The Cockroaches In My New York City Home Aren't That Bad. Are They?

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Many bugs get into New York City homes. House flies buzz around in your kitchen. Spiders build webs in the upper corners of your rooms. Centipedes cling to your walls and stare at you while you watch television. Stink bugs climb in your curtains. Ants walk across your kitchen floor like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. So when you see a cockroach skitter into your air conditioner or disappear into a floor vent, you may shrug it off. Roaches are just one more bug you have to deal with, right? Sadly, they aren't. Cockroaches aren't just creepy houseguests. They can present real threats to your health.

cockroach crawling on floor


A roach is a roach, right?

It is important to understand that all cockroaches are not created equal. Some roaches never get into homes. Some get into homes and immediately go back outside. We are concerned about the roaches that get in and stay in, such as American, German, and Oriental cockroaches.

  • An American cockroach is a seed-shaped insect with a chestnut brown coloration and a yellowish figure-8 pattern on its back. This is the largest cockroach that will get into your NYC home.

  • A German cockroach is a seed-shaped insect with a tan coloration and a dark-colored equal sign on its back.

  • An Oriental cockroach is a pill-shaped insect with black coloration and no visible markings.

Why Pest Cockroaches Spread Sickness

Many factors cause cockroaches to be a health concern. It is a complicated matter, but here is the simplified explanation.

Exposure — Cockroaches are attracted to rotting organic matter. Some cockroaches lay their eggs in gelatinous organic sludge, and their offspring begin life by being exposed to harmful microorganisms. But at some point, all cockroaches are exposed to these organisms because roaches live in dirty places.

Diet — Cockroaches feed on filthy things. Have you ever wondered why cockroaches like sewers? It is because they eat excrement. They eat human, animal, and insect excrement. They even feed on the excrement of other cockroaches. A cockroach prefers to feed on a rotting apple rather than a nice fresh apple plucked from the tree if given an option. They are attracted to rot.

Resilience — What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, in the case of cockroaches, what doesn't kill you can make you a carrier. It takes a lot to kill a cockroach. And if toxic chemicals are sprayed to kill roaches, those chemicals can end up being transported to a piece of silverware, a dish, a food-prep surface, a packaged food item, a toothbrush, or some other point of contact that can lead to sickness.

Mobility — Once cockroaches are exposed to harmful bacteria, parasitic worms, human pathogens, chemicals, and other illness-causing matter, they have the ability to spread them efficiently. Cockroaches can scale walls, run across ceilings, squeeze through gaps half their height, and some species can fly. The nymphs of German cockroaches are so small; they can slip through a hole in a wall outlet. Good luck keeping them out.

The Bottom Line

At the time of this writing, cockroaches spread more than 33 kinds of bacteria, 6 parasitic worms, and 7 human pathogens. They're also linked to an increase in hospitalizations due to asthma-related symptoms. If you have cockroaches in your NYC home, be aware that they may be the reason you, or someone else in your home, has been sick recently. At the first sign of cockroaches, you should seek professional cockroach services.

How Parkway Pest Services Can Help

Our licensed pest management professionals use methods that work to eliminate cockroaches with the least amount of EPA pest control product required. This is a systematic and systemic approach that will ensure the best results. We also provide ongoing residential pest control for NYC residents that keep cockroaches and other harmful pests from getting in. If you have questions or you'd like to schedule to meet with one of our pest control experts, reach out to us. We're standing by to assist you with all of your pest control needs.


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