Cockroaches may have been around for longer than human beings (there were cockroaches in the dinosaur age!), but that doesn’t mean they’re anything more than an (admittedly interesting) household pest. Not only do they carry bacteria and disease, but cockroach allergens can trigger asthma attacks and other allergies. The sighting of even one is cause for concern.
In many ways, they are fascinating creatures, but there are 3 things you should know about them before you consider letting the sighting of one slide!
1. Cockroaches can run at up to three miles an hour
Three miles an hour is pretty much the same speed as we walk – not bad when they are only, on average, an inch or so long. Actually, the largest is almost 4 inches long, but this cockroach only lives in South America, so we should be able to breathe easy up here! Even more surprising is that one-day-old baby cockroaches, which are scarcely bigger than a speck of dust, can also scuttle at speeds of up to three miles an hour.
Fast and elusive, it’s no wonder cockroaches spread germs so effectively. And those babies grow to full size fast, usually in a little over a month.
2. They can live without eating for one month
Although they would die without water in a week, a cockroach can exist for a whole month without eating. In fact, the head of these insects is only used for eating and drinking. As with many other insects, breathing is done through tiny holes, called spiracles, in the body’s segments. So if a cockroach loses its head, it will trundle on until it dies of thirst. (Yikes!)
Because cockroaches can survive such hardships makes them difficult to kill (not a nuclear blast), it’s a struggle to get rid of them without expert help.
3. The females of some species can continue to reproduce repeatedly after just one mating
A few cockroach species only need to mate once to reproduce, though most need to mate every few months to produce viable eggs. It has been proven that some types of cockroaches can reproduce all-female colonies without mating at all. This parthenogenetic reproduction can be sustained for several generations.
A female produces an egg case, which typically holds between 16 and 50 eggs and looks like a kidney bean. A female cockroach will lay from 6 to 14 of these capsules in her lifetime, so you can see why colonies of these pests grow so quickly.
There are more than 4,000 species of cockroach globally, the most common in the US being the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, and the oriental cockroach. But whatever the species, they are bad news when we find them in our homes.
Controlling and killing these unhygienic and dangerous pests is difficult. Food needs to be stored safely, garbage has to be removed, and any nooks and crannies filled to deter them. They love dark, damp places, so basements and crawl spaces should be kept clean and dry. Don’t let them get a foothold in your home.
If you find one cockroach, there will certainly be others. Act immediately and call in a pest control professional.