cockroach on a table

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We could tell you that studies have shown cockroaches to be able to spread 33 kinds of bacteria, six specific parasitic worms, and more than seven human pathogens, but that might not convince you that they are a serious health threat when they get into your home. You don't know where that statistic came from. You don't know if there was some motivation on the part of the researchers to come to the conclusion they did. So rather than give you a long, and tremendously boring list of scientific statistics on cockroach disease proliferation, we're going to take another direction. Today, we're going to talk about cockroach behavior.
In our service area, we have three cockroaches that commonly infest homes. They are the American cockroach, the German cockroach, and the Oriental cockroach. While they have some differences, they share commonalities that expose them to harmful organisms and allow them to expose us to those organisms.

cockroach on cutting board

The Pick-Up

  • Cockroaches will feed on a dead animal. Would you handle a dead animal? How about a rotting animal? Of course not. You know that dead creatures have tiny organisms on them that are invisible to the naked eye.
  • Cockroaches feed on animal dung. When they get into your yard, they'll feed on the waste from your dog. When they get into your home, they'll feed on cat waste in your cat box. When you pick your pet's waste up, do you handle it directly? Of course you don't. You know you could get sick.
  • Cockroaches feed on rotting organic material in trash cans and reproduce in damp, rotting organic juices and gelatinous sludge.
  • Can you imagine dropping a donut into a trash bin that has rotting organic juices at the bottom and picking it up to eat it? It is unimaginable.
  • Cockroaches can feed on human waste. This is why they get into sewers. Have you ever been in a sewer drainage pipe? Does that sound like somewhere you'd like to have a picnic?

When cockroaches get into dirty places, they pick-up harmful bacteria, parasitic worms, and pathogens that can make us sick.

The Carry

Cockroaches are incredibly resilient. When they ingest harmful things that could make us very ill, they don't die. If they did, they wouldn't be able to expose us to diseases. What's more, some of the harmful disease-causing organisms they pick up don't go into their system. They cling to the exterior of cockroaches and get carried that way.

Cockroaches are highly mobile. They can run up walls and run across ceilings without skipping a beat. They can zip across a table, go over the side, and begin to run across the bottom without a hint of slowing down. When a cockroach comes to a small crack, it can compress its body and push its legs out to the sides to scramble through. And it is prone to explore small cracks (such as the tiny entry point in your exterior walls) because it likes to be in tight spaces where its back and its belly can touch two hard surfaces at the same time. This gives them the ability to get into our homes and bring harmful things with them.

The Drop Off

Cockroaches love kitchens. They're drawn to areas of high moisture and will often live in kitchen cabinetry. This brings them into close proximity of dishes, silverware, pans, food-prep surfaces, and counters. As they move across these, harmful organisms on their bodies can transfer to these items and surfaces.

Cockroaches have the ability to chew through cardboard and paper packaging. When roaches get into your kitchen and pantry, your foods are at risk. When cockroaches get into food, the organisms on their bodies are deposited into the foods. And this can go undetected, especially when tiny nymphs invade food packaging at night and go back into hiding in the morning.

Cockroaches leave their droppings everywhere they roam. If they have ingested something harmful, which is highly likely, their feces become the means for the transmission of diseases.

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