Description: There are more than 3,500 known species of cockroaches found throughout the world, many of which infest the household and are frequently found in restaurants, hotels and grocery stores. More than $1.5 billion a year is spent controlling cockroaches in the United States alone. The presence of roaches is so objectionable that they are considered among the worst of domestic pests.
Cockroaches consume human foodstuffs and contaminate them with saliva and excrement. They are also responsible for transmitting diseases such as the bacteria which cause food poisoning and are a significant source of allergies indoors, second only to house dust.
Adult house-infesting roaches are medium to large insects (1/2 – 2 inches long, depending on species) that vary in color from a light reddish brown to black. They have a broad, flattened shape, spiny legs and long, whip-like antennae. Roaches are active at night and will scatter quickly when disturbed by light. Immature stages (nymphs) resemble adults, but are smaller and have undeveloped wings.
Note: Cockroaches evolved as scavengers of decaying plant materials; as a result, they prefer carbohydrates to protein and fat.
Life Cycle: Adult females produce egg capsules, which may contain up to 50 eggs. Some species carry them on their bodies until hatching takes place, while other drop the capsules in protected places that they frequent. After about 30 days young nymphs appear and begin their gradual development. As with all insects, roaches must shed their outer skin, or molt, to grow. Immediately after molting, they are white, but within hours their body becomes dark and hardens. Depending on the species, it may take a cockroach as little as six weeks to become an adult or as long as a few years. There are several generations per year.
Note: Cockroaches reproduce at an enormous rate and are capable of producing several thousand offspring in a year.
Cockroach Control: Cockroaches flourish where food and moisture are readily available. As a result, sanitation is an important step in prevention and control. Reduce the cockroach carrying capacity of your home by placing food and waste in sealed containers. Reduce roach hiding places through the use of caulk and paint. Give priority to cracks and crevices where you have found the highest cockroach densities. Screen vents and windows through which roaches travel. Apply least-toxic pesticides, like boric acid and diatomaceous earth, to areas where pests are found. Insect growth regulators provide long-term roach control both indoors and out indoors or out. Spray botanical insecticides in cracks, crevices and other roach hiding places if pest levels become intolerable.
Note: Cockroaches are often carried into homes in shipping materials, grocery bags, beer and soda cases, laundry and used appliances.
Tip: Place traps along the edges of walls or counters where roaches normally travel.