Is it true that cockroaches can bite?October 7, 2018
Do insects have teeth? This may seem like a silly question, because they must have teeth. How else do they bite? Well, mosquitoes have a proboscis that projects from their mouth. The proboscis is a long straw-like tube with 47 sharp bits that let it pierce through skin and clothes. They use it to suck out your blood. Other insects like ticks, fleas, and termites have ‘teeth’ called mandibles, and yes, cockroaches have them too.
As if we didn’t have enough scary trivia about them, it turns out the jaw of a cockroach is five times as strong as a human jaw. Cockroaches generally feed on leftovers, garbage, and food scraps, but they can also chew through wiring, drywall, paper, hair, rubber, or wood. Their powerful jaws allow them to grind their mandibles through these materials, and they do occasionally bite us. Although their bites are not infectious, cockroaches cause diseases.
Generally, these diseases spread when cockroaches contaminate our food with E.coli, salmonella, and other germs. Because they move through trash and rotting material, these germs attach onto them, and can be passed to our food. Another way cockroaches affect us is through allergies. They leave lots of faeces, saliva, egg casings, dead body parts, and flakes around us. When we breathe these in, they can affect our respiratory process.
Respiratory triggers from cockroach attacks
In this way, cockroach infestations can cause coughs, asthma attacks, or lung irritation. They can also cause skin rashes, sinus problems, or even ear infections. The force of a cockroach bite is fifty times its own body weight, which is what makes them so destructive to our homes. Fortunately, they don’t bite our bodies very often. When they do, we get reddish inflammations that are a little bigger than mosquito bite sites.
Sometimes, the bites cluster and scab over, but the bites themselves don’t do much harm. They do get itchy though, and if you scratch them and draw blood, then the bites can get infected. Cockroach bites don’t need any treatment. Try to ignore them and they’ll heal on their own. Also, they don’t happen frequently. After all, you’d have to be sleeping to get bitten. If you were awake, you’d spot the cockroach and squish it before it bit you.
The places where we sleep – or even nap – are not particularly attractive to cockroaches. They like damp, dark, warm places with lots of food for them. You’ll find them under the sink, in the drain, behind the fridge, or in the cupboard, because they like food that is sweet, sugary, and starchy. When they eat non-food products, they prefer it to be rotting, so old books, moist newspapers, or decomposing logs are especially tasty.
No more breakfast in bed
You probably don’t have these types of things in your bedroom, or on your favourite sofa. People living outdoors are more susceptible, because they often sleep on cardboard boxes. These cardboards can attract dew and moisture, and they’re usually stashed in dank corners during the day, so they’re ideal for cockroach nesting. But for the rest of us, cockroaches don’t frequent our sleeping spaces.
There are caveats of course. If you live in an apartment block or shared living space, then cockroaches from your neighbours could make their way into your house. This can get nasty if your lazy chair or bed is positioned near their bathroom or kitchen. Another risk factor is eating in bed. The crumbs and food particles that fall on the ground or get between the sheets could attract cockroaches, which increases your chances of being bitten.
Rotting wooden boats
Two scientists named Roth and Willis wrote a paper in 1960 describing marine cockroach infestations, where these insects bit the fingernails and toenails of sailors, as well as the eyelashes of small children. If that doesn’t cure you of midnight snacks (in bed) then nothing will. If you must eat at 2.00 a.m., do your snacking in the kitchen and don’t bring anything back to your room or sleeping space. Smaller cockroaches don’t usually bite human beings, but the larger two or three inch ones can.
They will only bite you while you’re completely still, so if you’re someone who moves around a lot in your sleep, then you’re safe. If you do spot a cockroach bite, wash it with soap and water, then wipe it with surgical spirit or rubbing alcohol to get rid of any infectious materials, especially if there’s any broken skin. By the time you’re noticing cockroach bites on your skin, you probably have a really bad infestation, so get in touch with your nearest cockroach pest control experts.