Cockroaches are perhaps the most despised pests in the world. In addition to their often-feared large size, cockroaches are particularly resilient, capable of surviving for weeks without food, and can prove quite difficult to exterminate. Furthermore, due to their role as in insect, cockroaches tend to infest dirty areas and spread germs and bacteria, and can even transmit diseases. They can also produce very strong and unpleasant odors, and their feces can carry pathogens and viruses as well, making them highly undesirable from a health perspective. In rare cases, cockroaches have even been known to bite, often leading to infection. All cockroaches are primarily nocturnal, and prefer to hide in dark, damp places, close to water and food sources, and so commonly infest kitchens and bathrooms, which are the most suitable places for breeding in most homes. Cockroaches are quite sensitive to light, and constantly seek secure dark areas for safety, which is why they may seem to “dash for cover” when light switches are turned on, if they’re caught in the open. In the Phoenix area, there are three prominent species of cockroaches:
- American Cockroach
- German Cockroach
- Oriental (Sewer) Cockroach
The American cockroach is the largest roach species in Arizona, often exceeding 2 inches in length, and is commonly found outside Phoenix area homes. American cockroaches are distinguished by their reddish-brown color, which intensifies as they mature. Adult American cockroaches are winged, and are usually the most “feared” type of cockroach, for their large size, quick speed, and tendency to fly short distances, particularly when startled. Although more resistant to the dry desert weather than other roaches, the American cockroach still prefers moist shaded areas, where it can feed and breed undisturbed. American cockroaches still enter Phoenix homes frequently, however, often squeezing under garage and house doors with insufficient or damaged weather stripping. Once inside homes, American cockroaches will gravitate towards food sources, such as the kitchen, scavenging for crumbs or other exposed forms of food (such as pet food), or the bathroom, seeking dark and grimy areas, where moisture and organic decay can be found.
The German cockroach is the smallest roach species in Arizona, rarely exceeding 1/2 inch in length, and is commonly found inside Phoenix area homes, particularly in the kitchen. In fact, the German roach is the most common kitchen pest found in the Phoenix area. German cockroaches are light brown, with two black stripes just behind their head. German cockroaches do have wings, but rarely fly, and prefer to run or “scurry” around. In Arizona, German roaches are almost exclusively found indoors, and prefer warm, humid areas of a home, and are most often found in the kitchen. German roaches are usually introduced into homes when they are brought in externally by unaware homeowners, often in boxes and bags of food and other goods, and then infest locations where food is prominent. German roaches are also capable of traveling and spreading through plumbing lines. German roaches can feed on a huge variety of food sources in addition to actual food, including toothpaste, glue, and even soap. Their ability to eat almost anything, paired with their small size and quick reflexes, makes them very difficult to eliminate. German roaches are well-known for their ability to rapidly reproduce and multiply. German roach infestations are characterized by their pepper-sized droppings, occasional egg capsules, and an unpleasant “musty” odor. German roaches in particular are also known for their ability to transmit and spread a variety of dangerous pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Typhus.
Oriental Cockroach (Sewer Roach)
The Oriental cockroach, also known as a “sewer roach” or “waterbug”, is about 1 inch in length, and is the most water-dependent of the roaches found in Arizona, and therefore are found in the moist areas of homes, and often come through plumbing lines into homes, breeding in the sewers, hence the name “sewer roach”. Oriental cockroaches are usually a dark-brown to shiny black color, and are incapable of flight, although males do have short wings. Oriental cockroaches prominently feed on decaying matter, such as garbage or other filth, and is widely considered the dirtiest cockroach species, and can produce a strong “musty” smell, similar to that of German roaches.