Even the best of families have them.

They live in sewers, septic tanks, cracks and crevices, under stoves and refrigerators, in closets, bureau drawers, kitchen cupboards and dark basements.

They come out mainly at night.

Their priorities, once their hosts have settled down for the night, are water, food and courting, in that order.

A single pair of German cockroaches (the most common variety in this country) can produce 100,000 or more young in just one year.

Among favored foods: pet food, grease, food crumbs, newspapers, paper bags stored between kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator, pages of books and magazines, soap and shoe polish.

A dozen cockroaches can sustain themselves for more than a week with the nutrients in the adhesive of a single postage stamp. The German cockroach can go two weeks without either food or water. Its American cockroach cousin can survive a month on water alone and three weeks without food or water.

It is said the Russians and French regard the cockroach as a protecting spirit and consider it bad luck if the roaches leave their houses.

If you are fortunate enough to be cockroach-free, you may have another problem: Mice are said to thrive on the insect made famous in the song bearing its (Spanish) name, La Cucaracha, "the rumba of romance."