Cockroaches are large robust insects with whip like antennae and two pairs of wings. The most common species found in the UK are the Oriental and German Cockroach and they can gather together in large numbers if left unchecked. Cockroaches like warm and humid conditions and can usually be found in cracks and crevices around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, fridge motor compartments and service ducts. They forage on a wide range of foods and need access to water. Cockroaches are nocturnal insects but signs of an infestation may include live or dead cockroaches, egg cases, faecal smears around harbourage areas and where infestations are heavy, a sickly sweet smell.

The female Oriental Cockroach lays up to five dark brown egg cases from which hatch up to 16 miniature adults (nymphs) and can take six to 18 months to reach maturity. Once an adult, they can live a further six months. They are dark brown to black in colour, shiny and have a flattened appearance and can grow up to 30mm in size.

The female German Cockroach can carry a variable number of eggs, up to a maximum of around 40. Nymphs can take around two to six months to reach maturity and once an adult, they can live a further six months. They are smaller than the Oriental Cockroach, around 15mm in length and are yellowish brown in colour.


Cockroaches can contaminate food with their excrement and carry disease organisms. They feed on rotting waste materials and then freely walk over food preparation areas, cutlery and crockery which can assist in the spread of many disease organisms such as salmonella and e. coli. Cockroaches give out an unpleasant odour and many people can experience allergic skin reactions when they come in contact with them.

How do I get rid of them?

Good hygiene is essential in preventing or limiting an infestation. Cockroaches must be deprived of food, water and shelter. The following measure can assist in dealing with a cockroach problem:

  • Washing up should be done promptly and all food should be stored in sealed containers.
  • Surfaces should be kept clean and food debris cleared up.
  • Rubbish should be kept in lidded containers and carefully sealed when disposed of.
  • Any leaking pipes should be repaired and moisture or water sources removed.
  • Undisturbed clutter and materials where cockroaches might live should be removed and any holes and cracks in the structure of the building repaired.
  • Control of cockroaches is seldom easy because of the difficulty of getting the insecticide to the insect. The insecticide, ideally, should have sufficient persistence to kill the nymphs (young adults) hatching later from un-hatched egg capsules. Insecticidal products can be purchased from hardware stores and include powders, traps and aerosol sprays which can be applied in and around harbourage areas - manufacturers instructions should always be followed carefully when applying an insecticide.

The treatment of cockroaches can be difficult and you may need to use a pest control firm if the problem persists. Unfortunately, we don't offer a pest control service to deal with cockroaches.

We are unable to recommend local pest control firms, but suggest using a service search engine such as Yell. We advise residents to get two or three quotes to obtain a competitive price.