Are Cockroaches Harmful?

When most of us think about cockroaches, we envision the insects swarming together in unsanitary places like sewers and garbage cans. They then move into homes and carry in the dangerous diseases they have picked up along the way. Although some bugs have an unfair reputation, cockroaches are harmful insects and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your family or pets.

Basics of Cockroaches

Cockroach extermination services in Charlotte.

Alarmingly enough, there have been over 3,500 species of cockroaches identified. Most are unable to fly, but they do have the ability to move extremely fast across surfaces. Cockroaches are brown or black in color and vary in length. Some full-grown roaches are only 2 mm long while others can grow up to 80 mm. According to the World Health Organization, the most common cockroaches are the American cockroach, Australian cockroach, German cockroach, and Oriental cockroach.

Cockroaches live in groups and feel very comfortable residing in close proximity to humans. They can go undetected in homes for long periods of time due to their habits. Roaches are most active at night and during the day will hide in spots such as cracks and crevices in walls and furniture. When the lights are turned off, roaches will crawl all over tables, countertops, sinks, and floors. When the lights go back on, their survival instincts kick in and they’ll immediately head towards shelter.

Cockroaches are omnivores, which means they’ll eat just about anything. Scarily enough, their ravenous appetites mean they have been known to eat the flesh of both the living and the dead. If roaches do bite, they are most likely to target certain areas of the body including the fingernails, eyelashes, feet and hands. In most cases, roaches won’t bite unless their food supplies become limited. This can occur if the population increases but the roaches are unable to access food in cabinets, countertops or uncovered garbage cans.

Contamination Concerns

Cockroaches causes disease in Charlotte homes.One of the reasons cockroaches are considered harmful is because of their unsavory dietary habits. Roaches eat dead skin, dead animal flesh, and spoiled food. As they defecate around homes and businesses, they may pass on contaminants. Roaches can even leave droppings directly on food that you may consume. Dead skin cells, pieces of shells and egg casings can all end up on food left out in the presence of roaches. If food is contaminated by cockroaches and later consumed by a person, food poisoning may occur. Symptoms reported include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.

Roaches can pass on other diseases through their droppings, too. Serious diseases linked to roaches from cross-contamination include typhoid fever, dysentery, leprosy and cholera.

Staph and Strep Infections

There are some forms of bacteria roaches will carry if they come into direct contact. Although most bacteria are harmless, there are bacteria that can lead to serious infections. For instance, Staphylococcus aureus has been linked to roaches and can cause minor problems in humans like boils, but also serious issues such as infections of the lungs and heart. Strep infections can also be caused by primary or secondary contact with cockroaches.

Allergies and Asthma

Of all pests that live indoors, cockroaches are the most likely to cause problems for allergy sufferers. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences warns against allergens found not only in roach saliva, but also from their shells and droppings. Allergy signs include itchy, watery and irritated eyes and frequent sneezing. Your skin could also breakout in rashes if you’re allergic to roaches. Aside from cockroaches, mice also produce allergens that can also bring on asthma attacks and their allergens are found in 82% of American homes.

Both cockroaches and mice can cause significant allergy and asthma problems. According to Pestworld.ORG’s article, “First Responder’ PSA Highlights Health Risks Posed by Pests”:

  • 63% of American homes contain allergens from cockroaches. That number increases to as many as 78% to 98% of homes in urban areas.
  • Mice also spread potent asthma triggers, found in 82% of homes.
  • Nearly 25 million Americans suffer from asthma.
  • 60% of asthma cases are “allergic-asthma.”
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children.

People who have chronic asthma are susceptible to these triggers and their homes must be as allergen-free as possible. Asthma attacks are more common in households with roach infestations. During an asthma attack, you may cough, feel tightness in your throat and chest, and find it difficult to breathe. The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, and in some cases, asthma attacks can prove life threatening. Children are vulnerable, as are those living in inner cities where pest- specifically cockroach- concentrations can be high.

How to Handle Cockroaches in Your Home

dead cockroach in Charlotte home

Although it’s not true that roaches would survive a nuclear blast, the bugs are persistent critters. Despite thoroughly cleaning your home or business, roaches may still remain on the property. Professional cockroach control is the only surefire way to get rid of cockroaches effectively.

If you have a roach infestation in Charlotte, Carolina Pest Control has you covered. With over 75 years in the pest management industry, you can rest assured we will resolve a cockroach problem quickly and efficiently. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

By Kristin Dodd

Kristin Dodd, the President of Carolina Pest Management, has been with the company full-time for over 20 years, but has been a part of the family-owned business for much longer. She is currently an active board member of the North Carolina Pest Management Association, and was the President from 2010-2011. She is a licensed operator in...

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