Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.
The American cockroach is the largest of the house-infesting cockroach. They are reddish brown, with a yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back of the head.
American cockroaches are found in food processing areas and food storage areas, as well as other types of buildings. They are active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, but they can survive lower temperatures with the right conditions.
American cockroaches are often found in sewers and basements, particularly around pipes and drains.
Brown banded cockroaches get their name from the two lighter bands they have across their dark brownish bodies. In addition to the distinctive banding, males have full wings, which reach beyond the tip of their rather pointed abdomens, but females have underdeveloped wings, much shorter than their broad, rounded abdomens.
Male brownbanded cockroaches have been observed to fly indoors. Among cockroach species, brownbanded cockroaches have the most distinctions between sexes. Females have larger abdomen and shorter wings than males. Brownbanded cockroaches often hide their egg cases in or under furniture.
Within a room, these roaches tend to prefer warmer, drier, and higher locations than do any of the other urban pest roaches. They are often found in upper cabinets or in other rooms than the kitchens (food preparation areas) or bathrooms.
Oriental Cockroaches, Blatta orientalis (L.), are large very dark (almost black, but sometimes dark reddish-brown), shiny cockroaches which live in sewers and similar wet, decaying organic matter. They are sometimes called “water bugs” because they come out of drains, and “black beetle cockroaches” because of their smooth, dark bodies. Males are about 1 inch long, with wings that cover only about 3/4 of their abdomen; females are about 1 1/4 inch long, and have only short stubs of wing pads.
This species of cockroach often travels through sewer pipes. It survives on filth and enjoys temperatures from 68 to 84 degrees. This is a cooler temperature than that preferred by other cockroach species.
Oriental cockroaches are often found in sewers and will enter structures through drains. They find indoor harborage in basements and crawl spaces. They can also be found in leaf piles and firewood outdoors.
The German cockroach is the cockroach of concern, the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name. It occurs in structures and is the species that typically plagues multifamily dwellings. The German cockroach may be confused with the Asian cockroach. While these cockroaches are very similar, there are some differences that a practiced eye can discern.
The German cockroach is found throughout the world in association with humans. They are unable to survive in locations away from humans or human activity. The major factor limiting German cockroach survival appears to be cold temperatures. Studies have shown that German cockroaches were unable to colonize inactive ships during cool temperatures and could not survive in homes without central heating in northern climates. The availability of water, food, and harborage also govern the ability of German cockroaches to establish populations, and limit growth.
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