No pest is more despised in today's world more than the cockroach. Even the very name of this insect can make individuals skin crawl or send them screaming in the opposite direction. The cockroach is estimated to be at least 200 million years old, in some cases, fossil evidence predates the earliest dinosaurs. Hardy and prolific, the cockroach is a formidable pest most often requiring professional assistance in removal.
Of the nearly 3,000 species of cockroach in the world, only around 50 are found within the United States. Though logically the only species considered pests can be found in the average home or restaurant. These environments entice cockroaches because they have an ample mixture of moisture and food sources.
Cockroaches, despised as they are, have become the boogeyman of pests, though not all of the fears associated with them are rooted in fact. The cockroach can wreak havoc on asthma sensitive individuals as they shed their exoskeletons and litter trails with fecal matter. However, the most common cause is due to proteins that the cockroach produces.
Because the cockroach has an open circulatory system and breathes through smalls holes throughout its body. This pest is able to survive decapitation for up to a full week. The eventual cause of death has been proven to be dehydration as the cockroach can no longer consume water.
Cockroach feces is visible during infestation and can appear similar to coffee or pepper grounds for smaller roaches and rice sized black specks for larger ones. By evaluation of the quantities of feces present the level or duration of infestation can be assessed. Some species of cockroach emit a strong oily or musty scent.
Roaches often take up residence in hidden locations such as behind furniture and appliances or between books. In most cases, they are near water and food sources. Cockroaches are typically nocturnal and seek out darker areas for dwelling spaces and often target electrical appliances for their heating properties.
Signs of Cockroaches
When identifying cockroach infestations there are several tale-tell signs that can help with verification. If experiencing any of these signs within a home, it is most likely time to contact a professional. Remedying the problem before it becomes worse will always be the best solution.
- Spotting a cockroach, alive or dead, during the night is a good sign that cockroach infestation may be a problem within the home. Overcrowding and deleted food sources can entice cockroaches to come out in the daylight.
- Cockroaches have a high metabolism which inevitably leads to a high turnover of feces. Spotting feces is the sure sign that cockroaches have infiltrated a home and found sustainable food sources.
- When cockroaches breed they produce egg sacs. When nymph cockroaches hatch the silky, round casing they come from will be left behind. These can typically be found in areas that have a sustainable chance of remaining hidden.
- Cockroaches, in large numbers, tend to create a musty odor when infestation numbers become greater. The German cockroach has the ability to create a visible smell with just one. When deceased cockroaches begin decomposing, oleic acid is released causing the smell to worsen.
The cockroach life cycle follows egg and nymphal stage typical of many insects. Eggs, called ootheca, can be produced by females within three to seven days of mating. Within the female cockroach lifetime, she is capable of producing 3 to 6 oothecae.
- Egg - Once the female successfully creates an ootheca after mating, she will carry the egg sac for a period of hours to a couple of days on the tip of her abdomen. Once the carrying process is complete, the female will deposit the egg sac in a hidden location. The egg sac is fixed to the surface of the hidden location by the saliva of the female cockroach.
- Nymph - Nymphs, in essence, are the immature form of a cockroach. In optimal conditions and temperatures nymphs will hatch within 24 to 38 days. Throughout the life cycle of a nymph, they will metamorphosize into an adult cockroach through a series of sheds. During this cycle, they will shed their exoskeleton several times. After molting nymphs will be white in appearance, after a few hours they will return to their original color.
- Adult - Once at the adult stage, cockroaches will generally live around one year. Environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures and lack of food and water, can greatly impact the survival of cockroaches. Adult cockroaches are known for their rapid reproduction habits, leading to population bursts among them.
Several species of cockroach can be found in Oklahoma. Though in many ways the species have similar foraging and dwelling practices, different pest control methods may be required between the species. Professional help may be necessary for controlling and eradicating the cockroach population in your home.
- American Cockroach - Commonly found in restaurants or other places food is prepared or stored, the American cockroach exhibit a reddish-brown color. American cockroaches develop wings when they become adults are one of the species that have the ability to fly. Typically, American cockroaches will live outdoors in warm, damp areas, however; they will colonize homes in search of water and food. When indoors American Cockroaches will forage for crumbs and spilled food. American cockroaches are also notorious for eating pet food when left out overnight.
- Brownbanded Cockroach - The smallest of invasive cockroach species, the adult brown banded only reaches nearly 15mm in length. This species derives its name from the light brown and tan coloring present on its wings. Brownbanded cockroaches generally prefer areas that have temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit and exhibit low levels of humidity. Given these conditions, this species tends to be found around frequently used appliances and in attics. Brownbanded cockroaches will eat most anything but tend to prefer food sources high in starch.
