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What is the diet preference of American cockroaches?

What is the diet preference of American cockroaches?


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I found a research article1 on the diet preference of German cockroaches. It reveals that those cockroaches prefer to eat bananas most. I wonder if it is the same for American cockroaches. And also, can American cockroaches survive on wood and water alone?

1. El-Sharabasy, H.M., Mahmoud, M.F., El-Bahrawy, A.F., El-Badry, Y.S. and El-Kady, G.A., 2014. Food preference of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica (L.)(Dictyoptera: Blattellidae). Cercetări Agronomice în Moldova, 2(158), pp.81-88.


American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, and as a result, they eat a large variety of foods. They will eat almost anything.

Favorite foods: They are particularly fond of fermenting foods$^{4,6}$ and also prefer sweets$^2$.

Common foods they eat: plant materials, dead animals, sugar, oil, cheese, beer, tea, soap, leather, bakery products, paper, starch in book bindings, manuscripts, glue, hair, flakes of dried skin, soiled clothing, glossy paper with starch sizing and generally most human or pet moist food or other organic matter $^{1,3,5}$. They have also been observed feeding on dead or wounded cockroaches of their own or other species as well as their own cast-off skins and egg-capsules$^6$.

    According to EOL:
    Some of [their food] items, such as cellulose, can not be digested by normal means. However, like cows and other grazing animals, cockroaches have a symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that allows them to digest such substances.
  • As a result, they could almost certainly survive on just wood and water.

Citations:

{1} Bell, William J. and K.G. Adiyodi. (1981). American Cockroach. Springer. pp. 1, 4. ISBN 978-0-412-16140-7.

{2} Barbara, K. A. 2014. American cockroach. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved 11 February 2017. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/American_cockroach.htm .

{3} Jacobs, Steve. "American Cockroaches". The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 11 February 2017. http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/american-cockroaches .

{4} Jones, Susan C. 2008. Agricultural and Natural Resources Fact Sheet: American Cockroach (HYG-2096-08). Ohio State University. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/pdf/2096.pdf.

{5} Milne, L. & M. Milne. 1980. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders. Knopf, New York, NY. p 393. ISBN: 0-394-50763-0.

{6} Periplaneta americana: Palmetto bug. Encylopedia of Life. Retrieved 11 February 2017. http://eol.org/pages/1076920/hierarchy_entries/51102706/details .


What is the diet preference of American cockroaches? - Biology

The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), is the largest of the common peridomestic cockroaches measuring on average 4 cm in length. It occurs in buildings throughout Florida, especially in commercial buildings. In the northern United States the cockroach is mainly found in steam heat tunnels or large institutional buildings. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in abundance.

Figure 1. Ootheca and first, second, third and fourth instar nymphs of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus). Photograph by Paul M. Choate, University of Florida.

Distribution (Back to Top)

Forty-seven species are included in the genus Periplaneta, none of which are endemic to the U.S. (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, was introduced to the United States from Africa as early as 1625 (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The American cockroach has spread throughout the world by commerce. It is found mainly in basements, sewers, steam tunnels, and drainage systems (Rust et. al. 1991). This cockroach is readily found in commercial and large buildings such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and anywhere food is prepared and stored. The American cockroach is rarely found in houses, however infestations can occur after heavy rain. They can develop to enormous numbers, greater than 5,000 sometimes being found in individual sewer manholes (Rust et. al. 1991).

Outdoors, American cockroaches are found in moist shady areas such as hollow trees, wood piles, and mulch. They are occasionally found under roof shingles and in attics. The cockroaches dwell outside, but will wander indoors to search for food and water or to avoid extreme weather conditions. In Florida, areas such as trees, woodpiles, garbage facilities, and accumulations of organic debris around homes provide adequate food, water, and harborages for peridomestic cockroaches such as the American cockroach (Hagenbuch et al. 1988).

Mass migrations of the American cockroaches are common (Ebeling 1975). They migrate into houses and apartments from sewers via the plumbing, and from trees and shrubs located alongside buildings or with branches overhanging roofs. During the day the American cockroach, which responds negatively to light, rests in harborages close to water pipes, sinks, baths, and toilets where the microclimate is suitable for survival (Bell and Adiyodi 1981).

Description (Back to Top)

Eggs: Females of the American cockroach lay their eggs in a hardened, purse-shaped egg case called an ootheca. About one week after mating the female produces an ootheca and at the peak of her reproductive period, she may form two oothecae per week (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The females on average produce one egg case a month for ten months, laying 16 eggs per egg case. The female deposits the ootheca near a source of food, sometimes gluing it to a surface with a secretion from her mouth. The deposited ootheca contains water sufficient for the eggs to develop without receiving additional water from the substrate (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The egg case is brown when deposited and turns black in a day or two. It is about 8 mm long and 5 mm high.

Nymph: The nymphal stage begins when the egg hatches and ends with the emergence of the adult. The number of times an American cockroach molts varies from six to 14 (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The first instar American cockroach is white immediately after hatching then becomes a grayish brown. After molting, subsequent instars of the cockroach nymphs are white and then turn reddish-brown, with the posterior margins of the thoracic and abdominal segments being a darker color. Wings are not present in the nymphal stages and wing pads become noticeable in the third or fourth instar. Complete development from egg to adult is about 600 days. The nymphs as well as the adults actively forage for food and water.

Figure 2. Fifth, sixth and seventh instar nymphs of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus). Photograph by Paul M. Choate, University of Florida.

Adult: The adult American cockroach is reddish brown with a pale brown or yellow band around the edge of the pronotum. The males are longer than the females because their wings extend 4 to 8 mm beyond the tip of the abdomen. Males and females have a pair of slender, jointed cerci at the tip of the abdomen. The male cockroaches have cerci with 18 to 19 segments while the females&rsquo cerci have 13 to 14 segments. The male American cockroaches have a pair of styli between the cerci while the females do not.

Figure 3. Adult male American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus). Photograph by P.G. Koehler, University of Florida.

Figure 4. Adult female American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus). Photograph by P.G. Koehler, University of Florida.

Figure 5. Adult male American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), cerci and stylets (ventral view). Photograph by P.G. Koehler, University of Florida.

