German Cockroach

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German cockroaches are the most common species of pest cockroach in the world. Their prevalence largely stems from their ability to produce more eggs and develop more rapidly than other cockroach species.

Fast Facts

Color They range in color from light brown or honey brown to tan, with females appearing darker than males.
Size Adults are only about 1/2-5/8″ long and can fit into cracks and crevices as narrow as 3/16″.
Appearance In addition to its small size, it is characterized by a pair of dark stripes that run parallel to each other down its back. They boast fully developed wings, which they use to glide through the air for short distances on rare occasions. Females possess a broader abdominal section than males and thus appear larger.

Diet

German cockroaches scavenge for food and demonstrate particular fondness for starchy or sugary items, grease, and meats. In addition to foods found in the kitchen, their diet often includes household items such as glue, soap, toothpaste, or garbage.

Habitat

German cockroaches prefer wet, humid conditions and are typically found in or around kitchen cabinets, dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves and sinks in homes and commercial properties. They frequently gain entry into residential and commercial structures by hitching rides in cardboard boxes, grocery bags, drink containers, and secondhand furniture or appliances.

German cockroach with ootheca case.
German cockroach with ootheca case.

Life Cycle

Egg
The life cycle begins with the production of eggs, which the female carries in a purse-shaped capsule (ootheca) that protrudes from the abdomen. Each capsule holds 30 to 40 eggs and requires an incubation period of 14 to 35 days.

Nymph
Just before the eggs hatch, the female leaves the capsule in a crevice or similarly protected area. After hatching, newborn German cockroaches enter the nymph stage of the life cycle and develop into adults by molting six or seven times over the course of about 12 weeks.

Adult
Adults live for an additional three to seven months and produce as many as six generations of offspring during that time.

Signs of Infestation

  • May notice a foul odor given off by large infestations. In fact, experienced pest control professionals can frequently smell an infestation before seeing any physical evidence of one.
  • Look for excrement, skin casts and empty egg capsules in crevices close to the ground.
  • Examine basements, crawlspaces, sinks, and bathtubs for leaky pipes and fecal smears.
  • Check electrical areas, boiler rooms, and kitchens for live cockroaches, skin casts and feces.
  • Witnessing German cockroach activity during the day is often another sign of infestation, as the insects are typically most active at night and emerge at other times only in response to extraordinary circumstances like the existence of a large number of cockroaches in a highly concentrated area.

Damage

Contaminate Food

The odorous secretions given off by the insects contaminate any food supply from which the insect feeds.

Carry Bacteria

Due to the unsanitary environments that the insects typically live in or pass through, the secondhand germs and bacteria can cause medical issues like food poisoning or diarrhea in humans.

Contain Allergens

The insect’s excrement and skin casings contain allergens which may cause affected individuals to contract skin rashes, experience congestion and become watery-eyed and sneezy. Children remain most susceptible to the asthmatic effects of cockroach allergens.

Asthma

Cockroaches contribute to the development and irritation of asthma.

Property Damage

Lastly, as many species of cockroaches prefer warm and dry or moist environments, the insects may cause damage to machines or piping.

Odor

Furthermore, the pests emit secretions that produce an unpleasant, lingering odor and can compromise the taste of food.

Prevention & Control

German Cockroach Prevention

To prevent a German cockroach infestation, home and business owners must eliminate sources of food and moisture. Simply practicing good sanitation habits can reduce or eliminate some of the most common food sources for cockroaches such as:

  • Cleaning up spills
  • Sweeping up crumbs
  • Washing dirty dishes
  • Vacuum often
  • Emptying the trash daily

Other prevention tips involve:

  • Elimination of potential access points by caulking cracks and crevices
  • Sealing the openings around pipes
  • Keeping crawlspaces properly ventilated helps remove the moisture the insects need to survive
  • Inspecting incoming packages for German cockroaches prior to bringing the items inside
German Cockroach Control

Successfully removing German cockroaches from the home can quickly become an overwhelming challenge due to the reproductive abilities of the insects. German cockroaches produce more eggs per egg capsule and complete the life cycle faster than other pest cockroach species. Furthermore, new egg capsules begin forming only a couple weeks after females deposit the incubated ones for hatching.

While sprays and foggers are readily available at many retailers, they may actually make the infestation worse by causing the insects to scatter rather than die. Implementing baits often requires specialized equipment along with knowledge of cockroach behavior and tendencies. Licensed pest control professionals have access to the quickest and most effective methods of cockroach removal and have experience in eliminating the notoriously elusive and rapidly reproducing insects.

If a German cockroach infestation occurs, count on a professional pest management service to take care of the problem knowledgeably and successfully.