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Cockroaches are among the most prevalent pests in any home or apartment, but people know surprisingly little about them. In fact, there may be more myths and misinformation circulating about cockroaches than facts, such as that they can survive a nuclear blast (they can’t). So if you’re dealing with a cockroach infestation, it can help to know your enemy.
Cockroaches are masters of exploiting any access point into your home. In fact, they can squeeze through gaps as small as a fourth of their body size. They can also hold their breath for up to forty minutes, so even plumbing isn’t necessarily safe! Additionally, they’re notorious hitchhikers, gaining entry into your home in boxes, luggage, grocery bags, and even furniture. If you live in an apartment, infestations next door can mean an infestation for your home as well, no matter how clean you are.
Cockroaches aren’t picky eaters and will eat almost anything available. However, their favorite foods are sweets, starches, animal protein, and cheese. Some species of cockroaches are even attracted to beer and other alcoholic beverages. They don’t just eat human food though! Cockroaches can sustain themselves on cardboard, book bindings, paper, wallpaper paste, soft leather, soap, cloth, and even dead skin and other insects.
Cockroaches are hardy creatures and can live up to a month without access to food, and up to a week without water. More unbelievably, they can live up to a week without their heads! Cockroaches could live longer without their heads if it wasn’t for the fact that they couldn’t drink or eat. With optimal living conditions, cockroaches can live up to a year on average, during which time they can spawn hundreds of offspring.
Some species of cockroaches can fly in their adult stages, but because they can run up to three miles an hour, most opt for skittering away when indoors.
Cockroaches leave their droppings and dead skin bits wherever they go, which can get into your food items, on your skin, hair, and your clothes. These droppings can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms. More worryingly, they can spread Salmonella and E. coli, so leaving them to their own devices is not an option.
There are approximately a whopping 4,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, with German cockroaches being the most common. Thankfully, there aren’t that many in Florida, but we still have our fair share, with each one being slightly different from the other. If you’re interested in finding out what type of roach may be in your home, check out our types of pests guide.
A big part of managing a roach infestation is prevention. Put away food after preparing it, store dried goods in airtight containers rather than the boxes they come in, and ensure you clean up any food spills or crumbs immediately. Remove trash regularly and seal up any visible cracks or holes, especially ones hidden under sinks and behind appliances. Of course, keeping your house clean won’t be enough in most instances. Regular pest control can stop cockroaches dead in their tracks before they breed.
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