Scientific Name: Blattaria
Lifespan: 200 to 700 days
Problem: Odor, invades food, allergic reaction, and generally gross.
Cockroaches have been long despised by homeowners due to their creepy appearance. Cockroach pest management is important for health and safety reasons, because cockroaches are known to cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma attacks, especially in children. They also spread nearly 33 kinds of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella.
Cockroaches are most active at night, leaving their harborage to find food and water. They remain hidden in dark, secluded harborage areas, such as under cupboards, behind cabinets, in wall voids, and around motor housings in appliances where they spend up to 75% of their time. At most, only about one third of the population forages at night. Observation of foraging cockroaches during the day is a good indication of an overcrowded population situation. This overcrowding will force some to relocate to other parts of the structure.
In many parts of the country, the sighting of a single cockroach by a health inspector could automatically shut down a food service operation. Customers and employees alike perceive their presence as a sign of unsanitary conditions, negatively impacting their decision to purchase from the business.
Because cockroaches are associated with dirty, unsanitary environments, news of cockroaches seen in a business can quickly spread by word of mouth or via social media sites. Stories of cockroach sightings and restaurant closures can quickly spiral out of control and cause a public relations nightmare, doing irreparable damage to the establishment’s reputation and brand.
Cockroaches have inhabited the earth for more than 250 million years.
The average roach-infested household contains more than 20,000 cockroaches.
Cockroaches can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes and spend almost 75% of their time just resting.
Cockroaches can live up to 20 days without food and up to 14 days without water.
Cockroaches can flatten their bodies and crawl through a crack as thin as a dime.
Cockroaches will eat anything, including leather, hair, and glue in book bindings.
Cockroaches can live off the toothpaste residue on your toothbrush even after being cleaned.
Cockroaches can survive radiation levels equivalent to that of a thermonuclear explosion.
Cockroaches have been implicated in the spread of tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.
Cockroaches are startled by the smallest of air movements and can run for cover in less than 0.05 seconds.
Cockroaches can move at speeds up to 2 miles per hour and can make up to 25 body turns in a second.
Cockroaches are cannibals and can also take a liking to each other’s excrement.
In extreme cases, cockroaches will feed off people.
Under ideal conditions, two cockroaches who begin mating on January 1 will have 575,000 offspring by December 31. Each cockroach lays 30 eggs per egg capsule; 30 days for each capsule to hatch; 60 days to maturity when the new cockroaches can begin to breed.
AMERICAN COCKROACH (SCIENTIFIC NAME: PERIPLANETA AMERICANA)
The American cockroach is the largest of the house-infesting roaches and a major pest in the United States. It’s also commonly known as the water bug, the Bombay canary or the palmetto bug. Despite its name, the American cockroach is not native to North America and some evidence suggested that American cockroaches were introduced via ships from Africa in the early 1600s.
American cockroaches live primarily outdoors, but it’s not uncommon to find them inside a structure. In the Northern United States, American cockroaches are typically found in sewers and drains. In fact, American cockroaches are the most common cockroach species found in city sewer systems. It’s been reported that more than 5,000 individual American cockroaches were once found in a single sewer manhole. In the Southern United States, American cockroaches are often spotted in shady, humid areas like flowerbeds and beneath mulch piles. During summer months, they can also be found outdoors in yards and alleys.
American cockroaches will move indoors when they experience a food shortage or a significant change in the climate. In general, American cockroaches prefer warm, moist and dark environments with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They often enter structures by being brought in on human belongings, coming up from the sewer system via drains or occasional mass migration from other structures, dumps, etc., during warm weather.
American cockroaches are especially common in larger commercial buildings such as restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, food processing plants, hospitals, etc., where they usually infest food storage and food preparation areas, boiler rooms, steam tunnels and basements. These pests can also infest homes by easily passing underneath doors lacking weather stripping or entering through basement windows and garages. Once inside a residence, American cockroaches usually make their way into the kitchen, bathroom, basement or laundry room in search of food and water.
American cockroaches feed on many kinds of food, but they show a particular fondness for fermenting material. Outdoors, they tend to eat decaying leaves, fungi, algae and small insects. Indoors, they eat crumbs found under appliances, in drains, behind kitchen cabinets and on the floor. They will also eat pet food that is left uncovered.
American cockroaches are filthy pests, and their presence in the home can pose a severe health threat. Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella, as well as six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They pick up germs on the spines of their legs and body as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage, and then transfer the germs onto food or cooking surfaces.
The saliva, urine and fecal droppings from American cockroaches contain allergen proteins known to elicit allergic reactions and asthma attacks. For this reason, cockroaches are a common trigger of year-round allergy and asthma symptoms, especially in children.
GERMAN COCKROACH (SCIENTIFIC NAME: BLATELLA GERMANICA)
The German cockroach is the most common cockroach species found worldwide. While German cockroach infestations occur in a variety of human occupied spaces, they are most often associated with restaurants, food processing facilities, hotels, nursing homes and other institutional facilities.
