Cockroaches 101

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Guide to Identifying Common Cockroach Species


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 Salmonella.

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 houseguest:

American Cockroach

American Cockroaches

  • 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.

Brownbanded Cockroach

Brownbanded Cockroaches

  • 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.

 

 

German Cockroach

 German Cockroaches

  • 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.

 Oriental Cockroach

Oriental Cockroaches

  • Appearance: Oriental Cockroaches are large very dark colored and shiny.
  • Region: This species is found in the northern region of the United States.
  • 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 the cockroaches.

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 infestations.