Cockroaches and Cardboard
When you see a cockroach, in a sense you’re traveling back in time 320 million years (or so) to the Paleozoic Era, before even dinosaurs walked the earth. The unchanged design of that little cockroach has allowed it to survive pterodactyls, massive asteroid impacts, and more than 10,000 years of human civilization.
One of the keys to the survival of the cockroach is that it is omnivorous—la cucaracha will eat anything including plants, rotting animals, garbage, grains, human dander, nylon clothing, soap, and fecal matter. Oh, and cockroaches also love cardboard and paper products, which include storage cartons, cereal boxes, book covers, and pizza boxes. Cockroaches can take nourishment from this stuff because their digestive tracts have special protozoa and bacteria which allows them to eat anything—including each other if no other food is available.
Corrugated cardboard boxes are more than dinner for the hungry roach. Boxes also provide free housing and nurseries. Female roaches will tunnel through the tubular corrugations of boxes and lay their eggs. And when cockroaches lay eggs, they don’t fool around. The babies produced by a single American cockroach and her offspring can number about 800 per year. Boxes also provide cockroaches with free transportation. If you have a bunch of old boxes in your basement and you use them to move, you might be bringing your old roach problem to your new digs.
In addition to being enthusiastic eaters of cardboard, cockroaches are prolific at defecation and regurgitation. The sickening substances they expel can contain an evil buffet of parasitic diseases including cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid and leprosy.
If you want to avoid cockroach infestations, don’t store old magazines, books, or photographs in cardboard boxes. Airtight plastic storage bins are of no interest to roaches and will also protect your items from mold, mildew, and hungry mice. The good news is that cardboard alone will not attract cockroaches to your home, but the nasty bugs live in sewers and drains and are probably lurking nearby anyway. So take a trip to the store and stock up on solid containers for your worldly goods - and throw out those pizza boxes immediately.