The cockroach is consider it to be a pest because it invades where we live, eat and sleep. There are between 4,000 to 7,500 different species of roaches. Of this amount, only one percent are considered to be a pest. Some of the more common species are:
- Oriental Cockroach-Blatta orientalis
- American Cockroach-Periplaneta americana
- Brownbanded Cockroach-Supella longipalpa
- German cockroach or Blatella germanica
They have pathogens or bacteria on their bodies, but none have been known to be transmitted to humans. Their mouths are used for chewing, not biting. Most roaches are nocturnal, that is, they prefer the night and are sensitive to all forms of light except for the red spectrum. They are most active right after dusk and right before dawn. They seem to appear according to a biological clock. This activity may be a response to a genetic defense because light may indicate the presence of humans, their most dangerous predator. They prefer to live in warm, moist places and are more abundant in tropical areas. However, they can live in almost any environment and they have been found in the North and South Poles.
Cockroaches are thought to be about 350 million years old, making them one of the oldest surviving creatures. They have been able to survive because of their rapid reproductive cycles and adaptability to poisons, environments, and even nuclear bombs. One of the largest is the Madagascar hissing cockroach, which has become a popular pet. Another large roach is Megaloblatta blaberoides, a resident of Central and South America. It has been measured at about 100mm long. Some roaches can fly and one has been measured to have a wingspan of about one-foot.
Although they live in proximity to each other in crevices or harbingers, they are not social insects such as the bee, termite, or the ant. This need to keep in touch with their surroundings is called thigmotaxis. Their immunity extends to poisons, and they are known to survive decapitation. This is possible because they have two-nerve centers-one in the head, the other in the tail. The only way it would eventually die would be from dehydration. They can do without food for over one month, but they need water at least once a week. They will feed on all foods, grease, paint, wallpaper paste, and even bookbinding.
The female will have up to forty babies at one time. Some species will mate only once and they will remain pregnant for the rest of their lives. Adults will live for an average of eight to fifteen months. Cockroaches reproduce on an average of four times per year. Females have a broader abdomen and are more rounded than the male. This constant reproduction adds to their ability to become immune to environment changes or pesticides. The basic structure of the cockroach has, however, remained the same since the middle of the Silurian period almost 365 million years ago. The life cycle of the cockroach is from egg-nymph-adult. This cycle is called simple metamorphosis. It means that the younger nymphs look very similar to the adult and will only differ in size.
The cockroach has been around for about 350 million years! It is Known to be a highly adaptable insect, able to withstand Radiation in excess of what man can tolerate, and requires very Little food to survive. In fact, several roaches may subsist on a thin layer of grease for months! Cockroaches prefer starchy food, but will eat anything organic, including wood, shoes, paper, glue, soap, and even eyelashes. This, of course, intensifies the need for proper sanitation, especially in food establishments.
Studies have shown that 98% of cockroaches carry bacteria that are known to cause food poisoning. They pick up unsanitary material with their legs and bodies, and may contaminate food, counters and utensils. Roaches may also regurgitate material that was previously eaten which may contain potentially hazardous Bacteria. Diseases that cockroaches may spread include: Typhoid Fever, Dysentery, Cholera, Poliomyelitis Virus, and Tapeworm.
The following tips will help prevent cockroach infestations at home, and in commercial eating establishments:
- Good sanitation is the best cockroach control. Thorough and frequent cleaning, and organizing are essential.
- Clean up spills immediately, especially in dark or dimly lit areas. All waste food scraps and particles should be disposed of promptly; don't allow scraps or crumbs to accumulate anywhere. Make sure dirty dishes don't sit overnight.
- Store foods and other items off the floor and keep all packages and containers tightly wrapped and covered.
- Carefully inspect all boxes, crates and bags that are brought into the home or food service establishment.
- Eliminate clutter and an accumulation of empty boxes, containers, and boards. Separate items stored in drawers, cabinets and storage areas. Rotating goods often will eliminate harborage and discourage breeding.
- Keep basements and storage areas dry, clean, ventilated and well-lit. Remove any standing water, repair leaking pipes, and keep floor drains clean and free-flowing. Use dehumidifiers to remove moisture. Prevent an accumulation of liquids on any surfaces.
- Keep employee dressing rooms and dirty laundry storage areas clean to prevent cross infestation by employees.
- Check plants and plantings for harborage and infestation. Remove all logs, or tree stumps used for decoration.
Once a cockroach infestation occurs, it generally requires the use of a pesticide. However, pesticides are poisonous—never treat surfaces used for food preparation. Keep them away from children, and store them away from food.
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