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COCKROACHES

BACKGROUND | BIOLOGY | BEHAVIOR

 American CockroachBrown CockroachGerman Cockroach

BACKGROUND:

  • Cockroaches can be split into two groups: Domestic and peridomestic. Domestic cockroaches live their entire lives inside homes or buildings. An example is the German cockroach. Roaches that live indoors and out (or may be indoors occasionally) are peridomestic. An example is the American cockroach.
  • A cockroach can survive for 1 - 2 weeks without its head.
  • A cockroach can live 2 weeks without water and a month without food.
  • Cockroaches can run up to 3 miles an hour.
  • Cockroaches are believed to be highly resistant to radiation. In fact, they were used in early space travel to determine radiation survivability. They are definitely able to withstand more radiation than humans, but there is a small parasitic wasp that can survive almost 30 times more radiation than the cockroach!
  • The shed skins and waste produced by cockroaches can trigger allergic reactions, asthma and other illnesses, especially in children.
  • Less than 1% of the 4,500 different cockroach species in the world are pests to humans.
  • Most cockroaches do have a beneficial role in nature. They are omnivores (eat everything) so they help to break down organic matter. Furthermore, they serve as food for small mammals, birds, amphibians and lizards.
  • In our human environment, cockroaches have been known to feed on: Left-over human food, leather, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, soap, fabric, shoes, paint, the glue on the back of wallpaper or postage stamps, human hair and fingernails!
  • The Australian giant burrowing cockroach, the South American giant cockroach and the Madagascar hissing cockroach are considered the largest roaches in the world at 3-4 inches long!
  • The smallest cockroach is 1/10th of an inch long and lives in the nest of leafcutter ants! 1/10th of an inch is roughly the size of the word “IN” on the front of a quarter.

BIOLOGY:

  • The cockroach has three life stages: the egg, nymph and adult.
  • Cockroaches produce oothecas. These are egg cases that may hold 10 – 50 eggs, depending on the roach species. Female roaches usually drop these or glue them to a surface. The German roach will hold her egg capsule until it is ready to hatch.
  • Cockroaches inhale air through openings on the side of their body called spiracles. The Madagascar hissing cockroach forces air out of these openings for its characteristic sound.


    PERIDOMESTIC (OUTDOOR) ROACHES

  • Outdoor roaches found in Florida are the American cockroach, Smokybrown roach, Florida Woods roach, Surinam cockroach, Australian cockroach, Cuban cockroach and Asian cockroach.
  • The American cockroach can fly for short distances and glide from high locations, but they rarely do so. Surprisingly, it’s not native to North America and was most probably introduced via ships from Africa.
    • Most outdoor roaches are large in size and often referred to as Palmetto bugs.

    DOMESTIC (INDOOR) ROACHES

  • The German cockroach and Brown-banded cockroach are unable to survive away from humans or human activity.
  • The German roach is frequently introduced into a structure via infested items.
  • The German and Asian roach look very similar. One difference used to distinguish them is the Asian roach is a good flier and the German roach isn’t.
  • The Brown-banded cockroach is also known as the TV cockroach. It can live in the back of TV sets and other appliances where it is warm. It can feed on the glue holding the set together, the insulation and other TV parts. 
     

BEHAVIOR:

  • Cockroaches communicate with each other by using chemical cues called pheromones. These pheromones help roaches find mates, places to hide and food sources.
  • Most roaches invade homes from their natural habitat outside, with the exception of the German and brown-banded cockroaches.
  • Successful roach control involves prevention of entry, reduction of harborage sites, as well as removal of food and water resources as much as possible.
  • Cockroaches are generally active at night and remain hidden during the day. Daylight sightings usually indicate a large population.

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