Why this strange title for a blog you wonder? Well, Darth Vader has super mystical powers and is a very strong villain who proved difficult to kill; for me he's the ultimate bad guy. This is much like the cockroach that we find infesting our kitchens. It may surprise people that cockroaches can survive without their heads, yes its true and not some urban myth made up by someone down the pub. 
The cockroach like all other insects does not have a set of lungs like those found in mammals, insects ‘breathe’ through a network of tubes called spiracles that run in and out of the body which diffuse gases, so that’s respiration without the need for a head sorted out for our cockroach. 
But what about bleeding to death? Cockroaches have that all sorted as well; they have an open circulatory system unlike ours where the blood is contained within arteries and veins and so blood pressure in the cockroach is much lower, they have the ability for blood clotting so cutting its head off will not cause a massive blood loss either. 
But surely the head contains the insect’s brains, how can anything live without a brain? I’m not sure every living thing needs a brain to survive, our political system is full of creatures that do not possess a brain after all! 
Cockroaches have a wide distribution of nerve tissue spread around the different body sections and these are all capable of performing basic functions like respiration, so without its head it can still breathe, and continue to function until it starves to death. 
Even its head, separated from the body continues to live for a period – these insects truly belong to the Dark Side! 
Another power that cockroaches are developing is resistance to the insecticides that we use in their control; the most common species found in the UK is the German cockroach and these are becoming immune to the poisons that we use. Their offspring are born with this genetic resistance along with a small level of resistance to other chemicals that their parents have never been exposed to. 
Research has been carried out in the US and the findings are scary; when exposed to different types of chemicals it was found that over a six-month period the treatment failed to eradicate the entire population. Cockroaches live on average for around 150 to 200 days and are sexually mature after 50 days, the female only needs to mate once as she retains sperm from the male, during her lifetime she will go on to produce around 400 egg’s. 
Cockroaches produce a protective case to hold their newly formed eggs and this is called an ootheca; this is carried on her abdomen and will be deposited somewhere safe; 24 hours after becoming detached around 35 to 45 young roaches called nymphs emerge. 
One pregnant cockroach which finds its way into your home can build a whole colony and in her lifespan she will produce around seven egg cases which means when we play the numbers game, she will be the matriarch to a population of around 3500 cockroaches! 
How do you know if you’ve got a cockroach problem? You may see one running across a surface even if its on the ceiling, and, if you do then you need get on the case as things are going to get worse – and quickly. 
Cockroaches defecate everywhere and their droppings look like small black dots similar in size to a poppy seed and these will be found in corners and beneath objects that seldom get moved in the kitchen; like the fridge. Don’t leave these lying around as the droppings contain proteins which get released as it dries out, when airborne these proteins can trigger asthma attacks and bring on diarrhea. The more droppings you find the greater the numbers of cockroaches you have. 
Cockroaches also smell and you can pick up their body odour where they congregate; they use chemicals to communicate with each other and these are called cuticular hydrocarbons, we detect these hydrocarbons as a foul, musky smell. 
As cockroaches grow they go through several nymph stages and they moult, shedding their outer skin and these can sometimes be found discarded on the floor. Often they will be eaten by other cockroaches as they are made of protein – a white cockroach is one that has just shed and the new shell has yet to harden and change colour. 
So we’ve got the obvious signs – smells, droppings and discarded skins but illness could also be a sign; as well as triggering the allergies we talked about cockroaches also carry bacteria that cause stomach problems, cholera and even polio. These are spread from their droppings, saliva and vomit so hygiene is the most important factor in preventing cockroaches.  
Cockroaches can eat contaminated food sources without suffering any ill effects; the contamination is passes on through their bodily secretions and this is how we pick up these illnesses. 
So what’s the best way to get rid of cockroaches? The obvious answer is hygiene; clean the kitchen and areas like bathrooms where there’s a water supply, remove any debris from areas like beneath kitchen cupboards to reduce their food supply; this will be important as we use poison gels as a bait and we want them to feed on this. 
Throw out any open food packets; don’t risk eating items that may have been contaminated by the cockroaches and purchase airtight containers to store the replacement food stuffs. 
Use a professional pest controller who will use a variety of chemicals and methods to get control of the situation: we use gel baits, traps, surface sprays and chemical fogs to kill off the insects. A new non-toxic treatment causes external immobilisation of the insects and takes effect instantly, this can be used around other chemicals and allows us another method for control. 
If you live in Reading or anywhere across Berkshire we can help you bring any cockroach problem under control; don’t make the mistake of leaving them or trying over the counter products as the longer and bigger the problem the greater the risk to your health. 
If you run a business that is involved with food: handling, cooking, storing or selling then your best course of action is to have a regular monitoring contract with us where we will set traps for cockroaches to help early identification and ultimately control.  
The risk of not have a contract is that in the event that the Environmental Health Department inspect your premises and find problems with cockroaches and even rodents, you’ll be closed and banned from trading until a pest control company announces your clear and that will take several weeks.  
Alongside this you will be taken to Court and fined and suffer the loss of customer confidence meaning that your business will suffer for a long time. 
Five facts about cockroaches - you never know when one of these might come up in a pub quiz! 
1. A cockroach can hold its breathe for 40 minutes, holding their breathe helps regulate water loss and they can go a month without drinking. 
2. They can run at speeds of 3 miles per hours which is also our moderate walking rate. The same equivalent based on size for size to us would be 200 miles per hours. 
3. A one day old cockroach can run as fast as its parents. 
4. Cockroaches can squeeze through tiny gaps by flattening their exoskeletons and pushing their legs out to the side - National Geographic 
5. Cockroaches are thigmotropic; they like to be touched on all sides and love being tight places like cracks and crevice's. 
Tagged as: Cockroaches
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