Life Cycle (Back to Top)

The American cockroach has three life stages: the egg, a variable number of nymphal instars, and the adult. The life cycle from egg to adult averages about 600 days and the adult life span may be another 400 days. The nymphs emerge from the egg case after about six to eight weeks and mature in about six to twelve months. Adults can live up to one year and an adult female will produce an average of 150 young in her lifetime. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity affect the developmental time of the American cockroach. Outdoors, the female shows a preference for moist, concealed oviposition sites (Bell and Adiyodi 1981).

Figure 6. Newly molted adult American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus). Photograph by J.L. Castner, University of Florida.

Diet (Back to Top)

The American cockroach is an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder. It consumes decaying organic matter but is a scavenger and will eat almost anything. It prefers sweets, but has also been observed eating paper, boots, hair, bread, fruit, book bindings, fish, peanuts, old rice, putrid sake, the soft part on the inside of animal hides, cloth and dead insects (Bell and Adiyodi 1981).

Medical and Economic Significance (Back to Top)

American cockroaches can become a public health problem due to their association with human waste and disease and their ability to move from sewers into homes and commercial establishments. In the United States during the summer, alleyways and yards may be overrun by these cockroaches. The cockroach is found in caves, mines, privies, latrines, cesspools, sewers, sewage treatment plants, and dumps (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). Their presence in these habitats is of epidemiological significance. At least 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoans, as well as five species of helminthic worms, have been isolated from field collected American cockroaches (Rust et. al. 1991). Cockroaches are also aesthetically displeasing because they can soil items with their excrement and regurgitation.

Figure 7. American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), and their fecal smears. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Management (Back to Top)

Several hymenopteran natural enemies of the American cockroach have been found (Suiter et. al. 1998). These parasitic wasps deposit their eggs in the cockroach ootheca preventing the emergence of cockroach nymphs.

Figure 8. Aprostocetus hagenowii (Ratzeburg) is one of several parasitic wasps that attack American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), oothecae. Photograph by Pest Control magazine (used with permission).

Caulking of penetrations through ground level walls, removal of rotting leaves, and limiting the moist areas in and around a structure can help in reducing areas that are attractive to these cockroaches.

Other means of management are insecticides that can be applied to basement walls, wood scraps, and other infested locations. Residual sprays can be applied inside and around the perimeter of an infested structure. When insecticides and sprays are used to manage cockroach populations they may ultimately kill off the parasitic wasps. Loose, toxic, pellet baits are extremely effective in controlling America cockroach populations.

Selected References (Back to Top)

  • Appel AG. 1997. Nonchemical approaches to cockroach control. Journal of Economic Encomology 14: 271-280.
  • Baldwin RW, Koehler PG. 2007. Toxicity of commercially available household cleaners on cockroaches, Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana. Florida Entomologist 90: 703-709.
  • Bell WJ, Adiyodi KG. 1981. The American Cockroach. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Ebeling W. 1975. Urban Entomology. University of California, Richmond, CA.
  • Hagenbuch BE, Koehler PG, Patterson RS, Brenner RJ. 1988. Peridomestic cockroaches (Orthoptera: Blattidae) of Florida: Their species composition and suppression. Journal of Medical Entomology 25: 377-380.
  • Rust MK, Reierson DA, Hansgen KH. 1991. Control of American cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattidae) in sewers. Journal of Medical Entomology 28: 210-213.
  • Shaheen L. 2000. Environmental protection comes naturally. Pest Control 68: 53-56.
  • Suiter DR. 1997. Biological suppression of synanthropic cockroaches. Journal of Agricultural Entomology 14: 259-270.
  • Suiter DR, Patterson RS, Koehler PG. Seasonal incidence and biological control potential of Aprostocetus hagenowii (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in treehole microhabitats. Environmental Entomology 27: 434-442.
  • Valles S. (September 1996). German cockroach, Blatella germanica (Linnaeus). UF/IFAS Featured Creatures. (26 April 2017)

Author: Kathryn A. Barbara, University of Florida.
Photographs: Paul M. Choate, P.G. Koehler, L.J. Buss and J.L. Castner, University of Florida Pest Control Magazine.
Web Design: Don Wasik, Jane Medley
Publication Number: EENY-141
Publication Date: June 2000. Revised : June 2014. Reviewed: April 2017. Latest Revision: April 2021.

An Equal Opportunity Institution
Featured Creatures Editor and Coordinator: Dr. Elena Rhodes, University of Florida


Distribution

Forty-seven species are included in the genus Periplaneta, none of which are endemic to the US (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The American cockroach (P. americana) was introduced to the United States from Africa as early as 1625 (Bell and Adiyodi 1981). The American cockroach has spread throughout the world by commerce. It is found mainly in basements, sewers, steam tunnels, and drainage systems (Rust et al. 1991). This cockroach is readily found in commercial and large buildings such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and anywhere food is prepared and stored. The American cockroach is rarely found in houses, however infestations can occur after heavy rain. They can develop to enormous numbers, greater than 5,000 sometimes being found in individual sewer manholes (Rust et al. 1991).

Outdoors, American cockroaches are found in moist, shady areas such as hollow trees, wood piles, and mulch. They are occasionally found under roof shingles and in attics. The cockroaches dwell outside, but will wander indoors to search for food and water or to avoid extreme weather conditions. In Florida, areas such as trees, woodpiles, garbage facilities, and accumulations of organic debris around homes provide adequate food, water, and harborages for peridomestic cockroaches such as the American cockroach (Hagenbuch et al. 1988).

Mass migrations of the American cockroaches are common (Ebeling 1975). They migrate into houses and apartments from sewers via the plumbing, and from trees and shrubs located alongside buildings or with branches overhanging roofs. During the day the American cockroach, which responds negatively to light, rests in harborages close to water pipes, sinks, baths, and toilets where the microclimate is suitable for survival (Bell and Adiyodi 1981).


Plant & Pest Diagnostics

The American cockroach is the largest of the house-infesting roaches. They are most commonly found in restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, breweries, pet shops and other establishments where food is prepared or stored. They are often found in damp sewers and basements, in heating ducts under hospitals, and on the first floors of buildings. They can be transported into homes and apartments in boxes from infested establishments. Roaches can foul food, damage wallpaper, books and clothing, and produce an unpleasant odor. Some home owners are allergic to roaches and the pests can contaminate food with certain bacterial diseases that result in food poisoning, dysentery, or diarrhea. Cockroaches can cause childhood asthma.

