Even if you’ve never had cockroach problems of your own before, you are probably quite aware of them: those gross little bugs that crawl in and out of your walls, sometimes have wings and fly, and, weirdly enough, can still run around with their head cut off. And if you have ever had the distinct pleasure of a cockroach infestation in your house or apartment, then you are all too familiar with these small and annoying pests.
1. No head, No Problem
Cockroaches are – no surprise – insects, with six legs, can grow 2-3” long, have two antennae’s and in some cases, even wings. And, since they do not breathe with their mouth, but rather through little holes in their body (called spiracles), they actually can live with their head cut off, sometimes up to a week. Kind of disturbing, but true.
2. They’re Weather Resistant
They’re found all over the world and can tolerate both hot and freezing weather, but are especially at home in tropical climates, where they also tend to be much larger. They enjoy living outside, and are also nocturnal, spending their nights rummaging for food and mating. There are over 4,000 different living species of cockroach, but some of the most common you might run into in your home are American cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches, and German cockroaches – which live all over the world, and despite their name, are the most common cockroach species found in the Unites States.
3. They’re Really, Really Fast
Cockroaches love to move, and can run up to three miles an hour – which, if they were the size of a human, would equate to running like 70 miles an hour. Impressive. They often get into your home through cracks or tiny holes, and through vents or pipes, thanks to their fascinating ability to change shape and compress themselves; a 12mm tall cockroach can somehow fit itself through a hole only 3mm tall, as their abdomen consists of ten flexible segments that allow it to bend and compress itself into all sorts of different shapes. Their preferred method of transportation, however, is hitching a free ride, such as on a cardboard box, some garbage or a piece of old wood.
4. You’ll Find Them Near Water
Once they’ve gotten in, they set up shop in warm spots thanks to their preference for warm climates; some types love drier places, like pantries and walls, while others tend towards dark and damp places, like bathrooms, under sinks, and pipes in the wall. They reproduce very quickly, can live up to a month without food, and since they are nocturnal, it’s very likely you may never even see them. And if you do, it’s even more likely that there are many, many hiding in your walls! Cockroaches are social creatures, that tend to group together in large colonies, and actually tend to signal to each other using their scent, and trails of fecal matter (you asked), when they’ve found a suitable place to stay.
5. In Nature, It’s Not All Bad
It’s no secret that they are serious pests, when they are invading our homes and living within our walls. In nature, however, they aren’t all bad news, and can sometimes be quite helpful and beneficial to their environment. They help dispose of, and recycle, decaying organic materials, eating rotting food, garbage, and other insects. That’s great, but also means that they love to snack on your food or belongings, especially starchy things such as cereal or books. Some species have quite an appetite for inorganic things, too, devouring anything from nylon stockings to toothpaste, which can make them quite the annoyance.
6. They Carry Disease
Not only do they enjoy snacking on items in your house, but cockroaches can also make a bit of mess. As they crawl through dirty areas and garbage, they often pick up dirt and bacteria – including Salmonella and E. Coli – dragging it everywhere they go and contaminating food and surfaces they get into, which can lead to sicknesses that you may never know the cause of. They also shed their skins frequently, which not only contaminate surfaces, but also contain many allergens that can cause allergies and asthma attacks, especially in children. So not only are cockroaches annoying, they can also cause a bit some considerable harm if left to run rampant.
How to Rid Yourself of Cockroaches
That’s probably way more than you ever wished to know about cockroaches. What you really want to know is, how can you prevent cockroaches from turning your home into their own? First, make sure that all vents, pipes, windows, etc. are properly sealed and maintained. Then, be sure to maintain a clean and dry house. Cockroaches love warm, damp places. They are also attracted by food crumbs and messes, so be sure to always clean up any spills or crumbs that fall on the floor.
So, if you’ve spotted a cockroach or two, or even located an entire infestation, what should you do? Because of cockroaches’ rapid reproduction, and the fact they are nocturnal and tend to hide from light, it will be difficult to completely take care of a cockroach problem, and it’s best to call in the pros. A professional pest control expert will be able to properly diagnose and treat a cockroach infestation, and help prevent it from happening again.