According to fossil records, cockroaches have been around for thousands of years. Cockroaches are considered by many to be pests and when they invade homes, these omnivorous insects can cause sickness because pathogens they carry are rubbed off onto food and the surfaces upon which food is prepared. The Oriental, German and American cockroaches have a distinct smell that is very unpleasant.
Cockroaches range from dark or reddish-brown to black or tan. In most species the wings are small. Cockroaches are active at night. They emerge from their dark, moist hiding places in search of food. If you see cockroaches during the day, this could be a sign of a severe infestation as they are nocturnal animals. Cockroaches tend to gather in places where it is warm and moist as these conditions facilitate their growth. The life cycle of the cockroach is divided into three stages. Eggs are kept in a capsule known as an ootheca, which is either carried by the female or put in a quiet place. Nymphs hatch from the eggs and feed wherever the adults feed.
The three types of cockroaches that smell have preferences for where they live inside a home. German cockroaches prefer warm, dark areas that are humid and are close to water and food. Oriental and American cockroaches are more likely to be found in basements and crawl spaces because they like cooler places. Cockroaches are good survivors because they are scavengers. If they can’t find regular food or leftovers, they can survive by eating bar soap, leather, paper, even the glue that binds books together. During the day, cockroaches keep themselves hidden in crannies and cracks, preferring spaces where they have surfaces both behind and in front of them as these hiding places offer the most concealment.
Cockroaches are omnivorous and will eat anything humans or other animals eat as well as waste matter. Cockroaches can carry pathogens, causing diarrhea, food poisoning or wound infections. People who suffer from asthma or respiratory problems have even more reason to despise the cockroach as the insect’s fecal matter and cast-off skins are allergens that trigger attacks.
Any surface that a cockroach touches becomes tainted with the unpleasant smell from a secretion that it leaves behind. The Oriental cockroach is said to have the worst smell, while both the German and American cockroaches have odors that are also offensive. These three cockroaches commonly infest homes in the United States. Any food that has been tainted with the cockroach odor is no longer fit to be consumed. No matter whether you cook or process the food, the unpleasant odor remains.
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images