Identification

Most cockroaches have a flattened oval shape, spiny legs, and grow long, filamentous antennae. Immature stages are smaller, have undeveloped wings and resemble adults. Adult American cockroaches are reddish-brown to dark brown (except for a tan or light yellow band around the shield behind the head), about 1-1/2 to 2-inches long, and have wings capable of flight. Males and females are about the same size. The wings are about the same length as the body (abdomen) in the females and longer in the males, extending slightly beyond the abdomen. Females have a broader abdomen, while the males have both cerci (pair of appendages at the end of the abdomen) and styli (short, slender, finger-like process). Nymphs are wingless, uniformly brown colored, and run very fast. Egg capsules are mahogany brown and about 1/3-inch long.

Life Cycle and Habits

American cockroach females deposit their eggs in bean-shaped cases (oothecae) in sheltered areas on or near the floor, usually close to a food source. Egg capsules protrude from the body for a few hours to four days. One egg capsule is formed each week until 6 to 14 have been produced. Each case contains up to 16 white or yellowish-white eggs. Eggs hatch between 5 to 7 weeks, first into whitish-brown nymphs, later turning more reddish-brown. Development to adult averages about 15 months, varying between 9-1/2 to 20 months. Adults live almost 15 months. These roaches are found in dark, moist areas, especially in sewers, steam heat tunnels, boiler rooms, around bathtubs and clothes hampers, and around plumbing, feeding on decaying organic matter. Many are attracted to fermenting liquid (bread saturated with beer). Feeding can occur on starch sizing in books, papers, etc. Cockroaches hide during the day in sheltered, dark places and forage for food at night, often running rapidly when disturbed. American cockroaches are one of the least common roaches found in homes and, though winged, seldom fly when disturbed. Instead, there is more of a gliding flight. Adults can live at least two to three months without food, a month without water, and can easily survive outdoor freezing temperatures. Some have been found in alleyways and yards in summer months and around street lights.

Control Measures

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a systems approach that combines preventive techniques, non-chemical pest control methods, and the wise use of pesticides with preference for products that are least harmful to human health and the environment. It is not the total elimination of pesticides but an alternate approach to traditional pest control measures. Complete reliance, in the past, on pesticides alone for pest control allowed certain pests to develop resistance, created potential human exposure to harmful chemicals, produced unsound environmental contamination, and created a threat to non-target species and pesticide waste. IPM consists of routine inspection and monitoring with treatment only when pests are actually present, thus reducing traditional, routine pesticide application treatment (calendar date sprays) whether pests were present or not.

By following a cockroach IPM plan, cockroach activity is monitored using sticky traps or glue boards. These monitoring stations are placed throughout a structure where roaches are likely to be found such as in dark places along cabinets, walls, under appliances, on pipes, etc., and in bathrooms and kitchens. Any tight cracks about 3/8 inch or smaller are good cockroach habitats. Monitoring indicates whether roaches are present and if control practices are working. IPM tools include glue boards, baits, vacuum cleaners, caulking, insect growth regulators (IGRs), etc.

Detection

American cockroaches can be detected by examining the premises after dark with a flashlight. They occur in dark, damp, warm places, often near steam pipes, in sewers, grease traps, damp basements, etc. During the day, probing hiding places with a wire will expose roaches. Household sprays of pyrethrins applied to hiding places will flush out roaches, sometimes killing them if they contact the spray.

Prevention and Sanitation

American roaches can move from one building to the next during the summer, entering through cracks in foundations, around loose-fitting doors or windows, and along water and gas pipes. Seal openings with putty or plastic wood. Inspect sacks, cartons and boxes, etc., brought into the home and destroy any roaches. Sanitation is critical in roach control. Clean up spilled foods and liquids, avoid leaving scraps of food on unwashed dishes and counter tops, keep food in tightly sealed containers, rinse cans and bottles before putting in trash and transfer garbage outdoors into roach-proof receptacles.

Insecticides

Apply chemicals at roach hiding places. Enter a dark room quietly, turn on the light and watch where the roaches run. Spot treat these hiding places and known pathways, especially under and behind loose baseboards or molding strips and around pipes or conduits along the walls and through it. Do not treat entire floors, walls, or ceilings. Surfaces where food is prepared should not be treated. Buildings with multiple dwellings usually require the treatment of each unit.

There are numerous cockroach insecticide formulations. Some are labeled &ldquogeneral use&rdquo for homeowner application, and others are labeled &ldquorestricted use&rdquo for professional pest control or licensed, certified pesticide applicators only. Before using any insecticide, always Read the Label and follow directions and safety precautions.

Dusts such as bendiocarb (Ficam D), boric acid powder, pyrethrins (Drione) or silica aerogel (Dri-Die) can be applied with a puff duster into hiding places normally hard to reach with a spray.

Sprays, either oil-based or water emulsion, are applied as spot or crack and crevice treatments. These include propoxur, acephate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, permethrin or resmethrin. Only the licensed certified pest control applicator may apply bendioarb, propetamphos, trichlorfon, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, esfenvalerate, lambda-cyhalothrin, tralomethrin and bifenthrin. Insect growth regulators or IGRs include hydroprene (Gentrol) and pyriproxyfen (Archer, Nylar) which act on immature growth stages by contact or ingestion, disrupting molting and development to fertile adults. (A combination of an IGR followed up by use of a bait is often effective.) Some still use contact insecticides in mist or ULV (ultra-low volume) machines to treat the entire indoor area. Open all drawers and closet doors so roach hiding places can best be treated. However, the trend is toward less sprays and aerosols and more IGRs and baits.

Baits

Certain segments of the public such as schools, hospitals, and office buildings may prefer baits to sprays. Baits include pastes, gels, particle baits and bait stations.

Bait advantages include: low hazard (toxicity) to people suited for sensitive accounts IPM oriented offer effective control. Disadvantages include: high bait cost precise placement required not cost effective in heavy roach infestations.

Sticky traps have openings at both ends with the inside surface covered with a very sticky adhesive and slow-release food attractant. Properly placed traps, to and from roach hiding and feeding areas, can catch numerous adults and nymphs daily, especially brown-banded and German cockroaches. Traps are best used along with preventive and insecticidal applications to monitor populations. Trapping can determine harborage areas and infestation severity, monitor effectiveness of pesticide applications, and detect any roach population increases which may require additional pesticide treatments.

