How do roaches get into homes?

Oh the irony. Soap is no roach repellent. See more insect pictures.
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No one wants to shoulder the blame when it comes to a roach infestation at home. Admitting that your house or apartment has roaches is like pinning a scarlet "R" on your chest for all to see.

But it may be time to fess up. Roaches can get into the cleanest of living spaces because in most situations, we unknowingly bring them home [source: ­ Ogg et al]. One may have burrowed into a paper grocery bag or jumped into your briefcase at work. Or you could have toted roach eggs into your new homestead without knowing it. Since the critters have nocturnal habits, you may not realize that you've made some six-legged friends before they've added an extra set of branches to the family tree.

If roaches are house hunting, they can check out your place by crawling through tiny gaps around doors, pipes and other open spaces. Some adults can grow fairly large, but can shimmy through slits as thin as one-sixteenth of an inch (0.15 centimeters) [source: Ogg et al]. Contrary to popular belief, they aren't simply attracted to messy households, although that will extend their stay. Instead, common roaches that invade homes seek out warmth, moisture and darkness. Pizza left sitting out on the counter is just an added bonus.

Roaches have become such widespread pests because they thrive on very little. The insects require three things: water, food and warm shelter. Roaches have lived off the bare essentials with few changes since their creation 320 million years ago [source: Ogg et al]. Even the areas they choose for nesting indoors are minimalistic -- cramped spaces in walls, behind picture frames, under sinks and elsewhere.

Once it hits you that roaches are inside your home, getting to know them is your last concern. On the next page, we'll go over the first steps on how to show roaches the door.