Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Cockroaches are among some of the ancestors of the oldest and most primitive of insects. Although the majority of the species are entirely feral and not directly associated with people, a few species have evolved in proximity to human habitations. Several species of cockroaches are particularly suited to our indoor environment, because of their omnivorous nature made possible by their unspecialized chewing mouthparts; they feed on virtually any organic substance grown, manufactured, stored, excreted or discarded by humans. This fosters a close physical relationship with resultant chronic exposure of humans to these pests. Although in most instances, they are primarily nuisance pests, their presence can have more serious health implications. Literature reveals associations of cockroaches with over 30 species of bacteria pathogenic to humans, several species of pathogenic parasites of humans, an important role of cockroaches as intermediate hosts of 19 parasites of veterinary importance. Among the public health concerns are the increasing incidense of allergies in humans to cockroaches that can have life-threaten important, but requires care in that toxifying their habitat toxifies ours. Current control measures and strategies for the future are discussed.
Technical Abstract: This chapter addresses the common species of cockroaches that affect the health of humans and animals. General entomological topics covered include the taxonomy, morphology, life histories, and behavior and ecology of cockroaches. Specific sections deal with the 13 most common species encountered in the United States, and the importance of these to public health and veterinary science. Among the public health concerns are the increasing incidense of allergies in humans to cockroaches. This can have serious consequences to cockroach-sensitive asthmatics. Literature also is reviewed that documents associations of cockroaches with over 30 species of bacteria pathogenic to humans, several species of pathogenic parasites of humans, and role of cockroaches as intermediate hosts of 19 parasites of veterinary importance. Methods of control are discussed and include concerns over the use of biological control agents indoors. The direction of new management strategies for the future also is discussed.