Fumigation is seldom used but will clean out a cockroach infestation. It must be applied only by a licensed, certified pesticide applicator.

If a severe cockroach infestation develops or if you are in doubt as to the control measures to use, contact a reputable, licensed pest control firm who has the chemicals, training and experience to best do a thorough job.

American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) Feeding on Saltine Cracker


Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental Cockroaches (Blatta orientalis) are black or very dark brown in color and roughly an inch in length. Some individuals have speckled markings on their dorsal surfaces.

Adult male Oriental cockroaches have wings that extend about three-quarters of the way down their abdomens, but they cannot fly. Adult females have only small wing pads extending only a short distance behind their heads, and also cannot fly.

Like roaches in general, Oriental cockroaches prefer secluded, protected locations. They tend to live outdoors in places like wood piles, under leaf piles or mulch, or in rotting railroad ties when the weather is warm but they readily move inside during periods of extreme heat, cold, or drought.

Inside homes, Oriental cockroaches are commonly found in garbage storage areas, basements,sill plates, rubble walls, under porches and decks, and in crawl spaces. They also can live in sewers, and occasionally get into homes when the plumbing traps downstream of seldom-used sinks and toilets have no water in them.

Although they have a fairly low rate of insecticide resistance, Oriental cockroaches can be hard to control. Their damp habitat preferences cause liquid or dust applications to wash away or degrade and their omnivorous feeding habits make baiting difficult because there are so many other things they can eat instead of the bait. The best approach is usually to use either an insecticide spray labeled for indoor cockroach control or a specialized cockroach bait like Advion or Invict inside the home, depending on the location and to either caulk around the house or spray the exterior perimeter (or both) to keep new roaches from getting in.

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How to Manage Pests


Female German cockroach carrying an egg case, or ootheca.

Sticky traps or glue boards are excellent monitoring tools.

Use a flashlight to inspect crevices where cockroaches may be hiding during the day.

Some bait stations can be refilled with gel or granular bait as needed.

Cockroaches, or &ldquoroaches&rdquo, are among the most important household pests. Indoor cockroaches are known as significant pests of public health, and outdoor species that find their way inside are considered serious nuisance pests as well as potential public health pests. Cockroaches range in size from less than 1/2 inch long to almost 2 inches long and are mostly nocturnal insects that feed on a wide range of organic matter. Most cockroaches harbor within moist, dark crevices when not foraging for food. They crawl quickly and may climb rough surfaces. A few species can fly short distances or glide as adults during warm nights, but most have no wings, reduced wings, or otherwise do not fly.

People are repulsed when they find cockroaches in their homes and other buildings. Indoor infestations of cockroaches are also important sources of allergens and have been identified as risk factors for development of asthma in children, especially within multi-unit housing environments. The levels of allergens present have been directly correlated to both cockroach density and the conditions that contribute to heavy infestations, such as housing disrepair and poor sanitary conditions.

There are five species of cockroaches in California that are commonly regarded as pests: German cockroach, brownbanded cockroach, oriental cockroach, American cockroach, and Turkestan cockroach.

IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE

Cockroaches are medium-sized to large insects in the order Blattodea (superorder Dictyoptera). They are broad, flattened insects with long antennae and a prominent, shield-shaped section behind the head called the pronotum. Termites also belong to the Dictyoptera and are closely related to cockroaches.

Some people confuse cockroaches with beetles, but adult cockroaches have membranous wings and lack the thick, hardened forewings of beetles.

Almost all cockroaches are nocturnal. They have a tendency to scatter when disturbed. Young or immature cockroaches, called nymphs, undergo gradual metamorphosis as they develop and grow into adults, which means they resemble adults and have similar feeding habits, but they do not have fully developed wings and are not reproductively active. Immediately after molting, cockroaches are white, but their outer covering darkens as it hardens, usually within hours. Nymphs are typically the most abundant stage of cockroach found in field populations.

An adult female cockroach produces an egg case, called an ootheca, which it carries around protruding from the tip of the abdomen. The adult female German and field cockroaches carry their egg cases for most of the 30-day incubation period and then drop it about the time the eggs hatch. The other species covered here carry it for only a short time before depositing it in a suitable location where it incubates for weeks or months. In most cases, egg cases are deposited in dark, moist crevices and other protected areas. The time required for a cockroach to complete its life cycle, from egg to reproducing adult, varies by species, from just a few months to more than one year.

Cockroaches hide in dark, warm areas, especially narrow spaces where surfaces touch them on both sides. Adult German cockroaches can hide in a crack 1/16 inch wide. Immature cockroaches tend to stay in even smaller cracks where they are well protected. Cockroaches tend to congregate in corners while foraging and generally travel along the edges of walls or other surfaces.

It is important to correctly identify the species involved in a cockroach infestation so that the most effective control method(s) may be chosen.

COCKROACHES THAT LIVE INDOORS

German Cockroach.

The German cockroach (see Table 1), Blattella germanica, is the most common indoor species in California (and perhaps worldwide), especially in multi-unit housing environments. They prefer food preparation areas, kitchens, and bathrooms, favoring warm (70° to 75°F), humid areas that are close to food, water, and dark areas for harborage. Severe infestations may spread to other parts of buildings.

Of all the cockroach species in California, the German cockroach is the most persistent and troublesome it lives and breeds in indoor locations associated with food preparation and may pose health concerns due to contamination of food and production of indoor allergens. German cockroaches may become pests in homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, apartments, and in virtually any structure that has food preparation or storage areas. They contaminate food and eating utensils, destroy fabric and paper products, and impart stains and unpleasant odors to surfaces they contact.

German cockroaches are believed to be capable of transmitting numerous disease-causing organisms such as Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., hepatitis virus, and coliform bacteria. They have also been implicated in the spread of typhoid and dysentery.

The female carries around a light beige egg case, about 1/4 inch long, until 1 to 2 days before it hatches, when she drops it. Sometimes the egg case hatches while it is still being carried by the female. Each egg case contains about 30 young, and a female may produce a new egg case every few weeks. This species has the fastest reproductive cycle of all the common pest cockroaches: a single female and her offspring can produce over 30,000 individuals in a year.

