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cockroach or roach, name applied to some 4,600 species of flat-bodied, oval insects in the order Blattodea. Cockroaches have long antennae, long legs adapted to running, and a flat extension of the upper body wall that conceals the head. They range from 1-4 in. to 3 in. (.6–7.6 cm) in length. Some cockroaches have two pairs of well-developed wings, the front pair covering the hind pair when at rest; others have reduced wings or none at all. In some species only the wings of the female are reduced or absent. Many species are able to fly well, although the familiar household species do not fly. Most cockroaches are shiny brown or black, but bright yellows, reds, and greens occur in some tropical species.

Cockroaches are night-active insects and most live in damp places; most are omnivorous scavengers. They are worldwide in distribution but are most numerous in the tropics. Most species live in the wild in their native regions, e.g., the wood cockroaches, species of the genus Parcoblatta, found under forest litter in the NE United States.

A few tropical and subtropical species that have been introduced into the temperate zone have become residents in human homes, where they multiply rapidly and are serious pests. They invade food supplies and emit foul-smelling glandular secretions. Their shape enables them to use tiny cracks as hiding places. They are popularly believed to be carriers of human diseases, although this has not been proved.

Cockroaches reproduce sexually. Their eggs are encased in capsules called oothecae, which in some species remain attached to the abdomen of the female until the eggs hatch. In a few species the ootheca is retained within the body of the female and the young are born live. Young resemble the adults except in size.

The large, dark Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, is a cosmopolitan household species. The smaller German cockroach, or Croton bug, Blattella germanica, native to Europe, is the common urban cockroach of the NE United States. The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, is a large light-reddish species that invades houses in the S United States.

The group as a whole is extremely old; fossil evidence indicates its extreme abundance during the Carboniferous period, about 350 million years ago. These ancient cockroaches were able to fly and were probably the first flying animals. Cockroaches are classified in several families of the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Blattodea.

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(invertebrate zoology)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


any insect of the suborder Blattodea (or Blattaria), such as Blatta orientalis (oriental cockroach or black beetle): order Dictyoptera. They have an oval flattened body with long antennae and biting mouthparts and are common household pests
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
But while the total number of pest control call-outs to deal with cockroaches is fewer than the calls for both rats and bedbugs, the number of cockroach incidents was higher than ever last year.
One call-out to deal with cockroaches was to a location that was not recorded.
The markings on the cockroaches trapped in the houses were tallied for sewer or yard origin.
d It cannot be reopened until repairs are carried out to eliminate the cockroach problem.
A research team from Hokkaido University found female cockroaches living in close proximity to other females were more likely to reproduce even without males present, which may explain why cockroaches were able to exist for at least ( 300 million years.
The Contamination of Food: If there is a cockroach problem within a structure and open food, the roach will find it and leave behind its droppings and empty egg shells.
19 January 2015: Customer |complains of seeing a cockroach on the floor of the ground floor dining area.
This lovely little book from the CSIRO 'guide to' stable will open your eyes to the wonderful world of cockroach diversity.
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The trapped cockroach specimens were placed in labeled jars and transported to the Medical Parasitology Laboratory, Jimma University, for identification and further processing.