/kok"rohch'/, n.
any of numerous orthopterous insects of the family Blattidae, characterized by a flattened body, rapid movements, and nocturnal habits and including several common household pests. Also called roach. Cf. American cockroach, German cockroach, oriental cockroach.
[1615-25; < Sp cucaracha, of uncert. orig., assimilated by folk etym. to COCK1, ROACH2]

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Any of more than 3,500 insect species (in suborder Blattaria, order Dictyoptera) that are among the most primitive living, winged insects and among the oldest (more than 320 million years old) fossil insects.

Cockroaches have a flattened, oval body; long, threadlike antennae; and a shining, leathery, black or brown covering. They prefer a warm, humid, dark environment and are usually found in tropical or other mild climates, but have become widespread in heated buildings, especially city apartment buildings, in the temperate zone, and infestations can be severe. Only a few species have become pests. Cockroaches eat both animal and plant material. The American cockroach is up to about 2 in. (30–50 mm) long. The German cockroach (less than 0.5 in., or about 12 mm, long) is a common household pest which has been spread throughout the world by ship.

Female cockroach (Periplaneta)

Colin Butler
Bruce Coleman Ltd.
(as used in expressions)
Roach Hal
Harold Eugene Roach
Roach Maxwell

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also called  roach 
 any of about 4,000 species of insects that are among the most primitive living, winged insects, appearing today much like they do in fossils that are more than 320 million years old. The word cockroach is a corruption of the Spanish cucaracha. The cockroach is characterized by a flattened oval body, long threadlike antennae, and a shining black or brown leathery integument. The head is bent downward, and the mouthparts point backward instead of forward or downward as is the case in most other insects. The male usually has two pairs of wings, whereas the female, in some species, is wingless or has vestigial wings. The female produces eggs in egg cases (called oothecae). These are sometimes held protruding from her body or may be glued in protected areas. After the female deposits an egg case, the soft, white nymphs emerge. As their exoskeleton hardens, it turns brown in colour. The structure and large size (certain species have a wingspread of more than 12 cm [4.7 inches]) of cockroaches have made them objects of interest in the biological laboratory.

      The cockroach prefers a warm, humid, dark environment and is usually found in tropical or other mild climates. Only a few species have become pests. The insect damages more material than it consumes and emits a disagreeable odour. The diet of the roach, which includes both plant and animal products, ranges from food, paper, clothing, and books to dead insects, especially bedbugs. Insecticides are used in roach control.

      The American cockroach (species Periplaneta americana) is 30 to 50 mm long (up to about 2 inches), reddish brown, and lives outdoors or in dark, heated indoor areas (e.g., basements and furnace rooms). During adult life, a period of about 1.5 years, the female deposits 50 or more oothecae, each containing about 16 eggs that hatch after 45 days. Nymphal life lasts from 11 to 14 months. The American cockroach, a native of tropical and subtropical America, has well-developed wings. However, most species are not good flyers.

      The German cockroach (Blattella germanica), a common household pest sometimes erroneously called a waterbug, is light brown with two dark stripes on the prothoracic region. The female produces the ootheca three days after mating and carries it for about 20 days. Because it is small (about 12 mm [less than 0.5 inch] long), this cockroach often is carried into homes in grocery bags and boxes; it has spread throughout the world by ship. Three or more generations may occur yearly. This cockroach, abundant around the water pipes of the Croton Aqueduct in New York City, became known as the Croton bug.

      The brown-banded cockroach (Supella supellectilium) resembles the German cockroach but is slightly smaller. The male has fully developed wings and is lighter in colour than the female, whose wings are short and nonfunctional. Both sexes have two light-coloured bands across the back. The adult life span is about 200 days, and there may be two generations annually. Eggs may be deposited in clothes, wood molding, or cracks in the floor. With the advent of heated buildings this cockroach became established in cooler climates.

      The Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) is considered one of the filthiest of household pests. It is oval, shiny black or dark brown, 25 to 30 mm (1 to 1.2 inches) long, with a life cycle similar to that of the American cockroach. The male has short, fully developed wings, and the female has vestigial wings. This cockroach has been distributed by vehicles of commerce from its Asiatic origins to all the temperate regions.

      Wood roaches are not domestic pests. Parcoblatta pennsylvanica, the common wood cockroach, is found under logs and stones in northern latitudes. The male and female are so different in appearance that they were once considered separate species. The male, 15 to 25 mm (0.6 to 1 inch) long, has wings that extend past the abdomen; the female is smaller and has much shorter wings. Cryptocercus punctulatus digests wood with the aid of certain protozoans in its digestive tract.

      Some authorities consider cockroaches to be a suborder of either the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids) or the order Dictyoptera (mantids and cockroaches).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cockroach — Cock roach, n. [Sp. cucaracha.] (Zo[ o]l.) An orthopterous insect of the genus {Blatta}, and allied genera. [1913 Webster] Note: The species are numerous, especially in hot countries. Those most commonly infesting houses in Europe and North… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cockroach — [käk′rōch΄] n. [Sp cucaracha, wood louse, cockroach, altered by assoc. with COCK1 + ROACH1] any of an order (Blattaria) of insects with long antennae and a flat, soft body: some species are common household pests …   English World dictionary

  • cockroach — 1620s, folk etymology (as if from cock + roach) of Sp. cucaracha chafer, beetle, from cuca kind of caterpillar. Folk etymology also holds that the first element is from caca excrement. A certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cockroach — ► NOUN ▪ a beetle like scavenging insect with long antennae and legs, some kinds of which are household pests. ORIGIN Spanish cucaracha …   English terms dictionary

  • Cockroach — For other uses, see Cockroach (disambiguation). Cockroach Common household roaches A) German cockroach B) American cockroach C) Australian cockroach D E) Oriental cockroach (♀ & …   Wikipedia

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  • cockroach — cock·roach (kŏk’rōch′) n. ▸ Any of numerous insects of the order or suborder Blattaria, having oval flat bodies and laying eggs in hardened cases, and including several species that are common household pests. ╂ [By folk etymology from obsolete… …   Word Histories

  • cockroach — noun Etymology: by folk etymology from Spanish cucaracha cockroach Date: 1623 any of an order or suborder (Blattodea syn. Blattaria) of chiefly nocturnal insects including some that are domestic pests compare German cockroach …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cockroach — [17] Cockroach is a product of folk etymology, the process by which a ‘foreign’ – sounding is adapted by speakers of a language so as to seem more familiar. In this case the foreign word was Spanish cucaracha. This was evidently too much for 17th …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • cockroach — UK [ˈkɒkrəʊtʃ] / US [ˈkɑkˌroʊtʃ] noun [countable] Word forms cockroach : singular cockroach plural cockroaches an insect similar to a large beetle that lives in places where food is kept …   English dictionary

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