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Think You Have “Water Bugs” in Baltimore?

Charm City: A Draw for Visitors and Roaches 

Baltimore has always been a magnet for travelers. The city was not officially founded until 1729, but as early as the the beginning of the 1600s, English colonists began visiting and colonizing the land, and our own Inner Harbor was once the second busiest port of entry for immigrants into the United States. There’s no doubt that  these visitors were drawn to Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods and homes, good jobs and the freshest seafood around, but the increase in population has also made it a hot spot for cockroaches over the years. 

A Roach By Any Other Name… 

Across the United States, people have created euphemisms for cockroaches. In the South, for example, they call them “palmetto bugs.” Here in Charm City, we’ve come up with the charming nicknames “water bugs” or “black beetles.” Most commonly, we are actually talking about a roach species called the oriental cockroach. 

Oriental cockroaches are shiny black or reddish brown and are about one-inch long. It may seem like a small mercy, but unlike other types of roaches and beetles, neither the male nor female can fly even though they have wings. They eat rotting food and garbage, which means if they come into your home, they can spread bacteria and viruses, contaminate food, and can even cause food poisoning, dysentery or trigger asthma. 

Even in colder climates, these bugs can survive living under wood piles, mulch or structural voids in your house. Older homes, like the historic homes seen across Baltimore, are prone to these types of voids, which is one reason why these pests are such a problem in our area. Oriental roach populations peak in late summer, and in densely populated areas like Baltimore, you can see thousands of them coming up from the sewers at night in search of food and better living conditions, including your basement, crawl spaces, kitchen or utility room.

Beyond the “ick” Factor 

Most people are naturally squeamish about cockroaches and rightly so; if you see one or two, chances are there are hundreds if not thousands nearby. They are notoriously difficult to get rid of and oriental roaches in particular have been found to carry bacteria, viruses and other harmful organisms that can cause gastrointestinal issues that they bring into your home from the sewers. 

Oriental cockroaches are typically found in single-family homes with a yard, but can also be found in larger buildings as long as they have access to water. In fact, oriental cockroaches can live a month without food, but will only last 2 weeks without water. Outside, they can often be found where pet food is stored. They are not as fast as other species of cockroach and are unable to climb smooth, vertical surfaces, so the first sign that you have an infestation may be a roach stuck inside a sink or bathtub. You may also notice their cylindrical, dark brown or black droppings on the floor or an unexplained musty odor in your home if oriental roaches have moved into your house. 

Don’t Let Roaches Encroach on Your Home 

In a city like Baltimore, some cockroach infestations are inevitable, no matter how clean you keep your home, but there are some steps you can take to keep oriental roaches out: 

  • Keep trash and debris away from your home’s foundation 
  • Seal all gaps, vents and make sure door sweeps are installed and in good shape 
  • Clean up all pet waste from your property right away 
  • Keep pet food in air-tight containers 
  • Vacuum regularly 
  • Make sure crawl spaces and basements are well-ventilated and free of leaks 
  • Install a dehumidifier to reduce moisture 

If you already know that you have a roach infestation, it’s best to call in the experts. The reputation cockroaches have for being difficult to get rid of is well-deserved. The Brody Brothers have more than 30 years of experience getting rid of cockroaches and we have helped many customers in Baltimore get rid of these pests using our proven IPM approach.