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Jamaica Health Tips Blog

February 2015

Cockroach infestation and its public health significance

Cockroaches are one of the most repulsive and resilient pest encountered on a daily basis in a Jamaican home. These insects never seem to give us a break; they infest our furniture, laundry and most importantly our food. They normally become established in the home by an infested grocery bag(s), laundry or from simple wandering from outdoors. Cockroaches are nocturnal in nature and frequent premises where food is handled, as they like to live where they eat. During the day they will hide in cracks, crevices, voids in the wall and warm and moist areas in the home, e.g. sinks, drains, manholes, stoves, the back of the cupboard and in the refrigerator units.

Cockroaches are the type of pest that we should not ignore or take for granted. They are vectors known for numerous deadly diseases e.g. Dysentery, Typhoid, poliomyelitis and many more. These roaches are famous for crawling over faeces and other insanitary areas and then come crawling and feeding on our foods and utensils.

The four most common cockroach species that have been encountered in our island are the;

  • German cockroach (Blatella germanica)
  • American cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
  • Brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpis)
  • Drummer cockroack (Blaberus giganteus)


The German cockroach may be considered to be the most successful and shows a greater resistance to insecticides as they are small and readily hid in cracks and crevices. In addition the female roaches will carry their ootheca for a long time (up to just before hatching). As a result, they may not be killed during the pest control process.
The first step you should take when dealing with a cockroach infestation is to keep your home clean and sanitary. Pest needs three things to survive; water, food and shelter and an insanitary environment provides all three.  The next step is to use a licensed pest control operator to implement the pest program or seek advice before you implement the same. This is very important because there is certain information that needs to be obtained before treatment begins and only a trained person will be competent enough. Adding to that fact, pest control chemicals are very poisonous and should be handled with caution therefore, a layman is not equipped to take on such risky task. A pest control program may include the use of baits hence, it’s crucial that adequate information is obtained from a train pest control worker. This is because the behaviour of the roaches need to be identified in order to know where you should locate your baiting station(s).

Do you currently have cockroach infestation in your home?