The uncommon cockroach. Why do I call it that? Well, it’s not because they’re a rarity that’s for sure! In fact, as Britannica.Com tells us, the ‘Roach is any of about 4,600 species of insects that are among the most primitive living winged insects. They appear today much as they do in 320-million-year-old fossils. They’ve been around way before we ever were and will be if ever we’re on this planet no longer. I like this quote from pop icon Cher – it says it well:
‘Someone once said that the only thing that will be left after a nuclear holocaust is Cher and cockroaches.” I think that’s funny, because, you know, I am a survivor. If I am anything, that’s what I am.’
I think of the cockroach as uncommon for that reason and more. Ifrats are hard to love then cockroaches are impossible not to loathe. They’re no-one’s idea of a loveable bug – indeed the term cockroach is sometimes used to describe a loathsome person.
This BBC future’s article explains how ancient our fear of, and distaste for, these creatures is. The ancient Egyptians made spells begging the ram-headed god, Khnum, to banish the beggars. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote about how disgusting they were. It appears that, by the 19th Century, a handful of cockroach species had carved themselves a niche as pests and pretty much achieved global domination.
Nothing common about any of that eh?
Recognising a cockroach
The word cockroach is a corruption of the Spanish cucaracha. A flattened oval body characterizes the cockroach. Along with long threadlike antennae and a shining black or brown leathery integument – a tough outer protective layer to you and me.
Its head bends downwards and its mouthparts point backwards instead of forward or downward like most insects. The male of the species tends to have two pairs of wings. The females though are sometimes wingless or have vestigial wings – that’s wings that are crumpled and prevent proper flight.
Cockroach fun facts
Cockroaches first appeared in the Paleozic era some 400 million years ago. And they’ve not changed much since then. No doubt they’ve stood the test of time because they can survive floods, droughts and fire.
If they’re hungry enough they’ll eat most anything – even stuff we can’t eat. Starch-based paints, wallpaper paste, envelope glue and bars of soap. That’s cockroach à la carte!
They can hold their breath for up to forty minutes and can run about fifty-nine inches per second. In relative speed that’s three times as fast as a cheetah!
How common is the cockroach in the UK?
Although, for the most part, we associate this critter with tropical holiday destinations, we do in fact have them here too. The UK does have a couple of native cockroach species. So, even though you’re less likely to see them here certain activities can encourage them – poor hygiene in a nutshell. As with preventing many pests, good hygiene practices are vital.
Why you don’t want cockroaches in your property
Well they’re not a pretty sight, scuttling around for a start. Ugh! That aside they can be harmful. They carry bacteria with the potential to cause harm – food poisoning being the most common.
You’ll tend to find UK cockroaches living indoors. In kitchens, basements and heating ducts and in commercial properties.
Although the uncommon cockroach can go an amazing 100 days without food they can’t survive more than two days without getting their thirst quenched. So, they’re likely to hide out close to a water source: bathrooms and kitchens for example. Y’know what we’re saying?