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Cockroaches are among the most common insects. Based on fossil evidence, roaches are known to have been present on Earth for over 300 million years. Their sizes vary considerably; some species are up to several inches long. Some biologists consider insects to be one of the most successful groups of animals to ever inhabit this planet, and cockroaches are one of the most adaptable and successful insect groups. They have been able to survive many changing environments over millions of years. There are approximately 3500 species of cockroaches worldwide-about 60 species are found in the United States. Their presence in nearly every part of the world and wide range of habitats demonstrate that cockroaches are truly an outstanding success story in Nature. Unfortunately, many of the same outstanding biological characteristics which make them so successful, also make them one of the most difficult pests to manage. Cockroaches, especially the German cockroach, are the most commonly encountered and important household insect pests in much of the U.S.
Only a few of the cockroach species found in the United States routinely enter and infest our dwellings. The most common of these are the German cockroach, American cockroach, Oriental cockroach, Brown-banded cockroach, Smoky brown cockroach, Australian cockroach, Brown cockroach, Woods cockroach, Field cockroach and the Asian cockroach. Of these eight species, the first five represent 95% of all cockroach management in and around buildings. In some parts of the U.S., one species may be more important than another. Certain other species may infest homes or other buildings, but will generally be found in very localized situations or under other unusual circumstances.
Most cockroaches are tropical and sub-tropical in origin, generally live outdoors. They are mostly active at night, during which time they forage for food, water and mates. They may be seen in the daytime, particularly when a heavy population is present or when some other form of stress is placed on the population (such as lack of food or water). Cockroaches ordinarily prefer a moist environment, and many species also prefer a relatively high degree of warmth. Some tropical roaches feed only on vegetation. However, cockroaches which live in buildings are mostly scavengers and feed on a wide variety of food. They are especially fond of starches, sweets, grease, and meat products; but will also eat a great variety of materials such as cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, starch in book bindings, glue, hair, flakes of dried skin, dead animals and plant materials.
Cockroaches usually choose to live in protected cracks and crevices which provide a warm and humid environment. Some species, such as the American and oriental cockroaches, gather in large groups on open walls in protected places or in open areas outside. While they are often found in groups in their daytime hiding or resting areas (called "harborage"), and can be found feeding in groups at night, cockroaches are not social insects as are the ants and wasps. Cockroaches generally forage individually for food and otherwise behave in a largely individualistic or non-social manner. Even though cockroaches are not social insects, they do often form aggregates.
The general shape of a cockroach is familiar to everyone. They are oval and flat-bodied, which enables them to squeeze into all types of cracks and crevices. A pronotum (a shield-like covering) projects forward over the head; their mouthparts are of the chewing type and are oriented downward slightly toward the rear of their body. With their long spiny legs, they can run rapidly over most surfaces. Specialized pads in their tarsi allow them to easily scale glass windows or walk on a ceiling.
Besides their ability to move around inside and outside, and the fact that some species are good fliers, cockroaches are well known for moving to new areas via "hitchhiking." Because they prefer to hide in cracks and crevices in the daytime, they are frequently moved about by individual people or in products shipped around cities or the country. Careful inspection of furniture, clothing, or other goods coming into a home or other facility may reveal cockroaches hiding in these items. Careful observations by pest management professionals and researchers have shown surprising numbers of German cockroaches entering such facilities as hospitals, restaurants, zoos and supermarkets by these routes (every day in some cases).
Molting cockroach. Some people mistakenly think these molting individuals are "albino cockroaches."
Cockroaches develop by a gradual metamorphosis that consists of three stages: egg, nymph and adult. The female produces a purse shaped egg capsule, called an ootheca, which has two rows of eggs in it. Nymphs hatch out of the egg capsule by working together to break a seam along the top of the egg case. When the seam splits open, the tiny nymphs emerge to begin their life. The nymphs generally resemble the adult in appearance and behavior, but, are smaller, do not have wings or wing pads, and frequently have a somewhat different color. Newly molted nymphs are white, but will darken to the normal color within a few hours. Some people mistakenly think these molting individuals are "albino cockroaches."
Nymphs undergo a series of molts; with the last molt, the wings are fully formed and the sexes are easily distinguished from each other. Wings of the adults may be long and functional or short to almost nonexistent. In some species males are winged, but females have only small wing pads. Adults may or may not fly depending on the species and upon environmental factors. The length of time required for the eggs to hatch, for nymphs to develop, and the life span of adults will also vary (even within each species) due to temperature, humidity, the quality of their diet, and other environmental conditions.
Female German Cockroach
With Egg Capsule
Actual Size 1/2 Inch
German cockroaches are the most economically important urban pest in the United States and throughout the World. It is the most common cockroach species in houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels and other institutions.
Adults are pale to medium brown and about 1/2-to 5/8-inch long. German cockroaches can be distinguished from other roaches by the two dark stripes on the back of their head. German cockroach nymphs resemble the adults except that they are smaller, wingless, and darker in color, often being nearly black. A single light stripe running down the middle of the back is the most prominent marking on the young cockroach.
