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American RoachThe American Cockroach can be found throughout most of the United States. It was introduced in the mid 1600s, but was originally from Africa. It is known by many names: Palmetto Bug, Water Bug and Sewer Roach among others. In our part of the country, they are commonly found in sewers, septic tanks, rock swale, crawl spaces, leaf litter, under rocks and around swimming pools. As adults, the American Cockroach is large, reddish brown and winged, but the immature are smaller, have no wings and are very shiny. When disturbed, they run very fast in a “razzle dazzle” type motion. They can run 50 times their length in a second. That is the equivalent of a human running about 200 mph.

American Cockroaches are generally found where there is water or high humidity. In Arizona, they are flightless, but in Florida, where there is warm weather and high humidity, they can fly! This instinct is hard wired into cockroaches and as a result, they prefer to rest on vertical surfaces. It is easier to take to the air from a high starting point then to lift from the ground. Even in the areas where they can’t fly, they will climb the walls and then jump off, some even opening their wings, only to fall to the ground.

Active at night, American Cockroaches serve as a food source for spiders, scorpions, mice, rats, birds, snakes, lizards and many other types of animals and insects. To control predaceous pest species around a home, it is critical that the cockroaches be eliminated. In fact, it is not uncommon to mistake the droppings of American cockroaches for those of mice. The droppings are about the same size with blunt ends rather than pointed, as they are in mice.

American Cockroaches have relatively slow development, taking up to a year to become an adult. They will live for a year or more as an adult. The female produces egg capsules called ootheca. Each capsule generally contains an average of 16 eggs. A single adult female can produce 150 offspring or more. They are omnivorous, and can feed on almost anything. They will feed on plants, decaying vegetation, sweets, dead animals, insects or even each other.

Around the home, they are particularly fond of fermenting fruit and dog food. At my home, I have a pool with a stone edge. Doves are attracted to the pool because it is easy for them to walk down to the water. This results in a lot of bird droppings. It turns out American Cockroaches love to eat bird droppings. The cockroaches began to live in and around the rocks, under the cool decking, and in the space in the soil around the base of saguaros created when the wind causes them to sway. American Cockroaches are opportunists, taking advantage of resources passed up by other animals and insects.

The first step to eliminating American Cockroaches is sanitation! Limiting food resources and water will reduce the breeding potential of the population and make your home less attractive. Cleaning up debris and leaf litter will eliminate hiding places and reduce the carrying capacity of the space adjacent to the home. American Cockroaches are fairly large—sealing cracks and crevices will reduce the likelihood that they will enter the home. Installing sweeps and seals on the doors will also help.

American Cockroaches live in city sewer systems in great numbers. Typically, each city will contract to treat the sewers with pesticides through the manholes. This does not affect the populations in the sewer pipes, but it may push the cockroaches further along the pipes. Sometimes, they will run out of the sewers at the periphery of the treatment areas, invading neighborhoods and swarming homes. Sometimes, if bath and toilet traps run dry, the cockroaches will invade homes through the sewer systems. Making sure the drains are used and the toilets are flushed weekly will prevent these invasions.

An experienced pest control technician can eliminate existing American Cockroach infestations and prevent cockroach home (and pool) invasion.

Call us today to find solutions to your cockroach problem. In Tucson, call 886-4146. Statewide, call (520) 886-4146.



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