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Cockroaches will eat just about anything. But the American and German varieties have a particular fondness for the very things we like: carbohydrates, sugars, meats and oils. The big difference is that the roaches' simple digestive system and mouth give them a taste for food that is rotting or fermenting.

But if there's no human food around, cockroaches will make do with things like bookbinding glue, candle wax, human hair or even each other. And even if none of that is available - as in laboratory studies - cockroaches can survive up to a month without eating. That's not the only remarkable feat of survivability these little guys perform. They can survive without air for 45 minutes, so forget trying to drown them.You can step on a cockroach, hear a satisfying crunch, lift your foot and see the pest scoot away seemingly unharmed. That's because the hard outer wings protect the animal's internal organs from pressure.

TYPES OF COCKROACHES:

German Cockroaches (Blatella germanica)

The German cockroach is best identified by its small size and by two dark parallel lines running from the back of the head to the wings. It is usually found in kitchens (near dishwashers, stoves, and sinks) and in bathrooms of homes. German cockroaches usually prefer a moist environment with a relatively high degree of warmth. The insects are mostly scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods. They are especially fond of starches, sweets, grease, and meat products. In many locations, garbage is a principal food source. As with other species, German cockroaches are mostly active at night, when they forage for food, water, and mates.

HEALTH HAZARDS:

German cockroaches produce odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of various foods. When cockroach populations are high, these secretions may result in a characteristic odor in the general region of the infestation. Disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, protozoans, and viruses have been found on cockroach bodies. Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, and other illnesses) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by German cockroaches. The organisms causing these diseases are carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches and are deposited on food and utensils as the cockroaches 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 and sneezing, congestion of nasal passages, and asthma.

American Cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana)

The American cockroach is the largest of the species. This species often becomes abundant in city dumps and is most common in the basements and steam tunnels of restaurants, bakeries, food­processing facilities, and grocery stores. The American cockroach can be identified by its large size and reddish brown color with faded yellow edges on the thorax. When indoors, the nymphs and adults are usually found in dark, warm and moist areas of basements and crawl spaces, and in and around bathtubs, clothes hampers, floor drains, pipe chases, and sewers. They are also common around the manholes of sewers, and on the undersides of metal covers over large sump pumps. American cockroaches feed on a variety of foods, with an apparent preference for decaying organic matter. The adults can survive two or three months without food but only about a month without water.

HEALTH HAZARDS:

American cockroaches produce odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of various foods. When populations are high, these secretions may result in a characteristic odor in the general region of the infestation. Disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses have been found in cockroach bodies. Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, etc.) 'appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by these cockroaches. These disease-causing organisms are carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches, and are deposited on food and utensils as cockroaches 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, congestion of nasal passages, asthma, and sneezing.

Brown-banded Cockroaches (supella longipalpa (Serville)

Brown banded cockroaches prefer warm and dry locations, such as near refrigerator motor housings, on the upper walls of cabinets, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, doorframes, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water sources.

HEALTH HAZARDS:

Brown-banded cockroach species has also been known to chew on nonfood materials, such as nylon stockings, presumably for the residues of body oils and skin flakes. Damage by brown banded cockroaches results from their feeding and harboring in pantries and storage areas indoors. Also, bacteria and protozoa that cause diseases (such as different forms of gastroenteritis and diarrhea) can be carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches and deposited on food, utensils, etc.