We have had some American cockroaches move into our Insectory recently. As interesting as they are to watch inside their contained habitat, it becomes very clear what a mess they can make of a space in such a small amount of time.

American cockroaches are between 32-54mm long, reddish brown in colour with a yellowish margin on their body, behind their head. Both the male and females have wings and can fly short distances. Adult females can produce up to 150 young roaches during its lifespan. The female carries an egg case (protruding from the tip of its abdomen) for a couple of days before placing it on a surface in a safe location. The nymphs hatch 6-8 weeks later and have a slower growth than German roaches reaching adult status in 6-12 months.

They are masters at squeezing into tiny spaces, as they are so thin it makes it easy. This explains why they are found in some interesting places.

They are mostly found outside around sewers and drains, but it is not uncommon to find them inside a structure. Once the climate starts to change and food shortages start to happen is when they move inside. Cockroaches eat crumbs found under appliances, in drains, behind kitchen cabinets and on the floor. They will also go for pet food that is left uncovered.

Cockroaches are filthy pests. Their diet includes a range of foods, from fecal matter, fresh food and even each other. American cockroaches carry a range of diseases.  Both American and German cockroaches can transmit diseases like dysentery, Salmonella, and diarrhea. In general cockroaches have been known to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria including, E. coli and Salmonella, as well as six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.

They pick up these germs on the spines of their legs and body as they crawl though decaying matter or sewage, then transferring the germs onto food or cooking surfaces. It is not just the germs that they carry that are harmful to humans, American cockroaches, saliva, urine, and faecal droppings contain allergen proteins known to elicit allergic reactions and asthma attacks. As such, cockroaches are a common trigger of year-round allergy and asthma symptoms, especially in children.