Brownbanded Cockroach

The brownbanded cockroach (see Table 1), Supella longipalpa, is not as common as the German cockroach in California and accounts for only about 1% of all indoor infestations. This species prefers temperatures of about 80°F, about 5° to 10°F warmer than that preferred by German cockroaches. Favored harborage locations include crevices within or near electrical appliances, behind artwork and decorations on walls, within hollow legs of furniture, and within accumulations of clutter. They are not usually associated with food preparation areas but may be found in offices, animal care facilities, kitchens, schools, laboratories, industrial facilities, and hospitals. Brownbanded cockroaches prefer starchy foods, such as the glue on stamps and envelopes.

Adult males sometimes fly when disturbed, especially at higher temperatures (above 85°F), but females cannot fly. Females glue light brown egg cases, which are about 1/4 inch long, to ceilings, beneath furniture, or in closets or other dark places where eggs incubate for several weeks before hatching. Multiple egg cases may be glued together in large deposits. Each female and her offspring are capable of producing over 600 cockroaches in one year.

Adult: 0.5 inch light brown 2 dark stripes on pronotum.

BROWNBANDED COCKROACH

Adult: 0.5 inch males are golden tan females are darker brown both have light-colored bands on abdomen, wings, and sides of pronotum.

Adult: 0.5 inch gray to olive brown 2 black stripes on pronotum 1 black stripe between the eyes.

Adult: Wingless with 3 black stripes across the pronotum and abdomen. Small, about 1/4 inch.

Adult: 1.25 inches almost black male, wings are shorter than body female, wings are not fully formed. Egg case: dark brown to blackish.

Adult:1.5 inches dark brown to mahogany almost-black pronotum.

Adult: 2 inches reddish brown large body, edges of pronotum are light colored.

TURKESTAN

Adult: female, 1 inch with cream-colored markings along the edges behind the head and around the short, rounded wings males slightly smaller with yellowish-tan wings and cream-colored stripes along the edges.

COCKROACHES THAT LIVE OUTDOORS

Oriental Cockroach

The oriental cockroach (see Table 2), Blatta orientalis, is sometimes referred to as a water bug or black beetle. It lives in cool, dark, damp places like garages, basements, water meter boxes, and drains. It is most likely to occur in single-family dwellings that are surrounded by vegetation such as woodpiles, ivy, and ground cover. It is also common in outside locations where people feed pets, livestock, or wildlife.

Oriental cockroaches prefer cooler temperatures than the other species do, and populations of this species often build to large numbers in masonry enclosures such as water meter boxes. At night, oriental cockroaches may migrate into buildings in search of food, water, or mates. They usually remain on the ground floor of buildings and move more slowly than the other species.

Oriental cockroaches do not fly and are unable to climb smooth vertical surfaces consequently they may be found trapped in porcelain sinks or tubs after falling in or climbing up through damaged drain pipes.

Females deposit dark red-brown egg cases, which are about 3/8 inch long, in debris or food located in sheltered places. Each female and her offspring can produce nearly 200 cockroaches in one year. Development from a newly emerged nymph to adult can take from 1 to 2 years or more.

Oriental cockroach females look similar to those of Turkestan cockroaches. Oriental cockroach nymphs look similar to those of Turkestan cockroaches but lack reddish coloration.

Turkestan Cockroach

The Turkestan cockroach, Blatta lateralis (see Table 2), is a newer invasive species usually found in outdoor locations such as water meter boxes, cracks between blocks of poured concrete, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, and sewer systems. This species is often sold online and reared as food for insect-eating pets. Females are often confused with the oriental cockroach but can be distinguished by the cream-colored markings along the edges behind the head and around the short, rounded wings. Males may look similar to the American cockroach but are smaller and have yellowish-beige wings with cream-colored stripes along the edges (see Table 2). The nymphs are dark brown to black with reddish heads, thoraxes, and legs.

The biology of the Turkestan cockroach is similar to that of the oriental cockroach, though Turkestan cockroach females reach maturity faster and produce more eggs during their lifetimes than oriental cockroach females. In recent years, the oriental cockroach is being displaced by the Turkestan cockroach, especially in southern California, the Central Valley, and other warm, dry parts of the state.

American Cockroach

The American cockroach (see Table 2), Periplaneta americana, prefers warm and humid environments, usually with temperatures above 82°F. Under the right conditions, they readily live outdoors. Occasionally, they forage from sewers and other areas into the ground floor of buildings, especially if pipes are damaged, screens are missing, or water traps in drains are faulty. They are common in sewers, water meter boxes, storm drains, steam tunnels, animal-rearing facilities, and zoos.

Because American cockroaches may come into contact with human excrement in sewers or with pet droppings outdoors, they are capable of transmiting bacteria that cause food poisoning (Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp.).

Adult females carry the egg cases around for about 6 days and then cement them to a protected surface where they incubate for about 2 months or longer. The egg cases, which are about 3/8 inch long, are brown when laid but turn black in 1 to 2 days. Each egg case contains about 12 young a female and her offspring can produce over 800 cockroaches in one year.

Field Cockroach

The field cockroach (see Table 2), Blattella vaga, prefers outdoor locations in leaf litter and plant debris but may invade indoor areas when it is hot or dry outdoors. They are most commonly found in southern California and desert areas. Field cockroaches are often mistaken for German cockroaches.

Adult females carry the egg cases until they are ready to hatch. Each egg case usually contains between 30 and 40 young. Development from a newly emerged nymph to adult can be completed in about 3 months.

Three-lined Cockroach

The three-lined cockroach (see Table 2), Luridiblatta trivittata, is native to Mediterranean countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Spain, and Libya. Little is known about the biology of this species. In its native range, it is found in leaf litter in semi-arid forests. Within California, it has been observed harboring in irrigated landscapes in leaf litter and plant debris. They are currently found in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as other parts of northern and central coastal California.

Three-lined cockroaches can sometimes invade structures in late summer and autumn in California, in search of water during the driest parts of the year. Attempts to rear three-lined cockroaches in the laboratory have so far been unsuccessful.

