“Nobody likes cockroaches and nobody should,” says Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.
“When the weather turns warm, cockroaches, like other insect pest species, thrive. All insect species are responsive to temperature changes and warmer months trigger their populations,” says Douglen. “The cockroach, however, thrives wherever they find food, water, and a warm place to live. That is a description of every structure where humans live or gather.” And they will eat almost anything.
“There are many reasons beyond the obvious ones for the need to control cockroach populations,” Douglen says, noting that though meticulous about their own grooming, cockroaches transmit a variety of diseases to humans. These include Salmonella, Gastroenteritis, Leprosy, Dysentery, and Typhoid fever, among others.
Both living and dead cockroaches pose a problem for people suffering from Asthma. The desiccated exoskeletons of cockroaches become an irritating “dust.” Studies have shown that, particularly in urban areas, any presence of cockroaches raises the distress levels of those who have Asthma.
Public sanitation is a relatively modern concept. Before then insect pests spread diseases among populations, often causing epidemics. There are still parts of the world where the failure to introduce public sanitation measures results in higher rates of death. “Americans devote a lot of time to keeping their homes clean, but the sheer volume of insect pests is such that professional pest management is essential,” said Douglen.
New Jersey, as is the case nationwide, has a wide range of laws to ensure that restaurants, hotels and motels, hospitals, schools and supermarkets, among other places open to public use, requires constant pest management standards be met.
Douglen advises “If you see a cockroach in a restaurant or anywhere else, pick up the phone to the local health department. At all levels of government in New Jersey there are laws intended to keep public facilities pest-free.”
There are a variety of cockroach species indigenous to the United States. They include the American, German, and Oriental cockroach. A cockroach infestation can number in the hundreds of thousands.
A single, female German cockroach can, statistically, produce more than 400,000 descendents in a single year.
The young of German cockroaches mature in 36 days, while American cockroaches take up to 160 days.
“If you see a cockroach in your home or apartment,” said Douglen, “the odds are that you have many more in areas where you cannot see them. Simply spraying the one you see will not make the problem go away.”
Newborn cockroaches can hide in a crevice one half of a millimeter wide, as narrow as a thin piece of paper. Adult cockroaches can fit into a crack thinner than a dime.