Madonna once said, “I am a survivor. I am like a cockroach, you just can’t get rid of me”. The analogy quite aptly highlights the prodigal hardiness of a cockroach. It can go a month without food; it can go without air for 45 minutes; it can survive up to a high temperature of 50 degrees Celsius and a low temperature of -17 degrees Celsius; it is thought to be 15 times more resistant to nuclear radiation that humans; it can live with the head cut off for up to a week; and finally, at 3 miles per hour (5 km/h), it can run faster than any other pest. Lets look at some of the dangers of cockroaches in your home and in your business.
All of these would merely be fascinating trivia, but when combined with cockroaches’ potential to spread rot and disease, the situation becomes one of imminent alarm. Cholera, dysentery, gastroenteritis, leprosy, typhoid, polio, allergies, asthma — that is the tip of the iceberg that sails inward when cockroaches invade your home or office. Add to that mix their reproductive facility — they can go from two cockroaches (Father and Mother) to a family of two million in 24 months — and you are sitting on a time bomb.
Dangers Of Cockroaches: Dirty, unhygienic creatures
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes cockroaches as “unhygienic scavengers in human settlements”. They can eat almost anything under the sun — which includes garbage and human feces. That is the chief reason why garbage dumps, sewer lines and unclean toilets abound with cockroach populations. Those same cockroaches can then take shelter in your kitchen, where they will eat anything they can find, with a marked fondness for sugar. As a bonus, they will leave their own feces and cast-offs among your edibles as a way of signaling and attracting companions to their newest 5-star hotel accommodation. Your edibles thence carry the myriad bacteria from cockroach guts, opening up your health chart to the illnesses previously mentioned. These Dangers of Cockroaches causing disease are very real and could even lead to death.
Edibles are not the only gateway cockroaches have to infect humans. Occasionally, cockroaches will use their heavy leg spines to scratch or even bite your skin. Such bites occur when a cockroach is out of food supply and your skin bears food residue. Because of the germs a cockroach’s legs harbor, a cockroach bite could lead to inflammation at the bite site, and — in rare cases — pus formation. Infection is perhaps not the only concern: a cockroach can muster a bite force as much as 50 times its own body weight. The human victim is thus literally stung.
Hate my sight, hate my smell
There are other reasons to beware of cockroaches. The greasy, slimy appearance of a cockroach is disgusting to most people. They are often bundled into the idea of them coming from waste systems and sewage systems. An even more repulsive aspect of cockroaches is the odor that they tend to produce wherever they abound. Cockroaches literally stink — on purpose too. They use their scent to communicate with other cockroaches, sending and receiving olfactory messages about food, mating opportunities, and residential convenience. For this stinking purpose, cockroaches use chemicals technically known as ‘cuticular hydrocarbons’ found on their bodies and legs.
Fear is the key
Some people suffer from extreme fear of cockroaches, a condition formally named as Katsaridaphobia. This phobia can be nasty. There are reports of a teacher who quit her job because she could not stand hearing any student saying the word ‘cockroach’ aloud. There are multiple reports of people, most often women, running out of hotels owing to the syndrome: “There’s a cockroach in my room”.
The interesting part is such a panic response is part of human evolution and its occasional overreach. As per the BBC, our instinctive response to cockroach encounters was programmed by the course of human evolution — our prehistoric ancestors had to stay wary of these creepy crawlers when folks resided and slept mostly in caves, where cockroaches gravitated seeking human company for food reserves. With some of those ancestors, the panic exceeded normal limits, giving rise to Katsaridaphobia.
Usually, cockroaches do not cause lasting physical damage to your infrastructure. But there are isolated cases of structural damage owing to the magnitude of cockroach infestation inside walls, in the insulation, and under floorboards. While cockroaches do not directly eat the wood of your house or your office, they will quite likely eat into the adhesives being used to bind the wood.
Common cockroaches in South Carolina
The most common cockroach in South Carolina is the German Cockroach (’Blattella germanica’) — a small cockroach, typically about half an inch long. Its color varies from tan to near-black. The German Cockroach has a knack for infesting rapidly. Due to its aggressive nature, the German Cockroach often is difficult to control with DIY solutions – and therefore needs pest control experts, who will use baits, dusts and aerosols to treat the cracks and crevices where these roaches infest.
Two other cockroaches commonly found in South Carolina are the American Cockroach (’Periplaneta americana’) and the Smokybrown Cockroach (’Periplaneta fuliginosa’).
American Cockroach adults range in size from 1.5 to 2 inches. They are red-brown in color, with a yellowish figure-8 (’goggles’) pattern just behind their head.
Smokybrown Cockroach adults are smaller — between 1 and 1.5 inches in length. As the name implies, their color is smoky-brown.
Prevention of cockroach infestation
The best way to keep your home and your office free of cockroaches is to keep them clean, with garbage removal performed on a daily basis.
A few other tips are:
- Store all food items in sealed containers.
- Never keep old newspapers, books, and magazines stacked openly.
- Clean your refrigerator regularly, at least once in a week.
- Vacuum rugs, carpets, and other furnishings, at least once a week.
- Seal cracks and holes in the walls, at least once a year.
The most important tip, though, is to have a regular pest control plan. Scout’s Pest Control will ensure there is no scope for cockroaches to flourish in your home and your business. This is not a one-time activity: you need to set up a regular pest control program that, at least once every quarter, flushes out any cockroach nests in the making.
1) The German Cockroach image has been sourced from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2021/01/17/19/27/blattella-germanica-5926225_960_720.jpg