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Cockroaches: A Complete Guide

Cockroaches: A Complete Guide

Cockroaches: A Complete Guide

Posted October 5, 2021

What are Cockroaches?

Cockroaches are some of the most primitive winged insects in the world today. Their hard leathery back and winged appearance appears almost exactly the same as fossilized specimens from 320 million years ago.

Cockroaches are characterized by their flattened oval body, long threadlike antenna and their black or brown leathery outside. The head is bent downward, while the mouth points backwards, a rarity in the insect world. Females are wingless in some subspecies, while males usually have two pairs of wings. Eggs are carried by the female until hatching as soft white nymphs. As they grow, their outside begins to harden and turn brown in color, like adults.

Are there Different Kinds of Cockroaches?

There are over 4,600 species of cockroaches around the world. The most common are the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brown banded cockroach and the oriental cockroach. In the United States, the most problematic are the German and the American cockroaches. American cockroaches are large and reddish brown in color(above: right), while the German cockroach is light brown with two dark stripes on their back (above: left). While they are able to fly, they cannot go very far, and prefer to run.

Fun Fact: The name “cockroach” is a corruption of the Spanish “cucaracha”. The popular song La Cucaracha is about a cockroach that cannot walk.

Why are Cockroaches Important?

It is horrifying to find a cockroach in your home, eating your food, scuttling across the floor, or even lying dead on their backs. While they serve no purpose in the home, there must be some purpose for them besides adding an increased fear factor in horror movies, right?

The short answer is yes, cockroaches are an important part of the ecosystem. 

Cockroaches provide a significant food source for birds, some parasitic wasps, and small mammals such as rats and mice. While many will think that having less rats and wasps doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing, you have to think of the big picture. Animals we like and revere, such as cats, owls, eagles and other birds of prey derive much of their nutrients from rodents like mice and rats. 

In addition, most cockroaches feed on decaying matter, which contains a lot of nitrogen. When they defecate, cockroaches release this nitrogen into the soil, which in turn is used by plants and trees. This has a huge impact on forest health, and without cockroaches, our forests and the animals that live in them would greatly suffer.  

Where do Cockroaches Live?

Known for their ability to survive almost anywhere, cockroach species live all over the world with the exception of polar regions and above 2,000 foot elevation. They live in temperate forests, tropical rainforests, deserts, grasslands and salt marshes. The American cockroach, paradoxically a native of Africa, are most often found in sewers, drainage systems, industrial buildings and basements. German Cockroaches are largely dependent on humans for survival, preferring warm climates and often eating garbage. 

Cockroaches have survived for over 300 million years due to their survival instincts. They practice a variety of survival tactics including cannibalism, eating their own excrement, and can survive high levels of radiation. Some species can even live without water for long periods of time.

Fun Fact: Among the 4,600 species of cockroaches that live worldwide, only 30 of them are classified as pests. The rest are considered beneficial!

Why are Cockroaches in Your Home?

While cockroaches are often associated with a dirty home, this isn’t always the case. Cockroaches enter your home in search of three things: Food, water and shelter. Your home provides a safe, warm place for them to stay. They can often find water from leaky pipes, condensation from HVAC systems, and in drains. Even if you clean daily, they are very resourceful and will find something to eat. 

Cockroaches have been known to eat:

  • Garbage
  • Crumbs
  • Cardboard
  • Wallpaper
  • Book Bindings
  • Grease
  • Leather
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Human Hair

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches?

Keeping your home clean will certainly help reduce the risk of a cockroach infestation, but unfortunately will not eliminate it. As stated above, cockroaches are looking for food, water, and shelter, all of which your home provides. In a clean home, these pests will often be found in low traffic areas, such as the attic, garage and basement. 

If you already have an infestation, there are several things you can do to help slow the spread of the infestation, in and around the home.


  • Keep food in sealed containers
  • Put pet food away after meals
  • Clean counters and under cabinets
  • Keep garbage in covered containers
  • Reduce clutter in basement and attic
  • Keep books and boxes on shelves
  • Sweep and vacuum


  • Seal any cracks around your home
  • Repair any water leaks
  • Remove sources of standing water
  • Keep firewood away from home
  • Clean gutters to reduce standing water

For more DIY cockroach prevention tips, check out our cockroach treatment and prevention page.

How Do the Pros Get Rid of Cockroaches?

Here at Fox Pest Control, our technicians are highly skilled at getting cockroaches out of your home for good. For each customer, our team performs a thorough inspection of the home in order to understand the extent of the infestation. Based on this, they will create a custom control plan for each customer, created to fit their unique needs. The treatment itself will take 1-4 hours, in an already cleaned home.

Technicians will come back periodically to ensure that the infestation has been taken care of for good. 

Give us a call today at 833-667-3785 to eliminate your cockroach problem once and for all!

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