Life Cycle of a Pest: The Cockroach

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • December 12, 2018
 

Homeowners in the south are no stranger to cockroaches. If you’ve seen a cockroach anywhere here, odds are it was an American Cockroach. The American cockroach is also known as a water bug or palmetto bug.

American roaches are a peridomestic species, meaning they live primarily indoors. In the south, these cockroaches are found in humid, shady areas and move indoors during a change of season or when they experience a food shortage. Once indoors, American cockroaches find their way to moist, humid areas of the home. However, cockroaches can survive in dry areas food, as long as there is food and water.

The areas of the home that American cockroaches favor the most are the places where food is prepared and stored. That’s right, a cockroach’s favorite spot is your kitchen! Additionally, these roaches can be found lingering in areas like the back of appliances, the inside of vents, or really anywhere that is dark and hidden.

We know cockroaches can be scary. But don’t panic! We believe that the best way to prevent and get rid of pests is by learning more about them.

The Life Cycle of an American Cockroach

Egg

The beginning of every pest’s life begins with an egg. Anywhere from three to seven days after mating, the female cockroach produces egg cases called ootheca. The female cockroach carries this ootheca around on the tip of her abdomen from a few hours to a few days after producing it. After that time, the female deposits the ootheca in a hidden location and uses her saliva to adhere the case to wherever she placed it. Often, ootheca are found in dark places of the home like the crevices between appliances or the bottom of furniture.

Nymph

Under good conditions, the eggs will hatch and nymphs will emerge–typically within 24-48 days. These nymphs start off white and very soft. As they grow they undergo metamorphosis by shedding their exoskeleton, appearing more and more like adults after each molt. This molting behavior happens anywhere from ten to thirteen times until they become a full-grown adult cockroach.

Adult

After their final molt cockroaches reach their final life cycle form–the adult. Adult cockroaches are equipped with wings and reproductive capabilities and are typically about three inches in length. Fully grown, American cockroaches are a reddish-brown color and live up to about one year.

The success of a cockroach’s life cycle is completely dependent on their environment and diet. More favorable conditions lead to rapid population growth while unfavorable conditions cause adults to develop slowly or even die early on.

Signs of Cockroaches

There’s nothing quite as scary as dealing with a cockroach–and they don’t usually hang out right in the open. You’ll likely only encounter a cockroach when they’re… a.) scurrying away from danger or b.) on the hunt for their next food source. Here are a few signs that you might have American cockroaches somewhere in your home.

Droppings

American cockroaches typically leave droppings where they hide. This can be anywhere from basements and garages to pantries and behind appliances. Though these droppings are small, they often carry disease causing organisms.

These organisms can contaminate your food, eating utensils, and food preparation surfaces. As soon as you think you’ve found a cockroach dropping, it’s important to both clean and sanitize the area and begin considering cockroach removal methods.

Egg Capsules

Identifying a cockroach ootheca, or egg case, is actually not such a bad thing! This means you’ve found the problem before it has really begun. The egg casings contain just the eggs of the cockroaches, meaning you can get rid of the cockroaches before they hatch.

Egg capsules are about 38 millimeters long and are typically a reddish, black color. They are commonly found in basements, laundry rooms or kitchens and behind appliances or under cabinets. A good precaution to take is checking these areas around the summertime. Though cockroaches are around all year long, they typically take refuge in homes when the weather is hottest.

Odor

As if cockroaches weren’t gross enough, they also have an odor to them. American cockroaches produce a chemical called an “aggregation pheromone”.

The odor of the chemical helps cockroaches identify each other which causes them to stay together in groups. Humans detect this odor as a sort of “musty” scent. And unfortunately, as the population of cockroaches grow, so does the odor.

Sightings

And finally, the most obvious sign that you have cockroaches–seeing them in your home. While cockroaches usually stay pretty hidden, they’re hard to miss when they’re out in the open. As we stated before, the only time you’ll likely see them is when they’re running from danger or trying to find food.

There are a few things we can’t stand about cockroaches:

1. They’re fast. Very fast.

2. They can fly!

Yes, you read that right. Cockroaches do have wings. While they don’t typically take flight, when startled or on an elevated surface, cockroaches can fly to get to the next spot.

As you can see, cockroaches are no fun. They’re creepy, they’re crawly, and they steal your food! It’s important that in order to prevent these guys, you take the proper steps to keep them out of your home in the first place.

Learning about pests is an important part of figuring out a plan to keep them away from your home and family. Check out our free Pest Encyclopedia to learn more about pests like these.

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