American Cockroaches

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In the Northern United Sates, American cockroaches are more commonly found in commercial buildings, food processing facilities, and food storage areas than in single family houses. American cockroaches are usually found in city sewer systems or on the ground floor or lower levels of a building, particularly around pipes and drains. Common key hiding areas of American cockroaches include the following places:

  • Floor drains

  • Pipe chases

  • Sewers

  • Grease traps

  • Basements and crawl spaces

  • In and around bathtubs

  • Clothes hampers

  • Around the manholes of sewers

  • Around sump pumps

  • Around steam heat tunnels

  • Within warm moist piles of trash

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AMERICAN COCKROACHES?

  • American cockroaches can be seen rushing into dark places or under appliances at night.

  • You may also find roach droppings or egg capsules in secluded areas.

  • American cockroach droppings are small, have ridges on the sides, and have blunt ends. (By contrast, mouse droppings have pointed ends.)

  • American cockroaches and cockroaches in general, have a foul scent that may be detectable near their hiding places.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FIND AN AMERICAN COCKROACH?

  • Inspect thoroughly to locate the source of the infestation, especially in wall voids, sewer areas, or any other moist, warm and dark places.

  • An inspection by a trained, licensed Adam’s professional will also determine the best treatment method to exterminate cockroaches in your home.

WHAT DO AMERICAN COCKROACHES LOOK LIKE?

  • Adult American cockroaches are 1 ½” - 1 ¾” in length.

  • They are reddish brown with a pale band in the edges of the pronotum (the upper surface of the prothorax, the first segment of the thorax).

  • American cockroaches have chewing mouthparts

  • Males and females are fully winged, and the wings of the male American cockroach extend beyond the tip of its abdomen.

  • Unlike most other cockroach species, the American cockroach adults can fly (poor to moderate flier), and are also attracted to light.

  • American cockroach nymphs are wingless.

  • Early nymphal instars are uniformly grayish brown dorsally, paler ventrally, and shiny. The cerci (singular cercus- one of a pair of dorsal appendages at the posterior end of the abdomen) are slender, and distinctly tapered from the base with length about 5 times the width

  • Later instars are reddish brown with lateral and posterior margins of the thorax and lateral areas (sides) of abdominal segments somewhat darker. The cerci are about the same as in the early instars. The widest segments are 2.5 times as wide as long. The antennae are uniformly brown.

  • Ater molting, American cockroach nymphs are white and then become a uniformly reddish-brown.

  • American cockroaches’ egg capsules (ootheca) are 3/8” in length and purse shaped.

  • The ootheca is brown when deposited and turns black in a day or two.

ARE AMERICAN COCKROACHES DANGEROUS?

  • Yes, because American cockroaches are attracted to feces, travel via sewers, and contact unclean surfaces, they are capable of carrying and mechanically transmitting a variety of pathogenic agents that may contaminate food products and cause diseases to the humans.

  • Disease-causing organisms are carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches, and are deposited on food supplies, food preparation surfaces, dishes, utensils, and other surfaces as the cockroaches forage.

  • Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, etc.) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by cockroaches.

  • Moreover, cockroaches in general are among common sources of allergic reactions. Recently, it has been documented that from 23 - 60% of asthmatic patients, especially children are sensitive to cockroach allergens found in roach feces, saliva, egg cases and cast skins.

  • Like other pests, American cockroaches by their nature and relatively large size are unpleasant to most people and can inspire “entomophobia” (a fear of insects or other arthropods) and cause negative consequences and possibly a loss of business in commercial sectors.

HOW DID AMERICAN COCKROACHES GET IN MY HOUSE?

  • During the summer months, American cockroaches can be found outdoors in yards and alleys; in cracks and crevices of porches and foundations, under mulching materials, under decks and walkways adjacent to buildings.
  • During certain times of the year, especially during extremes in weather conditions, American cockroaches may enter a house or building from outside, seeking warmer temperatures, food, water, or shelter.
  • American cockroaches have flexible and elastic bodies that enable them to squeeze through tiny entry points.
  • Generally, ways American cockroaches find their way into the structure include, but are not limited to: via sewer systems, by trees and shrubs touching the building, and under doors, especially if the weather stripping is damaged or missing
  • Around utility pipes, air ducts, or other openings in the foundation
  • American cockroaches prefer very warm, dark and moist areas; still, they can infest dry areas if they have access to water.

WHAT DO AMERICAN COCKROACHES EAT?

  • American cockroaches are omnivorous, meaning they will eat anything.

