The fact that cockroaches disgust you is natural. Not only are they insects, which are generally abhorred by many, they also pose a significant health risk to humans because they contaminate food and eating utensils. While knowing more about cockroaches may not seem agreeable to you, the knowledge will arm you against them.
Cockroaches have flattened, oval bodies and long antennae. They have six long legs covered with little spines. Most adult cockroaches have fully developed wings, although few species actually fly. Younger cockroaches resemble their adult counterparts except that they are smaller and wingless.
These insects progress through three stages of their life cycles. Throughout its first stage, the cockroach resides within an egg that resides in a dark-colored egg case that is roughly the same size and shape as a kidney bean. Egg cases can contain anywhere between 16 and 50 eggs. Once the egg hatches, the cockroach enters its second stage, the nymph stage. In normal cockroach populations, there are more nymphs than adults. The final stage of a cockroach's life is adulthood.
Of the 3,000 known species of cockroaches, only about 50 occur in the United States. Of those 50, three species of cockroach are more common than any others:
The German cockroach, or Blattella germanica, is between 1/2- and 5/8-of-an-inch long. It is light brown in color, with two dark brown stripes located just behind its head on its body. Of cockroaches that infest structures, the German cockroach is the most prevalent. Females of this species produce between four and eight egg capsules in their lifetimes, and each capsule contains about 40 eggs. The female retains the capsule until the eggs hatch, usually 28 or 30 days after the eggs are laid.
The American cockroach, or Periplaneta americana, is one of the largest species of cockroaches in the country. It grows to be about one and a half inches long with a reddish-brown body. This cockroach prefers dark, moist areas where it can feed on decaying organic matter, like in basements, kitchens, clothing hampers, drains and sewers. The female of this species produces between six and fourteen egg capsules in her lifetime, each of which contains between 14 and 16 eggs that hatch within 50 or 55 days of being laid.
The brownbanded cockroach, or supella longipalpa, grows to about half an inch long and is light brown with two lighter-colored bands that run across its body at the base of its wings and on its abdomen. This cockroach requires less moisture than the American and German cockroaches and is more prevalent in homes, hotels and hospital rooms than in restaurants or stores. It commonly infests electrical appliances like televisions, telephones, and computers. The female brownbanded cockroach lays 18 egg capsules throughout her life, and each capsule contains about 18 eggs. The female carries the capsule around for 24 to 48 hours before gluing it to some surface, and the eggs hatch between 50 and 74 days later.
Cockroaches can enter homes and other structures through a variety of different avenues, including in bags and boxes. You should examine boxes, especially corrugated cardboard boxes that enter your home to ensure that they do not contain any egg capsules. If, however, cockroaches should enter your home, there are ways that you can kill them and/or manage their numbers.
Sanitation is critical if you want to reduce cockroach infestations. These insects require food and water to survive, and by limiting their access to these things, you can limit their ability to survive. You can minimize an existing infestation by:
You can remove cockroaches physically by vacuuming up adults, nymphs, and egg cases. You can use sticky traps to monitor their presence. These methods, however, are likely to put you in direct contact with cockroaches, so beware.
Insecticidal baits and boric acid are effective baits and poisons to use against cockroaches. Baits are relatively straight forward: an insecticide is injected into some sort of food attractant, which the cockroaches consume and which lead to their deaths. You should place baits in areas with high cockroach activity, such as kitchens and bathrooms. The baits should be flushed against sideboards, appliances or in corners.
Boric acid is one of the most effective cockroach control agents if used correctly. This inorganic powder affects cockroaches when they crawl over it; the poison takes effect when the cockroach preens in an attempt to clean itself. Follow all directions associated with boric acid treatments, but never spread the powder on any surfaces on which you prepare food and never spread it using an eating utensil like a spoon.