Cockroaches have long been the focal point of urban legends due to their incredible ability to survive even the harshest of conditions, and rightfully so. These pests are not your ordinary invaders, and it often seems like no matter what treatments you perform, they simply won’t go away.
Aside from being a scary sight to see, cockroach infestations can be very harmful to you and your family’s health, especially if there are people with asthma in your home. This is why getting them out should be your highest priority, but many times, this is easier said than done. In order to better understand just how resilient these pests truly are, following are 6 amazing – and creepy – facts about cockroaches.
Cockroaches are thigmotropic, which means they prefer the feeling of something solid in contact with their bodies. No, I’m not saying they look to be petted by their gracious hosts, but rather they like the feeling of being in tight, confined spaces like cracks and holes in walls. This is one of the reasons these pests are so difficult to spot, and they will likely stay hidden until they require nourishment.
Well, for a while, that is. As if they weren’t scary enough, a cockroach can live up to a week after its head has been removed. This incredible survival trait is due to their open circulatory system that allows them to breathe through small holes in each of their body segments. In fact, the only reason they do eventually die is because they are unable to drink water without their mouth, which they can only survive without for a week.
One of the best ways to prevent pests from taking over a home is to seal and store all food items securely. However, for cockroaches, that simply won’t cut it. Cockroaches can survive up to a month without a meal, which means they can wait for as long as it takes for a homeowner to slip up and leave food out. Worse yet, cockroaches are natural scavengers, meaning they will eat just about anything to receive the nourishment they need, including glue, grease, soap, and even leather.
So you’ve cut off their head and kept them from a viable food source, but the cockroaches in your home are still thriving. What about drowning them? That has to do the trick, right? Unfortunately, this solution may also prove fruitless. Cockroaches are able to hold their breath for up to 40 minutes, which means submerging them in water for a half an hour will do nothing more than get them wet. There are many hypotheses as to why cockroaches hold their breath, such as the need to retain water for survival or to prevent excess oxygen from entering their body (which can be toxic). But no matter what the reason is, it’s yet another indication of their amazing survival capabilities.
If you thought the only pest to fear while sleeping was bed bugs, think again. Cockroaches are known to consume protein materials on humans – such as eyebrows and fingernails – when they sleep. Worse yet, doctors in some inner city areas state that around half of all foreign objects they remove from children’s ears are cockroaches. That’s enough to make even the soundest of sleepers lie awake at night.
Even killing cockroaches by hand (or foot) is a tall order to fill. With an extremely rapid nervous system and tiny hairs covering their flanks (enabling them to detect even the slightest movements in the air), their reflexes are among the fastest of home-invading pests. Once they notice a threat, cockroaches can sprint up to 1 meter per second and change direction 25 times per second, which is the equivalent of a human running the 100-meter dash in a second while constantly changing their direction. In other words, catching them on your own is no simple feat.
As you can see, cockroaches are among the most adaptable creatures on the planet, which makes controlling and eliminating them from your home a difficult task. Although the best way to keep them out is to incorporate prevention methods before they arrive, sometimes it’s too late, and an infestation has already occurred. If you notice an influx of cockroaches in your home, the best way to get eradicate them is to contact a pest control professional. Through their experience dealing with these pests and a professional arsenal of tools, you can be rest assured that these menacing creatures will be removed from your home for good.
About the Author:
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.