The female carries her egg capsule protruding from the rear of her abdomen until the eggs are ready to hatch. Females that carry egg capsules are called "gravid". The egg capsule is slender, about 1/3-inch long and tan in color. The nymphs may break open the capsule while it is still attached to the female, or she may deposit the capsule in some protected place where the young will be able to find food and harborage when they emerge. The German cockroach is the only common house infesting species which carries the egg capsule for such an extended period. Capsules removed from the female more than a couple of days before the normal hatching time are unlikely to hatch unless they remain under conditions of very high humidity or they are exposed to an insecticide.
Adult females will usually produce from 4-8 egg capsules in their lifetime. Each capsule contains 30-50 eggs. It usually takes 28 days from the time of initial formation of the egg capsule until it hatches. Formation of the next egg capsule usually begins within a couple of weeks.
There are 6 to 7 nymphal stages called instars, before they molt into the adult stage. The number of nymphal instars may increase under certain environmental conditions, or if appendages such as legs or antennae are lost during the earlier nymphal instars. In the latter case, extra instars will occur to allow regeneration of these missing body parts. Completion of the nymphal stage under room conditions requires 40-125 days, depending on environmental conditions and other factors such as favorable diet. Adult German cockroaches can live up to one year, but most will die from various causes long before that time.
Nymphs have habits similar to those of adults. They are active mostly at night, and hide in dark crevices during the day. If German cockroaches are seen during the day, the population is probably so large that the available harborage is already full, or food and moisture are in such short supply that daytime foraging is necessary. Such behavior indicates that the population is under considerable stress. This species usually hides in areas close to moisture and food, which means they are generally found in kitchens and other food areas. They prefer to rest on wood rather than on metal or other smooth surfaces. Large infestations do occur on metal surfaces when there are few other surfaces available. Examples would be on ships, or in large modern food processing plants and kitchens with stainless steel equipment and wall panels.
The German cockroach will eat almost anything, but is particularly attracted to fermented foods and beverage residues (beer spills). If water is present, adults can live about a month without food, but young nymphs will die of starvation within 10 days. Without food or water, the adults die in less than two weeks. Most stages become very stressed if deprived of food or water for more than a couple of days. Stressed cockroaches tend to wander or forage for resources aggressively, even during abnormal periods such as the daytime.
Infestations are sometimes found in areas not generally suspected of German cockroaches; for example, dresser drawers in bedrooms. When German cockroaches are found scattered through non-food areas of a home or building, it is usually caused by a very heavy infestation or by the repellent effects of insecticide applications. Cockroaches in these areas will find food scarce, but can feed on scattered crumbs, soiled clothing, the glue on dresser drawers or on some cosmetic products. German cockroaches can also be found outdoors during warm months, often associated with garbage receptacles. This, too, is usually due to a heavy infestation indoors.
The German cockroach is the most commonly encountered of the house infesting species in the United States. It is also generally the most persistent and difficult to control. The reasons for this are somewhat complex, but an understanding of some of the factors involved is basic to the practice of pest management.
First, the German cockroach has a larger number of eggs per capsule than the other species that infest structures.
Second, it also has the shortest period to develop from hatching until sexual maturity; thus, populations of German cockroaches will build up faster than other species. These factors combine to produce what is called a "high reproductive potential."
(Click For Larger) CockroachBabies and Nymphs(30-50 per egg capsule)
Third, German cockroach nymphs have a better chance of surviving than do other species because the female carries the egg capsule during the entire time that the embryos are developing within the eggs. This results in the nymphs avoiding many hazards of the environment which may affect eggs that remain detached and isolated. Thus, more nymphs are likely to hatch, and a higher reproductive potential is likely.
Fourth, German cockroach nymphs are smaller than most other cockroaches; thus, they are able to conceal themselves in many places which are inaccessible to individuals of the larger species. In fact, in a commercial kitchen, there may be literally thousands of cracks and crevices young cockroaches can hide in and remain protected. German cockroach nymphs also tend to stay close to each other, often close to the female at the time of hatching, creating a tendency for a high local population density. They also have aggregation pheromones associated with their droppings, which have the effect of increasing the level of aggregation or clumping of individuals in the population.
These biological factors, combined with its very adaptive feeding habits and other behaviors, give the German cockroach advantages toward increased chances for survival and persistently maintaining high populations.
Moreover, there are additional factors which contribute to the success of the German cockroach. The "high reproductive potential" of this species can significantly affect its ability to develop resistance to insecticides. During the late 1950s and the 1960s, insecticides such as DDT and chlordane were widely used to control German cockroaches. In many cases, some individuals of German cockroach populations exposed to these insecticides survived. And because these cockroaches reproduce so quickly, survivors were able to pass the ability to survive exposure to DDT and chlordane to following generations. Over many generations, large portions of populations can then become resistant to insecticides. It is possible within a single town or city to find both populations of cockroaches that are resistant to a particular insecticide and others that are susceptible to the same insecticide. Each population's history of insecticide exposure over many generations will determine the levels of resistance to various insecticides.
