Cockroaches are among the most common insect pests in our homes, schools, and businesses. Worldwide there are about 3,500
species of cockroaches. The United States alone is home to more than 50 different varieties. Of those 50 varieties, there are about
5 that are considered nuisance pests or home invaders. These are the German Cockroach, American Cockroach, Oriental
Cockroach, Smokybrown Cockroach and the Brown Banded Cockroach. The first step in addressing any cockroach infestation is to
identify the species correctly. The techniques used to manage one species seldom prove effective when applied to another species.
assess and determine the proper action plan to elimate any one of these pests.
While the name implies a Germanic origin, the German Cockroach actually
comes from Asia. In fact, it is related to the Asian Cockroach., The German
Cockroach is the most common cockroach species found in homes and
restaurants. It is small measuring just over half an inch long. It is usually light
brown to dark brown, with 2 dark streaks running from the head to the base of
its wings. Although it has wings, it cannot fly.
German cockroaches spend their lives indoors most often infesting kitchens
and bathrooms. This cockroach is a scavenger and will eat almost anything,
including other cockroaches. German cockroaches are the most prolific of
indoor cockroaches and can produce a generation in about 100 days.
The German Cockroach is very hardy, which makes it a difficult pest to control. These roaches make there way into homes by
hitchhiking on grocery items such as egg cartons, soft drink cartons, sacks of potatoes or onions. They can also sneak in with
used furniture or appliances.
During the day, these roaches may be found hiding clustered behind baseboard moldings, pictures and clocks, in cracks
around cabinets, closets or pantries, and in and under stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers. German roaches do not like
motion and usually avoid light, so if you are seeing them in the daytime while you are moving about the room, you probably
have a larger population than you realize. These pests also prefer to hide within 5 feet or less of their food and water source.
A female may produce 4 to 6 cases of eggs during her lifetime, each containing 30 to 40 eggs. Eggs hatch in 28 to 30 days.
Female roaches live about 200 days, with males living not quite as long. The German roach produces more eggs and has
more generations per year (3 to 4) than other roaches, and only a few individuals are needed to develop into troublesome
The American Cockroach also know as a Palmetto Bug or Water Bug is reddish brown
with a pale brown yellow band across its head. Despite being named the American
Cockroach, it actually originated in Africa. They are probably the largest of all the
common species growing up to about 1 or 2 inches long. Both sexes have well
developed wings but the males wings extend beyond the abdomen. Both the adult male
and the female can fly.
American cockroaches are generally an outdoor species, living in wood piles, decaying
trees or leaves and are commonly found in sewer systems. They may also be found in
basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches, foundations, and walkways
adjacent to buildings.
They thrive in moist areas, but can survive in dry areas if they have access to water. They do not tolerate cold temperatures
very well. The female carries her eggs in an egg case. The eggs hatch in 6 to 8 weeks, and the young mature in 12 months.
The female can produce an average of 150 young per year. American cockroaches are long-lived, reaching adulthood and
sexual maturity in an average of 600 days. As adults, they usually live 1 to 2 years.
Due to their large size and slow development, large infestations of these insects are not common within households. However,
during certain times of the year, these cockroaches may move inside a house from outside to find warmth and food.
The American Cockroach is mostly nocturnal and very active at night. It is extremely fast and is considered one of the fastest
The Oriental Cockroach is also known as a Waterbug, it is also one of the larger
species. It measures about 1 inch long. It varies in color from dark reddish brown
The oriental cockroach can be found indoors in dark, high moisture areas such as
sewers and damp basements. They are usually found at ground level or below and
less often on walls or high in cupboards. They are found outdoors underneath
porches, under leaves, mulch and around damp spots. They prefer cooler
temperatures around 75 degrees and can survive outdoors in protected areas
where temperatures average 40 to 45 degrees.
Oriental cockroaches feed on all kinds of filth and other decaying organic matter. They can live for about a month without food
but only about 2 weeks without water. In very cold weather you will probably find them migrating indoors. The female differs
from the male in that she she has two short wings behind her head that are not used for flight. The male has a longer set of
wings and can fly for short distances.
Each female carries 16 individual eggs in her egg case. The egg cases are dropped and left to hatch, usually in about 2
months. Because of this habit, they are harder to get rid of than other species of cockroaches. It can take an exterminator
several months to completely eliminate an Oriental Cockroach infestation.
Unlike other pest cockroaches, oriental cockroaches cannot climb up smooth surfaces (they lack sticky pads on their feet).
The Smokybrown cockroach is closely related to the American cockroach and
is also a larger sized species reaching up to 1½ inches long. They are dark
brown to black and their wings extend beyond the abdomen in both sexes.
Their antennae are as long as or longer than their bodies.
The smokybrown cockroach is commonly found outdoors, especially in the
more humid areas of Texas. They prefer living in protected, moist, warm sites,
away from moving air. Common habitats are ground cover, mulch, palm
fronds, and tree holes. Indoors they take up residence in attics, basements
and any dark, poorly ventilated area.
Smokybrown cockroaches reach maturity in an average of 600 days, and
adults typically live 3 to 9 months.
Brown Banded Cockroach
Brown Banded Cockroaches are about the same size as German cockroaches, but have
bands that go across their abdomen instead of up and down. Unlike the German cockroach,
they will infest other areas in your home besides just the kitchen and bathroom areas. They
don't proliferate quite as quickly as the German Cockroach.
The brown-banded cockroach tends to inhabit areas that are dry, less humid and much
warmer, with a temperature greater than 80 degrees. They can be found inside cabinets,
pantries and closets as well as on ceilings, in attics and in or around appliance motors.They
are most active primarily at night, however they may be seen wandering in search of food
during the day.
Brown-banded cockroaches, like other cockroach species, are opportunistic feeders. However, when provided a choice, they
have a preference for materials with a higher starch content, such as book bindings, wallpaper glue and stamps.
An adult brown-banded cockroach can live anywhere from 130 to 315 days, with an average life span of 206 days. During that
time, a female brown-banded cockroach will produce approximately 14 egg capsules which contains an average of 10 to 18
eggs. She will carry it for approximately 24 to 36 hours, and then attach it to the protected underside of a surface until the
young hatch. Once the young hatch, the time needed to develop varies greatly depending upon the environmental conditions,
ranging from as few as 90 days in ideal conditions to as many as 276 in more harsh environments.