Ultimate guide to cockroaches

Cockroaches hold a notorious place in society – even seeing their name may produce in your mind feelings of disgust. In reality, only a small proportion of cockroaches are regarded as pests. The cockroaches that mainly live outside are actually helpful to nature, but as you may have experienced, some cockroaches can create problems and should be eliminated if they have entered your home or business.

cockroachIf you’ve ever wondered whether cockroaches bite or how these pests get into your building in the first place, our Ultimate Guide to Cockroaches is for you. We answer a variety of cockroach questions that will educate you about these infamous critters and better prepare you to deal with them. Just click on any of the questions below to be directed to the answer.

Have you spotted cockroaches or signs of them at your property? Contact Western Exterminator at 888-444-6138 or get in touch with us online.

Basic cockroach questions

Cockroaches and humans

Cockroach control and prevention

Basic cockroach questions


What is a cockroach?

cockroach on blue backgroundYou may have heard of cockroaches or seen one crawling on the floor, or perhaps you’ve read weird facts about them. But what exactly is a cockroach?

Well, a cockroach is an insect that looks a little like a beetle but with long legs and antennae. Cockroaches are actually part of Blattodea, the same scientific order that contains termites.

Many types of cockroaches are actually not a threat to humans, but some species are considered pests. The world contains thousands of cockroach species, such as German and American cockroaches, both of which are common pests in the United States.


What does a cockroach look like? What does a German cockroach look like? How big are cockroaches? What does a baby cockroach look like?

Cockroaches look a little different depending on the species in question. For example, the American cockroach is around 1 ⅜ in. to 2 ⅛ in. in length and reddish brown in color. But the German cockroach is smaller, around ½ to ⅝ in. long and light brown to tan in color.

In general, though, the bodies of cockroaches are flat. They have compound eyes, two antennae, six legs, a thorax, and abdomen.

Baby cockroaches are known as nymphs and have an appearance similar to adult cockroaches. If they have recently gone through a molt, they are white or cream in color but then become darker.


Do cockroaches bite? What do cockroaches eat?

German cockroach close upCockroaches do not have a reputation for biting people. Their mouthparts are not strong or big enough to bite. At the same time, in rare instances, cockroaches may feed on fingernails and skin scales if an infestation is severe – and that unpleasant thought should encourage you to call a pest expert if you believe you’ve got an infestation.

In general, cockroaches are omnivores. The ones that reside near humans can eat different foods but prefer meats, starchy substances, and sweet items. They can also feed on hair, stamps, wallpaper and beer. Also, cockroaches are able to survive for a whole month without food. As even your household items may fall prey to these insects’ habits, it’s important to prevent and get rid of cockroaches as soon as you think they’ve invaded.

Cockroaches can feed in places that lack sanitation, like garbage cans and sewage systems. Cleaning up can lessen how many sources of food and water are available for them.


Do cockroaches have wings? Do cockroaches fly?

Cockroaches can have wings; however, the majority of pest cockroaches do not actually fly. Male brown banded and American cockroaches are able to fly, and so can males of some other types of cockroaches. Additionally, among some tropical cockroaches, both males and females fly.


How long do cockroaches live?

The lifespan of a cockroach will depend on the specific species, and conditions such as predators. For example, if a human discovers a cockroach problem indoors and takes action, those cockroaches will probably not live quite as long. Here are lifespans for four types of pest cockroaches:

  • American cockroach – female adults: more than 400 days; male adults: around 200 days.
  • German cockroach – around 100 to 200 days (but longer is possible)
  • Brown banded cockroach – around 200 days (but potentially longer)
  • Oriental cockroach – female adults: from around 30 to 180 days; males: around 110 to 160 days


Where do cockroaches live? Where do cockroaches hide?

cockroachCockroaches can live in a variety of habitats – wherever insects are present. They can be found in tropical and desert places and more. Some cockroaches live indoors (they are known as domestic cockroaches), but others can live outdoors or indoors (they are known as peridomestic). Most cockroaches favor living in warm and moist spots.

For instance, American cockroaches are considered peridomestic and like residing in warm places. They may be located near drains and sewer systems but can also come indoors and reside in damp places like garages and basements. German cockroaches live indoors in places like cracks and crevices and in wall voids. Oriental cockroaches can be located in damp and cool places such as crawl spaces and beneath sinks.

Cockroaches are typically nocturnal and like to look for food and water during the night, but you may see them during the day if many of them are at your home or business.


Where do cockroaches come from? How do you get cockroaches?

Cockroaches can come into a structure in different ways, but this can vary with the kind in question. For example, peridomestic cockroaches such as Oriental and American cockroaches can enter a building via crevices and cracks. American cockroaches, in particular, can enter through drains, such as sink and shower drains.

Domestic cockroaches such as German cockroaches, however, can be transported from one location to another on items like possessions and shipments. Even potted plants brought indoors can carry in cockroaches and their eggs.


How do cockroaches reproduce? What do cockroach eggs look like? Where do cockroaches lay eggs?

cockroachOnce it has mated, a female cockroach produces an egg capsule. This egg case is known as an ootheca, which holds two rows of eggs. Oothecae can hold just a few or numerous eggs, but this varies with the species. The oothecae themselves also look different depending on the species, and therefore the egg case can help a pest control professional pinpoint the type of cockroach.