Smokybrown Cockroach

The invasive smokybrown cockroach (see Table 2), Periplaneta fuliginosa, has been considered a nuisance pest in some parts of southern California, but it is now rarely encountered. This species is usually found outside in decorative plantings and planter boxes, woodpiles, garages, and water meter boxes it may occasionally inhabit municipal sewers. Smokybrown cockroaches prefer the upper parts of buildings they also may live under shingles or siding and sometimes get into trees, shrubs, and other vegetation during summer months. They sometimes invade homes, taking refuge in areas such as the attic. Adults can fly, especially on warm humid evenings.

Females carry the dark brown to black egg case, which measures about 3/8 inch long, for about 1 day before dropping it. Eggs can quickly hatch in 24 days or take 70 days after being laid, depending on temperature. About 40 to 45 nymphs hatch from a single egg case. Nymphs are dark brown and have white segments at the end of their antennae and across their backs.

Australian Cockroach

The Australian cockroach, Periplaneta australasiae, is a tropical species and prefers warm and humid habitats. It is occasionally encountered in greenhouses and animal rearing facilities, and zoos. The adults resemble American cockroaches but are recognizable by the cream-colored band along the fore wing. The life cycle is similar to that of American cockroaches.

MANAGEMENT

Managing cockroaches is not easy. For serious indoor infestations and other large or complex cockroach problems, professional pest control services are often required. In some cases, however, you can manage cockroaches on your own. To be successful, you must first determine which species is present and where they are located. The more hiding places you locate and manage, the more successful your control program will be. Remember that most cockroaches are tropical and like warm, dark hiding places with access to water. Some of these locations may be difficult to access.

To prevent cockroach infestations, it is essential to reduce food and water sources as well as known and potential hiding places. If cockroaches have access to food, baits (which are primary control tools) may take longer to provide satisfactory control. Insecticide sprays alone will not eliminate cockroaches. An integrated pest management (IPM) approach that uses several control methods is usually required.

Monitoring for Cockroaches

Traps. Sticky traps or glue boards offer the best way to detect and monitor cockroach populations. By placing traps in several locations and inspecting them regularly, you can identify the most severely infested areas and know where to concentrate control efforts. Traps can also be very helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of control programs. Most cockroach sticky traps available at home and garden stores work well for monitoring. These traps are open at both ends and are lined inside with a sticky material.

To be effective, traps must be placed where cockroaches are likely to encounter them when foraging. The best places are at the junctions of floors and walls and close to sites where cockroaches are suspected. Good potential monitoring sites can be determined by accumulations of fecal matter (e.g., dark spots or smears), cast skins, egg cases, and live or dead cockroaches.

Place traps in all corners of the room to give you an idea where cockroaches are entering. In the kitchen, put traps against walls behind large appliances and in cabinets. Number the traps so you can keep records for each trap separately.

Check the traps daily for several days until it is apparent where the greatest number of cockroaches are being caught. Many times, cockroaches will be caught within the first 24 hours of placing a trap. Discard sticky traps by placing them in a sealed plastic bag in the trash.

To evaluate success, keep records of cockroaches trapped in different locations before and after you start your management efforts.

You can also detect a cockroach infestation by using a flashlight to inspect cracks, underneath counters, around water heaters, and in other dark locations. A small mirror on a long handle can be useful in hard-to-see areas.

Other Methods

Sanitation. Cockroaches thrive where food and water are available to them. Even tiny amounts of crumbs or liquids caught between cracks provide a food source. Important sanitation measures include the following:

  • Store food in insect-proof containers such as glass jars or re-sealable plastic containers.
  • Keep garbage and trash in containers with tight-fitting lids and use plastic liners when possible. Keep trash cans away from doorways. Special trash cans may be mounted on pedestals in public spaces like schools to keep them off the ground where cockroaches forage. Remove trash, newspapers, magazines, piles of paper bags, rags, boxes, and other items that provide hiding places and harborage.
  • Eliminate plumbing leaks and other sources of moisture. Increase ventilation where condensation is a problem.
  • Vacuum cracks and crevices to remove food and debris. Be sure surfaces where food or beverages have been spilled are cleaned up immediately. Vacuuming also removes cockroaches, shed skins, and egg cases, reducing overall cockroach numbers.
  • Because aerosolized bits of shed skins and droppings of cockroaches may cause allergies when inhaled, it is recommended that the vacuum cleaner have a high efficiency particulate absorber (HEPA) filter or triple filters.

Exclusion and Removal of Hiding Places. During the day, cockroaches hide around water heaters, in cupboard cracks, stoves, crawl spaces, outdoor vegetation, and many other dark locations. They invade kitchens and other areas at night.

Limiting hiding areas or avenues of access to living areas is an essential part of an effective management strategy. False-bottom cupboards, hollow walls, and similar areas are common cockroach refuges that should be properly sealed.

If it is not practical to remedy these problem areas, consider insecticides formulated for cockroach control (Table 3 and Table 4). See the Chemical Control section for specific options.

Limit Access. Prevent access to the inside of buildings through cracks, conduits, under doors, or through other structural flaws. Take the following measures if observation or trapping shows cockroaches are migrating into a building from outdoors or other areas of the building:

  • Seal cracks and other openings to the outside.
  • Use door sweeps and weather stripping on doors and windows.
  • Look for other methods of entry, such as from items being brought into the building, especially appliances, furniture, boxes, and items that were recently in storage.
  • Inspect food deliveries before putting them in kitchens.
  • Look for egg cases glued to undersides of furniture, in refrigerator and other appliance motors, boxes, and other items. Remove any that you find.
  • Locate and seal cracks where cockroaches can hide.
  • Trim shrubbery around buildings to increase light and air circulation, especially near vents, and eliminate ivy or other dense ground covers near the house, as these may harbor cockroaches.
  • Remove trash and stored items such as stacks of lumber or firewood from around the outside of buildings that provide hiding places for cockroaches.
  • Consider keeping a layer of gravel about 6 to 12 inches wide around the perimeter of buildings. This reduces moisture, making this area less hospitable to outdoor cockroaches.
Chemical Control

Insecticides are most effective in controlling cockroaches when combined with sanitation and exclusion practices that limit the cockroach&rsquos ability to establish or reinvade. Pesticides alone will not solve a cockroach problem.

If insecticides are used, they must always be used with extreme care. Indoor chemical control is warranted only if the cockroach population is established, not for an incidental intruder or two.

Baits. Bait products are the primary pesticides used to treat cockroach infestations. They can be packaged as pastes, gels, and granules (Table 3).

