Can You Get Cockroaches in the UK?

Can You Get Cockroaches in the UK?

The thought of cockroaches may make your skin crawl, and they are incredibly unwelcome guests, but can you get them in the UK? This article will explain the different cockroach species in the UK and advise you about the dangers and the ways to eliminate them from your home or premises.

Spotting a cockroach scurrying across the floor is a sure warning that you have more. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to get a cockroach infestation under control.

Globally there are 4,600 species of cockroach, with five that are known as pests. The most common cockroaches in the UK are the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) and the German Cockroach (Blatella germanica).

Why do we need to control cockroaches in the UK?

To Manage Health Risks

Cockroaches are dangerous pests as they present a health risk to humans. They carry many organisms such as salmonella, staphylococcus and streptococcus that can cause food poisoning.

They are drawn into buildings to forage for food and water, and as they move about, they will expel partially digested food and leave faeces behind. As cockroaches enter via sewers and drains, they will cross-contaminate every item they encounter, including your surfaces, food and utensils.

To Protect your Reputation

A cockroach infestation can instantly damage your business brand and reputation and expose you to expensive legal action.

Businesses in the food and drinks industry are particularly exposed to the danger of cockroach infestations. Customers will almost certainly complain if they were to spot an invader.

With social media reviews vital to success, a negative review can quickly affect a business.

The financial hit can also be very damaging as Environmental Health Officers will issue fines or enforce legal action if infestations are not managed adequately.

What cockroaches can be found in the UK?

Of the 4,600 different cockroach species globally, you will mainly find two in the UK.

The most common cockroaches found here are the Oriental cockroach and the German Cockroach. Less commonly, you may come across the American cockroach or the Brown Banded cockroach.

Whilst the German cockroach is the more common species, we usually think of the Oriental cockroach when we picture one.

Why do cockroaches invade properties?

Cockroaches in the UK prefer to be inside our homes or premises to avoid cold weather. You rarely see them outside.

The German cockroach prefers a higher temperature and humidity, so they are drawn to appliances with warm motors, such as behind your fridge.

Oriental cockroaches prefer to inhabit cooler, damp areas such as drains.

Any area with food could attract cockroaches so you may find them in the boiler rooms of centrally heated buildings. Bathrooms and laundry rooms also attract them.

How can I tell if I have cockroaches in the UK?

Spotting a cockroach is an obvious sign that you have an infestation, but you may not ever see one as they are nocturnal creatures. Instead, it would be best if you looked for signs they have moved in.

  • Faeces
  • Egg cases
  • Skins
  • A foul odour
  • Damage to food packaging

If you come across any of these signs, you should immediately contact a pest management professional.

What does a cockroach look like?

It is essential to be able to distinguish a cockroach from a beetle.

Cockroaches have long antennae with flat, oval-shaped bodies. A German cockroach is a light yellow/brown, while an Oriental cockroach is a shiny black/ brown colour.

The German cockroach is smaller, between 10 and 15mm long, while the Oriental is between 20 and 24mm long.

Young cockroaches (nymphs) are smaller versions of adults. The nymphs shed their skins until they reach adulthood. An adult German cockroach will produce over 30 nymphs at a time while an Oriental cockroach produces 16-18 nymphs.

An image of a UK cockroach

Are cockroaches indestructible?

Cockroaches are primitive animals that even plagued the pre-historic cave dwellers. They have evolved to survive in the harshest of conditions.

  • Cockroaches can withstand radiation doses up to 10 times higher than a human.
  • Cockroaches can survive without a head because they do not use their mouths for breathing.
  • They can squeeze into gaps that are a quarter of their size by flattening their exoskeleton.
  • Cockroaches run at 1.5m per second, hence their eerie scuttle.
  • They will resort to cannibalism without a food source, but they need a water source to survive.

You can see why they are not an easy pest to eliminate.

How can I control cockroaches?

Prevention is always better than cure, so if you suspect you have or are at risk of cockroaches, you should employ a professional pest control company.

While there are some simple measures that you can take to reduce the chance of getting cockroaches in the first place, it is particularly crucial to be proactive if you are a business that stores or prepares food.

  • Clean all surfaces and dispose of food waste securely.
  • Wash up utensils and equipment.
  • Secure your waste and ensure it is disposed of regularly.
  • Clean behind fridges and ovens.
  • Seal any small gaps where cockroaches could enter.
  • Remove water sources by repairing leaks and drips promptly.
  • Clean new equipment to remove any cockroaches that are hitching a ride.

Therefore, do not neglect these measures and ensure that all staff are trained to follow your hygiene and health policies. A slack approach will allow cockroaches to enter and breed, causing your business expenses and damage.

How can I get rid of cockroaches?

If you suspect you have cockroaches, you should take prompt action. As cockroaches are also hardy little survivors with a rapid lifecycle, it is recommended by the BPCA that you employ a professional contractor who will have the skill and training to tackle the job effectively.

