American cockroach

We all see them and depending where you live may react differently to them. Some communities eat them and some communities despise them. Bear in mind there are different species, like about 4600 but only about 30 of these are found in our homes and 5 of these species are known as pests.

Cockroaches are omnivores and eat pretty much anything they come across such as conventional human foods, glue, skin flakes, hair, dead insect and soiled clothing. Many species harbor bacteria in their gut that allows them to break down cellulose which enables them to eat paper, cotton, wood and other plant materials.

A ghoulish fact about cockroaches is that they can live without their heads! This being due to it having an open circulatory system and breathing from its body but it will eventually die as it has no way to eat or drink without its head.

In spite of their bad repertoire cockroaches play an important part in the ecosystem by cleaning up waste and even helping nitrogen get back into the soil from decaying plant materials. The roach eats the plant matter and digests it, releasing the nitrogen in its feces which gets absorbed into the ground and it then processed by the plants roots again.

Cockroaches spread diseases such as dysentery, salmonella and diarrhea. They do this by moving through dirty areas and then onto our food working areas or over the food itself.

Cockroach up close
Cockroach close up photo by Erik Karits from Pixabay.

Another question that crops up with cockroaches is did they walk with dinosaurs? Yes, but contrary to general opinion which is probably fueled by movies, they weren’t that big, in fact some of today’s large cockroaches found in tropical climates are bigger than the fossils found from the dinosaurs time zone.

When cockroach infestations occur and food is scarce they do not hesitate to eat each other but normally they are gregarious by nature. They are also able to stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time – no easy task to kill these guys. On that score we have heard that they are really hardy and would survive a nuclear explosion but that is not true – they are about ten times more resistant to radiation than we are but there are easier ways to eradicate them!

cockroach infestation
Cockroach Infestation. Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

The natural predators of cockroaches are hedgehogs, birds, frogs, lizards and other small mammals.

A female cockroach can lay about 300 to 400 eggs in her life which is approximately one year. She only needs to be impregnated once to achieve this.

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