Descendants of Cretaceous cockroaches remain pests

Cockroaches that we recognise today date back to the early Cretaceous Era, about 150 million years ago. There are about 3,000 known species of cockroach inhabiting the world, yet according to the World Health Organisation there are only 10 cockroach species that are considered to be pests.

cockroach scuttling across floor

In the UK four in particular are known to cause problems; German, Oriental, Brown Banded and American cockroaches. We associate these insects with dirt, decay, squalor and disease. Knowing too well how hard it can be to rid one’s property of an infestation of cockroaches once they invade.

These hardy individuals can survive for several months without food. Cockroaches will often cluster around pipes, stoves, and sinks, especially in humid areas, and will often remain hidden in harbourages during the day and venture out at night in search of food.

cockroach in plugholeCockroaches are opportunistic omnivores, consuming just about anything. They will eat sweet things such as fruits, jams, biscuits, chocolate and sweet cereals as well as any meats and fish they find. Starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta and bread are also consumed by these pests.

However, what cockroaches are able eat to sustain themselves when necessary can be extremely diverse. They have been known to eat the starch in books, paper, packaging, fabrics and even glue! But there are also less pleasant items they are happy to consume such as animal matter (i.e. hamster or rabbit droppings) and even sewage to survive.

In their search for food they can contaminate utensils and preparation surfaces as well food. They can taint foods with an obnoxious smell as well as carry disease causing organisms, including Salmonella and E.Coli, which can be passed onto people causing gastroenteritis.

Cockroaches need food; water and shelter to survive so there are a few things you can do to make your property less inviting and help prevent cockroaches:

  • Do not leave liquids in sinks or buckets
  • Do not leave food sitting out on counters
  • Store dry foods in tightly sealed containers in cupboards and pantries
  • Rinse out cans, bottles and plastics before putting them in recycling bins
  • Empty rubbish on a daily basis, making sure dustbins have securely fitting lids
  • Remove pet food, drink and litter trays before nightfall
  • Seal cracks in walls, under kitchen sinks and bathroom cabinets to reduce potential hiding areas

If you’ve noticed an unpleasant, lingering odour under sinks, behind appliances or in store cupboards or noticed smear marks on horizontal surfaces or brown/black cylindrical droppings this may indicate you have a cockroach problem. Should the cockroach problem not respond to a DIY approach, contact a pest control professional.

Blatta-lateralis on bread close up

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