Apartments and townhouses on one street.

Few things put more fear in the average apartment dweller than seeing a cockroach scurry across the floor in broad daylight.

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The simple sound of the word "cockroach" can make the skin of the strongest man crawl. Actually seeing one can send homeowners and apartment dwellers seeking refuge at the top of the highest piece of furniture or heading out for dinner to get away from the awful pests.

But are cockroaches really as bad as all that? On one hand, they're tough: Cockroaches are said to be the one thing that could survive nuclear war. Although that's not quite the case, an old wives tale, it is true that this nasty insect has been around for about 320 million years -- literally since before dinosaurs walked the earth.

On the other hand, they're ugly, carry disease and like to hide. Cockroaches come out at night, preferring to move around in dark, warm, tight places where their bodies can touch a surface above and below [source: PublicHealthPests]. This kind of place is what cockroaches are seeking when you flip the light on and see a couple of them scurry under a cabinet or the refrigerator.

While there are thousands of types of roaches, you are most likely to find one of these four kinds infesting the nooks and crannies of houses, apartments and businesses:

You'll almost never see these types during the day. They much prefer moving around in the dark. So, if you see a cockroach in daylight, you should suspect an infestation. Cockroaches don't like traveling alone, and will explore their habitats during the day if it's quiet. The definition of infestation may be fluid, even in your own mind. You may be able to stand one or two roaches around your garbage cans, for example, but not want to see a single one in your kitchen.

Read on for information about how to prevent a cockroach infestation or deal with it if you have one.