Cockroaches are a common insect that many homeowners have dealt with at one point or another. Skittering about at up to three miles an hour, these insects are startling at the least. They can also present some serious health problems for anyone living with them. If you have cockroaches in your home, it's not something that you should ignore. Learn how to get rid of roaches and keep them from coming back so you can enjoy a healthy home without any unwanted visitors.

Cockroaches are a common insect that many homeowners have dealt with at one point or another. Skittering about at up to three miles an hour, these insects are startling at the least. They can also present some serious health problems for anyone living with them. If you have cockroaches in your home, it's not something that you should ignore. Learn how to get rid of roaches and keep them from coming back so you can enjoy a healthy home without any unwanted visitors.

What Are Cockroaches?

Image via Flickr by justinbaeder

Cockroaches are scavenging insects. Though often thought of as pests, not all cockroaches are problematic. There are thousands of cockroach species around the world, but only about 30 are actual pests. The most common cockroaches found infesting American households are American cockroaches, German cockroaches, and oriental cockroaches.

What Do Cockroaches Look Like?

There are many different types of cockroaches, but only a few you're likely to find in your home. The American cockroach is usually between 1-1/4 to 2-1/8 inches in length. This roach has an oval-shaped brown body with a lighter figure-eight pattern on the back. It has wings that enable it to fly a short distance.

The German cockroach is relatively small, measuring from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch in length. This small oval insect ranges from tan to brown. Its most notable feature is the pair of dark parallel stripes that run down its back. Females are darker in color than males. Both males and females have wings, but they rarely fly.

The oriental cockroach is shiny black. Its oval body measures about an inch in length. The males of the species are smaller with short wings which cover just three-quarters of its body. Females have no wings, though they do possess wing pads that shelter the front part of their bodies.

Where Do Cockroaches Live?

The American cockroach is not native to North America. It is typically believed to have originated in Africa but has now spread throughout the globe. You can find this cockroach almost anywhere. German cockroaches are found throughout the United States and are one of the most common species in regards to home infestations. Oriental cockroaches are most commonly found in the northern regions of the United States. They prefer damp areas and often enter the home through sewers and drains.

Problems With Cockroaches

Cockroaches are more than a distasteful pest. They can be dangerous to some individuals. These insects create a protein that some people are allergic to. Those with asthma are particularly sensitive to it. Cockroaches leave this protein in their wake through fecal matter and discarded exoskeletons. If you have an infestation that reaches your HVAC system, the leavings of these pests may circulate continuously through your air and come out of your ducts.

These insects can also carry 33 types of bacteria including salmonella and E. coli. They may leave this behind when they crawl over your food. If you have cockroaches in the kitchen, it's important to dispose of anything that may have been exposed to this pest.

If you have cockroaches in your home, you may see them scurrying about. You may also find their droppings around the home, which are small and may look like pepper. Shed skins are another prime indicator of a cockroach infestation. If you have a major cockroach infestation, you can often smell it. This gives the home a distinct musty odor.

Pest Control Solutions for Cockroaches

Cockroaches are very good at getting into the home. They can sneak in through small openings around windows and doors, come in through pipes, or make their way through small holes and cracks. They will also climb into bags and backpacks to make their way into your home from other places.

The best way to prevent a cockroach infestation in your house is to keep it well-sealed and in good condition. Fix leaks quickly, as any source of water is a welcome convenience for a cockroach. Keep food well-sealed and clean your stove and countertops, so there is no greasy residue to attract roaches.

A professional exterminator can provide valuable assistance when you're dealing with cockroaches. A knowledgeable professional will be able to find places where the cockroaches are likely hiding. They will find cluttered areas that cockroaches tend to use for breeding, and find efficient locations for sticky traps that can catch these insects.

Pesticides are an option for controlling cockroaches as well, but these are best left in the hands of a professional. Turn to a local exterminator to find out how to get rid of roaches in a thorough manner that will likely prevent them from coming back again in the future.

Other Cockroach Facts

Cockroaches can be a disturbing insect, but they are also very interesting. Roaches have been around much longer than we have, and can survive things that a human couldn't.

They Can Survive a Lot, But Not Everything

It's a common myth that cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion. A cockroach can withstand 10 times the radiation of a human, but even these hardy insects will succumb to a major blast.

What's true, is that cockroaches can survive for a period of time without their heads. This insect breathes through small holes in the body and has an open circulatory system. If it loses its head, the only detrimental effect is that it can no longer drink. Thus, the insect won't die of any immediate effects, but rather die gradually from dehydration.

The Cockroach Was Acquainted With Dinosaurs

Cockroach fossils date back as far as 350 million years. These insects pre-date some types of dinosaurs and definitely lived alongside them.

If you have cockroaches in your home, reach out to an exterminator to find out how to get rid of roaches in your area. There are many approaches available to you, and a good professional will help you quickly find the right one.

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