There are thousands of species of cockroaches in the world but only a handful are found in the United States. The most common species found in the US include the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, and the Oriental cockroach. While there are significant differences between these four species, there are some common features that are shared between ALL species of cockroaches. All roaches have flattened, oval-shaped bodies with antennae on their heads. They all move surprisingly fast and they all present a health risk for households. Roaches are known to spread more than 30 types of bacteria and even parasitic worms. One can find all of these species of cockroaches in the house. However, each species has its own characteristics and can be found in different parts of the home – making treatment methods vary from type to type. Let’s take a look at the different types of cockroaches and some ways to prevent them.
The German cockroach, also known as Blattella germanica, is a smaller species of cockroach, usually only growing to about 5/8″ in length. They are usually pale brown or caramel colored with two dark brown stripes behind their heads. They have wings but do not fly. German cockroaches are found across the United States and prefer warm, moisture-rich habitats. They are often found near dishwashers, sinks, and stoves and are mostly found in kitchens and bathrooms. German cockroaches can live up to 12 months and produce more eggs than any other cockroach species. They eat a wide variety of things but prefer meat, grease, and starchy foods. They are notoriously responsible for outbreaks of illness and triggering allergic reactions in humans. Their small size allows them better hiding capabilities making them harder to get rid of.
The American cockroach, also known as Periplaneta americana, is one of the largest cockroaches found in homes. American cockroaches grow up to 1-1/2″ in length. They are reddish-brown or brown in color and have light yellow bands around the shield behind their heads. American cockroaches have wings and can fly short distances. They are found throughout the United States and are often found in warm, dark areas like basements, crawlspaces, bathtubs, drains, and sewers. They are also common in households where food is stored. They will eat everything from plant material to garbage and contaminate any surfaces they walk across. American cockroaches can live up to 2 years. They are active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher but have also adapted to survive at much lower temperatures with the right conditions.
The brown-banded cockroach, also known as Supella longipalpa, is a smaller species of cockroach found throughout the United States. Brown-banded cockroaches are distinguished by 2 light yellow to brown bands across their bodies. Males have larger, dark brown wings that lighten in color as they extend to the tips. Females have smaller, reddish-brown to dark brown wings. Even though they both have wings, only males can fly. Brown-banded cockroaches like warm, dry environments that are higher than other species. They are often found in upper cabinets, behind pictures hanging on the walls, or in the hollow parts of furniture. In fact, they will often hide their egg casings in or under furniture. They will also gather near larger appliances like refrigerators and TVs because of the heat they give off. These cockroaches are often found in offices, apartments, kitchens, and hospitals. Brown-banded cockroaches prefer starchy foods like glue from envelopes and stamps and also paper products. They can live from 3 months up to 1 year and will jump when they have been disturbed.
The Oriental cockroach, also known as Blatta orientalis, “water bugs,” and “black beetles,” has a glossy appearance that is dark brown or black in color. Oriental cockroaches can grow up to 1-1/4″ in length. These cockroaches cannot fly and are not as fast as other species. They prefer cool, dark, damp environments and are often found in basements, sewers, drains, and near woodpiles. They commonly enter homes through drains in search of food. Unfortunately they cannot climb smooth vertical surfaces and are often found stuck inside sinks and tubs. They primarily feed on decaying organic matter. Oriental cockroaches have a 6 month life span and give off a strong smell. They are considered one of the dirtiest species of cockroaches.
Prevention and Treatment
Seeing one or two cockroaches in the house usually means there are several more hidden out of sight. They are much more difficult to get rid of once a roach infestation is established. There are some steps you can take to help prevent roaches from taking over:
- Keep pet food stored in sealed containers and don’t leave it out overnight.
- Keep food sealed and stored properly, as well.
- Keep kitchen surfaces free from food debris and crumbs.
- Wipe down countertops often.
- Sweep often.
- Take out the trash frequently.
- Clean in, around, and under appliances.
- Check under sinks for leaks and drops.
- Vacuum carpets and mop floors on a regular basis.
- Keep basements and crawlspaces dry. Consider crawlspace enclosure to help prevent moisture buildup.
- Seal any cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior.
If you suspect you have a roach problem, contact a licensed pest control company. Professional pest control technicians can provide expert advice and thoroughly assess your home to help identify not only the type of cockroaches you have but also the most up-to-date treatment options and prevention techniques.