bodies.

Cockroaches feed on the faeces and vomitus of their nestmates.

This behaviour, together with the cannibalising behaviour of cockroaches, make the transfer of toxic bait effective and efficient as cockroaches move back to their nesting site and die off after foraging and feeding on the bait.

Innovation is important in the pest management industry to keep up with increasingly challenging pest issues. Pests, including cockroaches, are continually evolving and developing resistance towards the control methods and insecticides that are used to eliminate them.

One of the latest cockroach treatment methods used in Singapore is dry treatment using Mirakn, a gas cylinder filled with a mixture of carbon dioxide and an active ingredient. There are three types of Mirakn treatments, each with different active ingredients that are suitable for targeting different pests.

The dry treatment has various characteristics. They are:

  • Stainless
  • Residue-less
  • Non-flammable
  • Odourless

Furthermore, the gaseous chemical provides excellent penetration over the other treatments. Dry treatment is a popular cockroach treatment in cars. Cockroaches thrive in cars, but it isn’t easy to control them due to the complex internal structures of the car.

Mirakn provides the ideal solution for hard-to-access areas as it can penetrate to all parts of the treated area and leaves no stains. Thus, home and car owners need not worry about the cleaning process.

Killem’s team of pest management professionals are trained and experienced in cockroach treatment programmes. Our professional knowledge and experience enable us to formulate a suitable solution to protect your property from cockroaches.