Can Roaches Infest My Grill?
Cockroaches are one of the most familiar groups of insects because of their ability to invade homes and businesses. Seldom-used outdoor grills are perfect places for roaches. In warm climates, grills provide a year-round hiding space, darkness and food for these disease-carrying creatures. In colder climates, they would not survive winter outdoors.
Cockroaches belong to the group of insects called Blattodea. More than 3,500 species exist worldwide with roughly 50 species in North America. Of those 50, only about three are considered pests: the American cockroach (Periplaneta Americana), the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) and the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis). These insects are 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long and have a flattened body with a shieldlike part concealing the head. All species have long, threadlike antennae and are fast runners. The Oriental cockroach is black, about 1 inch long and has underdeveloped wings. The German and American cockroaches are light brown and have wings but rarely fly.
Pest cockroaches are omnivores, feeding on plant and animal matter. They generally hide in moist, dark places in basements, grocery stores and other food-related businesses and are active at night. Females produce eggs in a protective case that can be expelled or carried externally.
Roaches easily become a problem in an outdoor grill. Residue from cooking builds up on the grill's grates, bricks and lava rocks and in the grease drip collector. The odor from this residue quickly attracts pest roaches. Closing the lid of the barbecue provides the perfect conditions for the pests to feed in darkness, protected from predatory birds and other small animals.
The best defense against an infestation of roaches in a grill is to use the grill often. Roaches cannot survive the intense heat of the barbecue, and frequent use discourages roaches from taking up residence in the grill. Keeping the grill clean helps, too. Increasing the grill's heat for several minutes after cooking burns off excess food residue.
If you already have a problem with roaches in your grill, the roaches should disperse when you light the grill. Locate the grill far enough from your home to keep the roaches from migrating inside. Getting rid of the pests from a built-in grill is more difficult because it has many more places for food residue buildup and many more places for roaches to hide. Professional pest control may be necessary.
- "The Handy Bug Answer Book"; Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer; 1998
- "The Insects"; P.J. Gullan and P.S. Cranston; 1994
- "A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico"; Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White; 1970
Jean Godawa is a science educator and writer. She has been writing science-related articles for print and online publications for more than 15 years. Godawa holds a degree in biology and environmental science with a focus on entomology from the University of Toronto. She has conducted field research in the tropical rainforests of southeastern Asia and South America.
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