Some of these uncommon patterns of infestation are more understandable in the light of research on the normal movement patterns of German cockroaches within and between urban apartments. Detailed field research has shown that they can be quite mobile within structures. Up to 10% (or more) of the adult German cockroaches in a moderately to heavily infested apartment can move into or out of the kitchen area within a week's time. Similar rates of movement have also been measured between adjacent apartments. This latter movement usually does not occur unless the two adjacent apartments share common plumbing. Thus, exclusion of German cockroach movement into the wall voids which house plumbing connections, or careful treatment of those areas with insecticides (dust formulations), will greatly aid in maintaining adequate control in multi-family dwellings and other large, complex structures such as hospitals and motels.
The German cockroach is a relatively active species, moving around readily within structures. They travel from one location to another and can pass through very small openings. They are also regularly carried from place to place in such things as bagged potatoes and onions, beverage cartons, grocery bags, food cans, other food packages, handbags, and the folds of clothing. One must look very closely to find all the places in which cockroaches may be living, and try to determine how cockroaches might be transported into the premises. It may not be possible to eliminate all the German cockroaches in a structure at any one time if a steady flow of cockroaches is carried into the premises via people, food shipments or other routes. Further, the use of "repellent" insecticides may scatter cockroaches widely throughout a building. If all of the scattered or "satellite" populations are not found and treated, re-infestation of treated areas will occur.
American CockroachActual Size 1.75 inches
American cockroach's are also known as waterbugs, flying water bug and, in some areas of the South, the palmetto bug. It is the largest of the common species, growing to 1.5 inches or more in length. It is reddish-brown, with a pale brown or yellow border on the upper surface of the pronotum. Both the male and female are fully winged. The wings of the male extend slightly beyond the tip of the abdomen, while those of the female are about the same length as the abdomen.
The female drops her egg capsule within a day after it is formed. Sometimes it is dropped in a suitable location, such as near a food source, or in a protected area. In the South, this may be outdoors in moist and decaying wood. At other times it may be glued to some surface with secretions from the female's mouth. Egg capsules are formed at the rate of about one per week until from 15 to 90 capsules have been produced. Each capsule contains 14-16 eggs. At room temperature, nymphs will hatch out in 50-55 days. In the process of hatching, nymphs will molt and leave their first cast skins in the egg case.
Young nymphs are grayish-brown and each will molt 9-13 times before reaching maturity. After the first few molts, nymphs become more reddish brown in color. The time required to complete the nymphal stage varies from 160-971 days. Under ideal conditions, an adult female can live up to 14-15 months; males for a somewhat shorter period. However, in natural populations many factors reduce their life span.
When indoors, the nymphs and adults are usually found in dark, moist areas of basements and crawl spaces as well as in and around bathtubs, clothes hampers, floor drains, pipe chases and sewers. In basements they are usually found in corner areas high on the walls. In the North, this roach is commonly associated with steam heat tunnels. In northern areas where steam heat tunnels are not found, the American cockroach will be restricted primarily to large institutional buildings. The American cockroach is also common around the manholes of sewers, and on the underside of metal covers of large sump pumps in boiler rooms. American cockroaches have also been observed migrating from one building to another during warm months in the North.
In the South, this roach is abundant in alleyways, yards, hollow trees and palm trees. Recent studies in Florida have shown that American cockroaches and other outdoor roaches are generally associated with trees and woodpiles in landscapes. They especially prefer moist, shady areas. Sometimes they are found under roof shingles or flashing, or even in the attic. Similar studies in Texas have shown that American and smoky-brown cockroaches often prefer moist, shady areas of ground cover, which are often found around foundations and near swimming pools. The presence of automatic sprinkler systems for irrigating these areas of turf and ground cover will provide particularly attractive and favorable living conditions for cockroach populations. When conditions are unfavorable, American cockroaches and other outdoor species may move indoors.
American cockroaches feed on a variety of foods, but decaying organic matter seems to be preferred. They also feed upon book bindings, manuscripts, clothing and glossy paper with starch sizing. Syrup and other sweets are also attractive. The adults can survive two or three months without food, but only about a month without water. The adults have well-developed wings, but seldom fly. They are capable of gliding long distances and will cover considerable distances if they take off from a tree or roof top. In the South, and as far north as Kentucky, American cockroaches have been reported to fly short distances.
In larger urban buildings American cockroaches are found in dark, damp and warm places. They frequently congregate in groups in more or less open spaces, rather than in cracks and crevices. They are often found near steam pipes, in sewers, grease traps, floor drains, pipe chases, damp basements and similar places. They are also common in the sanitary and storm sewers of most cities.
As with German cockroach management, it is important to do a thorough inspection. A trap survey may be necessary in difficult or special situations before any management procedures are attempted. This includes infestations which are originating in the landscape outdoors.
In the South, American cockroaches are commonly found in the landscape along with other larger species, and can readily move inside during nighttime foraging. Movement indoors often increases during periods of cold, extreme hot and dry weather, or excessive rainfall. In these cases, it is important to treat all outdoor areas where the cockroach populations are focused. Perimeter or "barrier" treatments using residual insecticide formulations to prevent cockroach entry into buildings are helpful. Identify where the cockroaches are harboring and moving around in the landscape, and focus insecticide applications in those areas. One important note: do not treat firewood piles with residual sprays. Instead, use baits in these areas or have the customer remove the wood.
