Cockroaches have been an insect pest for about four million years. There are more than 3,500 species around the world.
The German cockroach is one of the most common household cockroaches in the world. They are particularly fond of living in restaurants, food processing facilities, hotel rooms, and nursing homes. Although not very tolerant of the cold, this cockroach has been found in buildings as far north as Nunavut. Measuring about 1.3 cm to 1.6 cm (.51 to .63 inches) long, it is tan to light brown, with two dark parallel streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Roaches have wings, but are unable to fly.
Cockroaches rarely cause structural damage. They can, however, contaminate food and spread disease by walking over, and excreting on, food or food preparation areas after having travelled through garbage and/or sewers. People with asthma may have a negative reaction to their droppings (feces) and body parts.
Cockroaches will live in any area where food, water, and shelter are available. They are attracted to buildings because of the warm, damp conditions offered by kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and plumbing areas. Their presence does not necessarily mean unclean conditions exist.
Roaches and their egg cases can hitch a ride into your home on various objects (including used furniture, food items, empty beer and soft drink bottles, and shipping cartons). Once inside a building, they travel quite easily. Because cockroaches are most active at night, they may go unnoticed for some time. Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that contain starches, sugars, and protein, but will eat almost anything when hungry.
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