What are cockroaches?
Cockroaches are insects that are characterized by their oval shape and their domestic pest status.
Around four thousand species are known throughout the world and most of them live in the warm tropical regions of the globe. Nearly twenty-five species have been distributed worldwide due to accidental transport in commerce. Most of the important pest species are among them.
Cockroaches have changed little in appearance for 320 million years. Fossil records indicate that they were the predominant insects during the Carboniferous period millions of years ago.
Common cockroaches include the American, German, Oriental, Madeira, and brown ray. The Asian cockroach began to cause concern in the United States when it appeared in large numbers in Florida in the late 1980.
The cockroaches are flat and oval. Its head points downwards and is protected by the wings of the thorax. They are similar in morphology to grasshoppers, crickets, stick insects and mantids (they are their closest relatives).
Cockroaches may or may not have wings, but even winged species do not always fly. Its size ranges from 1 mm (0.04 inches) to more than 9 cm (3.6 inches). They are sensitive to light and most species prefer the dark. They are fundamentally nocturnal. Their long highly sensitive antennae and sensory bristles allow them to detect moisture and food. Their sensory structures extend from the back of the abdomen can detect air movements, allowing cockroaches to quickly detect and escape danger.
Most cockroaches can run very fast and are difficult to catch because of their soft and slippery outer skin. They can hide in very narrow crevices. The oily cuticle also protects them from dehydration. Individual species may be restricted to very specific habitats such as leaf litter, bromeliads, waterfall splash zone and bat caves.
Some species are bright colors and challenge the stereotype of the gray, brown or black house cockroach. Some species, such as Madeira’s cockroach, produce sounds.
Life cycle and reproductive behavior
How do cockroaches reproduce?
Courtship patterns vary with the species. When the American cockroach is ready to mate, the female produces a chemical odor or pheromone that attracts males. The males flap their wings and approach the females as they feel their pheromones to perform the mating. Other species have more elaborate mattings including whistling, swaying, agitation of the abdomen or nibbling. The males of the African species form dominance hierarchies and the females mate preferentially with the dominant male.
The fertilized eggs that result from mating are cemented by the female in an egg-shaped sausage known as the ootheca. The American cockroaches deposit the ootheca in a protected place and abandon it. The German cockroaches keep the ootheca in their egg-laying organ, known as the ovipositor, depositing them only when the eggs are ready to hatch.
Depending on the species, an ootheca contains 16 to 32 eggs. The female cockroach sometimes shows maternal attention. The nymphs that emerge from the eggs remain around their mother for several days. The nymphs go through a progressive metamorphosis growing and maturing in stages, each separated by a molt of the exoskeleton. At each successive stage they come to resemble adult insects increasingly. The last molt gives rise to an individual in sexual maturity.
Importance of cockroaches in the ecosystem
Cockroaches play an important ecological role.
Cockroaches help to break down forest waste and fecal matter from animals and are, in turn, food for many other animals including dead cockroach eliminators, predators and egg parasites. They are, therefore, an important part of the food chain. The success of their survival strategy is demonstrated by the group’s longevity and its amazing diversity.
What do cockroaches eat?
Cockroaches are able to digest a wide range of substances due to the variety of bacteria and protozoa in their digestive system.
Are cockroaches a pest?
Only about 1% of cockroach species are annoying pests for humans. Cockroaches have gained their bad reputation not only because they feed on human food and trash, but because they pollute their environment, leave behind an unpleasant smell and are extremely difficult to eradicate. However, cockroaches may not be as dirty as they seem. In laboratory experiments, domestic species are able to contaminate food and other objects with organisms that cause human disease, but have not been implicated in outbreaks of real diseases. In fact, cockroaches spend a great deal of time cleaning themselves.
Cockroaches have been the subject of many insecticides in recent years, but they have developed resistance to several of them.
Boric acid powder is effective against them. It is both abrasive and poisonous to cockroaches. Caution should be exercised when using it (it is toxic to children and pets).
The best way to stop cockroaches from multiplying is to keep a clean house and block their access to the water they need to survive.
American cockroaches are very easy to maintain in the laboratory and are excellent for experimentation due to their large size and generalized morphology. They have been the subject of innumerable studies that have greatly increased our understanding of the biology of insects. At least, two harmless species of cockroaches are kept as pets. These are the big Brazilian cockroach, with wings, and the whistling cockroach of Madagascar.