Exclusion techniques such as caulking or sealing various cockroach entry points are effective at reducing the problem indoors. To prevent cockroaches from entering through weep holes in exterior brick facade, insert small squares of window screening into the holes using a putty knife. This prevents insect entry, yet still allows for air exchange for which the weep holes are intended. Excessive and widespread insecticide applications in the landscape are not usually necessary.
American cockroaches can be controlled by the use of sprays, dusts or baits. Residual insecticide sprays applied into infested areas will control American roaches slowly, but effectively. Indoor surfaces are most effectively treated with wettable powder or flowable microencapsulated formulations. Phantom insecticide is a good choice for indoor cockroach control because of its non-repellent properties and long lived residual. This is especially true for basement and other utility areas, where bare concrete or other porous surfaces are present. Be sure to treat around floor drains where American cockroaches are harboring, and try to use window screening or some other method to physically prevent them from entering the building from these sources.
Insecticide dusts are also very effective. Dust applications should be made to voids and other harborage areas which will remain dry. Do not apply dusts to wet or damp areas. In some situations, American cockroaches can be killed by the use of non-residual, quick-knockdown insecticides. Non-residuals are usually applied either with aerosols, ULV sprayers, or foggers. American cockroaches will also feed upon baits such as Maxforce and Avert. It is important to remember that sufficient numbers of bait locations should be used.
When insecticide applications to plants such as trees, ground covers or grassy areas are necessary outdoors, only use formulations which are safe for use on plants. In these situations, either wettable powders, microencapsulated or emulsifiable concentrate sprays of the residual materials listed above are generally appropriate. For applications to the sides of houses, door and window jams, and other exterior surfaces, microencapsulated formulations or wettable powders are preferred.
(click for larger image)
Actual Size 1.5 inches
Palmetto Bugs are the roach that Floridians (natives) find inhabiting saw-palmetto fan palms and cabbage palms. They are often mistaken for the American cockroach and the Australian cockroach.
Old timers called the Eurycotis Floridana "palmetto bugs" when they were cutting "swamp cabbage" (heart of palmettos and palms) for food. The most distinguishing characteristic of the true palmetto bug is it's foul smell it emits when disturbed. This is a sickening smell that smells like rotten palmetto berries where they live. Some old timers refer to them as them "darn stinking palmetto bugs". They do not fly and are also referred to as "skunk roaches".
Control of palmetto bugs in saw-palmetto and fan palms consists of treating the palms with any residual pesticide such as Suspend or Talstar. Do not spray the fronds (fan leaves) themselves as burning could occur on hot afternoons. Spray early in the morning or late in the afternoon for best results. Target the treatment around the base of the palms and also on the body of the palm making sure to saturate down into any potential hiding areas. Treatment can be made down into the heart of the palm tree but care should be taken to prevent burning.
(Click For Larger Image)
Actual Size 1.25 inches
Oriental cockroach's are also referred to as the waterbug, black beetle or shad roach. It is found in all parts of the United States. Total length of this cockroach is about 1.25inches for the female and 1 inch for the male. The female has small, functionless rudimentary wings called wing pads. The male's wings cover about 3/4 of the abdomen. Neither the male nor the female can fly. Adults are very dark brown or nearly black, and usually have a somewhat greasy sheen to their body. Females are broader and heavier looking than males.
An egg capsule is earned by the female for about 30 hours, after which it is either dropped or attached to a protected surface near a food supply. Females will produce an average of 8 capsules, each containing 16 eggs which will hatch in about 60 days under room conditions.
Nymphs molt from 7-10 times and the nymphal stages usually take several months to one year to complete. Unlike the other house-infesting species, the oriental cockroach generally has a seasonal developmental cycle. The peak number of adults usually appears in late spring or early summer. The number of adults in the population is generally quite low by late summer and early fall, due to natural mortality and the hatching of nymphs. Few live adults are usually found in the population throughout the year, but if nymphs have not reached maturity by late fall or early winter, their development seems to slow considerably and maturity is not reached until spring.
The nymphs and adults have similar habits and are found associated with decaying organic matter indoors and out. They can be found in yards, beneath leaves, in dumps, in crawl spaces and in the mulch of flower beds. They are also common in high moisture situations such as sewers, drains and dark, damp basements. Both the nymphs and adults are sluggish and are usually located at or below ground level indoors. They are seldom found on walls, in high cupboards or in the upper floors of buildings.
Oriental cockroaches feed on all kinds of filth, rubbish and other decaying organic matter. They seem especially fond of garbage and the contents of discarded tin cans. If water is available, they can live for a month without food, but die within two weeks without water.
In many areas oriental cockroaches are generally found outdoors during warm weather. In periods of drought there may be considerable movement into structures, apparently in relation to humidity gradients. As cold weather approaches, or sometimes during unseasonably cool periods, a similar migration indoors may occur. There may be considerable group movement within heated structures during cold weather, particularly if areas of a building are maintained at warmer temperatures than other areas.
