Cockroaches are amongst the oldest creatures roaming the Earth today. They are also one of the most successful species, with representatives on every continent except Antarctica. Cockroaches have lived on this planet in one form or another for at least 315 million years, according to the oldest fossil on record to date. There are more than 4,300 species of cockroach surviving today that range in size from 3 millimeters to over 8 centimeters in length.
Cockroaches do most of their feeding at night. If you begin to see them during the daylight hours it can be a clear indicator that there's an infestation. Cockroaches will also stick to darkened areas that are out of sight, like beneath large appliances or under the sink. Use a flashlight to spot check these areas and catch roaches in their element. Since roaches prefer to remain hidden, the more you see, the higher the likelihood of an infestation.
Cockroach droppings may become visible whenever a large number of insects is infesting an area. The droppings of smaller roaches look like small black specks similar to ground pepper, while larger bugs will excrete black tube-shaped feces. The smell of mildew or grease is another tell-tale sign that there are a high number of roaches in the house. Roach eggs mature in cases that look like flat oblong sacs. If you see a number of cases in the home, you can expect there is an infestation.
Cockroach infestations can do more than just make you uncomfortable in your home. Roaches carry bacteria and spread that bacteria to everything they touch and eat. Diseases like typhoid, staff, strep and hepatitis are all transmitted by roaches. In addition to infectious disease, roaches cause respiratory problems including allergies and even asthma. Childhood asthma and allergies and both directly attributable in some cases to large quantities of skin and feces that result from roach infestations.
In apartment buildings, access between units through pipes, vents and other openings is the most frequent cause of roach infestation. If you can seal all openings from the smallest to the largest, there is far less chance of roaches ever entering your home in the first place. You can also take steps inside your home to eliminate the food and living spaces roaches need to thrive and eventually infest an area. For example, never leave open food containers or unwashed dishes in the house. Take out the trash every day before it can attract roaches, and keep the floors clean of cooking splatter and food particles. If they have nothing to eat, roaches will not last very long.
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.