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More Than You Probably Thought to Ask About Cockroaches

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.

About Cockroaches

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.

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  1. Nasty creatures. I am lucky here in the suburbs of Riga, Latvia no cockroaches. Yeah! What I do have is the common garden type spider and these always makeup webs where I don’t want them and then I have to suck them up in the vacuum cleaner but I can live with that.




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    • Riga has a similar climate to what we have here in Montana, though we have hotter summers, so it doesn’t surprise me that you don’t have cockroach infestations there. We don’t have them here, either. They can survive this climate, but they are the most prolific where the climate is warmer and more humid.

      Of course, there *are* many species of cockroach in the woods around here, but they don’t look like the kinds that are pests and they don’t normally infest homes and buildings. When people see them, most folks don’t realize that they are cockroaches.

      We also have problems with spiders, but they are mostly spiders that look similar to “daddy-longlegs”, except that they aren’t. They are true spiders and daddy longlegs aren’t. Still, they have narrow bodies and very long, skinny legs. They produce webs all over the place, most of which aren’t noticed until they pick up dust and can be easily seen.




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  2. Great information here, Rex. I have heard that in some places, some species of cockroaches are delicacies to the natives. (Crunch)

    In the past, I saw one or two white cockroaches. I think they shed their old skin (?)

    I still don’t like them though. 😀




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    • Yes, like many other insects (grasshoppers, etc), they molt as they grow, so they shed their old skins as they get bigger. And yes, in several places, they are eaten. That normally isn’t the kinds that are pests to man, but like most insects, they would be a high protein source. I’m just not sure I need protein that much. hahaha




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  3. I used to live in an apartment where there were so many cockroaches that, when we turned the kitchen lights on at night, it looked like the walls were moving. It was disgusting but nothing we tried got rid of them. In an apartment building all of the apartments must be treated simultaneously or they just move from one to the other and then return.

    We moved into our current place almost 26 years ago and have not seen a single cockroach in it. Thank you, Jesus.




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    • That is a big part of the problem with those that are pests. They often live in walls and crawl spaces, multiply madly, can survive on almost anything, are extremely hard to kill, and are adept at moving about from one place to the next and back again.

      There have been documented cases of whole neighborhoods being infested. People would go to the tremendous expense of having an entire house tent-fumigated, which would kill all the roaches. A few days later, there would be roaches again because the other houses in the neighborhood weren’t fumigated and simply moved in once the fumigation was over.




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