No one wants to see a cockroach scurry across the kitchen floor or countertops. The mere thought of these pests is often enough to make a person’s skin crawl. But the truth is, unlike other pests that bite or sting, the cockroach itself is not dangerous to humans directly through bites or venom transfer. However, the roach is still often considered one of the most dangerous pests a home or business can have. The cockroach’s ability to spread dangerous bacteria, parasites, and allergens can be far more dangerous to your family, friends, and customers.
- Unlike bees that sting or spiders that bite, roaches, such as the German cockroach, can be dangerous without ever coming into direct contact with your skin.
- Cockroaches have a bite force 50 times their body weight, but you are not likely to feel more than a mild pinch and experience a small welt unless you have allergies.
- As far as direct contact, cockroaches are more likely to scratch you than bite you.
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of a cockroach infestation and keep your family and customers safe.
Why are cockroaches dangerous?
When you see a bee or wasp, you know there is a risk of getting stung. When you find a black widow spider in your wood pile, you are aware of the fact that you could get bit. However, when you see a cockroach scurry across the floor, your skin may crawl, but you aren’t likely to think about a physical injury or illness. They are just creepy bugs, right? Wrong! The fact is, in many ways, cockroaches, like the Oriental cockroach, can be more dangerous than other stinging and biting insects.
Do cockroaches bite?
Cockroaches deliver a powerful bite that allows them to chew through many different materials. In fact, researchers show that a cockroach bite and bite strength based on body weight, when compared to humans, is actually five times more powerful. However, they rarely bite humans and, when they do, the bite feels like a small pinch and may or may not leave behind a small red welt. However, if you have allergies, they can also trigger other symptoms, including rashes.
Are cockroaches poisonous?
Unlike spiders, such as the black widow, which can transfer venom to their prey, cockroaches are not venomous or poisonous. In other words, cockroaches do not have the ability to directly transfer a toxin to humans. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make you very, very ill.
What harm can cockroaches do to humans?
As we have shown, it is impossible for a cockroach to infect humans DIRECTLY. However, what makes them so dangerous is their ability to spread bacteria, viruses, allergens, fungi, and much more indirectly to humans. Cockroaches contaminate your food and surfaces, such as countertops, when they scurry across a surface and spread these microorganisms. Through contact with surfaces and food, cockroaches can quickly spread:
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Poliomyelitis virus
- Allergens that trigger an asthma attack and other cockroach allergies
- Typhoid fever
- Food poisoning
What happens if a cockroach touches you?
While there is a possibility that a cockroach might bite you, the truth is you are more likely to get sick if a cockroach simply walks across your skin. Cockroaches have spines on their legs that can scratch your skin. Because they carry bacteria and viruses on their body, a scratch can easily become infected. Even if they don’t scratch you, simply walking across the surface of your skin can transfer bacteria and viruses.
How to identify a cockroach infestation
Even if you haven’t seen a cockroach, there may be early signs that you have an infestation brewing. These signs can include:
- Developing new allergies: If you notice you are experiencing new allergies or maybe having allergy symptoms in a specific area of your home or business, there could be cockroaches.
- Unusual smells: If you notice a new oily or musty scent, it can be a sign of cockroaches.
- Odd smears along the walls: When cockroaches scurry along the walls of your home or business, they often smear a reddish-brown material on the wall. These stains are often difficult to remove but are a significant sign of cockroach activity.
- Skin shedding: Unlike humans, cockroaches do not have bones but rather an outer exoskeleton. As they grow, the hard exoskeleton sheds. These are often found in dark, moist areas in the home or business.
Presence of cockroaches
If you see a single cockroach in your home or business, you can probably assume there are many more, if not hundreds, that you can’t see. This is especially true if you see a cockroach coming out during that day. As nocturnal creatures, they venture out at night. If you see them coming out during the day, chances are you have a very large nest, and the cockroach is searching for more room to call home.
Droppings and egg cases
Cockroach droppings, or feces, can look like ground pepper, coffee grounds, or dark grains of rice depending on the size of the cockroach. While a cockroach can poop anywhere, you are more likely to see droppings in an area near their nesting or feeding locations.
Female cockroaches produce egg cases, known as oothecae. Unique to each species, oothecae are smaller than a centimeter and look like small beans or seeds. They are generally black, brown, or red in color with a bumpy ridge along one side. Cockroaches place their egg cases in areas unlikely to be disturbed but still close to the nesting and feeding areas, such as inside kitchen counter framing, under appliances, in the back of cupboards, behind baseboards, and in trash cans, for example.
Prevention and control measures
In order to avoid a cockroach infestation, it is important to remove any potential sources of food or water, as well as eliminate potential sources of entry into your home or business. Some effective steps can include:
- Cleaning kitchen surfaces after cooking and eating. Wipe down counters, tables, and stovetops while also ensuring food is put away.
- Keep food in one location. For example, all boxed or canned food should be kept in a pantry or cupboard that is sealed. Keep food sources for pets, such as bowls of food, picked up and away when pets are not eating.
- Keep garbage in sealed containers and take it out of the home regularly.
- Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink, on the countertop, or in the dishwater. Wash dishes immediately after use.
- Fix any leaks in the home or business, such as pipes, toilets, and even rook leaks. Cockroaches look for water sources and these can provide just what they need.
- Keep humidity low. Dry, damp areas attract cockroaches, so be sure to use a bathroom fan when showering or install a dehumidifier in order to reduce moisture.
- Seal any cracks or crevices throughout the home. Cockroaches can get through even the smallest of spaces, so do not assume a crack is too small.
Cockroaches pose many hazards to your home or business
While you don’t have to worry about bites or dangerous venom when it comes to cockroaches, what you can’t see or expect can be far more dangerous when it comes to these pests. If you see early signs of an infestation, even if it is a single cockroach, it is time to call a professional cockroach control company and exterminator to eliminate this dangerous threat to your family or business.
Say goodbye to cockroaches once and for all
Whether you have noticed an odd smell in your home, are finding yourself breaking out in hives at work, or actually saw a cockroach scurrying across your kitchen counter this morning when making your first cup of coffee, the team at Insight Pest Management can help! Our expert technicians and pest control services can identify your infestation, create an individualized treatment plan, and send the cockroaches packing! In addition, they will help ensure that these dangerous pests never come back. To learn more, request a free quote today.