Cockroach Identification

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There are thousands of varieties of cockroaches, but only about thirty of them can comfortably live with humans. The four main species of pests in the United States are the American, German, Asian, and Oriental cockroaches. (These names have little bearing on origin?the American roach was introduced to the United States from Africa as early as 1625). Roaches vary in size from about 1/2" (German), up to 2" (American). Ironically in America, the species that is most common in homes is the German variety.

German Cockroaches

German roaches prefer warm, moist environments, particularly kitchens, boiler rooms and heating systems in large buildings. They can swim, fly (although they rarely do), climb smooth surfaces (including the ceiling) easily and hide in inaccessible places. They are brown to dark brown in color and can be found all over the world. This species increases in population at a very rapid rate: a single female and her offspring can produce over 30,000 individuals in a year. This is the roach that roach exterminators are most often called on to eliminate. They are resilient and best able to withstand home roach control products.

American Cockroaches
The American roach is the species that people find most repulsive. It is the largest of these common species and can easily reach two inches in length. We see these roaches crawling over garbage and other waste, skittering out of sight when the light is turned on, interrupting their feeding activities. They access buildings and contaminate food, shed skin, deposit waste and saliva and create an unpleasant odor when enough gather. They prefer dark, moist, warm areas. American cockroaches are found in basements, boiler rooms, and laundry rooms. The adult American roach is reddish brown in appearance with a pale-brown or yellow band behind the head.

Oriental (or Common) Cockroaches
Oriental cockroaches are very dark brown to shiny black in color and roughly an inch to 1 and 1/2 inches in length. They are often thought of as a water bug or black beetle. They have wings but cannot fly. These pests like to live outdoors when the weather is warm, but they move indoors during extremes of heat, cold or drought. They like garbage storage areas, basements and crawl spaces, spaces between the soil and building foundations, the undersides of stoops and sidewalks, landscaping mulches, water meters, basements and their floor drains, and other such moist places. These cockroaches frequently live in floor drains that drain directly outside; these drains are also used as entrances to homes. The Oriental roach prefers starchy food, and builds up populations around garbage cans. They tolerate lower temperature ranges than other roaches and may winter in rock walls or such protected sites. These cockroaches are more sensitive to lack of water than other roaches.

Asian Cockroaches
Asian cockroaches are essentially outdoor roaches; their populations are seasonal. They have successfully colonized urban neighborhoods after being introduced into Tampa, Florida. They live outside and gather under fallen leaves and ground cover. They favor shady, moist areas, and swarm under trees. Unlike most roaches, they are attracted to light. Adults fly to lighted windows, doors, yard lights, and parking lot lights at dusk. From these points they often crawl into buildings or fly to indoor room lights. Asian cockroaches begin building up their population in spring, and produce several generations through the summer. They are limited to warm, moist regions and may become a serious problem in areas of the United States Gulf Coast area where temperate climate conditions allow for population increases earlier in the year.

Look at further information we provide about getting rid of roaches, roach extermination, cockroach control, bed bugs, pest control services, termites, common pests, and animal control services, or take a look at our blog for recent news articles about cockroach identification.

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