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Cockroaches are not native to the Americas
The American cockroach is not from the Americas at all. In spite of its name, no cockroaches were living anywhere in North or South America before Columbus. The cockroach was present in North America by at least as far back as 1625, and perhaps before then. The species of cockroach common in the Americas originated in Africa.
American cockroaches can also be found in Southern Europe, but not so much Northern Europe. It was probably the slave trade that brought the American cockroach to the Americas. Although cockroaches can be found in Canadian cities, they survive best in tropical climates. The American cockroach coexists with two other species, the German cockroach and the Oriental cockroach.
Cockroaches are a very ancient form of life
Insects recognizable as cockroaches have existed since as far back as the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago. They are so ancient that they originated on a continent that no longer exists! While these prehistoric cockroaches were different from the American or German cockroaches of today, they are still recognizable as the same insect for hundreds of millions of years. Cockroaches are a very successful and tough species, a challenge for humans to deal with.
There are about 4600 types of cockroaches in the world
If you’re interested in where different cockroaches live, you may want to read our article Everything You Need to Know About Where Cockroaches Live.
Most of the thousands of distinct species of cockroaches live in nature and are relatively few in number. A few dozen of these thousands of species, on the other hand, live in the human habitat and not in the wild. The most common types of cockroaches that are found in the United States are:
A) American Cockroach
The American cockroach is an unusually large and long-lived species, which can live for more than 700 days. It is also known as the waterbug and as the palmetto bug. These bugs are brown or black in color and prefer humid and warm environments.
B) Brown Hooded Cockroach
The brown hooded cockroach lives mostly in the wilderness, away from human habitations. They tend to live in dead trees and stumps in forests and more loosely wooded areas. The brown hooded cockroach is also dark brown in color. The brown hooded cockroach has a distinctive round body that differentiates it from the American cockroach. The American cockroach has a much longer body, so the two species are easy to tell apart.
C) Cuban Cockroach
Before it was introduced to the United States, the Cuban cockroach was common in Cuba and on other Caribbean islands. The Cuban cockroach is a species that can survive in many environments, both indoors and outdoors. Hot and humid outdoor areas are preferred to dry and cool outdoor areas. Cuban cockroaches are easy to identify because they are very green in color.
D) German Cockroach
German cockroaches live indoors rather than outside. They can be as much of a pest and as difficult to get rid of as American cockroaches. They are nocturnal, preferring to hide during the day, and feed during the night. Like most other species, the German cockroach is smaller and shorter-lived than the American cockroach. They are good at hiding, and often choose places such as behind refrigerators, where people do not look very often. By hiding under and behind stoves and fridges, they avoid being stepped on and succeed at finding food more easily than they could elsewhere.
E) Western Wood Cockroach
Western wood cockroaches are another outdoor species common in the United States. They thrive in forests and do not commonly enter indoor environments. They are capable of flight, are reddish in color, and can live around rivers and grasslands as well as in forests.
American Are Cockroaches Dangerous
As well as annoying the owner of a home, American cockroaches can also spread disease and cause allergies. When cockroaches move around, their legs pick up and spread germs. Cockroaches often walk through sewage and through rotting materials, spreading the germs that they encounter everywhere, allowing them to contaminate a person’s food.
What diseases do American cockroaches carry?
Cockroaches can spread bacterial diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever. They can also spread viruses such as the poliomyelitis virus.
Those who have a cockroach infestation should, therefore, take it seriously and deal with the problem as quickly as possible. As well as hiring an exterminator, one must clean the house as much as possible and do everything they can to deprive the insects of food.
Cockroaches can survive without heads
Is there any truth to the idea that a cockroach can survive after losing its head? Strange as it sounds, this is true. Lacking a brain does not prevent the cockroach from moving around, breathing, or even reacting to events. All of these things can happen even after the relatively unimportant brain of a cockroach has been destroyed. On another level, a cockroach without a head will die reasonably soon and will not live out the remainder of its natural life in this state. One thing that a cockroach cannot do without a head is drink, so it will die in about a week without water.
Cockroaches can resist nuclear radiation
Another story that one often hears about cockroaches is that nothing would survive a nuclear war better than them. This fact is no urban legend. A level of radiation that would very quickly kill a human will leave a cockroach alive. However, cockroaches are still capable of being killed by extremely high levels of radiation. Research has proven that enough radiation can kill even them. However, they are so hard to kill and reproduce so fast that they would easily survive a nuclear disaster.
They are very resilient creatures that are also capable of surviving without air for more than seven minutes. Many types of cockroaches, including the American cockroach, are capable of surviving for up to six weeks without food. A cockroach can eat almost anything, including glue or hair. The ability to eat almost anything plus the ability to hide easily makes it difficult to exterminate cockroaches even in a single house or apartment.
Cockroaches can multiply very fast
Part of the reason why cockroaches are so hard to get rid of is that they can multiply very fast. Even if only a few cockroaches survive, they can quickly recover their numbers and infest an entire house again.
How often do cockroaches lay eggs?
An American cockroach can lay up to 150 eggs in its lifetime. This is not quite as many as a German cockroach, which can lay 200 or 300, but they can multiply very quickly at 150 eggs per generation. Since a cockroach can live for a few generations, tens of thousands of cockroaches can come from a single pair.
Want to know more about cockroach eggs? Check out Can You see Cockroach Eggs? for more info!
How fast do cockroaches multiply?
In spite of how quickly they can multiply, the life cycle of a cockroach is relatively slow for the insect world. It takes five and a half months for an American cockroach to go from an egg to an adult. For many insects, many lifetimes pass in five or six months. When cockroach eggs are laid, an egg sac known as an ootheca protects them. The egg sac contains more than a dozen eggs, and sometimes a few dozen. The eggs take a while, often a month, to hatch.
After the eggs hatch, the cockroaches enter the nymph state. These infantile cockroaches are slow and vulnerable and take a long time to reach adulthood, especially for longer-lived species such as the American cockroach. Nymphs are not capable of flight and are white-colored, but do not look vastly different from cockroaches. Half of an American cockroach’s life goes by before it is capable of mating. Therefore, cockroaches are capable of multiplying very fast due to the high number of eggs they lay each generation, and not due to creating a new generation very quickly.
One can realistically protect themselves against cockroaches
The easiest way to avoid a cockroach infestation is to avoid letting any cockroaches into their house in the first place. One should be very careful with furniture that has been moved out of a house or apartment that has any cockroaches. Cockroaches can hide in furniture, clothes, pockets, handbags, and so on. And a single egg sac can quickly become a cockroach infestation. Making sure that cracks in one’s house are sealed is a good idea as well. The American cockroach can live both outside and inside, and should be denied entry to the home in this way.
What keeps roaches away?
If one already has a cockroach problem, keep the house as clean as possible.
- Take the garbage out every night, watch dishes as soon as you use them, do not allow small amounts of food to remain sitting around. Even a small amount of food, such as some bread crumbs left on a counter, provides food for cockroaches.
- Depriving cockroaches of water is even harder than depriving them of food, but it can still be done. They cannot live for quite as long without water as they can without food.
- As well as calling an exterminator, one may have some luck with natural cockroach repellants. Bay leaves, Mint, and Catnip all smell intolerable to cockroaches and can help to keep these insects away.
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