Will Roaches Leave a Cold House?


Fossil evidence proves that roaches have been in existence for over 300 million years, making them one of the most resilient animals. The ability of the roach to survive for such an extended period can be attributed to its ability to adapt to a wide variety of environments – roaches can be found living in all continents apart from Antarctica. Due to this hardiness, they are particularly hard to get rid of when they infest your home, which begs the question – is a cold house enough to drive out these nasty critters?

Will roaches leave a cold house? Roaches, in general, do not like cold temperatures, so subjecting them to cold enough environments might force them to leave in search of warmer surroundings. That said, some species can tolerate lower temperatures as long as they have access to food and water.

Roaches are cold-blood insects that don’t thrive in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Their body temperatures will adjust to match the temperature of their surroundings, generally slowing down their body functions in cooler temperatures. For instance, when it is cold, German roaches tend to stay in groups to generate heat or move to warmer places to raise their body temperatures. That said, roaches are generally comfortable living in environments with temperatures that humans consider to be comfortable as well. While they can survive in temperatures that are below or above the temperature range that they prefer, they need time to adjust to new temperatures. However, most species of roaches cannot survive in environments with temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roaches are one of the most common pests in homes as human living spaces are ideal areas for them to find their basic needs – shelter, food, and water. Despite the ability of roaches to adapt to almost any environment, lower temperatures are less than ideal. This article takes a look at the correlation between roach infestations and temperature as well as techniques that can be used to get rid of these critters.

The preferred temperature for roaches

Roaches generally prefer temperatures ranging between 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit).  That said, they can be found living in temperatures significantly below or above these temperatures, although this range is when they are typically the most active. They also breed and reproduce at a high rate at these optimal temperatures, which is why roach infestations are usually more likely during the summer and spring.

How long are roaches able to survive in the cold?

Although roaches can survive in less than ideal temperatures, their bodies need time to get used to temperature changes, and even so, most of them are unable to survive in temperatures of below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. For instance, if you put roaches in an air-tight container and toss it into a freezer, the bodies of the roaches won’t be able to adjust to the temperature of the surrounding, causing them to die.

Types of roaches that can be pests even in the cold

Roach species you are likely to come across even in a cold house include:

  • German roaches – German roaches are typically 0.43-0.63 inches in length and have a tan to almost black appearance. Although they cannot survive in severe cold, they can be found dwelling in cold houses if they have access to plenty of water and food. They have been known to stay in groups in colder environments to keep their bodies warm and consequently increase their chances of survival.
  • American roaches – American roaches have an average length of 1.6 inches and have a reddish-brown appearance. It is the most common cockroach in American households, feeding on cheese, dead animals, beer, plant materials, and leather, to mention a few. They generally live outdoors, but it is not uncommon to find them within structures. American roaches generally prefer dark, warm, and moist environments, but they can invade a cold house especially if the temperatures are even lower outside.
  • Brown-banded roaches – Brown-banded roaches can grow up to 11-14.5 mm in length and are identified by their tan or light brown transverse bands that are visible on the wings of adults. These roaches can often be found in high places such as cabinets. In cold houses, they may seek refuge under or near electrical appliances that generate heat to keep their bodies warm.
  • Oriental roaches – Oriental roaches attain an average body length of 0.71-1.14 inches and can be identified by their black or dark brown glossy appearance. Water is an essential requirement for these roaches to survive, which is why they can usually be found taking refuge in crawlspaces, floor drains, basements, and near water collection systems. Oriental roaches are slightly better at tolerating lower temperatures than other roach species and can invade a cold house especially if it has easily accessible damp areas.

Roaches during the winter

In cold winter months, when temperatures hit certain lows, roaches will look for warmer alternatives where they can live more comfortably. This usually means that they will seek refuge in homes since they are warm and more likely to access food easily. If the house they invade isn’t warm enough, many types of roaches tend to go into a hibernation-like state during which their metabolic rate significantly slows down and growth stops to increase their chances of survival. When the weather warms up, they will start becoming more active and move to the warmer spaces within the house.

Does freezing roaches work as an elimination technique?

Freezing can be employed as a method of getting rid of roaches, but its effectiveness heavily relies on how extensive the infestation is. If the entire house is infested, then freezing cannot be used as an elimination technique as a whole house cannot be frozen, allowing roaches to simply move to the warmer parts of your home and continue to thrive.

If you suspect roaches have infested a small appliance or item, you can simply place it into an airtight bag and toss it into the freezer. Leave the bag in the freezer for a couple of hours to make sure that all the roaches die.  The appliance or item can then be taken outside and thoroughly cleaned to get rid of the dead roaches and any signs of their presence. This technique is only effective if you are dealing with a handful of roaches concentrated in one area before they spread throughout your home.

Effective techniques to deal with a roach infestation

There are a variety of other effective options to consider when dealing with a roach infestation. They include:

  • Baits – There are different types of baits, including dispensable gels and bait stations. The latter are small containers that contain substances that are toxic to roaches. For bait stations to work properly, set them up in areas of your home where there is a lot of roach activity such as under sinks and appliances and in dark cabinet corners. These types of baits need to be regularly changed, so you will want to inspect them every other week (or as frequently as suggested by manufacturers), to see if they are empty and in need of replacement. Bait gels, on the other hand, are best suited for use in cracks, holes, and crevices that are too small for bait stations to fit into.
  • Traps – Roach traps come in wide varieties, including jar traps and sticky traps. Sticky traps can be bought at your local hardware store, whereas jar traps can be fashioned at home by lining a mason jar with sticky petroleum jelly and filling it with food crumbs. Like with baits, you want to leave traps in areas with high roach activity.
  • Pesticide dusts – Pesticide dusts come in three basic forms that are distinguished from one another by the active ingredient:
    • Varieties with silica
    • Varieties with diatomaceous earth
    • Varieties with boric acid

You must apply pesticide dusts in small amounts rather than in big piles as roaches are likely to avoid the latter. For cracks, small holes, and underneath appliances, you will want to use a pesticide powder duster to apply the pesticide in thin films. When applying roach-eliminating pesticides, be careful to keep them away from surfaces where you prepare or consume food as they are toxic to humans as well as pets.

  • Ultrasonic repellents – Ultrasonic repellents are devices that can be used to eliminate roaches in a home. They emit constant ultrasonic waves on a high frequency that roaches cannot tolerate. These devices work with a motion sensor, turning on when they sense the movement of pests such as roaches within the home.
  • Seeking the services of an exterminator – The best way of dealing with an established roach infestation in your home is by calling in an extermination company. A professional will determine the entry points being used by roaches and apply the most suitable elimination methods to get rid of these pests no matter the temperature of your home.

Final thoughts

Roaches won’t freeze to death unless the temperatures in your house are low enough for an extended period. Freezing to get rid of roaches can only work if applied on a small scale and if the infestation is not spread out. There are many other techniques that you can use to eliminate roaches, and if you find that they don’t work for you, call in a pest control professional to deal with the critters.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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