Cockroaches are one of the most ancient, and therefore, successful groups of organisms in existence. Cockroaches emerged well over 200 million years ago, and more than 4,500 hundred species have been documented worldwide. The vast majority of roach species are not considered pests, and the bulk of modern roach species can be found in tropical and subtropical geographic regions. Experts believe all roach species that are known pests of homes and buildings ultimately originated from Africa. American, German, Oriental and brown-banded cockroaches are the four primary roach pests in the US where they inhabit virtually all areas of the country. Cockroach pests are notable for their ability to thrive alongside humans within structures, but roach pests have been exploiting human living conditions for a relatively short period of time.

While both American and Oriental cockroaches frequently establish extensive indoor infestations where they are capable of reproducing, these two species spend most of their time in the natural environment. However, German and brown-banded cockroaches are unique insect pests, as they dwell primarily indoors and are rarely spotted outdoors. This is hard to believe considering that the first cockroach pests to arrive in North America did so between 300 and 400 years ago maritime vessels, which remains their primary means of intercontinental transport. Cockroaches have become one of the most common indoor pests in much of the world solely due to their ability to infest ships in great numbers. During long journeys overseas, cockroaches were obviously unable to escape to the natural environment, and therefore, they were forced to adapt to human living conditions on ships. A few hundred years ago, cockroaches likely struggled to locate food and water on ships, and today, it is known that roach pests are able to survive unusually long periods of time without food or water. For Example, one study found that German cockroach females survive slightly more than 20 days with no food or water in normal conditions. Females can survive 14 days with dry food and no water, and 35 days with only water. The relatively large sized American cockroach pest species is even more impressive in this regard, as they can survive, 41 days without food or water, 40 days with only dry food, and 90 days with only water.

Have you ever found cockroaches eating food within your home?