Meet Your Hidden Housemates: Cockroaches, Oooh

The rather handsome Speckled Cockroach from north-east Africa has spread across the world with human assistance. Anthony O'TooleThe rather handsome Speckled Cockroach from north-east Africa has spread across the world with human assistance. Anthony O'Toole

Cockroaches are a very ancient group of insects. They have been around virtually unchanged in general appearance since the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago.

Technically speaking they are in the Order Blattodea (the same level of classification as, for instance, all butterflies and moths). Cockroaches are very closely related to termites; in fact, some recent work suggests they should be grouped together.

Australia has about 400 species of cockroach, none of which make it to pest status of any note.

But others have made their living inside our homes.

 Cockroach 101

Cockroaches are social insects and often live in family groups. They have unusual reproduction: females lay eggs in groups of 4-30 bundled together. It looks like one big egg, but is actually many small eggs encased together in what is called an ootheca. Some species retain their egg(s) and give birth to live nymphs.

Once the egg hatches the cockroach develops through several nymphal stages before moulting to the adult stage. Immediately after moulting a cockroach may appear almost a “ghostly” pale white or cream colour, before its cuticle or exoskeleton develops its characteristic tanned appearance.

Development is relatively rapid: 30-40 days from egg to the adult stage. Adults of some species can live for up to a year and reproduce many times. Thus, from a single colonising egg-bearing female, a large population or infestation can develop in a relatively short time.

Cockroaches feed on a variety of substances that contain cellulose, starch, sugars and associated micro-organisms: from decaying wood to sewage. They can go without food, but not water, for a long time. They tend to hang out in damp or moist places.

In your home

Cockroaches are considered a pest because they can contaminate food and kitchen utensils with their frass (droppings), possibly spreading microbes and causing health problems. Some people may be allergic to cockroaches, or their byproducts, and many people dislike their appearance. Large infestations can result in an unpleasant smell.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

There are about 5,000 species of cockroach but only a handful make it to “pest” status, mainly because they make a living in houses.

Two species that are most likely to be found in your home are both are “ring-ins”: the American Cockroach, Periplaneta americana, and the German Cockroach, Blattella germanica.

The German Cockroach is perhaps the most feared due to its high reproductive potential – one female can give rise to more than 10 million individuals in one year (three to four generations) – and the fact that they are believed to mechanically transmit disease. This species has a very broad dietary range.

The American Cockroach is commonly found in sewer systems. Other species that can be found co-habiting with humans are the Brown-banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa) and the Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis).

If you are seeing cockroaches outside the kitchen area and during the day you have a major problem or at least a significant infestation.

Control is possible, but elimination is not – or, at least, not without poisoning yourself! Strict hygiene is essential. This will greatly help but not eliminate them – pay particular attention to scrap bins, rubbish bins and drains, as well as benchtops and floors.

Electronic insect “repellers” do not work. Pyrethrum surface spray, a natural insecticide, applied along skirting boards can help – cockroaches tend to move along edges.

In cases with severe infestations it is best to contact local control professionals.

The idea that cockroaches are indestructible is simply an artefact of them being difficult to eliminate. They develop resistance to insecticides, as do nearly all insects if targeted. They have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years and survived great extinction events.

About The Author

zalucki myronMyron Zalucki, Professor School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland. He is an insect ecologist by "bent" and my students and I work on various applied and basic research areas.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation

Related Book:

at InnerSelf Market and Amazon

 

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

MOST READ

improve a surgical mask 8 27
How To Greatly Improve A Surgical Mask's Effectiveness
by University of Michigan
Modifying a surgical mask with a rubber band can improve its protective seal against particle…
ronald reagan 8 27
Student Loan Debt Is an American Malignancy Born of Ronald Reagan
by Thom Hartmann
Forgiving student debt is not a slap at anybody; it's righting a moral wrong inflicted on millions…
a woman mountain climbing, hanging in mid-air
But We Are Afraid...
by Rabbi Wayne Dosick
So why don’t we go for it? Why don’t we reach out for what we really want? Why don’t we strive to...
Mindfulness: The Gateway to a Healthier and More Expansive Brain
Mindfulness: The Gateway to a Healthier and More Expansive Brain
by Ora Nadrich
As mysterious as the brain is, mindfulness, I believe, can help us know more about it and the…
young woman with her face turned up towards the sun
The Importance of Being Outside
by Joyce Vissell
Our connection with nature, with the out of doors, is absolutely important to our physical and…
human nature downside 8 25
Human Nature Can Steer People Away From New Things And That Can Blind Them To Novel Threats
by Sam Hunter and Gina Scott Ligon
There’s a military aphorism that generals are always fighting the last war. It’s a natural human…
cooling efficiency 8 27
Does Turning The Air Conditioning Off When You’re Not Home Actually Save Energy?
by Aisling Pigott et al
People want to stay comfortable without wasting energy and money. Maybe your household has fought…
tree silhouette in the form of a brain
How Meditation Rewires the Brain for Life-Changing Experience
by Joseph Selbie
We are so much more than we know. We have access to a rich source of vitality, creativity,…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.