Controlling The American Cockroach’s Threat to Pittsburgh Industry

We recently wrote about the top predatory pests that threaten Pittsburgh restaurants, and one of the more invasive in that list is the dreaded, somewhat impervious cockroach; so we thought we’d dig a bit deeper into this little creepy critter’s background, what makes it tick and how to prevent it from wreaking havoc within your Allegheny County-based commercial establishment.

Cockroaches Are Primordial Insects Whose Presence Precedes Dinosaurs

The oldest cockroach fossil ever found dates back 350 million years. They have remained nearly unchanged in the world today, and have managed to survive almost any clime and habitat known to mankind down through the centuries. Their lack of evolution is evident because early fossils found are nearly identical to living specimens found today.

There are more than 4,000 species of roaches that exist in the world, but only 57 types that reside alongside humans in the United States and affect homes and commercial spaces.  They come in more than 4,000 colors, shapes, and sizes. The American Cockroach is not indigenous to the United States in general or to the city of Pittsburgh in particular. Also known as the Ship cockroach, the Bombay canary and the Kakerlac, these roaches are actually native to Africa and the Middle East. It is believed that maritime commerce and sailing ships inadvertently transported these creepy and disease-bearing insects to America in the early 17th century.

Roaches migrate from sewers, trees and shrubs located up against buildings or those structures with overhanging roofs. If the conditions needed for their survival are there, no edifice or industry is safe from their intrusion. Their natural behavior aids in their survival because they are nocturnal critters and often people do not notice their presence until there are so many that there are no safe places to hide.

The American Cockroach, which is sometimes called a waterbug in addition to its other monikers, is the largest species found in the Pittsburgh area. It can grow to be two inches long and is usually reddish brown in color. Both males and females have wings, but they seldom fly. They reproduce very quickly, and if unchecked, can become difficult to eradicate. Pest control measures, including an integrated pest management system (IPM) are best left to professionals who are experts at successfully aiding businesses to remain pest free (ahem, as in our service teams at Pestco)

12 Interesting But Disturbing Facts About The American Cockroach

The factoids mentioned below are not likely to help harried Pittsburgh business managers or owners to sleep at night, but they are certain to cause consideration (and maybe even a few shudders) about the importance of employing professional technicians to eliminate these unpleasant critters from their commercial spaces. So, without further adieu and not necessarily in order of importance, are the following facts to remember (and cringe) about cockroaches.

  1. Cockroaches can live for a full week without their heads. They breathe through tiny holes in each of their body segments and are therefore not dependant on their mouths or heads to respire. They cannot survive without a mouth because they cannot drink water and die of thirst.
  2. Roaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a residence or commercial space very quickly.
  3. A tiny, one-day old American cockroach can run almostas fast as its parents.
  4. An American Cockroach can run faster than a cheetah, and it can do so on any ceiling in any commercial space.
  5. Cockroaches are cannibals and will eat other roaches if they are hungry enough.
  6. These insects spend 75% of their time resting and can withstand temperatures as cold as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Believe it or not, a cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes. It can also survive being under water for half an hour. These insects are accustomed to holding their breath as it helps them regulate their loss of water.
  8. There are so many species of cockroaches that their state of bio-diversity is astounding.
  9. TheAmerican Cockroach can squeeze through gaps of 3 millimeters, which is the height of two stacked U.S. pennies.
  10. Cockroaches have genes that permit them to re-grow broken limbs.
  11. The American Cockroach has genes that code for more than 150 scent receptors and 500 taste receptors, which is the most found in any insect to date.
  12. The American Cockroach is very attracted to alcoholic beverages and particularly beer They are unable to resist the alcohol mixed with hops and sugar.

The Secret To A Roaches’ Habitat & Survival In Industrial Environments

According to a recent report that appeared in the journal, Nature Communications, researchers indicated that they have captured the secret to the roach’s success in urban and industrial environments. They believe the answer lies within a newly available, full complement of genetic data. Researchers propose that cockroaches are such effective scavengers because of the hundreds of chemical receptors they possess. They are also creepy, alien-like transformers who flatten themselves by squatting and compressing their bodies by half their original size. This is how they get everywhere, even in that storage room under lock and key and sealed off from the rest of the world.

These compressed cockroaches are extremely mobile and they move very fast. Even in this position, where their legs are spread out and their bodies squished, they can still scamper hideously about at 60 centimeters per second. According to Robert Full from the University of California, Berkeley, “Scale that up to human size, and it’s like 70 miles per hour. They can run at high speed inside your walls and ceilings.”

Robert Full has been studying cockroach behavior for fourteen years, and he is a specialist in the physics of animal movements. He has extensively investigated how they run, fly and climb. His findings would make incredible fodder for novelists seeking new super heroes with extraordinary powers heretofore never imagined. He indicated that roaches can swing under ledges and vanish from sight within a heart beat. They have the ability to run upside-down even with the loss of up to four of their legs, and they can climb without the use of their feet.

Full and his colleague, Kaushik Javaram, tested the compressibility of the roach’s exoskeleton by squashing roaches under a metal piston. Incredibly, they discovered that roaches can survive compressive forces that are about 300 times their own body weight, which is how they manage to squeeze through tiny, almost imperceptible crevices. They can also withstand 900 timesthe force of their weight without suffering any damage to their bodies or even slowing down.

