HOW TO IDENTIFY COCKROACHES
Everyone has encountered a cockroach at least once in their lives. These creepy, flying insects are harbingers of numerous diseases. There are almost 4000 species of roaches across the world, and these pests have been around for almost 280 million years! They are highly adaptive in nature, which is why they can be tough to detect, let alone eliminate. They are social insects and belong to the same family as termites.
The cockroaches commonly found in the US are the German cockroach and the American brown-banded cockroach. Most people believe they know what cockroaches look like, but are you completely sure? Is that a water bug or a roach? How will you know?
If the creepy insects scattering across your kitchen or washroom have the following characteristics, you can be sure that they are cockroaches.
- Flat, oval-shaped bodies
- Black or brown in color (can even have brown bands)
- Can be anywhere from 15mm to 40mm long
- Slimy to touch
- Raised, hardened area near a small head
- German cockroaches are brown in color
- American cockroaches are reddish brown in color
- Oriental cockroaches are black in color
- Prefers hiding in shady places
- Slightly foul-smelling
- Male roaches are usually smaller than females
- Droppings look like brown or black in stains or spots
- Adult roaches leave behind cylindrical feces with ridges all along them
Cockroaches are sneaky creatures. They are good at hiding and are mainly active at night. Cockroaches are omnivorous, so if you have them in your house you can be sure that they will eat anything from the leftover food on your kitchen counters to the rotting waste matter in your garbage bins. They carry a lot of germs and can transmit a range of diseases as they roam all over the place. Food contaminated by roaches is guaranteed to make you sick. Typhoid, cholera, dysentery…these are a few illnesses that you can get because of a roach infestation.
Cockroaches love to hide in the following places
- Behind pipes
- Inside drainage systems
- Inside empty boxes, utensils, covers, bags
- Inside garbage bins
- Behind wallpapers
- Inside infrequently used shelves and cupboards
- In laundry rooms
- In basements, attics (any shady place)
- Actual physical sighting of roaches.
- Droppings that look like pepper grounds or ink stains or cylindrical matter.
- Damage to wallpapers, clothes and other items.
- Random sightings of cockroach legs, antennae around the house.
- Foul smell around washbasins, kitchen counters, and washrooms.
- Oval-shaped cockroach eggs will be visible in wall cracks, between books, inside cupboards.
- Bodies of dead cockroaches in corners of the house.
HOW DO YOU GET ROACHES
Cockroaches can sneak into your house through open windows, doors, cracks in the walls, leaking pipes or any other source of entry. Most of them just crawl or fly right in. Cockroaches can move at the speed of 3 miles an hour, so they can enter your house pretty quickly. Food, water and shelter – like all other pests, these three things are the reasons why cockroaches become invaders in the first place.
- Cockroaches are always associated with dirt and garbage and for good reason. If your garbage disposal bin is too close to your house, roaches can invade your space.
- If your bags or luggage or guests have baby cockroaches in/on them, these can enter your house and start a full-blown infestation after becoming adults.
- Any entry point in your house is enough for roaches to get in. These include cracked windows, walls, torn window meshes etc.
- Many cockroaches enter kitchens and washrooms through the drainage system. They can squeeze even through the tiniest of spaces.
- Cockroaches can even come through air vents and other systems.
HOW TO GET RID OF COCKROACHES
Getting rid of roaches can be difficult as they are very good at hiding. They are tough too and are not easy to kill. They can withstand extreme temperatures as well.
Eliminating one or two roaches might be easy, but taking on a full blown infestation is a completely different challenge altogether. It is always best to contact a professional pest control for this, but you can always try the following methods.
- Block all entry points of the roaches. Seal windows, doors, leaking pipes.
- Dispose of garbage
- Put naphthalene balls in the drainage openings.
- Keep your kitchen counters clean and neat. Make sure your fridge is always closed properly. Keep garbage bins away from the pantry.
- To eliminate an existing infestation, try using boric acid. A light dusting of this across the house will be enough to kill the roaches. Beware, however, that this is poisonous so be careful if there are pets around.
- Use baking soda and sugar: a mixture of this and water sprinkled around the house will effectively kill the roaches. The sugar is what attracts the roaches, and the baking soda is what kills them. Leave generous amounts scattered across your house, especially in areas where roaches have been frequently sighted.
- Crushed bay leaves and cucumber slices work as effective roach repellents. Leave them around the house to make sure that the dirty pests stay away.
- Bleach can also be used to kill roaches, but be careful because it is corrosive in nature. To tackle extreme cockroach infestations inside pipes, small amounts of bleach can be dropped in.
The most important thing that one must do is cut off the roaches from the food source. Even though roaches can survive without food for long periods of time, this will at least make sure that they don’t breed and infest in larger numbers. It is also necessary to maintain a hygienic environment at home.
LIFE CYCLE OF COCKROACHES
We know that roaches are social insects and that they breed fast. But how exactly do they do this? Developmental details in the life cycles of roaches vary slightly from species to species, but the larger process remains the same.
After mating, the adult female cockroach can produce anywhere between 10 to 40 eggs. These are stored in cases known as ootheca and are white in color. These kidney-shaped cases are either carried around by the mother or are stored in hidden, shady places. The time taken for the eggs to hatch depends on the environmental condition or the type of species.
Once hatched, the baby cockroaches are known as nymphs. They look like tiny versions of the adults and do not have wings. Molting is the process by which they finally become adult roaches. After several sessions of molting, the nymph develops wings and becomes a fully mature cockroach. At first, they are pale in color, but in a few hours darken to the proper shade of an adult roach.
Adult roaches live for a year or more and produce several eggs during their lifetime. A nymph can mature into adult roaches in as little as 36 days. No wonder roach infestations are so hard to get rid of!
Cockroach Life Cycle Infographic
PURPOSE OF ROACHES IN THE ECOSYSTEM
For us humans, roaches are just pests that we want to eliminate. It is hard to imagine that they might of any use! But cockroaches are essential members of the ecosystem. There is a reason why they have been around for more than 200 million years. Cockroaches are detritus creatures and help in decomposing all the dead matter in nature.
They also contribute to nutrient recycling. Cockroaches also play a crucial role in degrading plant material. Roaches feed on dead matter, which usually has a lot of nitrogen. When this matter is decomposed, the trapped nitrogen is released into the soil and used up by plants. Who would have realized that cockroaches are one of the reasons why flora manages to flourish? They are also prey for larger predators (mostly mammals). Without roaches, the world would actually be a far dirtier place!
- We all know that roaches can survive for a week without a head. This is because they don’t need their head to breathe; they breathe through little holes throughout their body (they have an open circulatory system). The only reason why they die after a week is that they need their mouth to feed.
- These cold-blooded insects can live without food for a month.
- Cockroaches have cannibalistic tendencies – they are omnivores, and if the situation demands they will eat up their own!
- Due to their flexible exoskeleton, they can squeeze into the tiniest of holes (making them much better hiders!)
- Cockroaches can run up to 1.5 meters a second. That’s very fast for an insect!
- Cockroaches are attracted to sugar, which is why they like beer. So be careful if you have a crate full of beer in your house.
- They can survive extreme temperatures and can hold their breath underwater for almost 40 minutes. Talk about one tough insect!