Indoors, Oriental cockroaches prefer dark, moist areas such as under porches, crawl spaces, basements and floor drains. They may be found outdoors in abandoned cisterns, water valve pits, in bark mulch under shrubs around the foundation, in stone walls, and in garbage and trash dumps. Oriental cockroaches are often found in cooler places than is typical for the other large species of cockroaches. For example, they can over-winter in protected landscape areas of cold regions of the United States.
Oriental cockroaches can be controlled with the same types of insecticide sprays and baits as those used for the American cockroach. However, the moist situations in which this cockroach is normally found will typically decrease long-term effectiveness of residual insecticides, cause baits to mold (reducing their effectiveness), and often prevent the successful use of dusts.
Because Oriental cockroaches often move into dwellings in large numbers, a perimeter or barrier treatment is recommended when cockroaches are found living outside. Recent research on the movement of Oriental cockroaches under, around and into homes from harborages in crawl spaces and cinder block foundations has shown that these cockroaches frequently move into the home along plumbing (e.g., up through the floor from the crawl space underneath) and under door or window jams. Thus, carefully treat these areas with insecticides, and/or physically prevent such invasion by caulking or screening.
Brown Banded Cockroach
Actual Size 1/2 inch
Brown Banded Cockroaches are one of the smaller cockroaches, rarely being more than 1/2 inch long. It is light brown and can be readily distinguished from the German cockroach by the presence of two lighter, transverse bands running from one side to the other across the base of the wings and abdomen in adults, and in the same position on the nymphs. These bands may be somewhat irregular or broken and are more apparent on the young and the females than on the males. The female has a broader body than the male. Both male and female are quite active and the adult males fly readily when disturbed. Both adults and nymphs may jump when attempting to escape. They frequently occur in the same buildings as the German cockroach. One must be very careful to identify this species correctly, as control techniques are different for the two species because of their different behaviors.
A female brown-banded cockroach carries her egg capsule for a day or two, and then attaches it to a protected surface. The egg case is purse-shaped, light brown in color and is cemented in place, usually to the side or under surfaces of infested objects. Females will produce about 14 egg capsules during their adult life, each containing about 18 eggs. These hatch in 50-75 days, depending on temperature. Under room conditions, nymphs mature in about 160 days. Adults may live up to 10 months.
Nymphs and adults are generally found on ceilings, high on walls, behind picture frames and light fixtures, or near motors of refrigerators and other appliances. They are also found in light switches, closets and furniture. They do not require as close an association with moisture sources as the German cockroach. This helps explain why they are so commonly found in rooms other than the kitchen or bathroom. These cockroaches dislike light and are not normally seen during the day.
The brown-banded cockroach prefers feeding on starchy materials. However, they can be found feeding on almost anything, and have been known to chew on such non-food materials as nylon stockings (presumably for the residues of body oils and skin flakes).
When making an inspection for brown-banded cockroaches, look beneath tables and chairs, dressers and chests. Look also behind pictures, along picture moldings, on rough plaster walls and ceilings, and most especially on the ceilings and upper walls of cabinets, pantries and closets. No room should be left un-inspected, nor should any piece of furniture (wood, metal or upholstered) if its construction provides shelter. Look for tiny black droppings, attached egg capsules, or cast skins where they have fallen from above onto shelves or ledges.
These cockroaches are more often found in homes, apartments, hotels and hospital rooms than in stores, restaurants and kitchens. They are frequently transported in furniture, and will rapidly spread throughout an entire building. They have long been abundant in the southern states, but are now found as far north as Canada. In the cooler northern states, they are generally found in the warmer parts of buildings.
Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warm places and are usually found widely dispersed throughout houses or other buildings. Unless a control program is thorough, these roaches can be difficult to manage because they live as individuals and small groups in such widely scattered locations. A thorough inspection of the premises is a must for brown-banded cockroach management.
Sprays or dusts (products recommended for German cockroach control) should be thoroughly applied to such places as inside closets, shelves in clothes closets, ceiling light fixtures, and valances above windows.
Smoky Brown Cockroach
Actual Size 1.75 inches
Smoky-brown cockroaches are closely related to the American cockroach but are distinguished by their smaller size, being slightly more than 1 inch long, and uniform mahogany brown color. They do not have any lighter coloration around the edge of their pronotum, as does the adult American cockroach. Both males and females have wings longer than their bodies. Young nymphs have long antennae which are white at the tip. Females lay a dark-brown to black egg capsule which contains 24 eggs. The capsules are firmly attached to some object, although occasionally they may be found lying loosely on the ground or floor. Each female produces about 17 capsules. Their life cycle is similar to other Periplaneta species, except that the average adult life span is less than the American cockroach. In a protected area, the smoky-brown cockroach will live for about 200 days at room temperature.
This cockroach is restricted in its distribution within the U.S. It is common throughout central Texas and eastward, along the Gulf Coast, throughout Florida and up the eastern seaboard. It is the most common species of cockroach encountered in some parts of the South, and is now known to be present in some areas of southern California. It is not generally found in the North except when accidentally brought in.
Normally, this cockroach feeds on plant material, but it can feed on almost anything that other cockroach species feed on once inside a dwelling. It is commonly found living in wood shingle roofs and in gutters where it feeds on decaying organic matter. In attics, they are typically found living at the roof line.
