Garden Help Desk: Are there cockroaches in Utah?

December 31, 2017

Question: I’m going to be moving into my own apartment while I’m going to school. One of my roommates is worried about cockroaches, but I never see any at my mom’s house. Are there even any cockroaches in Utah?

Answer: Yes, there are four species of cockroaches that commonly infest structures in Utah, but there are some things you can do avoid having them as unwanted roommates. Cockroaches need food, water and shelter. They also prefer warmth. In a home, they find food in trash, dirty dishes, crumbs and spills. They find the water they need where water leaks under sinks and washers, in dishes soaking in the sink, and in similar areas. Cockroaches shelter in dark or secluded areas such as under sinks, behind toilets and appliances. Good sanitation habits are the best way to reduce your chances of having cockroaches. Pesticides won’t be very effective if you don’t include good sanitation in your daily routines. Here are some tips for you:

Make sure everything that you and your roommates bring to your apartment are pest-free. Pay special attention to things you are bringing in from kitchens and bathrooms.

Make sure you take out your trash frequently.

Don’t leave takeout containers and food wrappers sitting around.

Don’t leave dirty dishes sitting in the sink.

Check under sinks and in laundry areas for moisture and report any leaks to your building maintenance group.

If you think you may have cockroaches, use a cockroach bait station to monitor the situation. Try to catch a few and bring them to the USU Extension office for identification so that you can learn the best methods for control. The cockroach species infesting your apartment or home will determine your control strategy.

Q: Our family is planning on getting a dog after the holidays. I’m worried that the dog will cause damage to our yard. Is there anything we can do to avoid some of the damage?

A: The most common problems with dogs and landscapes are urine damage to lawns and digging damage in shrub beds and gardens. How much damage your dog causes will depend, in part, on the age and the breed of the dog you choose and, in part, on how you choose to train your dog.

Urine damage in your landscape is something you’ll have to accept, but if your dog will be an indoor pet, you can limit the severity with consistent training for the first few months you have your dog. Escort your dog to a designated area each time your dog needs to go out and relieve itself. If you and your family can do this consistently for a few months, you’ll be encouraging your dog to prefer that area.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water. This will insure your dog is well-hydrated and its urine is more diluted. Watering deeply during the irrigation season will also help to dilute your dog’s urine and reduce damage. Also get in the habit of having someone “scoop the poop” every day. Leaving feces on the lawn for more than a day can increase the damage that it causes.

Some dogs just love to dig; it’s in their nature. You can discourage this by using a thick layer of bark nuggets in shrub and flower beds. It’s also important to quickly fill in any areas where you notice that the dog has done some digging and re-cover the area with a thick layer of nuggets. You can also underlay your bark nuggets with welded wire fencing. The nuggets will disguise the fencing and the fencing will discourage the dog.

For your vegetable garden, you may need to fence the area off, especially if you have drip irrigation. Some dogs like to chew on drip tubing. You might also be able to discourage your dog by laying old metal fencing or sections of wire edging over places where you’ve recently planted.

Don’t let these possible problems discourage you. Having a dog can be a very rewarding experience for your family and after a few months of training and adjustment for your dog and your family, most problems will work themselves out.