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Guide to Cockroaches

American Cockroach

Periplaneta Americana (L.)

Description: The American Cockroach is the largest of the house-infesting cockroaches.


Color: Reddish brown, with a yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back 
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval
Size: 2"
Antennae: True

Habits: American Cockroaches are found in food processing areas and food storage areas, as well as other types of buildings. They are active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, but they can survive lower temperatures with the right conditions.

Habitat: American Cockroaches are often found in sewers and basements, particularly around pipes and drains.

Threats: Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.

Prevention: Good sanitation and habitat reduction, along with vacuuming, surveillance, a baiting program, and some sealing of cracks can usually quickly reduce or eliminate a cockroach population.

Brown Banded Cockroaches

Supella Longipalpa

Description: Brown Banded Cockroaches get their name from the two lighter bands they have across their dark brownish bodies. In addition to the distinctive banding, males have full wings, which reach beyond the tip of their rather pointed abdomens, but females have underdeveloped wings, much shorter than their broad, rounded abdomens. The lighter band markings are much more distinct in nymphs than in adults of either sex.

Color: Brown, with pronounced banding across wings
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval
Size: 1/2" 
Antennae: True

Habits: Male Brown Banded Cockroaches have been observed to fly indoors. Among cockroach species, Brown Banded Cockroaches have the most distinctions between sexes. Females have larger abdomen and shorter wings than males. Brown Banded Cockroaches often hide their egg cases in or under furniture.

Habitat: Within a room, these roaches tend to prefer warmer, drier, and higher locations than do any of the other urban pest roaches. They are often found in upper cabinets or in other rooms than the kitchens (food preparation areas) or bathrooms.

Threats: Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.

Prevention: Good sanitation and habitat reduction, along with vacuuming, surveillance, a baiting program, and some sealing of cracks can usually quickly reduce or eliminate a cockroach population.

German Roach

Blattella Germanica

Description: The German Cockroach is found throughout the world in association with humans. German Cockroaches adulterate food or food products with their feces and defensive secretions, physically transport and often harbor pathogenic organisms, may cause severe allergic responses, and in extremely heavy infestations have been reported to bite humans and feed on food residues on the faces of sleeping humans. In addition, some scientists suggest that German Cockroach infestations may cause human psychological stress and that the stigma associated with infestations alters human behavior.

Color: Brown to Dark Brown
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval and flat-bodied. Antennae are long and slender.
Size: 1/4" to 1 3/4"
Antennae: True

Habitat: Cracks, crevices, cardboard boxes, chimneys, and other dark places that offer protection. Kitchen cabinets, chairs, and tables.

Threats: Ruins food stuff. Most cockroaches live outside and help to decay organic matter. Believed to spread disease, but contrary to popular opinion, they rarely if ever spread human disease.

Prevention: Caulking the cracks, crevices, and holes in the house so the roaches can't walk right in is the first step in control.

Oriental Cockroaches

Blatta Orientalis

Description: Oriental Cockroaches are large very dark (almost black, but sometimes dark reddish-brown), shiny cockroaches which live in sewers and similar wet, decaying organic matter. They are sometimes called “water bugs” because they come out of drains, and “black beetle cockroaches” because of their smooth, dark bodies. Males are about 1 inch long, with wings that cover only about 3/4 of their abdomen; females are about 1 1/4 inch long, and have only short stubs of wing pads.


Color: Dark brown, almost black

Legs: 6

Shape: Oval

Size: 1" to 1 1/4"

Antennae: True


Habits: This species of cockroach often travels through sewer pipes. It survives on filth and enjoys temperatures from 68 to 84 degrees. This is a cooler temperature than that preferred by other cockroach species.

Habitats: Oriental Cockroaches are often found in sewers and will enter structures through drains. They find indoor harborage in basements and crawl spaces. They can also be found in leaf piles and firewood outdoors.

Threats: Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.

Prevention: Good sanitation and habitat reduction, along with vacuuming, surveillance, a baiting program, and some sealing of cracks can usually quickly reduce or eliminate a cockroach population.

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