Nymphs and adults enter buildings in a number of ways. They can be brought into the house with firewood or anything else that is stored outside, in garages or other storage areas. They can enter around doors and windows, through ventilation ports under the eaves of a house or any other small cracks or crevices which lead inside. Many homes with brick facades are built with regularly spaced "weep holes" in the brickwork. Cockroaches and many other insects can enter wall voids via these weep hole accesses. They can also move onto roofs and gutters and eventually into the structure. Smoky-brown cockroaches move in and out of buildings to forage more than American cockroaches and most other outdoor species.
Smoky Brown Cockroach's can be controlled with the residual sprays such as Demon insecticide because of its quick killing properties and long lived residual. However, the extent and thoroughness of treatments must often be greater since this cockroach is typically more active in its movements and will usually be found living in and around the inside and outside of a building. Individuals or groups of smoky-brown cockroaches may be found in almost any room of a building as well as in crawl spaces, garages, attics, flower beds, in and around trees, shrubs, trash or garbage receptacles, woodpiles and just about any other place where they can hide. They move about readily, going in and out of buildings.
It is often necessary to treat outside areas with power sprayers to get thorough coverage of the areas in which they hide. Dusts are effective in attics and crawl spaces, and may be applied with power dusters. When treating exterior surfaces of the home or building, use wettable powders in order to obtain the most effective residual performance on these difficult porous surfaces. In addition, it is often necessary to dust cracks on the outside of the building and to dust in the cracks of wood shingle roofs. Also, check the rain gutters for the possibility that smoky-brown cockroaches are living in debris trapped in the gutter. There are various insecticide baits available for use against other outdoor cockroaches, crickets, millipedes and other crawling insects. These can also be useful to control the smoky-brown cockroach.
In general, successful smoky-brown cockroach management requires planning and thoroughness. It also requires use of more different types of applications than any other type of cockroach management. Fortunately, once adequate results have been achieved in and around a home, the reproductive potential of this species is low enough (compared to the German cockroach) that their numbers will not rebound very quickly. However, if one or more groups of smoky-brown cockroaches are left untouched or if they cannot be eliminated from adjacent property, adequate control may be difficult to obtain. In many areas of the South, smoky-brown cockroach management is very frustrating in heavily wooded neighborhoods, because of the many cockroach population reservoirs which are present, but difficult to find or treat.
The name woods cockroach covers a number of cockroach species, usually of the same genus and having similar habits. The species most generally described is the Pennsylvania woods cockroach. Woods cockroaches are small, usually not more than 2/3 inch long. Adults are dark brown with the sides of the thorax and the front half of the wings margined with yellow. In the male, the wings are longer than the body, while those of the female cover only 1/3 to 2/3 of the abdomen. The males are generally strong fliers, whereas the females do not fly. The Pennsylvania woods cockroach is widely distributed in the eastern, southern and Midwestern states, up to Canada. Egg capsules are produced during the warm months and are deposited loosely behind the loose bark of dead trees, fallen logs or stumps. The woods cockroach rarely breeds indoors. The nymphs and adults are usually found outdoors beneath loose bark in wood piles, stumps and hollow trees.
These cockroaches often become a problem when infested firewood is brought indoors. They will wander about the house without congregating in any particular room. They can be especially troublesome during the mating season, which is often May and June. Male woods cockroaches are strong fliers and will come from considerable distances, often in large numbers. They are readily attracted to lights at night, and accidentally gain entry indoors. Large numbers may also be found in the rain gutters of homes. Woods cockroaches feed primarily on decaying organic matter.
Woods cockroaches are usually only occasional invaders of houses. They are difficult to manage with insecticides inside the house because the infestation originates outdoors. At times they may be numerous in crawl spaces under a house. In these situations, a thorough treatment with a residual insecticide spray or dust will be effective. Woods cockroaches are common in woodpiles, so firewood should be stored away from the house to reduce their movement inside. Because the males fly to lights at night, the use of residual insecticide sprays around doors, windows, porches, patios and any other areas where outside lights are located will be useful.
Actual Size 1.25 inches
Australian cockroach's are similar in appearance to the American cockroach but is rarely more than 1.25 inches long. It is reddish-brown and can be distinguished by prominent yellow stripes along the outer front edge of either wing, and by a prominent dark spot in the center of the head.
Adult females drop their egg capsule in a crack, crevice or other hidden area shortly after it is formed. The eggs hatch about 30 days after the egg capsule is dropped. There are approximately 24 eggs per capsule, but only about 2/3 this number usually hatch. Egg capsules are dropped at about 10-day intervals.
The nymphs are strikingly marked with distinct splotches of yellow on the dorsal side of the thorax and abdomen. Nymphs move about under loose bark and in moist decaying vegetation, as do the adults.
This cockroach is found chiefly in the South, but has been found in greenhouses, zoo buildings (especially where plant material and humid conditions are prevalent) and houses in the northern states. It feeds predominantly on plant materials, although it will feed on various starchy materials in homes.
