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The Complete Guide to German Cockroaches: Identification, Prevention, and FAQs

German cockroaches are one of the most common household pests in the world, known for their ability to infest a home or business rapidly. Although there are approximately 4500 species of cockroaches worldwide, German cockroaches are one of the more formidable foes facing pest control companies because of their prolific breeding abilities.  This complete guide will provide everything you need to know about identifying, preventing, and killing German cockroaches.

Where Did the Name German Cockroach Come from?

German cockroaches were given their name in the 1700’s.  They were first named “germanica” by German entomologist Carl Linnaeus.  in 1767 and have since become one of the world’s most widespread and problematic pests.  While the name “German” might suggest that these cockroaches only occur in Germany, they are found worldwide and are a common pest in many countries. They are thought to have existed for over 300 million years, making them one of the oldest living groups of insects.  They are found in residential and commercial settings and are known for their ability to adapt and survive in various environments.

 German Cockroaches By: James Knight- Owner Rodent Solutions

What do German Cockroaches Look Like? 

They are typically small, measuring 12 to 15 millimeters long. The appearance of a German Cockroach is light brown to tan, with two dark stripes running down its back. The stripes are more prominent in younger cockroaches and may fade in older individuals, remaining only on the head. In addition to the stripes, they have a distinctively flattened and oval-shaped body, allowing them to fit into small cracks and crevices easily. They also have long antennae and two sets of wings, although they rarely use them to fly. 

How Fast Can German Cockroaches Reproduce?

Females can produce up to six egg cases in their lifetime, each containing up to 50 eggs.  Under ideal conditions, a female German cockroach can produce as many as 400 offspring in three months. This rapid reproduction rate allows infestations to multiply very quickly and become a significant problem in a short amount of time.  A sighting of even one German cockroach always means there are more.  These creepy bugs are known for their ability to reproduce quickly and in large numbers. Factors contributing to increased reproduction rates include warm temperatures, high humidity, and abundant food and water sources. German cockroaches are also known for their ability to adapt and survive in various environments, making them a persistent pest in both residential and commercial pest control.

Where Are German Cockroaches Commonly Found?

German cockroaches are commonly found in warm, humid environments with access to food and water.  Sounds like the entire state of Florida, right?  They are most widely known to infest kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the home where moisture and food are readily available. In kitchens, they can be found in and around warm appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers, as well as in cabinets and pantries. They are attracted to food residues, crumbs, and spills and can feed on other organic matter, such as grease and glue. German cockroaches can be found in areas such as sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, where they can access water and moisture.  Other less common areas we have seen them infest are laptop and desktop computers, blenders, TVs, video game consoles, and microwaves.   

Do German Cockroaches Fly?

German cockroaches are not known for their ability to fly. While some species of cockroach, such as the American cockroach, can fly short distances, German cockroaches have underdeveloped wings and are not considered flyers. Instead, they rely on their ability to run quickly and hide in tight spaces to avoid detection and escape danger. They can move at impressive speeds and run up to three miles per hour.  Despite their inability to fly, German cockroaches are still a persistent and challenging pest to control. They are adept at climbing and can easily crawl up walls, along ceilings, and through pipes and other small openings. This makes them difficult to eliminate using traditional pest control methods such as spraying or baiting.

Pictures of German Cockroaches

If you’re looking for pictures of German cockroaches, various online resources can provide detailed images and information about these pests. One helpful resource for German cockroach images is Insect Images. We will be adding our own link to German cockroach images here in the near future.  

Health Risks from German Cockroaches

German Cockroaches can pose a variety of health risks to humans.  The primary diseases they transmit are gastroenteritis issues such as food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, Salmonella, E. coli, and other illnesses. They carry nasty health issues on the legs and bodies deposited on food, utensils, and preparation surfaces as the cockroaches forage.  Their excrement and cast skins also contain many allergens which cause allergic responses, such as skin rashes, watery eyes and sneezing, nasal congestion, and asthma.

How do German Cockroaches Spread?

Human transportation is one of the most common ways German cockroaches spread. They can hitchhike on clothing, luggage, and other personal items, allowing them to quickly move from one location to another. They can also be spread by transporting infested food products, such as produce or packaged goods.  Environmental factors can also play a role in their spread too. These pests thrive in warm, humid environments and are often found in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas with access to food and water. If these areas are not adequately cleaned and sanitized, German cockroaches can quickly establish a foothold and spread throughout a building.  Multifamily housing, including apartments and joined condos, are among the most challenging accounts for German Roaches because the issue may have originated in a unit we are not called to treat. 

Unpleasant Odors from German Cockroach Infestations

German cockroach infestations can have a distinct odor. The odor is often described as musty, oily, or pungent and can become more noticeable as the infestation grows.  This is another reason you should call to have them exterminated quickly. 

The odor is produced by a combination of factors, including its fecal matter and pheromones which is another reason to get them under control as quickly as possible. As the infestation grows, the odor can become more potent and unpleasant and may be noticeable even from a distance.  

What do German Cockroaches Eat?

German cockroaches are omnivorous and will eat a wide range of food sources. Their diet can include both plant and animal-based foods, including:

      1. Starchy and sugary foods – They are attracted to sweet, starchy foods such as bread, cereal, and sweets.
      2. Meats and proteins – They are also known to eat proteins such as meat, cheese, and other dairy products.
      3. Fruits and vegetables – German cockroaches will eat various fruits and vegetables, including those that are overripe or beginning to rot.
      4. Other organic matter – German cockroaches will also feed on other organic matter, such as dead insects, fecal matter, and garbage.

    Do German Cockroaches Bite?

    While German cockroaches are not typically known for biting humans, they can still threaten human health in other ways.

    Can I Take Care of a German Cockroach Infestation Myself with DIY Methods?

    Customers often call us telling us about DIY methods they read about on the internet, tried, and did not work.  The most commonly reported attempts to kill German roach infestations are:

        • Essential oils – Many websites encourage you to use certain essential oils.  Of course, most of these sites sell the product, too, so there’s that to consider.   These recommendations include peppermint and tea tree oil, which “claim” to have insecticidal properties and can be used as a natural cockroach repellent. We are called to many homes with customers who have tried these methods unsuccessfully. 

        • Sticky Traps- Although properly placed stick traps will catch many German cockroaches, they can and will breed faster than the sticky traps can catch them. 

        • Boric Acid-  Boric acid is a naturally occurring mineral that can be used as a DIY cockroach control method.  Boric acid works by being ingested by insects or coming into contact with their exoskeleton, which allows it to enter their body.  Once inside, boric acid interferes with the insect’s metabolism and other vital processes, leading to eventual death.  Often, boric acid does not reach the cockroach eggs, allowing the rapidly growing German cockroach colony to continue reproducing.  

      Prevention of German Cockroaches

      As with most pest control issues, preventing German Cockroaches begins with sanitation.  It requires a comprehensive approach that includes regular cleaning and sanitation practices, sealing entry points, and effective professional pest control methods. If you suspect a German cockroach infestation, taking immediate action to exterminate them is essential, as German Cockroach issues grow exceptionally quickly. Seeking professional help from a pest control expert like the experts at Rodent Solutions can ensure that infestations are effectively and safely eliminated.  Of all the pest infestations we deal with, German Cockroaches are close to the top of the ones we do not recommend trying to handle yourself.  Contact us, and we can help you get rid of them quickly.  

      Related Articles: 

          1. Types of Cockroaches Found In Florida and How To Get Rid of Them 
          2. 5 Mistakes New Homeowners Make That Attract Pests 
          3. The Dangers of Cockroaches in Your Bradenton, FL Home  





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