Written by Bakang Kganyago
Stories are told of great invaders like Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great who grew empires so large that they almost took over the world, who amassed forces that stretched through many nations and who have been revered throughout history.
These three pale in comparison to the godfather of all invaders, the king of espionage, the army that has stood the test of time with over 300 million years of evolutionary experience: the cockroach! They have been crawling the earth since dinosaurs roamed our lands, secretly at war with us since the first men, outliving the great human conquerors who have walked this earth.
Investigating some of their traits to uncover the secret lives of cockroaches, we look at cockroach facts and what cockroaches eat. After all, you need to know your enemy if youâ€™re planning to overthrow them!
Some cockroach facts you may not have known
Cockroaches have developed secret lives akin to the ninja in feudal Japan, with covert infiltration as their speciality for survival. Cockroaches can enter even the cleanest of living spaces. Using their James Bond-like espionage skills they may sneak into your briefcase at work or hitch a ride in your car without you noticing, and the next thing you bring them home. By the time you notice your an unwelcome guest, the six-legged critter has already begun amassing its army in your home.
One of the most interesting cockroach facts – and the greatest weapon in their arsenal – is their trait of thigmotropism. This means that cockroaches are responsive to touch, and therefore love to wriggle into tight spaces. They are happiest squeezing into cracks and crevices no thicker than a R5 coin, rendering them invisible to lurking humans. They use this trait when house hunting, casing out their target by crawling through tiny gaps around doors and pipes, and shimmying through the smallest openings.
Perhaps youâ€™ve witnessed a cockroach scuttling out of sight faster than a crook hearing a police siren. They are able to detect threats through movements in the air currents, using the fine hairs on their cerci. Cockroaches are immensely fast; their little legs can scuttle at speeds of 80 centimetres per second.
What do cockroaches eat?
Like the Tuareg tribe who were born and bred to thrive in the callous Sahara Desert, these little critters were designed to be resilient and can survive for nearly a month without a meal. If you were wondering â€œwhat do cockroaches eat?â€ the fact that they can feed on almost anything – be it glue, grease, leather, hair rotting food and even faeces – make them even more difficult to eliminate. This repulsive diet works because cockroaches do not require food for nutritional purposes. They get all the nutrients they need from the bacteria in their bodies, which produce the vitamins and amino acids that they need to live.
If you think cutting off a cockroachâ€™s head would be the end of it, youâ€™d be sorely mistaken. Cockroaches can live for about a week without their heads, before meeting their end through dehydration. This is because they can continue to breathe from their sides. Furthermore, this survival behemoth can hold its breath underwater longer than the world record time held by German free diver Tom Sietas, at a time of 30 (long) minutes.
Cockroaches have spread through every corner of the world, militaires sans frontieres; an army without borders. They have an upper hand in this war as few know their secret lives, fewer still are aware of the war that continues to wage on. Those that do know can only hope and wonder how to defeat an enemy thatâ€™s been thriving for a millennia, an enemy responsible for the shrieks that can be heard in homes across every corner of the world.
Fear not, for in these times there has been a silent soldier that has come out of the shadows, a shining knight in crimson and white clad ready to oppose this cunning adversary, charging into battle with a white metal stallion at a momentâ€™s call, Rentokil Initial experts in the fight against cockroaches.
Do you have a cockroach problem?
Cockroaches might be sneaky and have secrets of their own, but Rentokil is armed with an arsenal of expert solutions to get rid of cockroaches in homes and business.