It’s a fact that when most people see a cockroach, their first reaction is fight or flight. This may have to do with the primeval nature of the common cockroach which has been walking the earth since the age of the dinosaurs. And it’s no accident that the roach has survived for 350 million years. Cockroaches thrive in nearly every environment found on earth.
There are 4,500 different cockroach species of the Blattodea order and only about 30 live in human habitats. Of these, only four are widely reviled as pests. The American cockroach, at 1.6 to 2 inches in length, is number one in size. The Oriental cockroach is slightly smaller at about one inch while Asian and German cockroaches, which are nearly identical, are a little over half an inch long. Add their extended waving antennae and cockroaches appear to be twice their body size.
Besides their disconcerting appearance (those hairy little legs!), cockroaches are built to survive and thrive. They can hold their breath for 40 minutes, live two weeks without water, four weeks without food, and even scamper more than a week after their heads have been chopped off. When you flick on the light at night, roaches can scurry in a hurry. They reach speeds of 2.6-feet per second and can turn on a dime.
While a few hardy souls like to race cockroaches, there are many reasons you don’t want them running around your house. La cucaracha likes a warm, wet environment and can be found in sewers, basements, and around pipes and drains. Roaches are omnivorous and coprophagous, which means they will eat anything including garbage and fecal matter. This leaves roaches spreading bacteria like Salmonella and Shigella as they scamper about. Cockroaches also have the charming habit of leaving trail markers of their own fecal matter which can cause stains and odors. This waste, along with saliva and decaying cockroach corpses becomes a fine powder that can trigger allergies and asthma attacks when inhaled.
Cockroaches are also thigmotropic, which means they like their bodies to be in solid contact with firm surfaces. They can squeeze their bodies into tiny places no thicker than a quarter. With their speed and squeezing abilities, cockroaches are hard to chase down and kill. Whether you react with fight or flight, you need to rid your house of roaches for good.