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Pest Control: Roaches
Cockroaches are among the most common pests. Based on historical evidence, cockroaches date back for over 300 million years. Their
size vary greatly; some species are up to several inches long. Of the 3500 species of cockroaches, approximately 60 can be found in the United States. Cockroaches produce odorous secretions from various points in their bodies which can affect the flavor of various foods. Where larger infestations are located, a characteristic odor may be detected. Although several digestive diseases have been transmitted experimentally, different forms of gastroenteritis appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by the cockroach. The organisms causing these diseases are carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches and are then deposited on food and utensils as cockroaches forage. Cockroach excrement and cast skins also contain a number of allergens, to which many people exhibit an allergic reaction, such
as skin rashes, watery eyes, and sneezing.
Only a few of the cockroach species found in the United States routinely enter and infest our dwellings. Among those are the German cockroach, American Cockroach, oriental cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, smoky-brown cockroach, Australian cockroach, brown cockroach, woods cockroach, field cockroach, and the Asian cockroach. Of these species, the first five represent 95% of all cockroach management in and around buildings.
Most cockroaches are tropical and sub-tropical in origin, generally living out of doors. They are mostly active during the night hours, during which they mate and forage for food. Cockroaches may be seen during daylight hours, particularly when a heavy population is present or when there is a lack of food and water. Cockroaches prefer a warm and moist environment. Cockroaches feed on a variety of foods including starches, sweets, grease, and meat products but will feed on materials such as cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, starch in book bindings, glue, hair, flakes of dried skin, dead animals, and plant materials.
GERMAN COCKROACH (Blattella germanica [Linnaeus])
The German Cockroach is the most common cockroach species that infest our houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and other institutions in the U.S. Adults are pale to medium brown and about 1/2 to 5/8 inch long. Their feeding habits are general but are attracted to fermented food and beverage residues. If water is present, an adult can survive a month without food. However, without
food or water, they can survive for about two weeks. It is important to note that any one treatment will not generally rid a structure of an infestation. It will take several treatments, as humans can continue to bring new cockroaches into the home or business. Cockroaches can travel in boxes or even foods from the grocery store. With this type of activity, cockroaches can continue to survive unless appropriate pest management is put into place over several months.
AMERICAN COCKROACH (Periplaneta americana [Linnaeus])
The American cockroach is also referred to as the water bug, flying water bug, and in some areas of the south, it is known as the palmetto bug. It is the largest of the common species, growing to 1 to 5 inches or more in length. It is reddish-brown, with a pale brown or yellow border on the upper surface of the pronotum. When indoors, adults are usually found in dark, moist areas of basements and crawl spaces, as well as in and around bathtubs, showers, clothes hampers, drains, pipe chases, and sewers. The American cockroach feeds on a variety of food but is primarily attracted to decaying organic matter.
ORIENTAL COCKROACH (Blatta orientalis [Linnaeus])
The oriental cockroach is also referred to as the waterbug, black beetle, or schad roach. It is found in all parts of the United States. The total length of this cockroach is about 1.25 inches for the female and about 1 inch for the male. Adults are very dark brown or nearly black and usually have a greasy sheen to their bodies. Nymphs and adults have similar habits and are found associated with decaying organic matter. They can be found in yards, beneath leaves, in dumps, in crawl spaces, and in the mulch of flower beds. They are also common in high moisture situations such as sewers, drains, and dark, damp basements. They feed on all types of filth, rubbish
and other decaying organic matter.
BROWN-BANDED COCKROACH (Supella longipalpis [Serville])
This cockroach is smaller than the others and is rarely more than a 1/2 inch long. It is light brown and can be distinguished from the German cockroach by the presence of two lighter, transverse bands running from one side to the other across the base of the wings and abdomen in adults, and in the same position on the nymphs. These cockroaches can be found on ceilings, high on walls, behind picture
frames and light fixtures, or near motors of refrigerators and other appliances. The brown-banded cockroach prefers to feed on starchy materials. However, they can be found feeding on almost anything and have been known to feed on non-food materials such as nylon stockings. These cockroaches are more often found in homes, apartments hotels, and hospital rooms than in stores, restaurants, and kitchens. They are often transported in furniture and will rapidly spread throughout an entire building.
SMOKY-BROWN COCKROACH (Periplaneta fuliginosa [Serville])
Smoky-brown cockroaches are closely related to the American cockroach but are distinguished by their smaller size. This cockroach is found chiefly in central Texas and eastward along the Gulf Coast and up the eastern seaboard. Although it feeds on almost anything, it prefers plant life and organic decaying materials.
WOOD COCKROACH (Parcoblatta spp.)
The term woods cockroach covers a number of cockroach species, usually of the same genus and has similar habits. Woods cockroaches are small, usually not more than 2/3 of an inch long. Adults are dark brown with the sides of the thorax and the front part of the wings are margined with yellow. They are generally found out of doors beneath loose bark, in woodpiles, stumps, and hollow trees. Woods cockroaches feed primarily on decaying organic matter.
AUSTRALIAN COCKROACH (Periplaneta australasiae [Fabrisius])
The Australian cockroach is similar in appearance to the American cockroach but is rarely more than 1.25 inches long. It is reddish-brown and can be distinguished by prominent yellow stripes along the outer front edge of either wing and by a prominent dark spot in the center of the pronotum. This cockroach is found primarily in the South but has been found in greenhouses, zoo buildings, and houses in the northern states. It feeds on plant materials, although it will feed on various starchy materials in homes.
BROWN COCKROACH (Periplaneta brunnea [Burmeister])
Brown cockroaches are generally distributed in the Southern United States but have been found as far north as Philadelphia, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio. They are found indoors and outdoors and feed on plant materials. Their appearance is the same as the American cockroach except their body has less distinct markings.
FIELD COCKROACH (Blattella vaga [Hebard])
This is a small cockroach, slightly smaller than the German cockroach. It can be distinguished by the blackish area on the front of the head. It feeds largely on decomposing vegetation and is common in irrigated areas. It normally lives outdoors under stones, clumps of earth, and similar locations.
ASIAN COCKROACH (Blattella asahinai Mizukubo)
This species is native to Southern Asia. It is believed to have been introduced through the Port of Tampa. It is similar in appearance to the German cockroach but has very different behavior. It prefers to infest shaded and moist areas in the landscape, grassy areas, and ground cover.