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Cockroaches

Why Cockroaches are Considered a Harmful Pest

Cockroaches often infest homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, offices, and virtually in any structure that has food preparation or storage areas. They contaminate food and eating utensils, destroy fabric and paper products, and impart stains and unpleasant odors to surfaces they contact.

Cockroaches often come into contact with human excrement in sewers or with pet droppings, and may transmit bacteria that cause food poisoning.) They can thus carry disease-causing organisms such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, hepatitis virus, and coliform bacteria. They also have been implicated in the spread of typhoid and dysentery. Indoor infestations of cockroaches are an important source of allergens and risk for asthma among some populations. The levels of cockroaches and allergens are directly related to cockroach density, housing disrepair, and sanitary conditions.

Identifying Types of Cockroaches

There are six different kinds of cockroach pests in California: German cockroach, American cockroach, Brownbanded cockroach, Oriental cockroach, Smokybrown cockroach, and the Turkestan cockroach. Of these, the one that has the greatest potential for becoming invasive and troublesome is the German cockroach, which prefers indoor locations more than all the others. (At times American and Oriental cockroaches pose problems in moist, humid environments.)
An adult female cockroach produces a capsule-like egg, called an ootheca, which it carries around protruding from the tip of the abdomen. The German cockroach carries the ootheca for most of the 30-day incubation period and then drops it just before the eggs hatch. Young cockroaches undergo gradual metamorphosis, and resemble adults, but they do not have fully developed wings and are not yet capable of reproducing. Immediately after molting, the cockroaches are white, but their outer covering darkens as it hardens, usually within just a few hours.

Cockroaches are nocturnal. They hide in dark, warm areas, especially narrow spaces where surfaces touch them on both sides. Adult German cockroaches can hide in a crack 1/16 inch or 1.6 mm wide. Immature cockroaches tend to stay in even smaller cracks where they are well protected. Cockroaches tend to congregate in corners and generally travel along the edges of walls or other surfaces.

Cockroaches prefer food preparation areas, kitchens, and bathrooms because they favor warm (70° to 75°F), humid areas that are close to food and water. Severe infestations may spread to other parts of a home or apartment. A single female and her offspring can reproduce over 30,000 cockroaches in a year. Egg laying occurs more frequently during warm weather. The female carries around a light tan egg case (about 1/4 inch long) until 1 to 2 days before it hatches, when she drops it. Sometimes the egg case hatches while it is still being carried by the female. Each egg case contains about 30 young, and a female may produce a new egg case every few weeks.

Management of the Problem

Managing cockroaches is a difficult task, and often requires professional assistance. Our technicians will first determine where the roaches are nesting. The more hiding places they can locate, the more successful the control program will be. Remember that cockroaches are tropical and most like warm hiding places with access to water. Some locations may be difficult to get to.

During the day cockroaches hide around water heaters, in cupboard cracks, stoves, crawl spaces, outdoor vegetation, and many other dark locations. They invade kitchens and other areas at night. Limiting hiding areas or avenues of access to living areas is an essential part of an effective management strategy. Open-bottom cupboards, open hollow walls, and similar areas are common cockroach refuges. Preventing access to the inside of buildings through cracks, conduits, under doors, or through other structural flaws is an important step in eliminating re-invasion.

Our technicians will determine the species of cockroach, which will assist them in locating the areas of suspected infestations and concentrate control and preventive measures in these areas. The key to controlling cockroaches are sanitation and exclusion: cockroaches are likely to re-infest areas as long as a habitat remains friendly (i.e., warmth, food & water are available), so the conditions that promote the infestation must be changed. In addition, baits can be effective against most kinds of cockroaches. Pesticide spray products are registered for use on cockroaches and may temporarily suppress populations, but they usually do not provide long-term solutions and are not generally recommended.  Unfortunately, the solution is two-fold. As sprays alone will not eliminate cockroaches.  Reduction of food and water sources and hiding places is essential. If cockroaches have access to food, baits and sprays will have limited effect.

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