Cockroaches are flat, nocturnal insects that hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Under good conditions, cockroaches can reproduce rapidly. Female cockroaches place 18 to 30 eggs within a protective covering or egg case called an ootheca, which is later deposited in a protected location. A single female may produce 4 to 20 oothecae during her lifetime. The ootheca provides protection for eggs as they develop prior to hatching and emergence of young cockroaches. Cockroaches or their ootheca can be the source of a new infestation, and both are transported easily in grocery sacks, boxes, animal feed sacks or other similar containers.
Young cockroaches are the most active feeding stage in the life cycle. Cockroaches consume a wide variety of foods, including garbage, stored food, feces, greases, food scraps, hair, paper, and dead animal or plant material. They can transport diseased organisms from dirty areas like garbage cans and sewers to clean areas. Diseased organisms are carried on the outside of the insects' bodies, or they pass through the digestive tract and are distributed with fecal materials. In addition, cockroaches regurgitate repeatedly when feeding, and these secretions will contaminate stored foods. Large populations of cockroaches often produce an obtrusive and unpleasant odour, which contains a combination of their faeces and saliva.