Cockroaches, Order Dictyoptera, are flattened insects with long, slender antenna and rather spiky legs. There are usually two pairs of wings and the front pair are rather leathery in texture. Their mouthparts are on the underside of their head, and these include chewing mandibles, their eyes are two large compound structures with long, flexible antennae. Many species can fly but are most likely to scuttle away.
Most of the cockroaches seen in Britain on immigrants that have come in on ships. There are two well-established species: the Oriental cockroach or ' Black beetle ' , Blatta orientalis, and the German cockroach, Blatella germanica. There are also a number of others, notably the American cockroach, Periplaneta Americana, there are more established in dockland areas. These immigrant species all come from warm regions and can establish themselves only in kitchens, warehouses and places where temperatures are high. They cause a lot of damage by chewing food and other materials.
Besides these imported species, we do have three native cockroaches. All are less than 12 mm long, and all are confined to the southern counties, where they live in woods and on heathland. Like the larger species, they are all omnivorous and feed on a variety of plant and animal material.
Cockroaches can generally be found in doors in locations such as cellers, basements, kitchens and heating ducts. The Oriental cockroach or ' Black beetle ' can survive outdoors in the UK during The summer months.
Cockroaches leave a chemical trail in their faeces, this is often associated with an airborne distinctive smell. These pheromones are used for swarming and mating. The chemical trails transmit bacteria onto surfaces. One of the main problems with cockroaches is when they come into contact with human food, thus contaminating and causing potential disease.
Cockroaches lay their eggs in little purse like cases called ‘oothecae’, which are sometimes carried around by the females until the eggs hatch. Cockroaches are very secretive, insects and will often remain hidden during the day in holes, crevasses and cracks. Pretty much all species can climb with ease, especially the German species, which is able to even grip To smooth vertical surfaces.