Actual Size 1.75 inches
Brown cockroaches are generally distributed in the southern states, from Florida to Texas. They have been found as far north as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio.
The brown roach resembles the American cockroach, except it has a broader body and less distinct markings on the thorax. The last segment of the cercus is short and blunt, when compared to that of the American cockroach. Brown cockroaches occur indoors and outdoors, where they are found under the bark of trees, in sewers, crawl spaces and similar places. In the South, this cockroach is associated with trees, particularly palm trees. The brown cockroach normally feeds on plant materials.
Egg capsules contain an average of 24 eggs each. The egg capsule is normally glued on a wall near the ceiling, usually in open places in either homes or commercial buildings. Indoors, it seems to prefer sticking the egg capsule to cement or plaster, rather than wood. Outdoors, placement of the egg capsules is similar to that of the American cockroach.
These roaches can be controlled with the usual residual insecticide sprays or dusts in the same manner as discussed for the American cockroach.
Field Cockroach's are a small cockroach, slightly smaller than the German cockroach but very colorful. It is very similar to the German cockroach, but can be distinguished by a blackish area on the front of the head, extending from the mouthparts to between the eyes. Its distribution is from California to Texas. The field cockroach feeds largely on decomposing vegetation and is common in irrigated areas. It normally lives outdoors occupying areas under stones, clumps of earth and similar locations. Occasionally, however, it wanders into homes during dry parts of the year.
Field cockroaches are found living on decomposing vegetation and under stones or clumps of earth. They come into homes only during drier portions of the year, to get moisture. They can usually be controlled by removing decomposing plant material from the area or, when necessary, by spraying or dusting with direct contact insecticides.
Actual Size 1/2 Inch
Asian Cockroaches are native to various areas in Southeast Asia, and appears to have been introduced through the Port of Tampa. It is established in the Tampa, Lakeland and St. Petersburg areas of Florida. It is very similar in appearance to the German cockroach, but has very different behavior. It prefers to infest shaded and moist areas in the landscape, grassy areas and groundcovers. It typically becomes most active just at dusk, remaining so for a few hours thereafter. Adults will fly quite readily and for relatively long distances. They will fly to lights at night. Because they will enter homes, they are a particular nuisance when they fly inside (into TV screens, onto people, etc.). They are also a considerable nuisance when they fly into backyard barbeques and other patio events in the evening. This species is quite susceptible to all the insecticides typically used for cockroach control. The limits of its ultimate geographical spread within the United States are difficult to estimate at this time, but it may spread to other warm and moist regions of the Gulf coastal states and California.
Asian cockroaches present a rather difficult pest management challenge for professionals and homeowners in the affected areas. Typically, these cockroaches are an outdoor pest problem, but they do readily enter the home and can establish an infestation inside. The adults are strong fliers and are attracted to exterior and interior lighting and/or other light-colored surfaces and areas around a home. Management should begin with raking and removal of any leaf litter or other conditions which provide harborage to these roaches in the landscape. Then, if possible, bright lights should also be eliminated or their brightness reduced. Exclusion techniques (caulking, weather-stripping, sealing of weep holes, etc.) should be considered.
Insecticide applications at entry points into the structure may be helpful. In the landscape, cockroach baits can be scattered into those areas where the roaches are harboring. Spray formulations which are labeled for cockroach control outdoors can also be used in these areas. Whenever Asian cockroaches enter the home, they can be controlled by the same methods as were discussed for German cockroaches.
The presence of cockroaches is often detected by their damage, smell or by the fecal matter (called "frass") they deposit. These are clues which can aid in diagnosing a cockroach problem. Cockroaches may use such things as glue or paste (especially from animal-based materials), starch and certain color dyes as foods. As a result, items such as stamps, envelopes, bindings of older books, draperies and occasionally wallpapers may show signs of feeding. The size of the mandible marks and the apparent degree of vigor with which they feed are indications of the type of roach which did the damage. The size and shape of fecal droppings are also clues to the cockroach species involved.
The most important aspect of cockroach damage derives from their habit of feeding and harboring in damp and unsanitary places such as sewers, garbage disposals, kitchens, bathrooms, and storage areas indoors. Filth from these sources is spread by the cockroaches to food supplies, food preparation surfaces, dishes, utensils, and other surfaces. Far more food is contaminated by cockroaches than they are able to eat. Diseases transmitted as a result of these habits were discussed earlier. These same habits are why people are so disgusted and repulsed by the mere presence of cockroaches. For many people, personal disgust and the social stigma attached to cockroaches produce a complete lack of tolerance for any cockroaches in their home or elsewhere. However, recent studies have found that some people have a less severe attitude about cockroaches, such that low levels of cockroach presence and an occasional sighting are acceptable. In either case, a carefully considered and executed management program will be necessary.
Understanding basic cockroach biology and behavior is essential to the professional in managing cockroaches. Also, the more that is understood about cockroaches, the greater the likelihood of success in those occasions where standard management methods do not work or can not be used. However, in some cases, it may be practically impossible to achieve total elimination due to various circumstantial factors unless a relatively broad-reaching (and thus expensive) program is implemented. In such cases, managing a cockroach infestation to a "tolerable level" is more realistic.
