American cockroaches prefer warm temperatures and do not tolerate cold climates. Because of their fondness of sewers, large populations of American cockroaches will be seen in many cities after heavy rains or flooding. Females produce egg cases that hatch in 6-8 weeks. The nymphs require 6 to 12 months to mature. Adult cockroaches can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.
They are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders that will consume decaying organic matter, but being a scavenger, they will eat almost anything. They prefer sweets but have been known to eat paper, book bindings, the soft part on the inside of animal hides, cloth and dead insects.
American cockroaches are found in moist, shady areas outdoors, in yards, hollow trees, wood piles, and under mulch. They can also be found under roof shingles and in attics. In Florida, areas such as trees, woodpiles, garbage facilities, and piles of organic debris can provide adequate food, water, and shelter for them to thrive.
They migrate by crawling or flying into structures and entering houses and apartments from sewers via the plumbing, by trees and shrubs located alongside buildings, or from trees with branches that contact or hang over roofs. During the day the American cockroach, which responds negatively to light, rests in harborages or nests close to water pipes, sinks, baths and toilets.
American cockroaches can become a public health nuisance due to their affinity for sewers and the ability to move from them into homes and businesses, and their association with human waste and disease. The cockroach is often found in latrines, cesspools, sewers, sewerage treatment plants, and dumps. Their presence in these habitats is of epidemiological significance; at least 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoans, as well as five species of helminthic worms, have been isolated from field-collected American cockroach specimens. Cockroaches are also aesthetically displeasing because they can soil sterile and eating environs with their excrement and salivary secretions.
American cockroaches are most often found near plumbing fixtures that are not sealed. Finding and repairing leaks or breaks is often the critical step in long-term control. Caulking of penetrations through ground level walls, removal of rotting leaves or mulch, and limiting the moist areas in and around a structure can help in reducing areas that are attractive to these cockroaches.
Oriental cockroaches are often called water bugs because of their preference for dark, damp, and cool areas such as those under sinks and washing machines, and in damp basements. Large numbers are sometimes found in one big mass around basement leaks or in crawl space areas in homes. If water is available, they can live for a month without food; without water they die within two weeks.
The life span of an adult female is 5 to 26 weeks with approximately 200 offspring. Unlike the other house-infesting species, the Oriental cockroach generally has a seasonal developmental cycle. The highest number of adults usually appears in late spring or early summer. Oriental roaches are often found feeding on garbage, sewage, or decaying organic matter. They will eat almost anything, but they prefer a high starch diet.
Oriental cockroaches are often called water bugs because of their preference for dark, damp, and cool areas such as those under sinks and washing machines, in damp basements, crawl spaces, and areas between the soil and foundation. They will often enter buildings through sewer pipes.
Oriental cockroaches are generally found outdoors during warm weather, but in periods of drought they tend to infest structures in search of moisture. This species is less wary and more sluggish than other cockroach species, and are usually found at or below ground level indoors. They may enter the home in food packages and laundry, or simply come in under the door or through air ducts, garbage chutes, or ventilators.
Nymphs and adults have similar habits and are found with decaying organic matter indoors and out. Indoors, Oriental cockroaches prefer dark, moist areas under porches, in sewers, drains, crawl spaces, dark, damp basements, and floor drains. They can be found outdoors in yards beneath leaves, and in bark mulch around shrubs, in dumps, crawl spaces, and in garbage, trash dumps and trash chutes.
The most important aspect of Oriental cockroach damage derives from their habit of feeding and harboring in damp and unsanitary places such as sewers, garbage disposals, kitchens, bathrooms, and indoor storage areas. Pathogens from these sources are then spread to food supplies, food preparation surfaces, dishes, and other surfaces. Disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses have also been found in their bodies.
Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, etc.) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by Oriental cockroaches. The insects carry these disease-causing organisms on their legs and bodies and deposit the organisms on food and utensils as they forage. Cockroach excrement and cast skins also contain a number of allergens, to which many people exhibit allergic responses such as skin rashes, watery eyes, sneezing, and can also cause asthma.
Treatment of your home's interior-removing food, excess moisture, and possible nesting sites-is the first step in eliminating Oriental roaches. Eliminating harborages involves caulking in closets and cabinets, under the sink, etc., and making similar repairs in the kitchen, bathroom, and storage areas.
Recent research has shown that these cockroaches frequently move into the home along plumbing (up through the floor from underneath the crawl space) and under door or window jams. The use of screening, caulking and similar items may be useful in tightening the exterior to deter entry by these cockroaches. Cover any vents, open pipes and other areas with screening as well. Disperse leaf and mulch piles to discourage nesting.