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If you have recently discovered a roach infestation in your home you may be asking yourself, “do roaches bite?” Not only is this one of the most common questions from homeowners who are dealing with a roach problem, but it is one that will yield a lot of back and forth. The answer to your question and other general information about roaches can be found below.
What are roaches?
Roaches are medium-sized insects. The are in the same family as beetles, but there are some clear differences between the two. Some species fly while others are merely crawlers. All roaches have wings, even if they are not able to take flight. They are nocturnal and generally scatter when they are disturbed by homeowners or light is shined on or at them. There are six common species of roaches that are pests, but only two are seen most frequently in homes.
- German cockroaches. These pests are about a half an inch long and brown. Two stripes are very noticeable on their pronotum. Generally this species is found inhabiting bathrooms and kitchen cabinets, counters, and the pantry.
- Brownbanded cockroaches. Roughly the same size as the other species, the difference in color between female and males is something they are known for. Males are tan while females are generally brown. These pests are found in warmer areas of the home and behind wall hangings and photo frames.
- Oriental cockroaches. Generally oriental roaches are over an inch in length. They are black and the females and males only have differences in their wings. Found outside usually, these roaches sometimes find their way into homes when searching for food or water.
- Smokybrown cockroaches. These pests are generally found in planter boxes and around trees where soil is abundant. While there is a chance they can find their way into your home, it is unlikely. Smokybrown roaches are dark brown or mahogany. They are roughly around an inch long, sometimes bigger.
- American cockroaches. Around two inches long, these roaches are reddish-brown. They are found in and around sewers and similar locations. These pests can easily make a home in your basement or laundry room.
- Field cockroaches. Because they are typically found in fields, these pests are an unlikely find in your home. You may notice them in the fall when leaves are plentiful as that is their prime location. They are less than an inch long and sometimes aren’t even noticeable.
The simple answer is yes, roaches bite humans. There have been cases where roaches have bitten humans, but generally those are extreme circumstances. Reports have stated that roaches on ships have been known to bite humans as well, sometimes causing significant damage. While being bitten isn’t a likely occurrence, you can’t rule it out completely if you find marks on your hands and feet.
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Why do roaches bite humans?
All of the research out there points to the fact that roaches typically eat things from in and around their environment. From food to fungi, roaches are resourceful when it comes to meals from their surroundings. The problem for humans comes when the roach population grows too rapidly and food sources are depleted. When the population becomes too much, roaches will begin to eat things they normally would not, especially any part of the human body.
What body parts do roaches bite?
Again, roaches would rather run than attack you. When you become the only food source they have, they won’t think twice about nibbling. It is known that roaches have bitten both alive and dead humans. These are the parts of the body most likely to be bitten by roaches and why.
- Feet. This is chosen because they are generally on the ground. When you are sleeping you may stick your feet out of the covers, leaving them available to roaches.
- Hands. Almost the same idea as the feet but instead of being on the ground, they are chosen because they may have the scent of food on them. When you sleep your hands are likely outside of the covers as well, making them easy prey.
- Fingernails. The idea behind this is that fingernails are dead skin cells so the roach is drawn to them. Also there many be tiny bits of food underneath your nails, which will also be a huge incentive for hungry roaches in search of their next meal.
- Eyelashes. This one is a little odd, but roach bites have been recorded by the eyelashes and eyelids. Generally when the eyelashes and eyes are bitten, the body has been dead.
Why do roaches bite?
Roaches only bite humans as a last resort. When food becomes scarce, they will do anything to survive. If you home is infested, there are likely crumbs or food particles easily accessible. Some people actually eat where they sleep and if that is the case, it wouldn’t be a long shot to be bitten by a roach searching for food. Many of the roach bites happen at night, almost none of them happen during the daylight hours because roaches are nocturnal.
Which species of roaches bite?
The American and German roaches bite. They both have chewing mouth-parts, and the bites actually can hurt. Sensitive individuals may have a reaction to these bites, especially if there was bacteria the roaches were carrying around. These are also two of the more likely species to be found infesting homes instead of rolling around in the dirt and garbage piles.
What should I do if I was bitten by a roach?
If you have found yourself a victim of roach bites, you will need to clean the area to make sure it doesn’t get infected. In order to be sure of what you are dealing with, you should see a doctor for an actual diagnosis and proper care. Self-diagnosis isn’t always a good thing, especially in a case where it could be a roach bite or another insect bite.
How to avoid being bitten by a roach
The only way to avoid being bitten is to exterminate the roaches and being active about prevention. Roaches are a serious issue. Not only are the disgusting, they could cause health concerns in sensitive individuals. Below are some tips for getting rid of roaches and how to keep them from coming back.
- Find the areas of concern. If you see one roach, chances are there are many more hiding out. Check the cabinets, behind photos, and in damp, dark areas.
- Address the issue. Use insecticidal sprays to get rid of the roaches. In extreme cases, roach bait and insecticides may be warranted.
- Sanitation. It is absolutely necessary for you to clean up everything immediately after killing and getting rid of the roaches. Bleach and water mixture work wonders, but there are also over-the-counter solutions you can use as well.
- Exterminate. Sometimes sitting back and letting the professionals handle things is worth the extra money it will cost. Call around to several places and ask for quotes. Often companies will try and beat their competition and offer a discount if you go with them.
Once you have eliminated the issue, prevention is the next step. Make sure you follow these steps to ensure you will be able to avoid roach bites in the future.
- Seal all entryways. This is important because it will prevent the roaches from easily accessing your house. Check your weatherstripping and screens. Repair any holes or damage noticed.
- Make sure everything is sealed properly in your kitchen cabinets and pantry. Food is the most attractive thing to roaches and the less available, the better the chances that a recurrence wont happen. Buy storage containers for things like flour and sugar. Keep your spice cabinet clean and wipe out the other cabinets to ensure there are no crumbs lying around.
- Do not eat in bed or on the couch. Anywhere you eat will become covered in crumbs. If you are not diligent in cleaning them up, roaches will find them. Whether it is when you are sleeping or just sitting on the couch, the roaches will do whatever it takes to get them. Eat in the kitchen only to avoid any further issues.
- Keep roach bait stations for a few weeks. As long as you don’t have children or pets who will disturb the roach bait, you should keep it around for a while. This will just ensure everything has been dealt with. If you do have small children or pets, place the bait in a hidden, hard-to-reach area.
- Spray insecticide products regularly. Cabinets, basements, around the perimeter of your home. Make sure you create a barrier so the roaches will not want to return, even if given the chance.
While many people will debate whether or not roaches do bite, the answer is simply yes. It is not a likely occurrence but it will happen when food sources have been depleted due to an infestation growing too quickly. Being proactive with trying to get rid of the roach infestation will allow you less of a chance of being bitten.
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