Scientific classification of cockroaches
The cockroaches constitute the order Blattodea, which contains five families. The American cockroach is Periplaneta americana, and the eastern cockroach is Blatta orientalis, both in the Blattidae family. The German cockroach, Blatella germanica, the Asian cockroach, Blatella asahinai, and the brown spotted cockroach, Supella longipalpa, are in the Blatellidae family. The Madeira cockroach is Leucophaea maderae, the Brazilian cockroach is Blaberus giganteus, and the whistling cockroach of Madagascar is Gromphadorina portentosa, all in the blaberidae family. The remaining families are the Cryptocercidae and the Polyphagidae.
Types of cockroaches: the different species, varieties, classes
Cockroach is the common name used for these insects. Of the approximately 4,500 species of cockroaches, about two dozen are considered pests and, from these, only a few live in the United States. Oriental cockroaches and wood cockroaches can be installed in the garden, infecting mulch, or wetlands. They will be able to easily enter the home from there. Below we will describe some types of cockroaches, especially the most common ones.
Types of cockroaches
Despite its name, the American cockroach is not native from the United States. It was probably introduced from Africa, but now it is a common plague in the United States. The adult cockroaches are reddish brown and measure about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. The upper part of its head is usually white with dark spots. American cockroaches appear in warm, humid places, so they tend to infect interior spaces that are above 82 degrees of humidity. In the warmer climates of the south, where the species is known as palmetto, they can live in garden wood and humid mulch.
The German cockroach is considerably smaller than the American cockroach. Adults are only about 1/2-inch long. They are light brown in color and have two dark stripes behind the head. German cockroaches appear in kitchens and bathrooms. They hide behind the pipes and in the drawers of the cabinets. The German cockroach looks for warm and humid places. It prefers temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees.
The eastern cockroach is about the same size as the American cockroach (about 1-1 1/4 inches long). It is dark brown or almost black. This species resists cold temperatures better than other cockroaches, and can live very happy in outdoors even in northern climates. Oriental cockroaches feed on organic matter and infect areas of the garden. When they are close to the structures, they can enter the houses if they are disturbed.
Cockroach of wood
Wood cockroaches are smaller than American cockroaches (about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long) but similar in appearance. Their behavior is very different from that of the other species as they roam openly during the day. They prefer to be outdoors in rotten logs, stacked wood or under the loose bark of the tree. If they reach the interior, it will be because they accidentally entered or left the fire. They do not reproduce or establish themselves inside the house.
Some species of cockroaches, such as Australian cockroaches or Suriname, live only in very hot and open climates in the temperate regions of the United States. However, they can sometimes be transported to the plants in the pot. Also, they can be introduced in greenhouses or other interior spaces that are hot and moist enough to keep them alive.
Types of cockroaches and how to eliminate them
Worldwide, there are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches and they inhabit the earth around four hundred million years ago. They are extremely resistant and difficult to eliminate, especially when they infect the house. We deal with four species: the German cockroach (it is the most common); the brown cockroach with bands; the eastern cockroach (found in sewers, drains, wet basements) and the American cockroach.
These insects, if they find food, live in the kitchens. They increase rapidly: the female can lay thirty to fifty eggs. Sometimes, it is difficult to see them because they avoid light and prefer to go out in the dark. They hide in warm, wet, and dark corners. Cockroaches go out to feed at night.
What diseases do cockroaches produce to humans?
We do not like cockroaches because, apart from having an unpleasant appearance, they are carriers of pathogenic microorganisms. Cockroaches are capable of causing various diseases to people without respecting their age, sex, or race (the damage they can cause affects everyone equally).
It is important to know which are the diseases that cockroaches can transmit to humans.
What are the diseases caused by cockroaches?
Roaches, ticks, flies, and rats can cause harm to humans. Even dogs and cats can also be carriers of pathogens that will not harm them but humans.
As cockroaches live in garbage dumps, dirty places, pipes, and near rats, they act as reservoirs of pathogenic microorganisms. This happens too, because they eat animal feces, raw meat, food waste, and so on. The way in which cockroaches can acquire bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses is relatively easy.
- Cockroaches can cause muscle pain or a fever that can be alleviated with paracetamol, but the situation may not be there.
