When you first see termites or cockroaches in or around your house, you most likely worry about how many more there could be and how to get rid of them before an infestation occurs -- if it hasn't already. You first need to determine what type of insect you are dealing with. The five cockroach species considered pests in North America are American, Oriental, smoky brown, brown-banded and German. The three major termite species in the U.S. are drywood, subterranean and Formosan. Exterminators and insecticide products that target both cockroaches and termites may help in the short term, but there are also steps you should take to prevent and get rid of these pests for the long term.
Seal up cracks with weather stripping and caulk to prevent any more insects from getting inside your home. Also, trim trees and bushes near your house, and remove any old wood that might be attracting termites.
Clean your house, especially the kitchen and bathroom, because dirty kitchens and leaky plumbing attract cockroaches.
Determine the area where an infestation of cockroaches or termites might be located. This will be where reproduction occurs, and it needs to be diminished immediately.
Decide which pesticide to use to kill off an infestation. Borax and boric acid will be your best bet for eliminating cockroaches. Some traps and spray insecticides on the market may also be effective. An organic desiccant like diatomaceous earth can be effective and safe for killing both infestations of cockroaches and termites (see Resources). For each type of cockroach, you may need to try a different approach. For example, German cockroaches are typically found in warm, dry climates and can easily be killed with boric acid.
Use liquid termiticides for killing infestations of termites. Also, termite bait products are helpful when you can't determine the location of the infestation. Keep in mind that if you have both cockroach and termite infestations, you can buy pesticide sprays that work to kill both types of insects. However, try different methods for each pest if you still see signs of infestation.
Hire a professional exterminator to fumigate your house if a termite infestation is still present, to guarantee killing any that are hiding in walls or in areas where you can't get to them. This method is most efficient for killing drywood termites, which are most common in southern areas of the United States.