They will use a systematic science-backed approach, starting with assessing your problem to find the source of the infestation.

Their certified technicians will choose an appropriate control treatment, including bait, gels or powders, and sprays depending on what they determine will be the most effective route.

A schedule of visits may follow this up to ensure that the problem is controlled long term.

How often should pest control be carried out?

Nobody really likes talking about pest control and yet putting a regular programme in place is the one thing that will prevent your business from having a pest problem. If you are concerned about keeping pests away from your premises (and you should be), you might wonder how often pest control should be carried out.

This article will explain the factors that determine how often pest control should be carried out on your premises.

The honest answer is that it will depend on a few different factors, and they are best assessed by a pest control professional. They can carry out a survey and make recommendations about the frequency of visits required to keep pests away.

So, what kind of thing influences how often you need pest control? A professional will consider the type of pests, season, premises, industry, and current infestation level.

What factors determine how often pest control should happen?

At EWS, our IPM (Integrated Pest Management)service technicians will devise a pest control program based on a site survey and risk assessment. We offer services that could be one-off, annual, quarterly,  monthly, or even weekly depending on the need.

Whilst residential properties are more likely to need a one-off series of visits to contain an infestation, commercial premises should consider investing in a preventative schedule. A schedule could not only eliminate a problem but will put in place effective preventative measures.

The following factors will help us recommend a programme that will be the most successful in controlling and preventing pests on your premises.


Some pests are a problem seasonally, and there is no point in doing a monthly visit for this issue. Instead, we recommend a schedule to prevent their return, such as an annual visit.

Legal Requirements

In the food industry, some regulations dictate the kind of programme required to keep your premises safe for public health.

To show that your business is complying with the law, we will put in a regular programme of visits to inspect your premises and carry out pest control. The auditing body(s) will normally prescribe the number of visits required, and EWS will also carry out a pest risk assessment to recommend a suitable schedule. 

Warehouses are sites that need regular pest control programmes as many potential hazards will encourage rodent infestations. Although food will increase the attraction, any warehouse can be at risk of damaging wires and containers.

Setting up a regular schedule of visits can also save money in the long run and benefit health and safety.

Size and Type of Infestation

An infestation of flies will normally require fewer visits than an infestation of rats or cockroaches.

Flies can be dealt with by removing any potential harbourage sites and installing adequate prevention solutions to reduce the likelihood of a future problem. The products should have an annual maintenance check to ensure they continue to be effective.

Even a small rat problem can grow into a large one if left uncontrolled. Rats’ ability to reproduce every three weeks means a population can multiply very quickly.

Once an assessment has been made, there will need to be bait set, and these will need a regular visit to maintain. Measures should be taken to prevent their return, so it is sensible to implement a regular program to keep any potential infestation under control.

Special Considerations

Some environments are more hazardous when it comes to pest control. It may be that the surroundings increase the probability of pests such as a row of food premises that could easily cause infestations to spread like wildfire.

Other premises house vulnerable people, such as in care homes and hospitals, where waste disposal, food preparation and storage increase the likelihood of infestation.

It is vital to have a regular control programme to reduce the chances of spreading bacteria and diseases where vulnerable people might be exposed.

How often should a pest control technician visit commercial premises?

If your premises are vulnerable to infestation, then a regular visit from a technician will help you control and prevent pests that may be detrimental to your business.

If your premises do not have a history of infestation, you can have reduced visits to comply with regulations. If any signs of invasion are found, visits can be temporarily increased.

A rat problem may be ongoing due to the constant flow from a large population in the area. Frequency can be altered if prevention becomes successful or increased when an infestation becomes more of a problem.

A monthly contract will typically enable your premises to carry on unaffected with regular bait and management.

Cockroaches are another pest that requires a monthly contract as oriental cockroaches can flood from underground, requiring quick action. German cockroaches reproduce extremely rapidly, so regular monitoring is essential to prevent an infestation from becoming a huge problem where a pest risk analysis .

How often should a pest control check be done in residential properties?

A residential property will often require one-off pest control if the householder spots a pest problem. Often, it will not require a regular contract as a technician will usually be able to identify the issue and eliminate the infestation.

If the cause of the problem is dealt with, there will usually be no need for more visits. However, there can be an issue if the source of the problem cannot be resolved.

For example, if a neighbour is resistant to resolving a rat infestation, you may suffer from continual issues.

Other ongoing problems can be caused by mice who continually make new holes to enter your home or moth populations that have been neglected and require annual fumigation to prevent further damage to clothes and furnishings.

In these cases, you may want to create a regular programme to keep your home free of pests.

How do I find out how often pest control should be done?

If you are concerned about pests, the best way to ensure you eliminate a problem is to contact a certified pest controller. At EWS, we have trained specialist technicians who keep updated with UK legislation.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to organise a rapid assessment of your pest problems.