Many studies have pointed to the fact that cockroaches are a leading trigger of allergies and asthma attacks. The pests’ saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially in children.
“Most people are aware of typical indoor allergens including mould, pet dander, dust and second-hand smoke, but they should also be mindful of any cockroach infestations in their home or other places such as schools,” said Steve Anderson, owner of Cambridgeshire-based SDA Pest Control.
“Cockroach allergens are typically found in areas that are hard to see, such as under appliances and sinks, so it’s important to periodically check those areas, keeping them clean and dry.”
Cockroaches also spread disease such as Salmonella by picking up germs on the spines of their legs, easily contaminating food and surfaces that they touch. They spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six types of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.
Cockroaches are quite large insects. They vary in size from 10mm – 23mm in length with long antennae and two sets of wings. The two main species of cockroach found in the UK are the German cockroach and the Oriental cockroach.
The German cockroach prefers warm, moist environments, particularly heating systems in large buildings. It can swim, fly, climb smooth surfaces easily and hide in inaccessible places.
The Oriental cockroach is found mainly indoors in heated buildings like hospitals, hotels, restaurants, prisons and blocks of flats. It is sometimes found outdoors around dustbins and rubbish tips. It is dark brown to black in colour, very shiny, and has long flexible antennae and a flattened body. It cannot fly or climb smooth surfaces but can move very rapidly.