- Cockroaches can be carriers of chronic infections, such as E. coli, salmonella, typhoid fever, staphylococcus, cholera, rabies, gastroenteritis, leprosy, dysentery, and a host of other diseases they carry.
Cockroaches can transmit a cocktail of diseases and it is very easy for them to cause a severe disease if the person’s immune system is weakened.
Cockroaches cause asthma
The diseases caused by cockroaches can be serious and one of the most common is asthma that directly affects the respiratory tract. This happens because cockroaches release proteins that can act as an allergen for many people.
How to prevent the diseases produced by the cockroach?
It is a problem that can only be solved if we completely eliminate the cockroach plague. Asthma has to do exactly with the released proteins that are in the air and reach very easily to the respiratory tract of people. This can happen very often because, as a rule, cockroaches inhabit indoors.
More details: how to prevent the appearance of cockroaches.
How do cockroaches transmit diseases?
As microorganisms are the cause of diseases and cannot be seen with seen easily, cockroaches are leaving everywhere organic remains such as feces or vomit. Also, by direct contact, they can transmit the diseases that we have mentioned before. We do not realize the moment in which we are infected because bacteria, parasites, fungi, or viruses can enter orally, topically and ocularly, among others.
These microorganisms can survive for a period of time outside a host and can be waiting for the next one to arrive. This can happen even when we are cleaning the area of cockroaches that we have killed. For all this, we must be very careful.
Here the best remedies and techniques to eliminate cockroaches.
10 fascinating curiosities about cockroaches
Most people are aware of the health risks of cockroach infestations.
Cockroaches can cause allergies and, because of their allergens, asthma. The germs and bacteria that they spread are also dangerous.
Cockroaches are very resistant and have some strange tactics of behavior and survival. For example, cockroaches spend 75% of their time resting and can tolerate temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius.
Ten fascinating curiosities about cockroaches
How long does a cockroach live without a head?
The cockroach can live a week without its head (even 9 days). Due to their circulatory system and the fact that they breathe through small holes that they have in each of the segments of their body, they do not depend on the mouth or head to breathe.
The cockroach eventually dies of thirst because without a mouth, it cannot drink water.
How long can a cockroach be without breathing?
The cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes and survive for half an hour while it is submerged under water. Cockroaches retain their breath to help regulate the loss of fluid.
How fast can a cockroach run?
Cockroaches can run up to 4.8 km in one hour. This means that they can spread germs and bacteria very quickly.
How long does a cockroach become adult?
The German cockroach becomes an adult in just 36 days. In fact, it is the most common of cockroaches and has been implicated in the outbreaks of diseases and allergic reactions of many people.
What can a one-day-old cockroach do?
A one-day-old cockroach will be the size of a speck of dust. Despite being so small, it can run almost as fast as its parents.
Some cockroaches are attracted to alcoholic beverages
The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction for alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Probably, it is attracted to alcohol because this drink is mixed with hops and sugar.
Where does the largest cockroach in the world live and how large it is?
The largest cockroach in the world lives in South America and is about 15 centimeters long. The average size of cockroaches can vary from 1.27 cm to 5.08 cm in length.
How many years have cockroaches existed?
It is believed that cockroaches originated more than 280 million years ago, in the Carboniferous era.
How many species of cockroaches are there?
There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches throughout the world including the most common species. Among them is the German cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach (Brown-banded) and the American cockroach.
How long can a cockroach live without eating?
Because they are cold blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for a month, but it will only survive a week without water.
These facts show that cockroaches are among the most adaptable creatures on earth. Therefore, it is very difficult to control and eliminate a cockroach infestation.
To get rid of cockroaches in your home, experts suggest keeping food sealed and properly stored in the kitchen. The kitchen must be cleaned daily to prevent the accumulation of crumbs and garbage. Trash should be disposed of regularly and stored in sealed containers. Homeowners should search and seal all cracks and holes in their homes, including the entrance points of public utilities and pipes as they can serve as an entrance for the pest. In addition, basements and crawl spaces should be kept well ventilated and dry.
What do cockroaches do to humans, sting or bite?
Since cockroaches are insects belonging to the family Blattidae (of the Dictyoptera order), they have “jaws” or chewing mouth. These unpleasant animals have no structure in their body to bite the human being (stinger, beak, etc.). We can conclude then that cockroaches bite, but not humans, since their buccal apparatus is adapted only to “bite” the food they eat and not human skin.