Scientific Name: Blattodea

The German cockroach, Brown-banded cockroach, American cockroach, and Oriental cockroach are the four most common types found in North America. Cockroaches are carriers of Salmonella and E. coli, pathogens that are harmful to humans. They also secrete a substance with an unpleasant odor that will stain surfaces on contact. Their waste, saliva, and cast skins can aggravate allergies and asthma in children and adults.

Scheme of an ant worker anatomy
Cockroach P. americana, side view
By Sputniktilt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cockroach Identification

Cockroaches have broad, flattened bodies and relatively small heads. They are generalized insects, with few special adaptations, and may be among the most primitive living neopteran insects. The mouthparts are on the underside of the head and include generalised chewing mandibles. They have large compound eyes, two ocelli, and long, flexible antennae.

The first pair of wings (the tegmina) are tough and protective, lying as a shield on top of the membranous hind wings. All four wings have branching longitudinal veins, and multiple cross-veins. The legs are sturdy, with large coxae and five claws each. The abdomen has ten segments and several cerci.

Information provided by Wikipedia

Identifying Different Types of Cockroaches

American Cockroaches

The Periplaneta americana (L.) is reddish-brown in color with a yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back of the head. It is oval in shape and approximately 2” long making it the largest of the common house infesting roaches. They enter buildings through drains and pipes, and are known to infest basements, yards and alleyways. They can be found in homes, grocery stores, food processing plants, and hospitals.

Brown-banded Cockroaches

These roaches get their name from the two pronounced bands of light brown on their wings. Known as Supella longipalpa, they are dark brown in color, oval in shape, and half an inch long. Males have full wings reaching past the tip of their abdomens, whereas females have weaker wings that prevent them from flying. They prefer dry, warm environments over 80 degrees in higher locations like the upper cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom. They like to lay their egg cases in or under furniture.

German Cockroaches

Blattella germanica (Linnaeus) or German cockroaches are light brown to tan in color with two dark, parallel stripes on their back, just behind their head. They are oval and approximately half to 5/8” long. This is the most common species of roach, and is able to breed up to six generations in one year. They will eat almost anything, like soap, glue or toothpaste. These roaches prefer warm, humid environments close to food sources and will hitchhike their way to new homes via grocery bags, cardboard boxes, cartons, and used appliances.

Oriental Cockroaches

Despite their common name, the Blatta orientalis is thought to originate in North Africa, but are commonly found in North America. Sometimes called “waterbugs” they are shiny black in color and approximately 1” long. They feed on all many types of food, including decaying organic waste. They are often found in sewers, under debris, leaves, stones, and stored firewood. They make their way into your home through doorways, utility pipes and drains making their home in your basement or crawl space.

More Types of Cockroaches
  • South American/Peruvian Dubia cockroach
  • Asian cockroach
  • true death's head cockroach
  • discoid cockroach or false death's head
  • leaproach
  • Florida woods cockroach
  • Madagascar hissing cockroach
  • bark cockroach
  • Pennsylvania woods cockroach
  • Australian cockroach
  • brown cockroach
  • smokybrown cockroach
  • Japanese cockroach
  • Surinam cockroach

Quick Facts about Cockroaches

  • Cockroaches live in a variety of environments, but prefer warm, dark enviroments.
  • Cockroaches are nocturnal.

Treatment and Prevention of Cockroach Infestations

When you discover that you have a cockroach infestation it is recommended that you contact a pest management company in order to fully eliminate the infestation. There are some effective do-it-yourself methods that will catch and kill most roaches such as glue strips, gel baits, roach hotels, and boric acid. However cockroaches are good at hiding and the case that protects their eggs provides protection from most over-the-counter pesticides. A pest control specialist will be able to offer a more effective approach and provide a more long-term solution to exterminating the infestation.

Crawl Space Encapsulation is one preventative measure you can take to keep cockroaches and other unwanted pests out of your home. By sealing the space under your home off from the outside environment, moisture, high levels of humidity, and insects can't get inside.

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