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German Cockroaches

Common Name: German Roach

Scientific Name: Blattella Germanica (Linnaeus)


German cockroaches are known to be the most common of all roach species found in Texas (San Antonio included), yet the smallest in size, with adults measuring at ⅝ inch in length. They are mostly found to be indoors, but do adventure outside when traveling from one structure to another. Often found in kitchens due to the proximity of food and moisture sources, they can hide inside appliances, in cabinets and drawers, behind pictures hanging on walls, pretty much you name it and they will shelter there.

German cockroach adult on the wall along with some of the fecel mater from the roach

Why German Roaches Are The Worst

German cockroaches eating some crumbs on a table

Treating for german cockroaches is different than treating for other cockroaches (such as the american cockroach). Due to their living habits in any crack or crevice, speedy breeding habits and their dependency on surviving indoors, they are more difficult to get rid of than other types of roaches. They pose a threat to human health since they carry and spread at least 33 types of bacteria, 6 types of parasitic worms and at least 7 other human pathogens including Salmonella. They are known to cause allergic reactions in humans due to their residue of feces and/or bodily extracts left behind. If infestations are extreme, they can be identified without being seen by their musty odor.

Life Cycle: Metamorphasis

The life cycle of a german cockroach is of simple metamorphosis, with the mated female creating a brown egg capsule (called an ootheca) that contains between 30 to 40 eggs. Between 4 and 8 oothecae are produced in a female's lifetime span on average of approximately 200 days. The female will carry the ootheca around attached to its abdomen for approximately 1 month. After that time period, the eggs inside will be ready to hatch and the female will release the ootheca off of her body within a day or 2 prior to hatching day. Once the eggs hatch (the hatchlings are referred to as nymphs) they do not have any wings yet. Over a period of roughly 85 days (depending on temperatures and other factors), the nymphs will transform through their metamorphosis molts in 6 or 7 different life stages (with periods between each molt known as an instar) before becoming a winged adult german cockroach.

Different life stages of the german roach

Identify A German Roach

Male and female versions of the german roach

German cockroaches as adults are winged, light brown in color and have 2 black stripes that encompass the thoracic shield located directly behind the head. Males are slightly more slender and thinner compared to females who are thicker and wider, with males having a tapered posterior end and females having a rounded one. In their nymph (non-mature) stages, they do not have wings, are darker brown in color and have a pale stripe that follows directly down the middle of their 2nd and 3rd thoracic segments. While other winged cockroaches are known to fly, german cockroaches do not. Instead, they use their wings to glide short distances if they are facing danger and need to escape.

Diet: You Name It!

As for the diet of a german roach, they feast on human and pet food but also eat numerous other things (just about anything) such as glue, leather, toothpaste, book bindings, hair, soap, human waste, even each other! If you think you can starve them out, think again! They survived over 300 million years because of their keen ability to find food and water sources. Not to mention they can live without food for over a month and water for over a week.

German roach on top of a sponge in a kitchen sink

Fun Facts

  • Without a head, german cockroaches can still live for a week or more! In that time they don’t have a head, they can continue to reproduce by dropping their eggs to hatch. They don’t need their head to breathe since they have tiny holes spread over their body that they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide from. After a week's time, they will die from dehydration (lack of water). 

  • Ever try to kill a cockroach by throwing it in the toilet? It’s not the best method to eliminate one because they are known to be able to hold their breath for long periods of time (around 40 minutes) as a mechanism to control their loss of moisture. Some have been able to be underwater for an hour and a half and still survive.

  • Even as a nymph being just hatched, they can run as fast as adults at approximately 3 miles per hour. As they travel they spread fecal matter, shed, and carry bacteria and other disgusting things around your home.

  • They might not be able to shoot webs like Spiderman, but they can climb up walls! German roaches have an arolium, basically a sticky pad, at the bottom of their legs that allows them access to high places even if it's a smooth surface they have to climb to get there. 

  • Thigmotropic they are! This means they like to be in contact with solid matter on every side of their body, justifying their desire for small cracks and crevices. 

  • They are extremely social creatures, so if you only see one, beware because there are mostly likely many more lurking in the shadows! They love to hide, so just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there!

Common Questions

1. How do I prevent a german roach infestation?

Sanitation is the main way to prevent an infestation from happening. The cleaner your home or business is, the better! Feeding pets only the amount they can eat and drink in one sitting and washing the food bowl of crumbs after they are done is a good tactic to prevent german roaches, and other pests, from infesting your home. Don’t forget to dry the water bowl, too, as roaches need water more often than food to survive.Place food items and pantry goods in containers that are pest proof such as glass mason jars and strongly sealed tupperware. Wipe off your counters, wash plus dry the dishes and sweep/vacuum and mop daily. 

2. I’m a super clean person, why do I have roaches?

Sometimes you will find an infestation in your home even if you are a super cleaner because roaches are “hitchhikers” and travel from one residence to another. They do this by hanging onto cartons at the grocery store, suitcases after traveling, or especially in living situations with shared walls such as apartments, condos, duplexes, etc. where they travel back and forth between plumbing accesses and other locations.

3. Do german roaches bite humans?

Very rarely do german cockroaches bite humans. They prefer to run and hide, spending 75% of their lifetime hiding, but technically they can bite in extreme circumstances. If you are being bit, you most likely have a very severe and large infestation.

4. Can german roaches make me sick?

 Absolutely. As mentioned above in this article, german roaches pose a threat to human health since they carry and spread at least 33 types of bacteria, 6 types of parasitic worms and at least 7 other human pathogens including Salmonella and E. coli. They are known to cause allergic reactions in humans due to their residue of feces and/or bodily extracts left behind and be the cause for asthma attacks especially in children.

5. How do I get rid of german roaches?

They are one of the most persistent and invasive pests, which is why german roaches are one of the hardest to get rid of. Blessed Pest Control uses a variety of different methods to rid your home or business of german roaches, including baiting, dusting, residual sprays, flushing chemicals and insect growth regulators (IGR’s). Multiple methods are necessary in order to kill the ones that are alive as well as prevent more eggs from hatching. Blessed Pest Control also offers a 30 day warranty for residential homes that receive a german roach treatment.

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