Cockroaches are among the most common of insects. Fossil evidence indicates that cockroaches have been on
earth for over 300 million years. They are considered one of the most successful groups of animals. Because
cockroaches are so adaptable, they have successfully adjusted to living with humans. About 3,500 species of
cockroaches exist worldwide, with 55 species found in the United States. Some species are common pests in structures,
other are an occasional nuisance pest under certain circumstances.
American Roach (Palmetto Bug, Waterbug)
Reddish-brown wings with light markings on thorax. Prefers warm, damp areas, and is most likely to be seen
in daytime and outdoors than other species, and they feed on a wide variety of plant and animal material,
some people call them Palmetto bugs, or Waterbugs.
American cockroaches generally live in moist areas, but can survive in dry areas if they have access to
water. They prefer warm temperatures around 84 degrees Fahrenheit and do not tolerate cold temperatures.
In residential areas, these cockroaches live in basements, around pipes and sewers, and may move outdoors
into yards during warm weather. The American cockroach can be found under decks, under mulching
materials, inside hollow block construction, or in any cool and damp area. Large numbers of American
cockroaches will be seen after heavy rains or flooding.
The Smoky Brown cockroach is closely related to the American cockroach, but is a uniform shiny, dark-
brown or mahogany color. The wings of both sexes cover the abdomen, the female Smoky Brown has a
broader abdomen than that of the male. Very common in Southeastern states, adults are between 1-2 inches
long. They are uniform brownish black to mahogany in color. Egg capsules are attached to surfaces.
The Smoky Brown cockroach prefers damp areas because they lose moisture more readily than other
cockroaches. Enter structures at night through cracks and crevices. Live in natural conditions around
structures. The Smoky Brown cockroach eats almost anything, often can be found in debris filled gutters.
Female needs to mate only once to produce many egg capsules, and each capsule contains an average 20
eggs. Adult can live about six months.
Reported in Florida as early as 100 years ago, this roach has become a major pest in many parts of the United
States. It is most prevalent in the moist regions, Gulf Coast states and southern and eastern portions of
Mississippi. Due to its large size and the speed at which it moves, this is not one of the most common pests in
The Australian cockroach looks like the American roach; it is slightly smaller size, the yellow markings on the
thorax, and the light yellow streaks on the sides at the base of the wings. The female has a wider abdomen
than the male. Lives outdoors around the perimeter of houses and is the most prevalent cockroach outdoors in
south Florida. It is a pest when it enters homes where it may eat holes in clothing and feed upon book covers.
Australian cockroaches are commonly found in: leaf litter, flowers, trees, tree holes, wood piles, garages,
crawl spaces, attics, green houses, and in and around shrubs. Once inside your home, Australian
cockroaches often eat clothing, creating holes, and also feed upon book covers. Outside, Australian roach
feeds on plants and can be very damaging to greenhouses, atriums, and yards.
Brown Banded Roach
The Brown Banded roach was first introduced from Cuba into Miami, Florida. They have since been
transported (usually on furniture) throughout the United States. Adult Brown Banded roaches have wings, are
about 5/8 inch long and are light brown to dark glossy brown.
Males are capable of flight. These roaches have two light, transverse bands across the base of the wings and
abdomen. These bands may appear irregular or broken but are usually quite apparent on the nymphs and
females. These insects feed on starchy materials and even non-food materials such as nylon stockings. These
roaches are active at night, and nymphs and adults jump rapidly when disturbed. These pests do not require
much moisture and tend to avoid light.
Brown Banded cockroaches prefer warm and dry locations, such as near refrigerator motor housings, on the
upper walls of cabinets, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be
found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, door
frames, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water
sources. Accurate identification is paramount to controlling Brown Banded cockroaches. Control strategies for
other cockroaches will not be efficacious for Brown Banded roaches.
Florida Woods Roach
The Florida Woods roach is a large species of cockroach, which grows to an average 1½ inch to 2 inches. It
is black in color, and has a wide, glossy body, and appears at first glance to be wingless, however it does have
very short wings just beneath its head, which are useless for flying. When disturbed, often emits a strong,
disagreeable odor. The Florida Woods roach looks remarkably similar to the female Oriental roach, and the
two could be mistaken for each other to the casual observer.
Slower moving than other species, prefers damp locations, lots of moisture, and does well in warm, damp
climates. It is found in its native habitats, such as Florida, and the West Indies. The Florida Woods roach can
wander indoors at times, especially into damp locations, such as bathrooms; however, it is found mostly
outdoors and is not considered a major pest in the home. It is cold intolerant and requires a warm, sub-tropical
or tropical climate. It can often be seen in sheltered outdoor locations, such as under leaf litter, in tree holes,
and under lumber and boards, and other crevices. It is often seen in bushes and wooded areas.
The Oriental roach is often considered the nastiest type, the type of cockroach that gives the entire
species a bad name. The oriental cockroach is often called the waterbug cockroach, and that is because this
type of roach is found in very damp, wet areas. These roaches usually range from about 1 inch to 1-¼ inches
in length. Oriental cockroaches can be distinguished from others as they are shiny dark brown or black in
color. One feature that this type of cockroach has that may distinguish it from others is wings, though they are
not functional. The younger Oriental cockroaches or nymphs are usually darker in color and do not have
wings, so you may mistake them for another type of roach. Feeds off of decaying or rotting garbage as well as
rotting plant and human and animal waste. Because this roach feeds off of such substances, you can get
quite sick if these insects move into your home and contaminate your food, countertop surfaces, kitchen, and
Adult German cockroaches are light brown except for the shield behind the head marked with two dark
stripes, which run lengthwise on the body. Young roaches are wingless and nearly black with a single light
stripe running down the middle of the back, and the adults are about 5/8 inch long. Egg capsules are light tan
and usually yield about 36 baby cockroaches!
German roaches are normally carried in the house on cardboard boxes, soft drink cartons, pre packed bags
of potatoes or onions, used furniture or appliances, beer cases, etc. They are notorious for being the source of
big residential infestations that generally develop in kitchens and bathrooms. 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, you
probably have a big problem. These pests also prefer to hide within five feet or less of their food and water
German cockroach females, unlike most other roaches, carry the egg capsule protruding from their abdomen
until their capsules are ready to split open. During the last three or four days prior to dropping her egg case,
the female German cockroach does not forage for food or water. The case is then placed in a secluded
location, with the nymphs emerging sometimes within the hour or as long as a week. The German roach
produces more eggs and has more generations per year than other roaches, and only a few individuals are
needed to develop into troublesome infestations.
Bellow are two pictures of residential kitchen infestations by German roaches.
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