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The cockroaches normally encountered by humans in the dwellings and food establishments are the German cockroach, Blattella germanica (L.), the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (L.), and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis (L.). Each of these cockroaches undergoes a life cycle involving an egg capsule, a series of nymphs, and an adult.

With the exception of the female Oriental cockroach, the adults of these three cockroaches have well-developed wings. However, they almost never fly; movement by both the adults and the wingless nymphs is by walking or rapid running. These three cockroaches can be distinguished by color and size. Adult German cockroaches are tan to medium brown in color and fairly small in size (10-15 mm). Adult American cockroaches are reddish brown in color and large in size (35-40 mm). Adult Oriental cockroaches are fairly large in size (26-30 mm) and are shiny, dark brown or black in color.

The cockroach (order: Dictyoptera, sub-order: Blattaria, meaning "to shun the light") is probably one of the most infamous and hated of all insects. It is associated with filth and unhygienic conditions. The cockroach descends from an ancient lineage of insects which have inhabited our planet for around 100 times longer than humans. About 4,000 species are known today, only about 12-14 are commonly associated with humans.

Cockroaches have been found to carry the pathogens that cause tuberculosis, cholera, leprosy, dysentery, and typhoid, as well as over 40 other bacteria (like salmonella) or viruses that can cause disease.

The cockroach has an oval somewhat flattened head partially concealed by the pronotum and with the mouth pointing backwards between the fore coxa. The antennae are long and thin and inserted below the middle of the eyes, the mouthparts are adapted for biting, chewing and licking while the compound eyes are usually large and irregularly hemispherical being wider near the vertex (the top of the front of the head). The forewings (tegmina) are usually hardened and often opaque, the hind wings are membranous (in cockroaches, except very small ones, the wings, in those species which have them overlap in the middle of the abdomen whereas the wings of beetles never overlap at all). The legs are almost equal in length and depressed beneath the body. The abdomen has ten segments but only 7 or 8 visible from above while from beneath 9 plates (sternites) are visible in the male but only 7 in the female.

Cockroaches require food, water, and places to hide and are, therefore, found in situations where these requirements can be met. They are nocturnal, remaining hidden during the day and becoming active at night to obtain food and water, and to reproduce.

The German cockroach commonly occurs in kitchens; the American cockroach appears more often in food establishments; and the Oriental cockroach is usually associated with dampness around sinks or in basements. Cockroaches are not normally encountered by man unless their populations become very large.

roaches will eat almost anything: left-over human food, wood, leather, cigarette butts, tooth paste, milk, sugary materials, coffee grinds, glue, soap, feces, fabric, shoes, paint, the glue on the back of wallpaper, human hair, fingernails, etc.

Cockroach populations can be managed by controlling the availability of food, water, and hiding places. Poor sanitation that is contributing to a cockroach problem should be corrected. Food and water should not be left out over night and should be stored so as to deny access by the roaches.

Structural modifications that will deny cockroaches access to hiding places should be undertaken. In multiple unit dwellings, this should include modifications to prevent free movement of roaches between dwellings.

If it is necessary to use chemical pesticides, this should be done on a limited basis only to remove cockroaches from hiding places or to eliminate small populations. Only those materials registered for use against cockroaches, and recommended for the needs of the particular situation, should be used. Please remember that all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

If the scope of the cockroach problem is beyond the capability of individuals to control, the advice and services of professional, certified pest control specialists should be engaged.

Fact: The German cockroach is the most common house infesting cockroach and the number one pest in the United States.

Fact: The cockroach can live without its head for an entire week.

Fact: They are mainly nocturnal in nature and run away when exposed to light

Fact: The word cockroach comes from the Spanish word "cucaracha" which means "crazy bug".

Fact: There are about 4,000 different species of cockroaches in the world. About 50-60 species live in the United States.

Fact: The world's largest roach lives in South America and is 6 inches long with a one-foot wingspan.

Fact: Cockroaches will eat almost anything: left-over human food, paper, wood, leather, cigarette butts, tooth paste, coffee grinds, glue, soap, feces, fabric, shoes, paint, the glue on the back of wallpaper, human hair, fingernails, etc.

Fact: German cockroaches are very small. They can squeeze through a crack that is about 1/16th of an inch wide.

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