Cockroaches are generalized insects, with few special adaptations, and may be among the most primitive living neopteran insects. They have a relatively small head and a broad, flattened body, and most species are reddish-brown to dark brown. They have large compound eyes, two ocelli, and long, flexible antennae. The mouthparts are on the underside of the head and include generalized chewing mandibles, salivary glands and various touch and taste receptors.
Cockroaches are abundant throughout the world and live in a wide range of environments, especially in the tropics and subtropics. Cockroaches can withstand extremely cold temperatures, allowing them to live in the Arctic. Some species are capable of surviving temperatures of −188 °F (−122 °C) by manufacturing an antifreeze made out of glycerol. In North America, 50 species separated into five families are found throughout the continent. 450 species are found in Australia. Only about four widespread species are commonly regarded as pests.
Cockroaches occupy a wide range of habitats. Many live in leaf litter, among the stems of matted vegetation, in rotting wood, in holes in stumps, in cavities under bark, under log piles and among debris. Some live in arid regions and have developed mechanisms to survive without access to water sources. Others are aquatic, living near the surface of water bodies, including bromeliad phytotelmata, and diving to forage for food. Most of these respire by piercing the water surface with the tip of the abdomen which acts as a snorkel, but some carry a bubble of air under their thoracic shield when they submerge. Others live in the forest canopy where they may be one of the main types of invertebrate present. Here they may hide during the day in crevices, among dead leaves, in bird and insect nests or among epiphytes, emerging at night to feed.
The Blattodea include some thirty species of cockroaches associated with humans; these species are atypical of the thousands of species in the order. They feed on human and pet food and can leave an offensive odor. They can passively transport pathogenic microbes on their body surfaces, particularly in environments such as hospitals.Cockroaches are linked with allergic reactions in humans. One of the proteins that trigger allergic reactions is tropomyosin. These allergens are also linked with asthma. About 60% of asthma patients in Chicago are also sensitive to cockroach allergens. Studies similar to this have been done globally and all the results are similar. Cockroaches can live for a few days up to a month without food, so just because no cockroaches are visible in a home does not mean they are not there. Approximately 20-48% of homes with no visible sign of cockroaches have detectable cockroach allergens in dust.
Cockroaches can burrow into human ears, causing pain and hearing loss. They may be removed with forceps, possibly after first drowning with olive oil.—Wikipedia