Are cockroaches mean?

Table of Contents

Only a few things can make an average adult shiver in fear like the sight of a cockroach scurrying along the floor in the daytime. The mere mention of “cockroach” can make a full-grown adult freeze in terror. In fact, the sight one may sometimes send the entire family running in different directions, including dad and mum.

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For their size, cockroaches are very fast and can run 3 miles in an hour. A dust-sized newborn cockroach runs as fast as its parents. Without food, cockroaches can live for up to 1 month, while without water, they can live for two weeks. Since they are omnivorous, many foods are appealing to them, such as sugar, protein, and fat. Female cockroaches and their offspring can produce up to 30,000 cockroaches a year.

As you read further in this article, we will consider several factors that could be responsible for this fear, and you’d be able to decide if cockroaches are indeed mean or we don’t just understand them.

 

 

 

Are cockroaches mean
Are cockroaches mean

Are Cockroaches Dangerous?

When many people come across cockroaches in their bedrooms, they instantly become frozen in fear like a horrible nightmare. This fear has been around for

Thousands of years and research has shown that even the ancient Egyptians had an incantation they chanted to keep this insect far away from them.

Come to think of it, are roaches as dangerous as people make them seem? No doubt, they are resilient creatures, as scientists have listed them as some of the animals that can survive during a nuclear war. A cockroach can live without a head for up to one week, and some species can even survive under extreme conditions such as sub-zero temperatures. Since cockroaches are small pests, they can easily hide in cracks and crevices.

Cockroaches have shared our civilization with us since as far back as most written records can tell. According to biologists, more than 55 known cockroaches species live in the United States and worldwide. The most common varieties that you will encounter in most American homes are the American species, German species, Oriental species, Smoky Brown species, and the Brown species. The Australian species are also found in some parts of the country.

Even though they carry bacterias and pathogens, they are not active vectors of diseases in the home like house flies that take pathogens from one house to another several kilometers away. Humans are more responsible for bringing most diseases into the home than these insects. This is due to our mobility and social culture of interacting with many other human beings daily. Unlike us, cockroaches live a less social life and stay in one home for many years as long as the climates remain conducive enough for them. However, if any member of the cockroach community brings home a disease pathogen, it will spread quickly.

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The Cockroaches found in a social climate where different people come to interact with each other daily (like in hospitals, schools, and public restaurants) are more dangerous than those living in residential apartments. This is because they can quickly carry a disease from one person and spread it to other people. Research has revealed that cockroaches can carry and transmit almost all known infectious diseases.

Furthermore, Cockroaches are a significant cause of asthma in children. Therefore parents shouldn’t expose their children to an environment where there are cockroaches. The serum proteins used to build cuticles in the cockroach body trigger cockroach-related asthma in children. When the cockroach pours this cuticle, it melts, and its pieces get deposited on the carpet in the house. This deposit is very dangerous, especially for crawling children. They may breathe in this antigen when they crawl on the mats and floor and may end up having an asthmatic reaction.

This antigen that is notorious for causing asthma in children is active in all the over 4,500 cockroach species that are in existence. Parents with young children should do everything possible to keep cockroaches away from their children.

Below is a table that shows the dangers of common house insects and their level of mobility

InsectMobility Diseases They Transmit 
CockroachCockroaches are more localized, this means except disease is brought into their territory by another organism, the risk of they being a vector to it is narrow. The common conditions that are carried and spread by cockroaches to humans include 
 
Salmonellosis
Staphylococcus infections, Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria,Typhoid fever and Gastroenteritis
Mosquito Mosquitoes are very mobile and social insects. They can travel for several miles, importing and exporting bacterias and pathogens. The common diseases that are carried and spread by mosquitoes include malaria (female Anopheles mosquitoes), chikungunya virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis. 
House FliesHouse Flies are mobile and social insects who have a special love for decaying matter. They can travel for several kilometers and carry diseases along with them. The house flies are known to be vectors to up to 65 different diseases which include Cholera
,Conjunctivitis, Dysentery, Gastroenteritis, Salmonellosis, Tuberculosis and Typhoid fever
Bed bugsBed bugs are local insects that mainly reside inside the infested bed and mattress. They are mostly carried from place to place by humans.Bed bugs are known to be carries and transmitters of Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) 
Ticks Ticks are local insects that attach themselves to the host’s body and are carried from one place to another by the host. They feed on the blood of their host.Ticks are known to be carriers of numerous diseases which includes Lyme disease, tick-borne meningoencephalitis, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, Q fever, the tick-borne spotted fevers, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, tularemia. 

 

In summary, these are the dangers of living with cockroaches.

