Cockroaches belong to the insect order ‘Blattodea’. There are over 4000 species of cockroaches worldwide, however, only a few species are considered major pests within Australia. Cockroaches are known to be ‘virtually indestructible’, but also for their vast distribution. Their very close association with humans and pets, and their potential to carry disease and transmit illness also make them a much-feared pest the across the world.
Cockroaches often prefer a sheltered environment with food and water – which, if there is an abundance of, can result in a large cockroach infestation rather quickly. Cockroaches are not fussy eaters and will eat virtually anything available including: animal or vegetable materials, paper, fabric, leather, starches, and grease particles.
Generally nocturnal, cockroaches may also be observed during the day where are a large infestation is present. Cockroaches congregate together and can be seen frequently grooming themselves. The faeces of some species of cockroach contain a pheromone used to signal to other cockroaches. These cockroaches press or smear their faeces onto surfaces to mark feeding and aggregation sites.
Cockroach eggs are enclosed in a purse-shaped egg case, which may be carried, dropped or glued to a surface. When hatched, the nymphs congregate with adult cockroaches and mature after a number of moults. The number of nymphal moults, time taken for maturation and the adult lifespan depends on the species of cockroach.
Major pest species of cockroaches include:
- German cockroach (Blatella germanica)
- American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)
- Australian cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)
- Smokybrown cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa)
- Brownbanded cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
- Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)