Cockroaches 101Dr. Jim Fredericks
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
A Guide to Identifying Common
Long despised by homeowners, the cockroach is more than just a creepy
nuisance pest that can survive freezing temperatures
and a week without its head. This hearty creature can pose serious health
risks to humans if it finds a way indoors. In fact, cockroaches
pick up germs on the spines of their legs as they crawl through
decaying matter, which may be transferred to humans through food
contamination. This can lead to illnesses such as E. coli and
In addition, cockroaches are linked to increased asthma and
allergy attacks as their droppings, saliva and shed skin contain
potent allergens known to trigger allergic reactions and exacerbate
asthma symptoms, especially in children.
To remain safe and healthy from cockroaches, pest control and
management is key. However, with approximately 4,000 living species
of cockroaches in the world, and about 70 species found in the
United States, it's inevitable that some cockroaches will find a
way inside the home. As a result, it's important to pay close
attention for signs of an infestation and take action if this pest
is found. You should contact a licensed pest
professional to properly identify the species and recommend a
course of treatment, but you can also use this guide to help
determine which type of cockroach has become an unwelcome
- Appearance: American cockroaches are reddish brown with a
yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back of their head.
- Region: This species is located throughout United States.
- Habitat: American cockroaches are often found in sewers and
basements, particularly around pipes and drains.
- Unique Facts: The American cockroach is the largest of the
house-infesting cockroaches. They are active when the temperature
is 70 degrees or higher, but they can survive lower temperatures
with the right conditions.
- Appearance: Brownbanded cockroaches are brown with pronounced
banding across their wings.
- Region: This species is found throughout United States.
- Habitat: Within a room, brownbanded cockroaches tend to prefer
warmer, drier, and higher locations than any of the other urban
pest roaches. They are often found in upper cabinets or in rooms
other than the kitchens or bathrooms. This species often hides its
egg cases in or under furniture.
- Unique Facts: Brown-banded cockroaches get their name from the
two lighter bands they have across their dark brownish bodies. The
male's wings are larger than the female's wings.
- Appearance: German cockroaches are light brown to tan with two
dark stripes located on their backs. They are oval shaped with six
legs and antennae.
- Region: This species is located across the United States.
- Habitat: German cockroaches can be found throughout structures
but show a preference for warm and humid places. They are usually
found in kitchens and secondarily in bathrooms, but infestations
often occur in rooms where people eat and drink.
- Unique Facts: The German cockroach is by far the most important
and usually the most common of the cockroaches. In addition to
being a nuisance, the German cockroach has been implicated in
outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people.
- Appearance: Oriental Cockroaches are large very dark colored
- Region: This species is found in the northern region of the
- Habitat: 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.
- Unique Facts: Oriental cockroaches are sometimes called "water
bugs" because they come out of drains, and "black beetle
cockroaches" because of their smooth, dark bodies. This species
creates a strong smell and is considered one of the dirtiest of all
Wondering how to get
rid of cockroaches? The best advice for cockroach control is to
practice good sanitation. Homeowners should also seal any cracks or
crevices on the outside of the home and eliminate moisture buildup
in basements, attics and crawlspaces. It's important to pay extra
attention to kitchens and bathrooms - especially under appliances
and sinks - as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach