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Scientific Classification
Families and Subfamilies

SuperFamily: Blaberoidea


SuperFamily: Polyphagoidea

Cockroaches are any of the species of insects that belong to the taxonomic suborder Blattodea, which are also called "Water Bugs." They are perhaps best known as a common household pest.

The name, Blattodea, actually originates from the Greek word, "blatta", meaning cockroach. Two major families within Blattodea are Blattidae, which contains the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, and the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is primarily from Africa. [1]

Cockroaches are omnivores, meaning that they can eat a large amount of different kinds of materials. They consume vegetation and plants, decaying insects and bugs, man-made food, and household products such as paper and soap. They prefer coming out to eat during the night. Using their antennae and other receptive parts, cockroaches can detect the qualities of food. The size of a cockroach ranges from 4 millimeters to 10 centimeters long. [2] They are a strong and well equipped group of insects. [3]


Molted cockroach

The adult cockroach has an oval, semi-compressed head with a vast piece of exoskeleton called the pronotum that protects and spreads out over much of the roach's head and thorax. The insect's mouth is directed backwards between the first pair of legs. The roach's antennae are long, thin, and located beneath the center of their compound eyes, which are immense and take the shape of a hemisphere. It expands nearer to the top in the front of the head. Mouthparts adjust themselves for skills like biting, chewing, and licking. The forewings called tegmina are often opaque and firm, whereas the hind wings are membranous and softer. Excluding the small ones, the cockroaches' wings cover the middle of the abdomen, but beetles' wings don't. The legs are about the same size and length and are set back underneath the body. [4] They are adapted for running very quickly. [5]

The adult cockroach's abdomen has ten segments or divisions, but can be counted to 7 or 8 when seen from overheaed. When looking on the cockroach's underside for the male, one can see 9 plates called sternites. There are just 7 for the female. The males and nymphs have two smaller appendages that are thin and found under the cerci, which is a pair of appendages near the end of the abdomen. These are called styles. [6] The cerci is short and multi-segmented. [7] A cockroach breathes uses pores located on the sides of its body. [8]

A young cockroach is called a nymph. [9] A nymph must shed its exoskeleton many times before into grows to be an adult cockroach. [10] Their bodies are similar to the adult's, with the same kind of structure. Their recently acquired wings can be seen on the thorax. [11]


A cockroach's ootheca

In cockroaches, the eggs are put into an egg case that is called the ootheca. [12] The production of ootheca is only found in cockroaches and the praying mantis. [13] Female cockroaches will either store these cases away in a safe corner of confined areas or they will carry their oothecas with them inside or outside their bodies until the eggs are born. In the species, Periplaneta Americana, the ootheca can have up to 14-28 eggs. Breeding will occur for 35 days at a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and for 59 days at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Development is essential to this particular species. A female cockroach can conceive 30 oothecae which ends up becoming 1000 offspring before dying. [14]

When a couple of cockroaches mate, they will begin battling with each other using their antennae. The male will then bring up his wings and ruffle them. Secretions in the male's dorsal glands, located on his abdomen, are fed on by the female. The male will follow by going behind the female and will touch her reproductive organs. Once that is done, they will both face each other; their back ends will come in contact and the reproduction begins. This process will take about one hour. [15] The male will send his sperm directly into the female. [16]


A cockroach's underside

Cockroaches are most often seen in large groups in tropical climates, but they also live in mild weather and in the northern areas. Some species of cockroaches stay with human beings where they are considered pests and many burdens. [17]

Roaches have a unique figure that allows them to run away quickly and to successfully hide themselves by contracting their bodies to fit in tight spots. Their flattened bodies are round and semi-circular for their ability to outrun many insects. The cockroach will not use its wings to escape predators or a threat but will instead dart into holes and cracks. [18]

Economic Importance

The cockroach is among the most cosmopolitan of all pests and insects. This means that they are commonly known worldwide. They are often seen and inhabit human homes. They will most likely be seen hiding in small, dark places. They prefer coming out only at night to scour and gorge themselves on food and water. [19]

Though they do not sting or bite, they transport human pathogens, which are agents that spread disease, because of the unsanitary conditions that they live in. When the dead remains of a cockroach and their excrement are sent off into the air, the polluted dander is distributed throughout the household. This results in allergies for people who are in vulnerable, health states. [20]

Cockroaches are important in our society because they can be used as tools for the research of insect physiology and toxicology. [21]