German cockroaches show a preference for warm (70°F/21°C) and humid places. They are usually found in residential and commercial kitchens and secondarily in bathrooms. However, a German cockroach infestation can occur in any area where people eat and drink. In homes, this includes dining rooms, living rooms, dens and bedrooms. Any crack or crevice located near a source of food and/or water can harbor cockroaches. German cockroaches can fit through an opening as small as 3/8 inch in width.
German cockroaches are good hitchhikers and often find their way into new structures by hitching a ride in grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink cartons and secondhand appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, microwaves, etc. They have been observed to migrate from building to building on warm evenings. Although uncommon, they can survive outdoors during the warm months.
German cockroaches have a wide palate. They will feed on almost anything with nutritional value including all kinds of food, as well as soap, glue and toothpaste.
Activity periods for German cockroaches vary greatly with life state, age and physiological state. For example, reproducing females are quite active, whereas males spend the majority of their time in harborage even at night.
More than just a nuisance, German cockroaches have been implicated in outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people. Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces.
Medical studies have shown that German cockroach allergens cause allergic reactions and can exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children. This makes German cockroach control incredibly vital.
German cockroaches are 1/2 to 5/8 inch in length when mature, light brown to tan in color, with two dark parallel bars on the pronotum. During her lifetime, the female German cockroach produces four to eight egg capsules (ootheca), each of which contains 30-40 eggs. The female carries the egg capsule partially within her abdomen until just before the nymphs are ready to emerge. About 24 hours prior to hatching, she drops the egg capsule in a protected area. If the egg capsule is dropped prematurely, the developing roaches inside die of dehydration. Nymphs molt six to seven times before adulthood. Adults live between 100 and 200 days. Established German cockroach populations consist of approximately 75% nymphs.
ORIENTAL COCKROACH (SCIENTIFIC NAME: BLATTA ORIENTALIS)
Believed to be of African origin despite its name, the oriental cockroach is one of the larger species of cockroach. These cockroaches are sometimes referred to as “waterbugs” because they hang out in damp areas, as well as “black beetle cockroaches” because of their smooth, dark bodies. Oriental cockroaches gain entry into households by going under doors and through gaps beneath siding, as well as following pipes, sewers and drains into a structure.
Primarily an outdoor species, oriental cockroaches are often found in sewers and under debris, leaves, stones and firewood. Additionally, these pests can also live in the voids or openings beneath porches. While their natural habitat is outdoors, oriental cockroaches tend to invade homes during the summer. They will enter structures through door thresholds, under sliding glass doors, along utility pipes and through floor drains. Once indoors, oriental cockroaches find harborage in basements and crawl spaces, as they prefer damp, cool locations. Furthermore, these cockroaches will usually crawl around toilets, sinks, pipes and service ducts.
The oriental cockroach feeds on all kinds of food, especially decaying organic matter, starchy foods and garbage. Though these cockroaches have been noted to survive for up to a month without food, they cannot live more than two weeks without water. Heavily dependent upon water, they tend to gather in large numbers near water sources.
BROWN-BANDED COCKROACH (SCIENTIFIC NAME: SUPELLA LONGIPALPA)
Brown-banded cockroaches are a small species of invasive cockroaches. These pests get their name from the two light brown bands they have across their dark brownish bodies. These bands can be seen across the wings of the adult but are even more prominent across the body of the nymph. This cockroach species entered the United States in 1903, traveling from Cuba into Florida, and are now commonly seen throughout the US.
Brown-banded cockroaches can take shelter throughout households and are often found lurking in kitchen cabinets and bathrooms, and even behind picture frames. This species lives for 206 days on average and can reproduce at alarming rates. Females will lay about 14 egg capsules during their life span, each capsule containing 10-18 eggs, allowing this species to populate quickly. The brown-banded cockroach is primarily nocturnal but can also be found on the move during daylight hours. However, due to their nocturnal nature and small stature, the brown-banded cockroach can easily go undetected.
Brown-banded cockroaches can be found within furniture and other household items but show a preference for drier locations in warmer areas above 80 degrees. They tend to be found in higher locations than most other cockroach species, taking shelter in upper cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as congregating near ceilings. However, these roaches often hide their egg cases in or under furniture. Brown-banded cockroaches also like to live around electronic equipment, such as refrigerator motors, and tend to avoid water and bright light. Due to their small size and brown color, the brown-banded cockroach can easily blend into their surroundings and be difficult to spot.
Being nocturnal, brown-banded cockroaches are often most active at night. However, they can be found during the day, typically looking for food. They enter homes and structures looking for shelter and once they find it, they will remain hidden for the majority of the day. If disturbed, males will take flight while females will run away.
The brown-banded cockroach will feed on almost anything, even other cockroach species. Their diet consists of trash, food items, drapes and boxes and also items with high starch levels like wallpaper glue and book bindings. They may also feed on dyes and pastes, including portions of envelopes and wallpaper. These pests are often carried into structures with infested food, furniture, or grocery items, and then rarely leave once inside. They will remain anywhere they have abundant access to food and warm, dry shelter.