Food Contamination- They crawl their way through decaying material, including dead plants, dead animals, droppings, hair, and other terrible things. Then they wandered over the leftover food in the kitchen. As if that is not enough, they make sure they leave behind their urine, feces, and empty eggshells.

Bacterial Pathogens – When cockroaches crawl over food in the kitchen, pour their vomit and saliva on them, infecting it with bacterias. This can lead to certain human illnesses, such as urinary tract infections, sepsis, and digestive problems. Evidence also shows that cockroaches are common carriers of typhoid fever and diarrhea.

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Bites: Cockroach bites are rare, but they can also occur when the parasites are in large numbers, and the available food cant satisfy them.

Ear and nose invasion – For many years, several reports of small cockroaches invaded the ears and noses of individuals while they were fast asleep.

Asthma- allergens on the body of roaches can cause allergic reactions, rash, watery eyes, and sneezing. Likewise, in the presence of the allergen, seizures may increase in asthmatics.

Do Cockroaches Bite?

People fear cockroaches for a different reason; some fear them because they are mostly associated with filth, and they deem it unhygienic. Some others fear it because of its close similarity with images of monsters they have registered in their minds, while others fear it because they believe it could sting them. Why do you fear them? Do they indeed bite? You’ll soon find out.

Roaches are very powerful creatures and can endure under extreme conditions. Thus, they can survive almost anywhere.

Cockroaches are omnivore by nature; they eat both plants and animals. They even eat unlikely things such as soap and shoes. When food is limited under extreme circumstances, cockroaches may turn into cannibals and begin to eat their weakest members.

Yes, they do bite humans. You may be surprised to hear that cockroaches can bite people. Cockroaches have been reported to bite hands, toes, eyebrows, and hairless skin. Cockroaches also eat dead skin cells. However, it is infrequent to be bitten by a cockroach.

By nature, cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, which means they are only active at night when we are fast asleep. This is why most reported cases occurred in the night when the victims are unconscious of his or her surrounding.
were and fingers

The apparent reason cockroaches prefer these parts of the body is because leftovers from food are usually deposited there on those parts.

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What do Cockroach Bites Look Like?

The easiest way to determine if the bite on your body was from a cockroach is to catch it doing the act; otherwise, it bears so much similarity with bed bug bite and other insects. However, since cockroaches are more active at night, you were probably fast asleep while they were busy feasting on your body.

As stated earlier, Cockroach bites bear a lot of similarities with bug bites in terms of the shape and size of the bite area. However, it is usually red, and about 1 to 4 mm wide. There is a small difference in the appearance, but a cockroach bite is slightly larger than a bug’s bites. Also, cockroach bites appear one after the other with large spaces between them, unlike bed bugs usually found in a cluster.

According to data released by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, these skin reactions can be mistaken for insect bites. Cockroach allergies are not as rare as you might think. According to the late Walter Ebeling, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, several studies have shown that skin reactions to cockroach extracts are common in 7.5 percent of regular participants and 28 percent of known people with skin allergies.

Like in other insect bites, cockroach bites cause the skin to react with swelling and itching. In some rare cases of a cockroach bite, the area will become inflamed and filled with pus.

Here are two major cockroach species that are common in homes and guilty of biting people.

German Cockroach

The German cockroach is known to be one of the more common cockroach species that live with humans in their homes worldwide. Their diet majorly consists of sweet and starchy foods, and they rarely bite people. However, they do bite when they have to.

Under conditions of infestation, the number of cockroach multiplies, and if there is no enough food available for them, they end up looking to other unlikely sources for survival. It is only under this condition that German cockroaches are known to bite humans.

Note that when German cockroaches people, it is usually to eat the food deposit left on the body after a meal, and those are the parts they attack.

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American Cockroach

Other common species of cockroach that is found all over the world are the American species. They often feed on dead animals and fermented foods. Like the German species, the American cockroaches only turn on their human host when there is a case of an infestation in the home, and food is in short supply.

Are Cockroach Bites Dangerous?

Earlier in this article, we saw that cockroaches are vectors of bacteria and pathogens. However, their bites are not poisonous.

Compared with the bites of other insects like mosquito, their cockroach bites are not dangerous. They do not spread disease through a bite. Yes, they carry various bacteria, germ, and pathogens in their bodies and spread Salmonella and other diseases through their feces, vomit, etc. These diseases can spread through open wound infection or inhalation.

If it is not Cockroach Bite, then What Could it be
Insect bites in the home fall into only a few categories. They sometimes look alike, and though there is some discrepancy in the bites’ appearance, it is often difficult to distinguish the bites of these insects.

