Maybe cockroaches are getting a bad rap. Of the 4,000 or so species of cockroach, only around 30 are considered pests. On the other hand, if you see a roach scuttling across your floor, a flip flop, army boot, fly swatter, or rolled up magazine might be just the thing you need. Trouble is, when you see one cockroach, it’s likely that hundreds more are lurking nearby. Cockroaches are of a sociable sort. They travel in groups and leave pheromone tracks so that their brethren may follow. This is done so the cockroaches can breed quickly and in large numbers.
There’s little doubt that pest cockroaches are ugly and generally disliked wherever they live, which is almost everywhere. Beyond their creepy appearance, the 1.5- to 2-inch-long critters are truly dirty. They eat rotting food and animals and spend their time walking around in tainted trash and sewer pipes. When they scurry across your floor, walls, or pillow, they spread bacteria and viruses with their six nasty little feet. And as disgusting as that sounds, the common pest called the American cockroach can also fly. Fortunately, American cockroaches do not have the 7-inch wingspan of the South American Megaloblatta longipennis, but when one is flying at your face, wing size hardly matters.
Cockroaches are hardy little vermin that can live about six months. And they don’t need their heads to survive. Roaches breathe through little holes called spiracles, located all over their bodies, except their head. They do not bleed like mammals, and one meal can last a roach for an entire month. So, if it has eaten recently, a headless cockroach can wander about for 30 days, but more realistically – one week.
In the wild, most cockroaches die when they are eaten by birds, frogs, beetles, geckos, or other predators. It is also a known fact that cockroaches can survive the radiation of a nuclear bomb. They do have one fatal design flaw, however. If la cucaracha falls on its back in your home, it cannot right itself and will die with its little legs kicking the air. In the woods, there are few flat surfaces, and fallen roaches can usually roll down wooded debris and leaves to get back into scuttle mode. But on smooth floors, the roach has fallen and it can’t get up. However, the pests can live for quite a while without water or food, so it will have plenty of time to contemplate its doom.