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 FLORIDA ROACHES
A source for information on roaches

German Roach     Blatella germanica

Appearance:
German roaches are tan to light brown in color. The head shield, or pronotum, has two dark stripes that run lengthwise from the head to the wings. Adults are fully winged but rarely fly.

Size:
Adults are approximately ½-inch in length.

Behavior:
As with other species, German cockroaches are mostly active at night, when they forage
for food, water and potential mates. During the day they hide in cracks and crevices and other dark sites that provide a warm, humid environment. Their wide, flat bodies enable them to move in and out of cracks and narrow spaces easily. They may be seen during the daytime, especially if there is a large population present, a lack of food, or other stressor.

German cockroaches produce a larger number of eggs per capsule and they undergo the shortest time from hatching to maturity. They produce more eggs per capsule than most other species and have a developmental period as short as 2 months. Thus, troublesome infestations can develop rapidly from a few individuals. They are scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods such as starches, sweets, grease and meats; in some cases garbage is a principal food source.

It should be noted that their persistence and control can be difficult due to the fact that German roaches are smaller than other roaches and therefore can conceal themselves in many places that are inaccessible to individuals of larger species.

Habitat:
The German cockroach is found throughout the world in association with humans. They are unable to survive in locations away from humans or human activity. They thrive in all types of buildings, but are commonly found in homes, apartments, condos and commercial food establishments. They often enter homes by ‘hitch hiking’ on food and drink containers, grocery sacks, potatoes, onions, and even furniture that are carried into the home.

During the day, these roaches may be found in clusters, hiding behind baseboard molding, in cracks around cabinets, closets or pantries, and in and under stoves, refrigerators and dish washers. If clusters of roaches are seen during the day, it is often the sign of a large population. They prefer areas near food, moisture, and a high degree of warmth.

Medical/Economic Significance:
Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, and other illnesses) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by German cockroaches.

Because they tend to frequent garbage cans, sewers and other disease-laden locations, germs attach to their body and legs that can transfer to food contact surfaces (utensils, plates) during the normal course of roach activities. These include disease-causing bacteria: Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, Streptococcus (pneumonia), several helminths (hookwoorm, pinworms, tapeworms), and even viruses (poliomyelitis).

They can also produce a powerful allergen that causes allergies and asthma, as well as odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of various foods. When German cockroach populations are high, these secretions may result in a characterisitic odor in the general region of the infestation. Some scientists suggest that German cockroach infestations may cause human psychological stress and that the stigma associated with infestations alters human behavior.

Diet:

Scavenger; eats almost anything.

Reproduction:

Females can produce one egg capsule every 20 to 25 days. Each capsule contains from 18 to 48 eggs. Newborns become adults in as little as 36 days. Adults can live up to one year.

Interesting Facts:
German roaches often litter food or food products with their feces and defensive secretions. They also physically transport and often harbor pathogenic organisms, and in some cases may cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, some scientists suggest that German cockroach infestations may cause human psychological stress and that the stigma associated with infestations alters human behavior.


Control:
German roaches can move from one building to the next during the summer, entering through cracks in foundations, around loose-fitting doors or windows, and along water and gas pipes. Repair leaky water faucets and pipes. Seal openings such as cracks in foundation walls, exterior walls around air conditioners, doors, windows, floors, ceilings, around plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, baseboards, etc. with putty, plastic wood or other caulking material.

Sanitation is critical in roach control (Unclean living conditions from neglected housekeeping is the major contributing factor of roach infestations). Keep areas beneath sinks, stoves, refrigerators, etc. clean as well as cupboards, pantry shelves and food storage bins. Clean up spilled foods and liquids.

Avoid leaving scraps of food on unwashed dishes and countertops overnight. Keep food in tightly sealed containers and transfer garbage outdoors into tight-fitted receptacles away from the house. Leftover pet food should not remain in the feeding dish overnight.

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