About Cockroach Infestations

cockroach on wall tile

There is nothing in the world more hated, and perhaps feared, than a cockroach infestation. Long the annoyance and unwanted resident of major urban cities, the cockroach resists many pest-removing methods. And, as if they weren’t already repulsive enough, they carry germs and diseases. Curious about cockroaches, or maybe you have an infestation of your own? Check out this article to get to the root of these pests.

Cockroach Basics

The dreaded roach is capable of flight, has six legs, and is so hardy one might mistake it for being invincible. They live up to one year and are mainly nocturnal, but when singly present, they may run away when exposed to light. However, infestations increase boldness and daylight activity.


Cockroaches are most common in tropical and subtropical climates, usually living close to human-occupied buildings or high urban-living densities with food and room to grow. Some species, such as the American or Chinese, breeds are present in large populations when supported by food and water from human dwellings, and they are routinely found in and around garbage cans, kitchens, or food-storage areas. Cockroach infestation in cities as populous as New York were long the fodder of spoofs on "Saturday Night Live," mocking the freakish size and boldness of the cockroach and its place in American domestic life.

Roaches like moisture and can find their way to multiplying numbers near a leaky pipe between the walls, underneath a broken drain overflow, or in areas long disused, such as storage areas or cabinets and drawers. Surface water can extend the life of a roach long enough for it to scurry under a car, climb up a tree by a window, or crawl into a florist's hothouse plant left on the doorstep.

Ventilated storehouses where spoiled or broken food containers are aggregated may spawn a huge population that can flow out into a field and be carried miles away, spreading into widening circles of pest population behavior.


The female may produce up to eight batches of multiple offspring in a lifetime. These foster batches of 30-40 clear roachlings turn darker within hours. A roach female can produce in her lifetime 300-400 offspring. As such, the presence of many cockroaches implies an exponential threat for future infestation. The "one" that got away may return a million fold.


Roaches are capable of living for a month without food and can remain alive even if headless for up to a week. The Olympic steeplechaser of insects, the roach can hold its breath for 45 minutes and can slow down its heart rate. Cockroaches have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, while a lethal dose of radiation in a nuclear attack or bioterror wave burst might be 6-15 times that for humans.

Natural death of cockroaches probably occurs due to predation by larger animals. Since insects are engineered as vertebrates, nerve gas and toxins from pest-control elements alter muscular coordination. The cockroach eventually dies in its upside-down position caused by muscular spasms that often result in the cockroach flipping on its back.


Cockroaches have been around for more than 350 million years with about 4,000 species of cockroaches existing. Out of about 22 species, four specifically cause all the trouble. The German, American, brown-banded, and oriental cockroaches are some of the world’s most disdained pests.

Human-Health Threats

Cockroaches are often a health threat. Habits and high reproductive rates of pest cockroaches can lead to large populations spreading disease organisms, contaminating food, causing allergies, and even worsening asthma.

Reported by the National Pest Management Control Association, cockroaches have been reported to spread 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and over five human pathogens.

Fun fact: In 2006, actress Michelle Rodriguez of the TV show "Lost" had to take steroid medication while filming on set in Hawaii, as she has long-been allergic to cockroach "pollen." The tropical environment made roaches and their by-products everywhere on the islands, and everywhere on the set, a health hazard.

Getting Rid of Roaches

Hiring a Pest-Control Agent

One bomb and one set of roach "motels" might not get rid of a cockroach problem. It’s a battle of numbers. Man-made substances such as hydramethylnon gel or deltamethrin are necessary to combat structural penetrations and infestations.

Experienced pest-control agents should be consulted, as they will know the pertinent facts about local roach contamination trends, infestation tracking, breed fluctuations, as well as effective ways to end the roach occupation.

Roach-Killing Substances

Since the cockroach has few natural predators, man must step in to eradicate them. Ammonia, bleach, or chalk powder can be used to fend subsequent roaches away. Those experienced in roach control in domestic areas know that roaches will not cross a line of borax, and in some cases, bleach salts or ammonium chloride can be effective (although recommended for industrial use only).

If cornstarch, flour, or food-smelling elements are added to the roach "powder," then roaches are attracted to it and breathe it in. This dust works at a level that makes human size once again an advantage; the dust is mildly acrid or annoying to a human, but to a small insect it is toxic.

House Centipedes

Biological control of cockroaches by wasps has been somewhat effective, but cannot control infestation. Strangely, a house centipede is the most effective control agent of cockroaches. Most people loathe using this technique inside their home as a logical defense against roaches, however.


Preventative measures include sealed food storage, secured garbage cans, frequent and aggressive kitchen and food preparation cleanliness, and regular vacuuming. Home and building construction quality and structural design quality and integrity also co-vary encouragement of cockroach infestation with water leaks, cracked porcelain, faulty drains, and undisputed spaces in walls or unseen areas.

New studies related to pest-control developments show cockroaches leave chemical trails in their feces. Other cockroaches will follow these trails to discover sources of food, water, and where other cockroaches are hiding. Thus, constant cleaning can eradicate some of these "messages" left inside your home.