In the mind of this old bug-man, these are about the most disgusting insects on the planet (my apologies to those who like them). Cockroaches feed on, and live in, all manner of decaying and putrid materials; they have been shown to carry and transmit dozens of diseases and other maladies; and their amazing ability to survive and reproduce under very difficult circumstances makes them a challenge to control.
Cockroaches occur throughout the temperate regions of the earth. There have been about 3,500 species identified. Roaches are part of the “clean-up crew” in nature. They scavenge for decaying organic material and help recycle it back to materials that can be used by plants. Some actually eat and digest wood much like termites.
Most species of roaches live inconspicuous lives in the woods or swamps. There are, however, a few members of their family that will happily move right into our homes with us. Those that occur in central California are the ones we’ll discuss here.
When speaking of cockroaches, the German Roach is the one that comes to mind first for most people. These roaches move readily from one building to the next “hitch-hiking” in grocery bags, boxes, bags of potatoes, even clothing and purses! They will reproduce readily anywhere it is warm and there is an adequate supply of food, water and harborage. The German roach can live for extended periods without eating, surviving on its own feces for a period of time.
The female roach carries an egg-sac on her abdomen. She drops this sac a few days before the young roaches (nymphs) are ready to hatch. Young roaches look much like the adults and are capable of surviving on their own as soon as they emerge into the world.
Professional services to control German roaches will focus on sanitation, elimination of harborages, and treatment of nesting areas. It is very common for professional treatments to require follow-up services in the weeks following an initial service. Controlling German roaches is not easy and it is not a do-it-yourself job!
The Oriental Roach is a large, oval shaped insect with its color ranging from dark brown to black. Unlike the German Roach, the Oriental cockroach does not readily reproduce inside our homes. These insects prefer to live like their wild cousins, out in the yard and under a log or deep within decaying bark or leaf-mold.
Oriental Roaches were introduced into the United States in the 1800’s. They “hitch-hiked” their way from the Orient on trading ships and were initially introduced into the southern U.S. Since that time they have spread throughout the temperate regions of the America. In the Southern U.S. people often refer to these roaches as “water bugs” because of their preference for damp areas. The Oriental Cockroach has found a very nice place to live in the cities of the central San Joaquin Valley.
We get a lot of calls for control of Oriental roaches. The key to controlling Oriental Roaches is to eliminate their harborage areas. We begin by inspecting the property and providing our customer with as much information as we can about the sources of their roach problems. Services for these insects are usually done outdoors. Inside service is sometimes necessary but it is not common.
The American cockroach is the largest species that occurs in the central San Joaquin Valley. An adult may measure 2” - 3” in length! Although they are not strong flyers, these cockroaches are the only ones we have that will fly readily.
They are most commonly found in the areas of town that have been developed for a very long time. About the only area of Fresno where we found these insects in the 1970’s was downtown. Since then they have migrated out into the residential areas to the north and south of the downtown area. Now they may be found almost anywhere except in the newly developed areas.
Fortunately, American Roaches are among the easiest to control (most of the time). Routine pest control services coupled with good sanitation practices will contain all but the most persistent American Roach problems.
Brown Banded Cockroaches
The Brown Banded cockroach does not occur very often in our area. When they do infest a building they are frequently mistaken for German roaches. This confusion may lead to improper treatment measures and failure to control the insects.
Brown Banded roaches do not have the moisture requirement of German roaches. These insects also glue their egg capsules to the surfaces of the areas where they nest. Hence, when we encounter roaches in a dry area of the home (such as a bedroom) and find egg cases glued to the inside of the dresser drawers, etc., we are most likely dealing with Brown Banded roaches.
A professional pest control technician has the tools and the training to eradicate these pests if they become a problem.
Field Cockroaches (Vaga roaches) occur in many parts of the country. Their appearance so closely matches the troublesome German cockroach that even trained professionals mistake them for one another.
Field roaches tend to move indoors toward the end of the summer as their populations have peaked and the weather is changing. They cannot reproduce inside the building so their infestation is actually more nuisance than a serious health issue. A thorough exterior pest control service will provide excellent control in most cases.