Most insecticides used in baits are slow acting. Baits do not control all cockroaches equally. For instance, brownbanded cockroaches are especially difficult to control using baits. Female cockroaches with egg cases do very little feeding and avoid open spaces, so they are less likely to be immediately affected by a bait. An effective bait program does not give immediate results but instead may take 7 days or longer. Baits can be quite effective for long-term control of cockroaches. Removing other food sources will greatly enhance the effects of baits.

As with sticky traps, insecticidal baits do not attract cockroaches over long distances, so place them near hiding spaces or where roaches are likely to encounter them while foraging.

Outdoors, place baits and bait stations around building perimeters (in valve or water meter boxes, wood piles, and around planters.

Indoors, place baits under appliances, along walls, and in cabinets. Baits can also be placed next to fecal specks and droppings of cockroaches. These deposits contain a natural attractant or aggregation pheromone. Look for these fecal specks and droppings under kitchen counters, behind kitchen drawers, and in the back of cabinets.

Bait Stations. The most popular bait application method for home use is within prefilled bait stations, small plastic units that contain an attractive food base along with an insecticide. Refillable bait stations are available in stores and can be refilled with bait granules or gel.

The advantage of bait stations is that insecticides are confined to small areas within tamper-resistant containers rather than being dispersed widely, potentially reducing exposure to people and pets. Baits in stations remain effective for many months.

Gel Bait. For crack and crevice treatments, gel baits can be very effective. Apply gel using a bait gun or syringe in small dabs in cracks and crevices where cockroaches will find it.

Gel baits are very effective when placed in or near locations where cockroaches harbor or forage. In some cases, gels may need to be reapplied since deposits harden over time. Gels are very effective when applied to manage German cockroaches and other species living inside structures. Research suggests that gel baits, applied within bait stations and in-ground utility ports, can also be used to effectively manage outdoor cockroaches.

Available commercial baits (see Table 3) may contain abamectin, boric acid, fipronil, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, clothianidin, or imidacloprid mixed with a food base. Some of these products are only available to licensed professionals.

Dusts and powders. Insecticidal dusts (Table 4) can be important parts of an IPM program when applied in enclosed, out-of-the-way locations where cockroaches may hide. The most common active ingredient used against cockroaches is boric acid. Boric acid powder is a contact and oral insecticide and can be used preventively or when treating existing infestations.

Boric acid is not repellent, and if it remains dry and undisturbed, it provides control for a very long time. Because it has a positive electrostatic charge, the dust clings to the body of a cockroach as it walks through a treated area, and the cockroach ingests small amounts when it grooms itself.

Boric acid powder has fairly slow activity, and it may be 7 days or more before it has a significant effect on a cockroach population. Boric acid is not recommended for outdoor use since it is toxic to plants.

Blow dusts and powders into cracks and crevices or lightly spread it in areas where visible residues are not a problem and where people will not come into contact with it. Remove kick panels on refrigerators and stoves and apply a light film of dust throughout the entire void underneath these appliances. Thin films of dust are more effective than thick layers, which may cake and clump together.

Holes the size of the tip of a puff-type applicator can be drilled into the top of kick panels beneath cabinets, and dusts and powders may be applied through the holes to these areas as well as under the sink, in the void space between the sink and wall, and around utility pipe penetrations. Also treat along the back edges and in corners of shelves in cabinets, cupboards, pantries, and closets.

Formulated as insecticides, boric acid products usually contain about 1% of an additive that prevents caking and improves application properties. If a deposit gets wet and then dries and cakes, it loses its electrostatic charge and will not be picked up readily by cockroaches. If this occurs, clean up old deposits and reapply to these areas.

Desiccant dusts such as diatomaceous earth and silica aerogel are repellent and effective when applied to voids and other out-of-the-way places. Silica aerogel readily absorbs waxes from the surface of insects, resulting in their desiccation (dehydration) and death. Silica aerogels may be applied during construction or to prevent cockroaches from becoming established.

Foggers, Sprays, and Aerosols. Applications of aerosol insecticides and total-release foggers (&lsquobug bombs&rsquo) are often ineffective since they don&rsquot reach the crevices where cockroaches harbor and breed and can be hazardous due to flammability and exposure concerns.

Although sprays may provide a quick, temporary knockdown of cockroaches, they do not give long-term control. They may also repel and disperse cockroaches to other areas of the building from which they may return later.

Cockroaches have also become resistant to many insecticides in common sprays and aerosols that formerly controlled them. Sprays should not be necessary if an IPM program is followed that uses sanitation, exclusion, and appropriate baits and dusts.

Insecticide treatment of harborage sites for oriental, Turkestan, and American cockroaches may be required when populations of these species are high and cockroaches are moving into buildings.

Follow-up

After a cockroach IPM program has been started, evaluate the effectiveness of the methods that are being used with regular monitoring. Use traps or visual inspections to help determine if further treatment is necessary.

If populations persist, reevaluate the situation. Look for other sources of infestations, make sure that all possible entryways are blocked, be certain that food and water sources are eliminated as much as possible, and continue sealing and eliminating hiding places. It may be necessary to move bait stations to other locations, use more stations, apply more bait, or consider a different bait product.

When cockroach populations are under control, continue monitoring with traps on a regular basis to make sure re-infestation is not taking place. Maintain sanitation and exclusion techniques to avoid encouraging a new infestation. If severe re-infestations continue to recur, consider having the infested areas modified or remodeled to reduce the amount of suitable habitat for cockroaches.

Invict Gold Cockroach Gel

REFERENCES

Quarles W. 1998. Pheromones and non-toxic cockroach control. IPM Practitioner, Vol. XX (5/6):1-7.

Rust MK. 2008. Cockroaches. Public Health Significance of Urban Pests (eds.). (PDF) X Bonnefoy, H Kempen, K Sweeny. WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Rust MK, Owens JM, and Reierson, DA, eds. 1995. Understanding and Controlling the German Cockroach. New York: Oxford University Press.

PUBLICATION INFORMATION

Pest Notes: Cockroaches

Authors: Andrew M. Sutherland, UC Cooperative Extension, SF Bay Area, and UC Statewide IPM Program Dong-Hwan Choe, Entomology, UC Riverside Michael K. Rust, Entomology, UC Riverside.