  • Outdoors, American cockroaches eat organic materials, bark, leaves, plant materials, tiny wood particles, fungi and algae. They also eat small bugs.

  • Indoors, American cockroaches eat what you and your pets would eat. Including, crumbs, leftover and spilled food..

  • If food sources are scarce, America cockroaches may survive on hair, flakes of dried skin, wool clothes, sugar, cheese, beer, bread, bakery products, oil, lemons, soap, fish, dead animals, leather, paper, ink, manuscripts, starch in book bindings, glue, other cockroaches (dead or alive), or their own feces, shed skins, and egg-capsules.

  • American cockroaches have a cooperative relationship, called “symbiotic” with bacteria that allows them to digest cellulose.

  • The bacteria manufacture all the vitamins and amino acids the cockroach needs to live.

  • Interestingly, American cockroaches down these bacteria to new generations of cockroaches by their mothers.

  • When food and water sources are rare, the adults can survive two or three months without food, but only about a month without water.

  • American cockroaches are cautious and are usually active at night, but when they are hungry, they may come out searching for food during the day.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF AMERICAN COCKROACHES?

  • American cockroaches have a high reproduction rate.

  • They develop through gradual metamorphosis, consisting of three life stages: egg, nymph and adult.

  • For mating purposes, females produce a pheromone that attracts males from as far away as 98 feet.

  • A mated American cockroach female produces an egg capsule called an “oothecae” once every week.

  • Each ootheca contains from 14 to 16 eggs.

  • Depending on food availability, an American cockroach female produces from 15-70 oothecals during her life span.

  • Unlike German cockroaches, American cockroach females only carry their oothecals for about one or two days before they glue them to a suitable protected surface using secretions from their mouths.

  • At room temperature, American cockroach eggs hatch in 50-55 days.

  • American cockroach nymphs molt 9-13 times before reaching the adulthood. This takes approximately 160-971 days.

HOW LONG DO AMERICAN COCKROACHES LIVE?

  • An adult American cockroach female can live up to two years, while American cockroach males live for a shorter period (up to one year).

  • Environmental conditions such as temperature and relative humidity influence the life cycle of American cockroaches. It has been reported that nymphs move and feed at temperatures between 59.9 - 89.06°F, and stop moving at temperatures 38.48- 44.78°F; whereas adults are usually active at temperatures between 63.68 - 87.98°F and become inactive at 41.36°F.

  • Although they prefer moisture and warmth, temperatures above 107.6°F are lethal for American cockroaches.

  • American cockroaches also do not tolerate cold temperatures well. They die at temperatures below 15°F.

18 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT COCKROACHES:

  1. A cockroach can live for a week without its head. A cockroach is not dependent on its mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can't drink water and eventually dies of thirst.

  2. Cockroaches can hold their breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour.

  3. Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour.

  4. A one-day-old baby cockroach can run almost as fast as an adult cockroach.

  5. American cockroaches are attracted to starch- and sugar based materials, thus they are attracted to beer and alcohol made with hops and sugar.

  6. The world's largest roach (which lives in South America) is six inches long with a one-foot wingspan.

  7. Cockroaches walked the earth with the dinosaurs. Cockroaches are believed to have originated more than 280 million years ago.

  8. There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, including the most common species, the German cockroach.

  9. There are species of roaches on every continent except Antarctica.

  10. Contrary to popular myth, cockroaches cannot withstand a nuclear explosion. A cockroach can withstand 10 times more radiation than a person, but they would not survive a nuclear event.

  11. There are also many indigenous tribes that eat cockroaches, live or cooked.

  12. In China, cockroaches are deep fried and sold on sticks on the streets.

  13. So long as the cockroaches are on a diet of food and vegetables, they should be safe to eat, although doctors still warn against the practice.

  14. Back in 2008 and 2011, The Six Flags Great America theme park in Chicago offered park passes to the winner of a contest to eat the most live cockroaches in five minutes.

  15. In October 2012, a competitor named Edward Archbold died shortly after participating in bug-eating competition in south Florida. He suffocated after choking on bits of cockroach that got lodged in his throat.

  16. Scientists searching for an alternative to antibiotics have found that the nerve cells of cockroaches have the ability to kill 90% of MRSA and E. coli with no harmful effect on human cells.

  17. Cockroach fighting originated in China and was introduced to the US over 100 years ago. The New York Times carried a report in 1886 of a group of Chinese people traveling around major cities and staging roach fights.

  18. Entomology students from Maryland’s Loyola University raise and train Madagascar cockroaches each fall term for cockroach racing. The cockroaches compete in sprint and endurance events.