Do Cockroaches Bite People? Should You Be Afraid?
Cockroaches are some of the most widely spread pests but still, there are a lot of things that we do not know about them. The main concerns are always about what exactly are the dangers of having a cockroach infestation and what that means for you and your family. They contaminate our food, cause allergy, spread diseases and even sometimes bite us! Let’s take a look at those dangers in more detail.
Do Cockroaches Bite?
The thought alone that your home has a cockroach infestation is terrifying, so the last thing we need is to add the fear that they might come to our beds at night and nibble your arm or nose. Truth is that cockroaches do bite but very rarely we can feel it happening. It’s important to note that going after humans is the last resort for cockroaches. For something like this to occur, the infestation has to be huge and the amount of food be insufficient for all the roaches.
What Do a Cockroach Bites Look Like?
Cockroach bites look a lot like bed bug bites due to their form and size. The cockroach bites are approximately 4mm wide, bright red/pinkish and leave bumpy skin. Usually, the bites are way bigger than the bed bugs bites and don't occur in clusters.
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How strong is a cockroach bite?
Did you know that the American roach is known to bite with a force 50 times more than its body weight? This adds up to all their other superpowers that we hate so much, such as being practically invincible, living up to 2 weeks without head and run like the wind across the ceiling. The insects were given to bite a device, which aimed to measure the strength of their mandibles. Two of them bit the sensor of the device so hard that they chipped their distal teeth and they had to be taken down from the experiment.
Now we know that this may sound scary but take in mind that the relation is bite force to body weight. So, a bite from a cockroach will not feel like a human bite. Most likely, you will only feel a slight pinch when it happens and the discomfort after will not last more than a few seconds. It may itch a little bit but not like a mosquito bite or a flea. A roach bite doesn't leave any marks and cannot kill or poison you. The pests are a lot more dangerous with their disease spreading skills, so biting is not something that you should focus on.
Possible Reactions to a Cockroach Bite
You've seen some bites on you or on someone else in your family and you are wondering if they are caused by a cockroach or some other insect. First, you have to know all the symptoms, including the allergic ones. An allergic reaction occurs when your white blood cells attack the cockroach allergens. It can happen when your immune system reacts to the proteins contained in the saliva, faeces and the body of the insect, very often through inhalation. Direct skin contact is another hazardous way of triggering an allergy, as well as being exposed to an area that was once infested with cockroaches. Even if they are already gone, the allergens have the ability to become airborne and remain on the premises long after.
Now that you know how you can get an allergic reaction, related to a cockroach infestation, it’s time to learn how to identify a cockroach bite.
- The roach will leave a red bump, similar to the one you would get from a mosquito, but slightly larger.
- Redness and rash will appear.
- Sometimes a cluster of other red bumps will appear around the actual bite mark, but this is not very common.
It's really important to understand that just as with a mosquito bite, or any other bite, scratching is absolutely forbidden. It can cause inflammation and other complications.
If you have asthma, it is very likely that you will have an asthma attack. Also, it's not uncommon for people with other types of allergies to experience anaphylaxis. This is a reaction that involves lowered blood pressure, shortness of breath and complete shock, which may lead to a fatal outcome.
In two words, having a cockroach infestation is not a pleasant experience and it needs to be taken care of by a professional cockroach exterminator after the first sightings.
Which species of roaches bite the most?
All roaches have jaws and all roaches bite but some do it more often than others… Just because they can be found more frequently around human homes. The American, the Australian and the German roaches are the most known biters among other types. The after-effects are pretty similar and most likely, you will not be able to notice any difference. In the UK, the most common roaches are American and German cockroaches.
Diseases Cockroaches Carry
Cockroaches are most popular with the fact that they can contaminate your food. This is indeed correct but more precisely they transmit bacteria that cause diseases, food poisoning, viruses, fungi and moulds. Those are equally dangerous for humans as well as for their animal companions. Indirectly, roaches are also able to poison our food by transmitting the bacteria in the agricultural products, which eventually end up in our plates.
Those pesky insects are responsible for most asthma and allergy problems. No matter the number of cockroaches, they still manage to produce a significant amount of allergens, which can remain for more than 6 months after the end of an infestation.
More than 90% of pesticides that we use in our homes are directed at cockroaches, as they are the most common pests. Unfortunately, those pesticides carry some problems, as well. Turns out that not only cockroaches are not very health-friendly but the products that we use against them are harmful to people, too. Very often they are applied inappropriately on surfaces. Also, due to our heavy reliance on aerosols, a potential human exposure problem is at hand.
Lear more on how to get rid of cockroaches
In conclusion: you cannot directly get infected with a disease by a cockroach if you, for example, get bitten. Instead, they spread it through the contamination of your food and surfaces. Here is a list of the possible diseases that cockroaches spread:
- Poliomyelitis virus
- Escherichia coli
If you have doubts that something has been contaminated, the safest route will be to just throw it out. If this is not possible, sanitise the item or surface as much as you can.