Homeowners around the country dread the appearance of cockroaches. But, many homeowners don’t know how destructive and resilient these pests can be. Cockroaches are able to fit through a gap as small as a quarter of their body height by flattening their flexible exoskeletons and moving their legs to the side. What else can they do? Read below to find out.

What do roaches eat?

Roaches are omnivorous scavengers that will consume any organic food available to them. When roaches move into an area, they will first consume the same types of foods that humans would. Sweets, starches and animal proteins are a roach’s favorite foods. They also like greasy food, cheese or anything that’s moldy or fermented. The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction to alcoholic beverages, especially beer.

If these foods are not available, roaches will turn to other forms of starch, including book bindings, paper, wallpaper paste and the glue on the back of stamps. For protein, cockroaches view dead insects, animal skin (e.g., the soft inside of leather) and even human hair and fingernails as viable food sources. They will also eat each other if food becomes scarce enough.

Cockroach jaws are weak, so they will often go for the easiest thing to eat. Their sideways moving mandibles are great at chewing dead skin and hair, but aren’t effective at biting human skin.

How long can a cockroach survive without food and water?

Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.

Can cockroaches survive a nuclear explosion?

No, cockroaches cannot survive a nuclear explosion. While they may be able to withstand extreme radiation exposure due to the simple design of their bodies and slower cell cycles, they certainly cannot tolerate the high amount of heat energy produced following the explosion. The popular TV show Mythbusters tested this claim, and found that almost all of the roaches in the experiment died after being exposed to 10,000 rads.

Where do roaches come from?

Cockroaches in your house may have been there before you, especially if you recently moved in. Roaches are easily transported to and from infested dwellings, as they can easily hitch rides in boxes, luggage and grocery bags.

Roaches can also get in through plumbing. They have been known to migrate between apartment units by traveling along pipes within a shared wall. To prevent this, ensure that all pipes are effectively sealed where they enter your home or apartment.

Sewers or drains can also act as entry points for roaches. Repairs on sewer systems often displace roaches. They will seek shelter inside of homes and buildings.

Can cockroaches fly?

In the nymph stage, American cockroaches are wingless and incapable of flight. Adults have useful wings and can fly for short distances. If they start from a high place, such as a tree, they can glide for some distance. However American cockroaches aren’t regular fliers. Cockroaches can run at speeds up to three miles per hour, making them much more likely to scatter on foot when startled.  

What are the risks associated with roaches?

Cockroach infestations have been linked to increased allergy and asthma symptoms in children, caused by their droppings and shed skins. In addition to exacerbating asthma and allergy symptoms, cockroaches are also capable of spreading 33 types of bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli.

How can I get rid of cockroaches?

To get rid of cockroaches in your home, the National Pest Management Association suggests keeping food sealed and stored properly, particularly in the kitchen, which should be cleaned daily to prevent crumbs and trash from building up. Garbage should be disposed of regularly and stored in sealed containers. Homeowners should seek out and seal all cracks and holes in homes, including entry points for utilities and pipes, as these can serve as entrances for the pests. In addition, basements and crawl spaces should be kept well ventilated and dry.

A reputable exterminator, such as Dodson Pest Control, can be the best way to control roaches. We seek to identify and eliminate contributing factors necessary for the pest’s survival and use multiple strategies and your partnership to manage these roaches. Contact us today for your free inspection.