The American Cockroach and Its Affect On Human Health

As long ago as 1911, a study conducted by The Journal of Public Health indicated that the bodies of roaches housed as many as 50 pathogens.American cockroaches can be a public health problem for a number of disturbing reasons. They are associated with human waste and disease. They make their homes in sewers throughout North America and in Pittsburgh their favored habitats are steam tunnels in downtown and Oakland areas as well as the basements of older structures and buildings. Their ability to move from sewers and tunnels into commercial establishments means they transport diseases. The American cockroach alone carries at least 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as five species of parasitic worms.

The American cockroach will eat whatever crosses its path. While there is a preference for sweet stuffs, roaches have also been observed consuming paper, tooth-paste, hair, bread, fruit, book bindings, fish, peanuts, old rice, the soft part on the inside of animal hides and dead insects. They pick up disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella on their legs and later deposit them on foods, which can cause food poisoning. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, cockroach allergens can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in children.

Cockroach Infestations Throughout Pittsburgh And Allegheny County

Last year, the Allegheny County Health Department issued a consumer alert after an inspection of one Oakland restaurant (The Hana & Sushi Bar on Fifth Avenue) turned up numerous health code violations, some of them considered very high risk. A few years before that, the Board of Health deemed another restaurant, Villa Pizza, which is located in the Food Court in the Mall at Robinson a serious health risk after receiving many complaints. Steve Steingart of the Allegheny Country Health Department had this to say: “When the inspector opened up the stove, she indicated to me it was almost like a Steelers game letting out. Cockroaches were everywhere. They were in the walls.”

Our expert technicians know very well that cockroaches are a problem for any Pittsburgh business or industry and they must be eliminated swiftly. These insects love the basements of restaurants, food processing plants and bakeries as well as any moist area where they can deposit their toxic bacteria and contaminate food sources.

While restaurants and food service plants are obvious targets, roaches are not particular and they will invade any commercial enterprise and seek refuge and breed anywhere they can gain entry. They can and often do cause damage to many Pittsburgh commercial spaces, as all they really need to survive is an adequate supply of food and moisture. They can infiltrate supermarkets, bakeries, health and fitness facilities, schools, salons, churches, showrooms of all kinds and reception areas where they can present to customers a most indelible and unpleasant first impression.

The Damage American Cockroaches Cause To Industrial Settings

The beautiful lyrics of an old Ray Noble love song whispered of tender feelings evoked by just “The Very Thought of You.” In terms of this subject matter, the words apply negatively, as just the thought or worse, sight of a cockroach in any industrial setting can not only cause emotional distress but also a loss in brand loyalty and that all-important bottom line.

For the Pittsburgh food industry, cockroach secretions can affect the flavor of various foods and transmit disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, pathogens and viruses as well as diverse forms of gastroenteritis, which include: food poisoning, dysentery and diarrhea. These organisms are carried on the legs and bodies of roaches and are deposited on food and utensils. The food industry, which includes restaurants, bakeries, food storage plants and supermarkets, has to take special precautions to prevent infestations, which we wrote in-depth about here.

The American cockroach can be a clear and present health hazard in Pittsburgh schools, hospitals and health care facilities. There is significant scientific evidence implicating roaches in the transmission of hospital-acquired diseases. There are several studies indicating that cockroaches and their byproducts are potent allergenic agents, and sensitivity to them is positively linked to high levels of infestation. The prevalence of asthma among school children living in poor urban areas has been disturbingly on the rise during the course of the last decade, dramatically reflecting the need for ongoing professional pest management and our exclusion services.

Pestco Professional Cockroach Extermination Services Are Bar None

Defending against the American cockroach starts with an extensive examination of your facility and sealing any vulnerabilities and openings that might allow access to your establishment, and it continues with ongoing, preventative inspections throughout the year.

We’re five-star-rated and family-owned and have been in continuous operation since 1948, and while techniques for both pest control and pest management have improved over the decades due to scientific advancements, our Pestco technicians have always remained one step ahead of every creepy crawly by staying abreast of all the latest products and methods to fight pest infestations of all kinds. We’re trained to deal with versatility when addressing a pest control or pest management problem because no pest issue is ever the same as another, and our approved insecticides and insecticide baits are all eco-friendly, and always very carefully applied.

Regardless of industry, whether it’s food & beverage processing, food service, government, healthcare, hospitals, logistics, multifamily, office property management, pharmaceutical, retail, schools or anything else, Pestco is there to provide long-term pest control, exclusion and protection against any infestation.

Pittsburgh Pest, Odor And Commercial Restroom Hygiene Services

Our Complete Care Facility Program is a three-pronged initiative that offers the ultimate in pest control and pest management, washroom hygiene services provided by Enviro-Master and environmental odor and air freshening solutions supplied by Air-Scent.

This vast array of professional services is available under the cost-effective blanket of our highly-respected company. This special offer ensures customized infestation strategies for all types of industries situated in Pittsburgh, PA. We are a local company dedicated to our community, providing economical, optimum services and top-of-the-line pest control and pest management solutions. Learn more about our complete facilities hygiene services.

In conclusion

Whether your commercial enterprise is located in East Liberty, South Side, North Side, Lawrenceville, The Golden Triangle, Downtown, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Shadyside, The Strip District, Carrick, West End or any other suburb in the Greater Pittsburgh area, Pestco is here to help.

Call us today, and be roach-free tomorrow.

Final thoughts on cockroaches: Elephants have a hard time adapting. Cockroaches outlive everything.~ Peter Drucker


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