Main Content



​​​​​​Cockroaches are insects. In Alberta, the German cockroach is the most common type. It’s about 1.3 to 1.6 cm (0.5 to 0.6 inches) long.

Cockroaches make more cockroaches (reproduce) very quickly. A mature female cockroach creates an egg case that holds about 50 eggs. The female cockroach leaves the case in a place that isn’t likely to be disturbed (like in a crack or crevice). The eggs take about 1 month to hatch. Cockroaches become adults in 2 to 4 months.

​Cockroaches live about 6 months and will die if they go without food or water for 2 weeks.

Where do they live?

Cockroaches can live in any building. It's not true that cockroaches only live in dirty and poorly kept buildings, but these buildings may be more likely to have cockroaches.

Cockroaches often come into a building on food, furniture, or clothing as live cockroaches and eggs. When cockroaches come into a building and reproduce, this is called an infestation.

During the day, cockroaches hide in groups in places like:

  • ​behind baseboards
  • ​in cracks and crevices in the kitchen
  • ​under stoves, fridges, and dishwashers

What problems can they cause?

Cockroaches contaminate (put harmful germs on) food with their feces (poop). Their feces have an oily liquid that smells bad. This liquid can make a whole room smell. Even utensils that seem clean can smell.

Cockroach feces also have allergens (something that causes an allergic reaction). They can make asthma worse. The allergens can stick to dust and get into the air you breathe or on the food you eat.

Cockroaches can also contaminate food with harmful bacteria like salmonella. It can cause foodborne illness, which can include symptoms like diarrhea, upset stomach (nausea), and throwing up.

How do I prevent an infestation at home?

Here are things you can do to stop a cockroach infestation from happening in your home:

  • ​Check everything you bring into your home — like food and used appliances and furniture — very carefully. Destroy any egg capsules you see.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices with caulk.
  • Keep the kitchen clean.
  • Put garbage in a container that has a tight lid.
  • Don’t leave pet food in the feeding dish overnight.

How do I treat an infestation?

You can treat an infestation yourself or hire a licensed pest control provider. But whatever you choose, the best way to control or get rid of cockroaches is integrated pest management. This means using more than one of the following methods at the same time:

  • making it harder for cockroaches to hide and find water and food
  • doing cold or heat treatments for small appliances that are infested
  • putting out sticky traps
  • using desiccants (such as diatomaceous earth or silica aerogel) or boric acid
  • using liquid or aerosol insecticidal sprays (such as pyrethrin, permethrin)

Before you use any products to get rid of cockroaches, read the label and follow the directions and safety precautions. ​

When should I hire a professional?

If the problem is bad, it’s best to hire a certified pest control professional. Do your research and choose one you can trust.

The professional should be able to tell you what’s causing the pest problem and come up with a plan to get rid of the pest. The professional may need to make several visits, and it may take days or even weeks. Tell the professional if you have children or pets.

If you rent, your landlord must, by law, keep the home pest-free and hire a professional as needed. If your landlord doesn’t correct the problem, call Health Link at 811 to register a complaint for a health inspector.

To learn more, contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health​.

Current as of: April 26, 2021

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services