Cockroaches often make the list of the “nastiest bugs on the planet.” Largely considered nasty, dirty bugs found only in run-down places, they’re famous for how hard they are to kill. However, there’s a lot more to roaches than meet the eye.
Types of Cockroaches
There are over 4,000 species of cockroaches in the world. Many of them don’t even live in the United States. However, there are between 40 and 60 species that thrive here. The German cockroach is by far the most common. This species is ½-inch long and pale brown with dark-brown stripes behind the head. They can fly. The brown-banded cockroach is a little smaller, ½-inch is the biggest they get, and they are dark brown with lighter wings. The American cockroach is the largest cockroach that can be found in homes and they get up to 1.5 inches long, and are reddish brown with yellow bands around the head.
Cockroaches are believed to cause many health problems in the homes. They carry the same bacteria that causes food poisoning in humans and their droppings, when left all over, contaminate a home. The so-called “roach dust” which is composed of body parts and cockroach droppings, is a huge trigger for respiratory problems like asthma and allergies.
Eyes: Cockroaches have special “compound eyes” that let them to see in almost any direction simultaneously. A cockroach eye has 2,000 separate lenses.
Legs: A cockroach’s leg has hairs on it that act almost like feelers, giving them an extra sense of touch.
Antennae: Cockroaches use their antennas to smell things.
Cerci: Cockroaches have two small hairs on their back end that are tiny motion detectors so they can sense when something is approaching from behind.
Salivary glands: Just like people, cockroaches can spit because of the salivary glands in their mouths.
Reproduction: When it’s mating season, the female cockroach produces a special odor that excites males. The male will sniff her out and produce sperm that can keep a female roach pregnant for most of her life. A female will produce anywhere from 16 to 64 cockroach embryos.
Skeleton: Cockroaches wear their skeleton outside their body. When a cockroach outgrows it, the skeleton is shed and a new one grows.
Crop: Cockroaches have a special section at the end of their esophagus that is used to store food for a short time. Also, there is a second set of teeth in the gizzard order to make sure that the food is chewed properly.
Gastric Caecea: These are tiny sacks inside a cockroach that are filled with bacteria and other things that help them digest their food.
Midgut: The middle part of the cockroach’s intestine that absorbs nutrients from food.
Malpighian tubules: These are basically the kidneys to keep out waste. They wiggle around like snakes when they do it.
Colon: Cockroaches have a colon and rectum. The rectum has special glands that reabsorb the water used during the digestion process, leaving only excrement behind.
Heart: The cockroach heart is shaped like a tube and it can stop without a cockroach even dying.
Spiracles: These are little holes in the side that cockroaches breathe through.
Fat Body: When you step on a cockroach, all of that white stuff that comes out is basically its body fat. It stores energy, breaks down nutrients, and helps detoxify insecticides that a roach comes into contact with.
Brain: A cockroach’s brain is actually spread throughout the entire body. Some of the nervous system is in the head while the rest is spread through the belly side of the body.
The best thing you can do to eliminate roaches is to thoroughly sanitize a home. Make sure every surface and under all surfaces are scrubbed clean. Store all food, even pet food, in containers instead of leaving things out. Don’t let roaches have a place to settle, either. Don’t store boxes on the floor, don’t keep cardboard, and make sure that sources of moisture are eliminated. Roaches like dark, wet places, and getting rid of them can make a huge difference.
Cockroaches can hold their breath for around 40 minutes. They sleep or rest for 75% of their entire day. They can live for up to a month without their heads and will then die of starvation or dehydration. The largest cockroach in the world is 6 inches long with a 1ft wingspan. Roaches actually bleed white blood in most cases, only some female roaches have a slightly orangey blood, no red blood in these pests. Maybe weirdest of all, crushed cockroaches can actually relieve pain when applied to a stinging wound.
The old adage that cockroaches have been here long before humans and will be here long after humans are gone is probably a lot truer than people think. Roaches are one of the most unique creatures on the planet.