What To Know About Cockroaches

In the United States, there are about 70 species of cockroaches. Despite this large number, there is actually over 4,500 species around the world[1]. For the most part, cockroaches reside outside and live their lives creating nests in tree hollows. Since they eat just about everything, they are an important part to many ecosystems as they forage, harvest and help recycle nutrients from decaying plants and animals.

Like many outdoor pests, they often find their way indoors in their pursuit of water and food. Cockroaches especially are susceptible to dehydration which is often way we see them near plumbing, drains, bathtubs and sinks.  A typical cockroach can last over 30 days without food but can’t live beyond a week without water.

For example, the German cockroach can overrun homes and spread bacteria in bathrooms, kitchens and food pantries.  Because their diet includes just about anything, they travel around and over bacteria and decaying matter. This makes most cockroaches that invade houses, apartment buildings, restaurants and other businesses a legitimate health risk. This can result in spreading disease and bacteria on food, countertops and surfaces[2].

Common Cockroach Species

The most common cockroach species found throughout the United States are the american (i.e. palmetto bugs), brown-banded, german, oriental (i.e. water bugs), and smoky brown cockroach species.

Each species has specific markings or characteristics that make them easily identifiable.  Below is a short list of visual identifiers you can use to pinpoint which type you have seen.

American: Reddish-brown color with a light yellow band behind its head Asian: Light to tan brown in color with two black stripes behind its head Australian: Brown color with distinctive tan ring-like patterns behind its head Brown-banded: Narrow in shape with light brown or yellow bands on their bodies and wings German: Light brown color with two dark stripes behind its head Oriental: Shiny exterior with either a dark brown or black  coloration Smoky-brown: Dark to  Mahogany-colored brown with extra large wings Wood: Predominantly dark brown throughout with large wings – often featuring white edges

How To Eliminate Cockroaches

Cockroaches flourish where food, moisture, and shelter are readily available; therefore, making cleanliness an important step in preventing and correcting cockroach problems. Food waste and filled kitchen sinks with dirty dishware are one of the most common conditions for cockroaches. These conditions often attract a range of cockroach species. Additionally, available cracks and gaps around plumbing, drains, doors, and windows are entry points for wood cockroaches. Filling gaps with caulk or sealant and installing door sweeps will help reduce the chance of outdoor critters getting into your home or business.

If an infestation has occurred, one of the most important steps to solving a cockroach issue is determining where they are harboring. This will likely mean grabbing a flashlight and looking around areas of moisture as well as cracks and crevices where cockroaches have been seen. Since cockroaches prefer low-lit and dark areas, they can be difficult to spot – leaving powders, gels and bait stations to effectively do the work for you.

Choosing the type of solution depends on the approach. With bait stations, placement is vital to their effectiveness. If you have German or American cockroaches, place bait stations under/around toilets and vanities; behind refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves; near trash containers; and inside cabinets and storage areas. This will target common foraging areas. When using these bait stations, it is important to place them flush against corners and edges of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. With gels and powders, it is effective to use a solution that has a syringe capable of injecting the bait or powder into crevices and cracks. When using syringe products, inject small pea-sized dabs of bait into cracks, corners, edges and other places where roaches reside. Avoid large dabs or excessive globs of bait. Cockroaches are not drawn to baits from long distances; they come upon them during their foraging activities[3].
[1]Cockroach Facts – What They Are, What They Do, and Why You Should Care, Written by Andrew Martin, Reviewed by Helene Steenkamp, PhD. https://cockroachfacts.com/facts-about-roaches/
[2]Disease Vectors and Pests (2009) CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha04.htm6. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/6/120615-fathers-day-best-dads-animals-pictures-science/
[3]Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments“, Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist University of Kentucky. https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614

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turkestan cockroaches

Spotlight on an Invasive Cockroach Species

The Turkestan cockroach is also known as the “rusty red cockroach” or the “red runner cockroach.” It is primarily an outdoor insect, not known as an aggressive indoor pest, unlike some cockroach species such as the German and American cockroaches [4].
It is thought that the species was introduced back in the late 1970s via airport transport planes traveling from Central Asia. However, the ongoing emergence of Turkestan cockroaches over recent years is also tied to reptile pet owners and breeders. The Turkestan cockroach is popular as live food among reptile breeders and can be easily bought and sold online.
Its status as an invasive species as emerged in the Southwest, most notably in California. In recent years, it has begun to displace the oriental cockroach due to its faster breeding cycle. Despite being an outdoor insect, they will travel indoors in search of a cooler and damper area[5].
[4]“A Changing Population – Turkestan Cockroach Overtakes the American Southwest… and Possibly NYC.” Marcia Anderson. The United States Environmental Protection Agency Blog, October 2016. https://blog.epa.gov/2016/10/25/a-changing-population-turkestan-cockroach-overtakes-the-american-southwest-and-possibly-nyc/
[5]“Life History and Biology of the Invasive Turkestan Cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattidae).” Tina Kim & Michael Rust. Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Issue 6, 1 December 2013, Pages 2428–2432. https://academic.oup.com/jee/article/106/6/2428/813184


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