What they look like
Cockroaches are quite large insects. They vary in size from 10-23mm in length with long antennae and two sets of wings. The two main species of cockroach found in the UK are the German cockroach and the Oriental cockroach.
The German cockroach prefers warm, moist environments, particularly heating systems in large buildings. It can swim, fly, climb smooth surfaces easily and hide in inaccessible places.
The Oriental cockroach is found mainly indoors in heated buildings like hospitals, hotels, restaurants, prisons and blocks of flats. It is sometimes found outdoors around dustbins and rubbish tips. It is dark brown to black in colour, very shiny, and has long flexible antennae and a flattened body. It cannot fly or climb smooth surfaces but can move very rapidly.
Where they live
Cockroaches are nocturnal by nature being visible often only at night. They spend the day hiding in cracks around areas like sinks, drains, cookers and the backs of service ducts. If at night you suddenly turn the lights on you may see them. Where they are present in large numbers they may give out an unpleasant almond-like smell. The female cockroach can produce up to eight purse-like egg cases each month each of which can contain up to 30 eggs. Cockroach nymphs emerge from their eggs after 2-4 weeks (up to 6-12 weeks for Oriental cockroaches). The nymphs are like the adults but smaller and lighter in colour. The nymphs take some months to mature. Cockroaches will feed on almost anything including faecal matter.
Why cockroaches are a pest
Germs can be spread from the body of a cockroach or from their droppings. They can carry dysentery, gastro-enteritis, typhoid and food poisoning organisms. Contamination occurs when the cockroaches come into contact with our foodstuffs.
How you can prevent an infestation
Good hygiene is the key to keeping cockroaches out of your home. It denies them a food source and makes them easier to spot. All cracks, crevices and other building problems that could provide a dark enclosure for cockroaches should be repaired as quickly as possible. Pipe work should not be boxed in as it provides an excellent hiding place for them.
What to do if you are infested with cockroaches
Most treatments that you can buy yourself over the counter are not very effective against cockroaches but if you do attempt treatment yourself, when using pesticides always follow the instructions on the label.
You should seek help from a professional pest control company at an early stage. Reputable contractors are members of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA). Call 01332 294288 or visit www.bpca.org.uk