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Many experts agree that cockroaches are the most ancient insects that exist today, as they were active back when the world consisted of a single continent known as Pangaea. It is believed that cockroaches emerged 320 million years ago, which means that the durable insects survived several extreme global events that resulted in the extinction of many other species. Considering this, it is no wonder cockroaches are widely regarded as one of the most successful insect groups, and many of the seemingly dubious rumors commonly told about roaches are true, including their ability to survive for a period of time without their head.
Today, more than 4,500 cockroach species have been documented, the vast majority of which are non-pest species that inhabit tropical regions. In the US, several cockroach species are indoor pests, the three most common of which are American, German and Oriental cockroaches. In Houston where the climate is conducive to cockroaches, smokybrown, Australian and Turkestan cockroaches are also common house pests, but they are not as difficult to control as the three species named above. While it is well known that cockroaches carry disease-causing microorganisms, and inhabit wall voids where they cannot be easily accessed, little is known about the indoor eating habits of cockroaches.
Cockroaches are in the habit of eating just about anything, including natural food sources outdoors and human food sources indoors, and their scavenging behavior allows cockroaches to thrive in just about any habitat. Cockroaches will eat anything organic, and they have a particular liking for meat. Cockroaches have the ability to smell cooked meat in houses, and small bits of meat that fall beneath kitchen appliances and furniture is quickly consumed by the pests. Although cockroaches prefer to feed on organic matter and human food sources, they also have a taste for starch, which is why they often eat starchy materials like bookbinding, cardboard boxes, and paper bags. It is not uncommon for cockroaches to eat through cardboard and paper bags to reach food, such as pizza boxes and grocery bags.
Unfortunately, cockroaches acquire numerous disease-causing microorganisms by consuming rotting organic matter such as excrement, animal carcases, rotting food, and decaying plant waste. It is because of their taste for excrement that American cockroaches thrive in sewer habitats. Cockroaches are considered a public health threat because they transport pathogens from these materials into homes, and any human food that has made contact with cockroaches is contaminated and should be discarded.
Have you ever found cockroaches in your pantry?