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There are roughly 3,500 species of cockroach, in 6 families. Cockroaches exist worldwide, with the exception of the polar regions and in elevations above 6,500 ft.


 


Among the most well-known species are the American cockroach, which is about 3 cm long, and the German cockroach, about 1.5 cm long. Tropical cockroaches are often much bigger. When infesting buildings, cockroaches are considered pests.

Versatile eaters: Cockroaches are generally either scavengers or omnivores. The exception to this is the wood eating Cryptocercus species found in China and the United States. Although they are incapable of digesting plant matter, they have a symbiotic relationship with a protozoan that digests the cellulose in plants, allowing them to extract the nutrients. In this, they are similar to termites and current research suggests that the Cryptocercus is more closely related to termites than it is to other cockroaches, making it an evolutionary link between cockroaches and termites. Cockroaches are most common in tropical and subtropical climates. Some species are in close association with human dwellings and widely found around garbage or in the kitchen.

Night dwellers: Cockroaches are mainly nocturnal, and will run away when exposed to light. A peculiar exception is the Oriental cockroach which is attracted to light, thus making it a far more annoying pest. Roaches are called the custodians of nature. They only live in houses where there are crumbs to eat or the garbage can is uncovered. They lay eggs inside the house's hollow walls.

Super-roach!: The roach is also one of the hardiest insects on the planet, capable of living for a month without food and remaining alive headless for up to a week. It can also hold its breath for 45 minutes and has the ability to slow down its heart rate. Cockroaches also have a very high resistance to radiation. A common urban legend that cockroaches can survive a nuclear attack is in fact true.

Cockroaches have been shown to make group decisions.

Hansel and Roachel: New research being conducted at the University of Florida shows that cockroaches leave chemical trails in their feces. Other cockroaches will follow these trails to discover sources of food, water, and where other cockroaches are hiding. One of the major implications of this research is a new technique in cockroach pest control. Cockroaches could be potentially removed from a home by leaving a chemical trail that leads away from the home.


Female cockroaches are sometimes seen carrying egg cases on the end of their abdomen; the egg case of the German cockroach holds about 30–40 long, thin eggs, packed like frankfurters in the case called an ootheca. The eggs hatch from the combined pressure of the hatchlings gulping air and are initially bright white nymphs that continue inflating themselves with air and harden and darken within about four hours. Their transient white stage while hatching and later while molting has led to many individuals claiming to have seen albino cockroaches.

A female German cockroach carries an egg capsule containing around 40 eggs. She drops the capsule prior to hatching. Development from eggs to adults takes 3–4 months. Cockroaches live up to a year. The female may produce up to eight egg cases in a lifetime. In other words, in favorable conditions it can produce 300–400 offspring. A regular cockroach, however, can produce an extremely high number of eggs in her lifetime. She lays up to 100 eggs in each egg sac. She only needs to be impregnated once to be able to lay eggs for the rest of her life, allowing one single cockroach to lay over a million eggs in her lifetime.

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 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Arthropoda

 Class: Insecta

 Subclass: Pterygota

 Infraclass: Neoptera

 Superorder: Dictyoptera

 Order: Blattodea