Cockroaches may glue oothecae behind or under objects or lay them in shielded places like crevices in furniture. German cockroaches, however, actually tote around their oothecae until it’s close to time for the eggs to hatch. Find out the appearance of some cockroach egg cases:

  • German cockroach oothecae – around ¼ to ⅜ inch in length and yellow-brown
  • American cockroach oothecae – around ⅜ inch and blackish brown or dark reddish
  • Brown banded cockroach oothecae – around ¼ inches and colored tan
  • Oriental cockroach oothecae – ⅜ inches in length and dark brown or reddish

Factors such as humidity and temperature effect development time, as well as how much food and water the cockroaches get.

German cockroaches, in particular, are prolific when it comes to reproduction. Their reproductive rate is higher than other pest cockroaches. Therefore, the presence of only a couple of German cockroaches can be worrisome. Infestations of this species can crop up quickly, so you need to watch out for any cockroaches indoors. German cockroach ootheca contains 30-40 eggs that typically hatch in around one month. A female German cockroach can produce 4-8 oothecae.


Do cockroaches sleep?

Cockroaches do have a period where their rhythms slow, which is typically daytime, whereas they are active at night. During the nighttime, cockroaches may be looking for water, food or a mate. The scary part is because cockroaches tend to emerge at night, a problem could become serious before a pest control professional is notified.


How long can a cockroach live without its head?

As creepy as it sounds, a cockroach can indeed survive without its head for a period of time. The National Pest Management Association’s states that a cockroach can live for one week without a head because it breathes through holes in its body and does not need its head for that purpose.

Cockroaches and humans


What are the most common pest cockroaches that people encounter?

Out of all the cockroaches out there, a few species, in particular, can create issues in the United States. American and German cockroaches are most commonly noticed, and on the West Coast, these types are the most common pest roaches.

Other pest cockroaches you may come across include Oriental, brown banded and smokybrown cockroaches. Out West, you may also run into the Turkestan cockroach. Female Turkestan cockroaches are dark in color and males are colored brownish-yellow.


Cockroaches and asthma: Do cockroaches cause asthma?

Cockroaches yield allergens that have been tied to asthma development. Allergens of roaches result from droppings, cast skins and saliva. It’s worth noting that research has found cockroaches are a cause of allergies for inner-city children. Actually, a study published in 2011 of asthmatic children found an association between “exposure to cockroach allergen” and hospitalization.


What are the dangers of cockroaches to humans? Do cockroaches carry disease?

cockroach close upCockroaches are no joke – they could pose multiple threats to humans. Their droppings can contaminate walls, food and stored items, which could pose a danger if you operate a facility where food is stored. They also like electronics (as they are warm) and could create short circuits – a potential problem if your building contains electronic equipment.

Additionally, cockroaches are suspected to carry microorganisms like bacteria that cause diseases such as food poisoning. The insects are thought to obtain the microorganisms from unclean locations like sewers and bathrooms and pass them to clean places like surfaces where food is prepared, as well as food itself. You certainly need to avoid this issue at your restaurant or hospitality property.

As you may have realized, cockroaches can produce anxiety among people when an infestation exists – just think about how mortified you’d feel if you found these insects in your home. Plus, if cockroaches have invaded your business – such as a supermarket – customers may notice and that could severely damage your brand’s reputation.

Cockroach control and prevention


What attracts cockroaches?

If you’re not careful, cockroaches can get inside a structure and create an infestation, but you can take steps to help prevent them from entering.

Poor sanitation can attract these pests because it provides them with food and water. Additionally, cracks and crevices in your property, as well as shrubs, could offer shelter. Access points such as around plumbing or wall holes could permit cockroaches to enter. The following actions can help you avoid a cockroach issue:

  • Trim greenery
  • Get rid of standing water.
  • Eliminate food that has been left out – put it in sealed containers.


How do you get rid of cockroaches?

It takes training to get rid of cockroaches, so if you have seen signs of them, you will want to reach out to a pest control professional with a good understanding of cockroach species and habits. Western Exterminator has a great deal of expertise in cockroach control and we can be trusted to eliminate an infestation. Before cockroach treatment begins, we will conduct an inspection to determine where cockroaches may be hiding so we can tell the best way to control the cockroaches.

The inspection can also help us understand how severe the infestation is. We may look at floor level and above floor level – including places that are warm and have moisture and food in close proximity. This could involve appliance motors, for example. Signs of cockroaches include actual cockroaches, skins left over from molting, egg cases, droppings and a musty smell. We may also need to inspect outdoors in spots that could provide water and food for cockroaches, like around pet food bowls.

Western’s cockroach control methods may include chemical control and vacuuming to remove cockroaches. Getting rid of the cockroaches may require follow-up appointments to eliminate the problem, but we will ensure the challenge is fully resolved and all of your concerns are addressed.

If you suspect cockroaches have invaded your property, don’t delay in getting the issue handled. Your local Western specialists know how to get rid of cockroaches and can talk with you about how to keep them away, too. Reach out to us today!

Ashley Smith

Ashley is a Digital Content Manager with Rentokil. She loves drinking coffee and spending time with her dogs.



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