TECHNICAL EDITOR: K Windbiel-Rojas

ANR ASSOCIATE EDITOR: BJ Aegerter

EDITOR: B Messenger-Sikes

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


How To Tell If A Bug Is A Roach

If you can’t tell which bug you’re actually looking at, then don’t worry. Some characteristics are unique to roaches. These apply no matter what species the roach belongs to.

Cockroaches vary in size, with fully-grown adults ranging from a ½ inch to nearly 3 inches in length. However, the most common pest species, like the American cockroach and German cockroach, often average about 1 inch in length.

This size does not include the antennae. Even still, the length and shape of the antennae can be useful in distinguishing roaches from other insects.

Shape

Each cockroach species has a slightly different body type. Some are rounder, while others are more elongated. Some are wider near the head, while others are wider near the bottom.

No matter what, all cockroach species are long, flat, and slightly oval-shaped. There is no cockroach that is completely round.

Color

For roaches, colors can vary from red to brown to black. Nymphs will be white after molting, as their exoskeletons are still hardening. This color will be a slightly opaque, milky white. As the skeleton hardens, the color of the nymph returns to brown, black, or red.

With that said, keep in mind that molting is a common occurrence among other insect nymphs. While not all insects do it, it’s not a unique behavior to cockroaches. If you notice a white bug, look closely for other identifying features.

One of the biggest differences between roaches and other insects is their diet. Roaches are one of few scavengers in the order of insects. All other scavenger species, like the blow fly and Australian desert ant, look very different from cockroaches. The only exception is members of the scavenger beetle, although these cannot be found in human homes.

In fact, roaches are the only scavenger insects that are considered pests. All other kinds will not infest your home, nor will they have any preference for invading the indoors. Instead, these species will happily live:

Not all bugs are harmful. Once you can tell the difference between cockroaches and bugs, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary concerns.

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Lou Carter

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Cockroach

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Cockroach, (order Blattodea), also called roach, any of about 4,600 species of insects that are among the most primitive living winged insects, appearing today much like they do in fossils that are more than 320 million years old. The word cockroach is a corruption of the Spanish cucaracha. The cockroach is characterized by a flattened oval body, long threadlike antennae, and a shining black or brown leathery integument. The head is bent downward, and the mouthparts point backward instead of forward or downward as is the case in most other insects. Male cockroaches usually have two pairs of wings, whereas females, in some species, are wingless or have vestigial wings.

The female produces eggs in egg cases (called oothecae). These are sometimes held protruding from her body or may be glued in protected areas. After the female deposits an egg case, the soft white nymphs emerge. As their exoskeleton hardens, it turns brown in colour. The structure and large size (certain species have a wingspread of more than 12 cm [4.7 inches]) of cockroaches have made them objects of interest in the biological laboratory.

The cockroach prefers a warm, humid, dark environment and is usually found in tropical or other mild climates. Only a few species have become pests. The insect damages more material than it consumes and emits a disagreeable odour. The diet of the roach, which includes both plant and animal products, ranges from food, paper, clothing, and books to dead insects, especially bedbugs. Insecticides are used in roach control.

The American cockroach (species Periplaneta americana), a native of Africa and the Middle East, is 30 to 50 mm (up to about 2 inches) long, is reddish brown, and lives outdoors or in dark heated indoor areas (e.g., basements and furnace rooms). During adult life, a period of about 1.5 years, the female deposits 50 or more oothecae, each containing about 16 eggs that hatch after 45 days. Nymphal life lasts from 11 to 14 months. The American cockroach has well-developed wings. However, most species are not good fliers.

The German cockroach (Blattella germanica), a common household pest, is light brown with two dark stripes on the prothoracic region. The female produces the ootheca 3 days after mating and carries it for about 20 days. Three or more generations may occur yearly. Because it is small (about 12 mm [less than 0.5 inch] long), this cockroach often is carried into homes in grocery bags and boxes. It has spread throughout the world thanks to human transport, including long-distance transport by ship.

The brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa) resembles the German cockroach but is slightly smaller. The male has fully developed wings and is lighter in colour than the female, whose wings are short and nonfunctional. Both sexes have two light-coloured bands across the back. The adult life span is about 200 days, and there may be two generations annually. Eggs may be deposited in clothes, wood molding, or cracks in the floor. With the advent of heated buildings, this cockroach became established in cooler climates.

The Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) is considered one of the filthiest of household pests. It is oval, shiny black or dark brown, and 25 to 30 mm (1 to 1.2 inches) long, with a life cycle similar to that of the American cockroach. The male has short fully developed wings, and the female has vestigial wings. This cockroach has been distributed by vehicles of commerce from its Asiatic origins to all the temperate regions.

Wood roaches are not domestic pests in eastern and central North America, despite their name. The Pennsylvania wood cockroach (Parcoblatta pennsylvanica) is found under logs and stones in northern latitudes. The male and female are so different in appearance that they were once considered separate species. The male, 15 to 25 mm (0.6 to 1 inch) long, has wings that extend past the abdomen. The female is smaller and has much shorter wings. The brown-hooded cockroach (Cryptocercus punctulatus) digests wood with the aid of certain protozoans in its digestive tract.

Some authorities consider cockroaches to be a suborder of either the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids) or the order Dictyoptera (mantids and cockroaches).

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Kara Rogers, Senior Editor.


Resources

Books

Arnett, Ross H. American Insects. New York: CRC Publishing, 2000.

Borror, D. J., C A. Triplehorn, and N. F. Johnson. An Introduction to the Study of Insects. 6th ed. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1989.

Carde, Ring, and Vincent H. Resh, eds. Encyclopedia of Insects. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2003.

Cornell, P.B. The Cockroach. London: Hutchinson, 1968.

Elzinga, R. J. Fundamentals of Entomology. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1987.

Periodicals

Roth, L. M. "Evolution and Taxonomic Significance of Reproduction in Blattaria." Annual Review of Entomology 15 (1970): 75-96.


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  • Xiao, B., Chen, A. H., Zhang, Y. Y., Jiang, G. F., Hu, C. C. and Zhu, C. D. (2012). Complete mitochondrial genomes of two cockroaches, Blatella germanica and Periplaneta americana, and the phylogenetic position of termites. Current Genetics, 58 (2), 65-77.

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