For most of us here in Washington the cockroach is more legend than reality. The insect is not native to this area and can not survive outside except within the infrastructure of large cities. They literally have to be transported and supported by human beings. So, unless you live in an apartment or purchase something infested you may have lived your whole life without ever encountering one of these.
The most common cockroach found in structures is the German cockroach. The biggest threats posed by this insect are allergic reactions, often caused by inhaling insect debris, and the adulteration of foodstuffs.
This insect evolved in tropical environs of the African continent, living in leaf litter and developing the capacity to consume a wide range of materials.
The German cockroach has many natural adaptations that make it difficult to control.
They reproduce fast, the young start as eggs carried in a capsule called an ootheca (oh-uh-thee-kuh) which translates roughly from Latin and Greek as egg container or ovary. The capsule holds between 30 and 40 eggs. The insect will shed its shell up to six times and reach maturity in about 35 days depending on temperature. Each adult female will produce 5-6 egg capsules in her lifetime or 240 offspring in about 9 months under ideal conditions. A single adult female could spawn as many as 30,000 progeny in a single year (fortunately mortality is high). This reproductive capacity allows them to pass resistant traits to subsequent generations quickly (only resistant insects survive to reproduce and soon dominate the population).
They are careful, a fertilized female carries her eggs till they hatch and will stop foraging and hide as her eggs reach maturity. Even if she dies from pesticide exposure the eggs will still hatch.
They are fast, tiny hairs on the insects abdomen sense changes in air pressure when you go to swat it. These hairs send signals that bypass the brain and go directly to the legs, forcing the insect to sprint forward. The hind legs are elongated and propel the insect forward so fast that the other legs lose contact with the surface and the front of the insect actually rides on a cushion of air compressed under its body.
Their bodies are pliable and can be flattened. Adult insects can fit through a space as small as 1/8 inch and immature stages as small as 1/16 inch.
They adapt fast, it was discovered that some roaches exposed to residual pesticides changed their body posture to avoid exposure by standing on the tips of their legs instead of holding their bodies close to the ground.
If you find yourself with a roach infestation keep a few things in mind.
Having us treat them is the fastest, surest way to get rid of them.
You can’t clean away an infestation. A clean home can get roaches as easily as a dirty one it just won’t support as many.
If you are going to attempt to treat for yourself, get advice form a professional. Whatever you do needs to be effective and work fast. It also must last long enough for any egg capsules to hatch (about 14 days).
Don’t turn off the heat. These are tropical insects and won’t eat as much bait or move through treatments when it’s below 65 degrees.
If you plan on moving, deal with the infestation at both locations. Have a preventive treatment done to the home you’re moving to as well as the one you are leaving. Otherwise you’re just taking the problem with you.