How to Treat Cockroach Bites

Now you are saying, Too late to follow the precaution; I already got bitten by a cockroach, what should I do?
The best first aid treatment for a cockroach bite is the same as you would do when you are bit by other insects. Wash the area and apply an ointment. This will help to protect the spot from swelling and getting infected.

The best treatment for the cockroach bite is to wash with warm and soapy water. Doing this will help you eliminate any bacteria left by the cockroaches and reduce the likelihood of an infection.

Sometime the spot may get swollen very quickly, even before you wash it. In this case, you can get an ice pack and place it on the site where the bite happened. This will help you reduce the itching. Antihistamine drug is known to work well in helping to stop the pain and itchiness.

Home Remedies for Cockroach Bites

Some other home remedies are quite useful for treating cockroach bites, including Aloe Vera, teabag, and lemon juice.

These home remedies help to reduce the swelling and itchiness. In particular, Lemon is rich with citric acid, which will instantly eliminate any bacteria on the surface of the skin.

Why Do Cockroaches Bite?

Earlier on in this article, we discussed the reason behind cockroach bites. Cockroach hardly bites living people; they only feast on corpses. When you begin to experience cockroach bite, then it means your house is mostly infested.

This is because they only resort to biting people under a condition of extreme incursions when the cockroach population becomes too large, and food becomes limited. In most cases, cockroaches do not bite people when there are other food sources, such as garbage cans or open food. If the number of cockroaches remains uncontrolled, and they outgrow their regular food supply. Once the food is limited, cockroaches will be forced to obtain more food and things they usually don’t eat.

Cockroaches Attack Ship Passengers

The most severe cases of cockroach bites that are known happen on ships. Several documented reports from sailors and ship passengers revealed the instances of extreme cockroach attacks on humans. Many people have reported how cockroaches bit off their skin and nails. Some sailors have developed methods for protecting their fingers by wearing a glove.

This type of attack happens because the Foods in ships properly store, and since cockroaches cannot get access to them, they turn to attack humans.

Just because you know that cockroach bites are unusual doesn’t mean you have to put up with this inconvenience in your home. Cockroach invasion is not funny a funny experience.

However, unlike fleas and mosquitoes, cockroaches do not depend on humans to complete their life cycle. That is, you do not need to feed on us to survive. It is extremely rare for cockroaches to bite a human. It usually consists of eyebrows, fingertips, and dead skin. In many cases, when it comes to feeding people, it is generally about human corpses.

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How to get rid of Cockroach Bites

As the well-known saying goes: prevention is always better than cure. The best way to treat a cockroach bite is not to allow it to happen at all in the first place. You can achieve this by understanding what attracts them into a home and how you can completely shut them out of your house.

The right environment for grooming cockroaches is warm. As long as the place is damp and narrow enough to provide them with cover, cockroaches will find their way there. This makes your leaking pipes and water channels the ideal place for them. They also need food to survive; if you leave your trash cans open, they will find a haven three. In short, if you want to keep cockroaches out of your house, keep your environment tidy and repair any leakage in your water channels.

Cockroaches love to live close to wherever there is proximity to food. For this reason, they prefer the kitchen and anywhere foodstuffs are stored.
Some people suffer from an allergic reaction whenever their skin makes contact with a cockroach. They suddenly experience rash and skin irritation on the spot. In case you fall into that category, contact your physician for medical guidance.

Are Cockroaches Truly Mean?

Coming back to our initial question, are cockroaches mean, or we don’t just understand them? Well, a few points we can learn from this article is that they genuinely bite humans, but when they do, they are not doing it for the sake of attack but the sake of survival. Under an environmental condition where they have access to all their primary need, they will prefer to keep away from human beings and maintain a solitary lifestyle.

Due to their love for filth and the fact that they feed on dead and decaying matter, cockroaches are reservoirs of many pathogens and bacteria. Some of these include staphylococcus, salmonella streptococcus. In short, they can harbor almost every disease that can harm humans, including poliovirus.

Their feeding pattern and choice are very similar to that of the house fly, so they eat fecal matter and food spills. Their digestive system is a haven to ingested bacteria as they can live comfortably in them for up to one year and even longer than that. Most times, the cockroaches end up passing out these bacterias in their excreta. This is why it is dangerous to leave food open and have cockroaches go over it. This is how they mostly transmit the disease to humans.

A pregnant cockroach will end up laying up to 40 eggs per time, and each of these cockroaches can do this up to 30 times in her lifetime. The average cockroach lifespan is 12 months, and their young looks exactly like the older ones except that they have no wings. Their preference for a humid environment is because they are cold-blooded.

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.