Cockroach, swift-running, flattened, oval-shaped insect belonging to order Dictyoptera. Although in their native regions they live outdoors, several species are important domestic pests. All are general feeders, nocturnal in habit, guided by long antennae while scavenging in kitchens, bathrooms, cellars, restaurants and moist, warm places.
Of the 3500 species known worldwide, most are tropical and subtropical. Only 10 occur in Canada, of which 7 have been introduced through commerce and immigration. Three or 4 species of wood cockroach (Parcoblatta
) live in leaf litter and debris outdoors in Ontario and western Québec. The most common cockroaches are the 5 cm long American cockroach (Periplaneta americana
), the 2-5 cm Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis
), the brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa
) and the up to 2 cm German cockroach (Blattella germanica
). The last is the most common urban species.
Reproduction and Development
After mating, the female produces 20-50 eggs that are retained in a leathery case (ootheca) projecting from the genital chamber. In some species, eggs hatch within this chamber, receive nourishment from the mother, and nymphs emerge alive. Nymphs grow slowly, molt as often as 13 times and mature in 3-12 months. Adults live for several years.
Interaction with Humans
Cockroaches not only contaminate and destroy food but also carry disease-causing BACTERIA
and secrete foul-smelling matter. A few have symbiotic protozoa or bacteria in the gut to help them digest wood and other vegetation.
Cockroaches not only contaminate and destroy food but also carry disease-causing bacteria and secrete foul-smelling matter (artwork by Jan Sovak, 1989).
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Biodiversity Website
A great information source for all budding biologists. Learn about biodiversity theory, natural history, and conservation issues. From McGill’s Redpath Museum.
An extensively illustrated guide to wildlife species found in British Columbia. Covers bats, birds, beetles, bugs and much more. Also features an insect glossary and notes about invasive species. A biogeographic initiative of the Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, UBC.
The Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
This website provides information about the scope and contents of the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. Check the “Index” link for illustrated descriptions of various taxonomic groups.
University of Alberta's E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum
Check out images and information about insect specimens found in the University of Alberta's E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum, one of the most significant insect collections in Canada.
Aquatic Invertebrates of Alberta Online Textbook
An online guide to all major groups of Alberta's aquatic invertebrates. Offers illustrated details of the natural history of each group as well as tips on collecting and preserving specimens. A University of Alberta website.