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 German Cockroach

Understanding the habits and life cycle of Cockroaches is the key to Cockroach control.  Portland, with its many bodies of water is a perfect breeding ground for these nuisance pests.  Protect yourself and your home by learning a bit about these impossible pests.

We here at American Extermination can provide a solution to these pesky invaders.

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Cockroach Facts

With 3,500 different species and 70 species found in the U.S Cockroaches are one of the most adaptable and successful insect groups; they are also one of the most difficult pests to control.  Thriving in tropical and subtropical areas they are likewise found throughout the United States. Their benefit to nature, such as breaking down leaf and other plant materials, therefore releasing nitrogen needed for plants to grow and as food for birds, lizards, and other mammals is an important part of the natural environment.  They are an important part of the forest life cycle and food chain.  However, when adapting to our home environments their benefits to nature is overruled by our disgust of their presence.

The German Cockroach is the most common house-infesting species found in homes and businesses.  Understanding their behaviors and biology is an important key for successful elimination.

Active at night when they forage for food, water, and mates they are rarely seen during the daylight hours.  They prefer warm moist environments finding harborage near their food source, although if stressed due to overpopulation or escaping from insecticide applications may travel some distance to a food source.

Cockroach Behavior

Some species may be found outdoors in the warmer months around garbage receptacles and other unsanitary places.  They feed on a variety of substances such as starches, sweets, meats, fermented food, glue, hair, dried skin, dead animals, and generally scavenge on the fallout of human activity in unsanitary areas such as sewage systems and septic tanks.  They have also been known to feed on the starch in book bindings or on the glue behind wall paper.

How do you get Cockroaches?

Living in protected cracks and crevices they move easily around and are considered good hitchhikers found in products shipped to cities or across the country.   They have been known to infest hospitals, restaurants, zoos or supermarkets in shipping containers and cardboard boxes.  They can also be found on furniture, clothing or other goods.  They can be found in urban areas such as houses, apartments, hotels, or restaurants this brings them into contact with humans and in competition for shelter and other resources. Although they congregate in large groups in harborage areas or when foraging for food they do not have a social structure like ants.

What does a Cockroach look like?

German Cockroaches Life StagesCockroaches have an oval, flat body with a shield-like covering over their head.  Their long spiny legs allow them to travel rapidly over most surfaces and specialized pads allow them to travel across glass windows and ceilings.   They have chewing mouthparts for aiding in food digestion.  Their flat body allows them access to protected cracks and crevices.  Some adults have long functional wings and may or may not fly depending on the species.  Some females may only have wing pads.  

Cockroaches develop by a gradual metamorphosis consisting of 3 stages, (egg, nymph, and adult). Eggs are in a purse-shaped capsule containing two rows of eggs.  They develop into nymphs and when ready the nymphs work together on one seam until the capsule breaks open.

Newly molted nymphs are white, darkening to normal color within a few hours.   Nymphs generally resemble adults in appearance and behavior only smaller. They undergo a series of molts, during the last molt, wings appear fully formed.   

Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, diet and species type determine the length of time required for eggs to hatch and nymphs to develop into adults.

Do Cockroaches Carry Disease?

Although cockroaches are not usually associated with severe illnesses or disease outbreaks they do spread germs and disease producing organisms due to where and what they may feed on.  

High populations may result in a characteristic odor produced by secretions from various parts of their bodies which can also affect the flavor of food they have traveled over or feed on.   Bacteria and disease-producing organisms found on their bodies may be the cause of gastroenteritis. Bacteria is transmitted from the legs and body and deposited on the items they may travel over such as utensils or dishes left on the counter.  They also carry other protozoa and microorganisms inside their body thought to be involved in the spread of diseases and allergens.

The CDC considers the cockroach as an allergen source that may be an asthma trigger and it has been demonstrated they carry Salmonella. 

For more information on the health concerns due to a cockroach infestation visit the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Entomological Notes Department of Entomology German Cockroach PDF)

 Disease Vectors and Pests

For Information on Asthma related to cockroach’s visit the
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Cockroach Allergy

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are most commonly found in urban areas such as houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels and other locations.  Though nocturnal creatures by nature they may be seen during daylight hours indicating a heavy population or some other stressor such as lack of food and water, exposure to predators (such as ants) or exposure to pesticides. Larger cockroach species are common in the southern or more tropical areas.

What does a German Cockroach look like?

The German Cockroach is pale to medium brown and about ½ to 5/8-inch long.  Males and females may have wings but they do not fly, males have a slender appearance.  Nymphs resemble adults in appearance are wingless yet smaller and darker in color.  Adult females can produce 4-8 egg capsules in a life cycle with each capsule containing 30 – 48 eggs.  Time for hatching usually takes 20 – 30 days but can be shorter under warmer temperatures.  The next egg capsule may begin in a couple of weeks.  Nymphs go through 6 – 7 instars (stages) before adulthood.   

How long can Cockroaches live without food and water?

German Cockroaches are general feeders however they are attracted to fermented food and beverages.  Adults can live up to a month without food if water is available and may live as long as two weeks without food and water.  Nymphs will die within 10 days without food and water.  If stressed by overpopulation and no food or water, they will forage aggressively even in daylight hours.     Finding them on the bottoms of dresser drawers or other nonfood areas may be an indication of a heavy infestation or escaping the effects of an insecticide application.   In these situations, they may feed on scattered crumbs, soiled clothing, some glues in furniture, or cosmetic products.

Do You Really Need Professional Pest Control Services?


The Pest Control Professional’s Knowledge on Cockroaches is Needed.

Understanding their movements, needs and biological makeup helps the pest control professional to know what products or baits will be effective in eliminating a cockroach infestation.  More than one product may be needed to target different life cycles at the same time. Gravid females (egg-carrying) may be the most challenging because they stay closer to the harborage area and forage less if at all.   Correcting sanitation issues to remove food and water sources is a must for eliminating a cockroach infestation.

Cockroach activity makes treatments challenging.

These are a very active species and easily move within structures traveling from location to location in very small openings.  They can be carried in on bagged potatoes, onions, beverage cartons, and many other ways making it difficult to eliminate them.  Eliminating German Cockroaches completely may be impossible if a steady flow is being brought in undetected.  Inspections of boxes and products before bringing them into a structure is an important preventative step.  

Incorrect treatments can make the problem worse

Further problems occur when insecticides scatter cockroaches throughout a building and thorough elimination is not achieved.  Those that scattered will return and re-infest an area.  This is why it is important not to use any products on your own if a professional treatment is underway.  The professional knows what, where and how to use the products and how they work together to provide complete elimination.  

For more information on Cockroaches and identification visit this article from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Low Toxic Cockroach Control


Can you Treat Cockroaches Yourself?

When managing cockroaches with products purchased from your local store be sure and read all of the labels. This label informs you of effective methods of use as well as relaying important safety precautions to prevent injury and pesticide exposure.

 Improper product applications or placements can cause cockroaches to spread to other areas only to re-infest or allow them to become resistant to products thereby making them ineffective. Sanitation that removes access to food and water must be completed in combination with any treatments for successful management. Sealing entrances and treating harborage areas is also important.

Treatments for these pests are best done by a professional to achieve complete elimination. Professionals like American Extermination Plus Inc. can apply effective products and use efficient well-planned treatment methods while protecting you from unneeded pesticide exposure. We are here to help you with this and other pest problems.  After a thorough inspection, we will be able to recommend an action plan that best fits your needs.

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