- German Cockroach - German cockroaches can be found worldwide, and are one of the most sighted species indoors. Identification of this particular species is particularly easy given their light brown coloration with two black stripes behind its head. Though German cockroaches possess wings, they rarely use them, relying on running instead. This species can typically be found in kitchens and bathrooms due to the moisture sources available, but can expand their territory within a home if habitable. As a scavenging species, German cockroaches will feed on anything, including toothpaste and soap.
- Oriental Cockroach - Primarily an outdoor species, oriental cockroaches are characterized by the varying appearance between male and females. The larger of the two, the female, lacks wings and instead is covered by wing pads and can grow up to just over one inch in length. The smaller, male oriental cockroach has visible abdominal segments underneath apparent wings. Though both have wing-like structures, neither is capable of flight. This species is incredibly dependent on water sources and tends to feed on garbage and rotting organic material. For this reason, they can mostly be found in crawlspaces and underneath porches.
- Smokybrown Cockroach - The most suited species for flight, the smokybrown cockroach gets its name from its brown and black coloration. The wings that extend beyond the smokybrown cockroaches body make it an excellent flier. This species cannot survive without a moist environment due to their predisposition to dehydration. Smokybrown cockroaches feed on food scraps, plant materials, fecal matter and other decomposing insects.
It is widely believed that cockroaches are mobile carriers of several bacterium and viruses. Since the pest eats from a wide variety of food sources, feces included, the bacteria can survive within their digestive system. When passed through droppings or vomit, food can become contaminated prior to ingestion.
- Salmonella - According to the CDC, every year, Salmonella is estimated to cause one million foodborne illnesses in the United States, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. Once Salmonella infection has occurred, victims will develop abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea. Within a week symptoms will usually fade without treatment, however; extreme cases can require hospitalization and fluid replacements.
- Staphylococcus - In a 2014 study of German cockroaches found in a hospital environment and the bacterial load present from their external surfaces and alimentary tract, two distinct types of staph infection were found. Both, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermalis, were shown to cause wound infections.
- Streptococcus - More commonly known as Strep, infection from this bacterium causes a sore, red throat accompanied by white spots on the tonsils. In extreme cases left untreated, Streptococcus can lead to pneumonia. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat all infections.
When dealing with a cockroach infestation professional assistance is almost always required. As cockroaches can inhabit a variety of hidden places and reproduce quickly, quick removal is a necessity. There are several steps you can take to try and minimize a cockroach problem and help prevent them from targeting your home or business as a potential residence.
- Cockroaches tend to congregate beneath baseboards and appliances such as the stove and refrigerator. It is important to clean these areas regularly to ensure they are food and liquid free. By doing so, the food and water sources are effectively cut out.
- Repair any leaking faucets or pipes in the kitchen or bathroom. Cockroaches are reliant on water sources and will seek them out voraciously. Make sure sink tops are dried adequately after use and no pooling water is left.
- Cabinets and drawers that are lined with damage must be repaired. Lining paper must be flat to remove the hiding space that can easily be utilized by cockroaches.
- Keeping a clean trash can will ensure that cockroaches aren't receiving a free meal. By using a trash can with a closed top and regularly emptying it you are ensuring no leftover food is available to entice unwelcomed pests.
- Wet towels and toothbrushes should be elevated to dry to ensure no cockroaches can hide underneath them to gather moisture. The water content of both items after being used is more than enough for these pests.
- Before disposing of them, rinse all empty drink and food containers to remove any morsels or residue that cockroaches could feed on.
- Leaving dirty dishes in the sink can lead to a whole host of pest problems. Washing the dishes after each meal or separating them into the dishwasher ensures that these pests don't have easy access to food sources.
- Closing all exterior openings with silicone caulk or weather stripping can help eliminate access points often used by cockroaches and other pests.
- Sweeping and vacuuming floor surfaces, particularly in the kitchen, will help reduce crumbs and other food particles that might otherwise be missed in a cleaning regimen.
Ask the Entomologist
To track the family tree would take a lot of paper, roaches have been around for over 400 million years. Cockroaches can be found in clean homes depending on how easily they can access food and water sources, however; dirty homes provide easy access making the pest more common within them. Some cockroaches have been found to like alcoholic beverages, such as beer. This is due to the sugar content found in the alcohol.
Why Arrow Exterminators?
We hope this information helps you prevent cockroach infestations and keeps your home free from infestations all year long. If you are struggling with a cockroach problem in your home or business, give us a call or visit our website to start a no obligation cockroach evaluation. The talented technicians at Arrow Exterminators can identify any type of pest and identify the best course of treatment to get rid of it. We'll create a custom pest control plan to make sure we eliminate every last one from your home and keep them away for good! You can call our trained pest control experts at any time with questions about pest control methods or pest prevention techniques. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more pest prevention tips and tricks. Contact Arrow Exterminators and our ant control experts will get you the help you need right away. Whether it's a private residence, dormitory, hotel or any other type of property. Arrow Exterminators has been eliminating cockroaches all over Oklahoma since 1952. We know cockroach control.