People tend to think about cockroaches as dirty pests that spread disease. Although this is true of some cockroaches, most cockroach species are inoffensive and actually play a beneficial role in the ecosystem. However, if you have a cockroach invasion in your home, you’re unfortunately dealing with a pest species. Learning more about cockroaches and their habits will assist you in effectively eliminating these pests from your home.
What Is a Cockroach?
Cockroaches, or roaches, form part of an ancient group that dates back at least as far as 300 million years ago. The modern cockroach started to appear in the early Cretaceous Period, which began around 145 million years ago. It’s likely that these insects are the most primitive winged insects on Earth today.
They are common and tough insects that can survive in extreme environments, ranging from Arctic climates to tropical, humid areas. Currently, they are grouped into more than 460 genera and 4,600 different species. However, only 30 cockroach species are associated with human habitats, out of which five species are commonly regarded as pests.
What Do Cockroaches Look Like?
Cockroaches typically range in size from around 0.8 inch to 3.1 inches. The giant burrowing cockroach, which is found in Australia, is the world’s heaviest cockroach and can reach a length of up to 3.5 inches. The body of the cockroach is broad, flat, and oval and typically light-brown to black in color. Their small heads contain four eyes, including two compound and two simple eyes.
Apart from the head, the cockroach’s body consists of a three-segmented thorax and a 10-segmented abdomen. The body is supported by three pairs of sturdy legs that are well suited for running. A tough exoskeleton, which is coated with wax to repel water, covers and protects the inner organs. Although some cockroaches are wingless, many have two pairs of wings. The first pair is there for protection and lies on top of the hind wings, which are used for flight.
Common Habits of the Cockroach
The cockroach can be found throughout the world and in a wide range of environments. Whereas some species are capable of surviving temperatures as low as -188 degrees Fahrenheit, others have adapted to arid regions and extremely high temperatures. They are social insects that tend to aggregate, and they even exhibit parental care. Scientists believe they share vital information through the secretion or excretion of pheromones. The German cockroach, for instance, leaves fecal trails, which lead other cockroaches to sources of food and water.
Cockroaches are generally omnivorous and can eat just about any plant or animal. Whereas some wild cockroaches that live underground or in dead trees may survive on leaves or dead wood, those that live in sewers feed on human waste. Pest cockroaches that invade homes will eat almost anything, including human food, dead insects, leather, hair, and the starch in book bindings.
The Pest Cockroaches
If you have a cockroach infestation in your house in the Charlotte area, it is probably one of the following species:
German cockroaches: This is the most common cockroach species in the world. They are only about half an inch long and typically light brown in color. Their small size has contributed to their prolific spread, and they’re often carried into homes in grocery bags or boxes. Although they have wings, they rarely fly.
American cockroaches: Despite their name, American cockroaches are native to Africa and the Middle East. They typically grow to about 2 inches long and are reddish-brown in color. Although they have well-developed wings, they are often not great flyers.
Oriental cockroaches: Many people regard this pest species as one of the dirtiest, as they often travel through sewer pipes and drains. They are dark brown or black and typically grow to about 1 to 1.5 inches in length. The wings of the females are underdeveloped, whereas the males have wings that cover the abdomen. Neither of the two sexes can fly, however.
Brown-banded cockroaches: This species is slightly smaller than the German cockroach. They are also normally light brown in color and have two yellow-brown stripes on their abdomens. The males have fully developed wings and can fly, whereas the wings of the females are underdeveloped and non-functional.
Why Cockroaches Are a Threat and How To Control Them
Cockroaches are a nuisance because they feed on human and pet food and sometimes leave an offensive odor. In addition, these pests pose a health threat to humans. They often carry and spread bacteria and protozoa, which can cause diarrhea and gastroenteritis. Cockroach infestations have also been linked with asthma and allergic reactions in humans.
The first step you need to take when trying to eliminate cockroaches from your home is to cut off their supply of water and food. This means cleaning your house thoroughly, including wiping all surfaces, vacuuming carpets, sweeping floors, changing the bed linen, and emptying garbage bins on a regular basis. Store all food in airtight containers and seal off all open bags. To cut off their water supply, repair leaky taps and pipes and cover or seal other areas that could function as a water source.
As cockroaches basically feed on anything, including paper, keeping your house clean may not necessarily be enough to keep them away. You’ll probably also have to employ other methods, like using bait, boric acid, baking soda, or roach spray. Some also recommend boiling catnip in water and spraying the solution all over your home. Other natural repellents include lemons, vinegar, garlic, and essential oils.