A Closer Look with Heather Patterson
Largely due to their ability to survive and adapt so well, cockroaches are abundant, have been around for a very, very long time, and are found throughout the world living in a variety of environments. But only a handful of cockroach species are considered to be pests. Since there are both health and economic consequences associated with infestations of these pest species, they are a major part of our business. Here are some facts PMPs should know when it comes to cockroaches:
Tarsal structures help cockroaches climb vertical surfaces
The cockroach “foot” is an underappreciated feature. Cockroaches have tiny pads with various features that create friction and force as they push and pull against a surface, allowing them to move vertically, up, down, and even upside-down. While many cockroach species have these structures, some do not. The ones that lack these features, like Oriental cockroaches, have inferior climbing abilities, especially on smooth surfaces.
Here’s why they’re major pests of public health importance
Because cockroaches are known to dwell, breed, and feed in highly unsanitary areas, they may expose humans to the pathogenic organisms they harbor and transport. Additionally, not only do they cause considerable psychological distress and embarrassment, but cockroaches are also a significant allergen source that can trigger asthmatic reactions for many people.
“Albino (white) cockroaches” won’t stay albino (white) for long
Have you ever a spotted white cockroach? No, that is not a new species. What you observed was a freshly molted cockroach! A white cockroach is in a fairly vulnerable state while waiting for its body to tan and harden. It can take some time, but the cuticle will gradually darken, and it will change into its standard color and form one would expect to see.
Hanging onto her egg case gives her offspring a better chance at survival
Some cockroach species deposit their oothecae quickly after it’s formed, while others, like the female German cockroach, will hold onto it while it’s developing. The benefit of carrying her egg case up until about a day or so before it hatches is to help protect the young cockroaches from parasitism, unfavorable conditions, or other factors that reduce survivorship.
Common cockroach names do not accurately inform native range or origin of the species
The American cockroach is not native to North America. As confusing as it is, it’s important to be aware that the scientific names (e.g. Periplaneta americana) were assigned to the species based on where they were collected at the time, not necessarily their confirmed place of origin.