If you mention cockroaches, most people will probably cringe. These are insects that are widely despised by man and there are cockroaches that live in every country where people live. However, not all cockroaches are vermin. In fact, many species are very seldom seen.
There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches. Of those, only about 30 are commonly seen by people and of the 30, only about six are actually pests of mankind. Many species don’t look like what people most often recognize as being a cockroach. Cockroaches are incredibly varied in both appearance and traits. Some are even beautiful. For example, this is one species of cockroach:
This is another species of cockroach:
Here is yet another:
Some cockroaches have wings, others do not. Some are drab and are black or brown, while others are quite colorful, as seen in the above pictures. Some inhabit the dwellings of man and others live in the deep forest or in places where there are few people. In fact, there are species of cockroaches that live in virtually every habit in the world except in water, and few people even see most species.
Cockroach Reproduction and Hardiness
Cockroaches lay between 10 and 100 eggs at a time and the eggs hatch in only a few days. This means that those that are pests of man can multiply fast. These insects will also eat almost any plant or animal product; fresh, dried or rotten. They will also eat paper, paste, grease, soap and a few other things that people might not think of as being edible.
There is truth in the statement that if you cut the head off a cockroach, it will continue to survive for over two weeks. However, the reason is that the brain of a cockroach is located in its body rather than in its head like with most other creatures. If its head is chopped off, it will die only from starvation.
These are also incredibly hardy animals. Tests done at Oregon State University has shown that cockroaches can survive radiation that is 10 to 100 times the amount that will kill a person. This means that in the event of a nuclear war, the cockroaches will probably survive long after all people in the world are destroyed. They have also been around far longer than man has been. Cockroaches have been around for at least 300 million years.
Many species of cockroaches are important prey for birds, spiders, and similar creatures. In fact, they are even eaten by people in some places, as distasteful as that might sound.
Getting Rid of Cockroaches
For those that are pests, it is said that they can be controlled by removing their food supply. Obviously, this is far easier said than done. However, cleaning up all spills, crumbs, washing surfaces with hot soapy water, sweeping and mopping after meals and things of this sort can help. Don’t leave paper where roaches can get to it, either, because they will eat paper. Wooden surfaces should be painted or varnished, too.
You can make an effective anti-roach spray by mixing a cup of vinegar and a cup of water, putting this in a spray bottle and spraying potential hiding places with this mixture.
You can also make homemade roach bait that will kill roaches. To do this, mix 1 cup of Borax, 3/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons of bacon or sausage grease and enough water to make a dough that is the consistency of bread dough. Roll this into marble-sized balls and put them in hiding places where the roaches can get to them, such as under appliances, under the sink, in cupboards or in dark pantry corners. You might need to dampen these every few days with a mister of the sort you might use on houseplants. However, the borax is toxic to the roaches. For faster action, use powdered boric acid, which isn’t the same thing as Borax.
Note: Make sure your pets and children can’t get to these baits because they are also toxic to kids and animals. You can also use diatomaceous earth in these, which is a little safer but more expensive. Incidentally, it can also be used to kill ants.
Cockroach pests can be controlled, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will ever get rid of them all. For that matter, you wouldn’t want to, because not all species are pests. Though these are among the most populous insects, only a few species are truly pests to mankind.