Top 15 Worst Cities For Roaches
Cockroaches are the worst. Beyond their mere appearance being a disturbance for the eye, they’re also the primary transporters of foodborne illness and stimulants for allergic reactions.
Cockroaches are said to carry more 30 types of bacteria, which can lead to diseases like salmonella and the plague. They thrive in hot, humid, and wet environments and sneak into homes through cracks in sewage systems and walls. Srini Kambhampati, a biology professor at University of Texas at Tyler, said that cockroach development “depends on ambient temperature,” meaning they grow and develop best in controlled and consistent environments, specifically when it’s constantly hot and humid.
Species of Cockroaches
Types of Bacteria
For a Cockroach to Mature
The American Housing Survey conducts a thorough survey every other year of Americans’ homes. It digs into how residents like living where they do, the condition of their home, and other, similar questions—including the pest presence in their residence. The AHS committee compiled its results from the 2015 survey, which revealed the top 15 cities in the United States with the worst cockroach-infestation problems. The survey clarifies it asked if residents had seen “cockroaches (living or dead) … inside the house or building during the 12 months prior to interview or while the household was living in the unit if less than 12 months.” The results are based on those criteria.
Cockroaches are a nationwide issue, but many of the top cities are near water,
in consistently hot locations or both. And these are all conditions cockroaches that
are happy to enjoy. (Note: ten of the top 15 cities are in the Southeast or Southwest.)
They’re also in some of the most populated cities in the country, and cities such as Chicago
and San Francisco just missed the list at just under 5 percent of residents encountering
See if your city is one of the most cockroach-infested in the country!
Cincinnati kicks off the list with only 5.4 percent of residents coming across roaches. The hot, wet summers—and consistent fuel for humidity with the Ohio River—are the main sources of power for cockroach survival in Cincy, although there aren’t nearly as many roach sightings compared to some other cities on our list.
Kansas City gets hot and wet during the spring and summer months, so despite their brutally cold winters, they still are one of the top roach-infested cities in the country. Hey, maybe the roaches like the BBQ, too.
In addition to having the worst rat population in the country, the City of Brotherly Love also has a pretty bad cockroach issue with 7.4 percent of residents saying they’ve run across cockroaches in their home.
Northern cities like Washington D.C. are higher on our list because they’re not nearly as hot and damp as southern cities. However, their population, infrastructure and summer heat still allow cockroaches to reside and thrive in the area for months. This is why the D.C. area lands in our No. 12 spot.
Though it’s relatively close to Los Angeles, which is number 7 on our list, Riverside-San Bernardino experiences a much greater variety with its climate. It’s wet in Riverside-San Bernardino in the early months of the year, and the dampness gives way to heat in the summer, with temperatures hitting averages in the high 90s.
Memphis stays pretty warm through most of the year, and the Mississippi River roars through the city, providing plenty of humidity when it does get hot. All these conditions help Memphis land at No. 10 on the list with 15.2 percent of residents encountering cockroaches.
New York City
New York City isn’t anywhere near the South, but it gets similarly hot and humid in the summers in the city because of the blend of heat and the population of 8.5 million people in such a small area. So hot and humid, in fact, that cockroaches have been reported to start flying—a rare activity for the pest—while looking for somewhat-cooler air.
Dallas is just plain hot with high humidity. Though it’s not very close to a big body of water, there’s enough rain, standing water, and heat to land the city at No. 8 on the list.
Another case of a hot city by the water, aka the perfect place for cockroaches to prosper. The climate in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area also stays pretty consistent, never killing off the pests because of severely cold temperatures.
Raleigh begins the lower part of our list where we get into some of the worst roach-infested cities. It also begins our list of southern cities, which isn’t a coincidence. Raleigh, N.C. clocks in at No. 6 on the list with just under 19 percent of residents reporting seeing cockroaches. That’s due to temperatures being hotter than 70 degrees or above for two-thirds of the year.
Some of the hottest cities in America are in Arizona. Phoenix, the biggest and most populated city in the state, has an average daily temperature in the summer of 93 degrees. The mix of heat and people, who of course provide the buildings and sewer systems, give cockroaches a perfect place to roam.
Atlanta, sometimes nicknamed "Hotlanta" by people who don’t live in the area, experiences brutal, humid summers. Sporadic thunderstorms and consistent temperatures in the mid-to-high 90s during the season create the perfect conditions for cockroaches to spread quickly. The non-summer months help keep them around, too, as fall and winter in Atlanta can be on the warmer side.
In 2016, Miami didn’t see a single day below 57 degrees. Mix that with a city notorious for its humidity and lays right on the coast of a hot ocean, and you have a place where cockroaches set up shop and have no reason to leave.
Houston is one of the hottest and most humid cities in the States, and it ranks at No. 2 on the list with 38 percent of residents encountering cockroaches at some point. The city is known for the size of its cockroaches, too. A New York Times profile in the ‘80s joked that "one man, new to Houston, upon first seeing a local cockroach, thought it was a Volkswagen and tried to drive it away."
New Orleans tops the list with more than 41 percent of residents reporting seeing cockroaches. The city is a hotbed for them, too, with water completely surrounding the city, sewage systems dating back to the early 1900s, and temperatures consistently ranging from the 70s to the 90s. Even the small snaps of cold weather New Orleans occasionally sees don’t help. "If you have a population in a building, and the building has heat, it won't matter at all," says entomologist Zack Lemann.