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IDENTIFICATION

Cockroaches are medium-sized to large insects in the order Dictyoptera (formerly Orthoptera). They are broad, flattened insects with long antennae and a prominent, shield-shaped section behind the head called a pronotum. Some people confuse them with beetles, but adult cockroaches have membranous wings and lack the thick, hardened forewings (elytra) of beetles. They are nocturnal and have a tendency to scatter when disturbed. Immature cockroaches (nymphs) look like adults, but are smaller and do not have wings.

Of the six common pest species, German and brownbanded cockroaches inhabit buildings, whereas the oriental, smokybrown, American, and Turkestan cockroaches usually live outdoors or in masonry enclosures away from buildings, only occasionally invading buildings themselves. It is important to correctly identify the species involved in a cockroach infestation so that the most effective control method(s) may be chosen. MANAGEMENT

Managing cockroaches is not easy. You must first determine where the roaches are located. The more hiding places you locate and manage, the more successful your control program will be. Remember that cockroaches are tropical and most like warm hiding places with access to water. Some locations may be difficult to get to. Reduction of food and water sources and hiding places is essential. If cockroaches have access to food, baits (which are a primary control tool) have limited effect. Sprays alone will not eliminate cockroaches. An IPM approach that integrates several strategies is usually required.

Use the IPM Approach
Change the situation that promotes cockroaches!

*Reduce food and water sources.
*Eliminate hiding places.
*Consider using baits.
*Use traps to monitor the population.

If you know the species of cockroach, you will be better able to determine where the source of infestation is and where to place traps, baits, or insecticides. Note locations of suspected infestations and concentrate control and preventive measures in these areas. The keys to controlling cockroaches are sanitation and exclusion: cockroaches are likely to reinvade as long as a habitat is suitable to them (i.e., food, water, and shelter are available), so the conditions that promoted the infestation must be changed. In addition to sanitation and exclusion, baits can be effective against most species of cockroaches. Pesticide spray products are registered for use on cockroaches and may temporarily suppress populations, but they usually do not provide long-term solutions and are not generally recommended.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH COCKROACHES

Cockroaches may become pests in homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, offices, and virtually in any structure that has food preparation or storage areas. They contaminate food and eating utensils, destroy fabric and paper products, and impart stains and unpleasant odors to surfaces they contact.
People are repulsed when they find cockroaches in their homes and kitchens. Cockroaches (especially the American cockroach, which comes into contact with human excrement in sewers or with pet droppings) may transmit bacteria that cause food poisoning (Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp.). German cockroaches are believed to be capable of transmitting disease-causing organisms such as Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., hepatitis virus, and coliform bacteria. They also have been implicated in the spread of typhoid and dysentery. Indoor infestations of cockroaches are an important source of allergens and risk for asthma among some populations. The levels of cockroaches and allergens are directly related to cockroach density, housing disrepair, and sanitary conditions.