Consistent and effective cockroach management requires a considerable degree of planning and organization to develop a multi-faceted program which includes the following steps-inspection and survey, treatment, client education and follow-up. It is important to keep adequate records throughout this process. Record-keeping will be necessary to satisfy legal or regulatory requirements in some states, and also toward organizing and implementing an effective program. This attention to detail and record-keeping will be especially helpful where the initial management efforts are not satisfactory. Additional steps may be needed to modify the program to eliminate any surviving cockroaches.
Pest management firms which offer one-visit cockroach management, and clients who will settle for this should understand that the objective of such a program can only be accurately stated as to provide a treatment. Such treatments usually lead only to temporary reduction in the infestation, and not effective long-term management or elimination. Effective cockroach control involves a higher level of service than just spray treatments.
The primary goal of a cockroach inspection is to locate as many cockroach hiding places or "harborages" as possible (to determine insecticide treatments and other management activities). It is also important to note safety considerations such as the location of pets and presence of small children.
In many specialized or difficult accounts, proper inspection includes preparation of a diagram of the indoor and outdoor areas where the program will be conducted. This diagram should include notes on all cockroach sightings, areas where frass was spotted, conditions which are conducive to cockroach presence, sanitation problems, locations of sensitive areas (e.g., pets, children, invalids, sensitive people, sensitive equipment) and other treatment considerations.
The tools required to conduct a professional cockroach inspection include a heavy-duty flashlight, a mechanic's mirror (to allow inspection of difficult cracks and crevices), a flushing agent (CB 80), and screwdrivers, pliers and other hand tools to open equipment panels or gain access to other possible cockroach harborage areas. Knee pads and a bump cap are useful when inspecting in those dark and difficult to reach areas, sometimes called "dead" spaces, which cockroaches often prefer.
When conducting a cockroach inspection indoors, especially for German cockroaches, it is important to spend time either sitting on the floor or crawling around. This allows a different perspective on all the available cockroach harborages. If all inspections (and treatments) are made from a standing position, important harborages, sanitation considerations and other factors are likely to be overlooked. Keep in mind that a cockroach crawls around with its head and antennae less than one inch from the floor, wall, or other surfaces. Thus, an inspection made with the head and eyes 5-6 feet above the floor does not permit the inspector to view the world in which the cockroach lives. It has often been said about cockroach management that, "You need to think like a cockroach!". In many ways, this is good advice-especially in the inspection and survey phase of the program. In addition to a floor level perspective, an above floor level perspective is required. Thus, a ladder is an important tool for proper inspections and treatments. This is especially true in commercial establishments such as restaurants and supermarkets which often have suspended or high ceilings.
Keep in mind the behavior of the cockroach species involved and, if necessary, include an inspection of affected outdoor areas. Trees, shrubs, groundcovers, mulched areas, locations near food and water sources (pools and pet dishes), woodpiles, trash receptacles, door and window casings, roof areas, clogged rain gutters, and other possible harborages should be inspected if necessary. Attics, garages and crawl spaces should be considered for some species, particularly in regions with warm, moist climates.
Night inspections are another good technique occasionally necessary in difficult situations. When the cockroaches are normally out and foraging at night, you can gain a much better idea of where they are harboring and traveling. A type of yellow filter can be put over the flashlight lens to allow searching for German cockroaches without startling them. Their presence and movement can then be monitored more effectively, with less disruption of normal behavior. In this way, the professional can observe and trace cockroach movement to overlooked or unseen harborage areas.
A cockroach survey (trapping using monitors) is sometimes necessary to determine the extent of an infestation because even a thorough inspection will not reveal all the cockroach harborages, or where they are foraging most actively at night. Monitoring is particularly useful in large, complex accounts, and especially where there is a moderate to heavy level of infestation. A second advantage to monitoring comes when the survey is repeated in the exact same manner some time after the management program is implemented. A basis for estimating the program's effectiveness is gained. This can be especially useful when the goal is total elimination, or zero cockroaches.
Professionals sometimes resort to intensive monitoring after trying and failing with one or more inspections and treatment regimes. In general, when a cockroach problem persists despite thorough treatments, monitoring can assist in at least narrowing down the areas which may be serving as sources of infestation or are not receiving proper insecticide treatment. Once the last few remaining harborages are identified, final elimination of the cockroach infestation will follow.
Cockroach monitoring involves the use of sticky traps placed at strategic locations within the structure or in the landscape (for outdoor species). Whenever possible, place monitoring traps either against a wall or in a corner of the floor, a shelf or a drawer. Cockroaches have a behavioral trait known as "thigmotaxis," which means that they prefer to have the side or top of their body touching another object. Thus, they prefer to walk along walls and close to furniture, and to hide in cracks and crevices during daylight hours when not foraging. Traps placed even a couple of inches from a wall, or the sidewall of a cabinet or drawer, will not be found nearly as readily by the cockroaches as those which are placed against walls or other objects.
Most commercially available traps such as the Victor Professional Roach Trap or the BioCare Cockroach Trap come complete with pheromones (sex attractants) or bait to encourage cockroaches to enter. One night of monitoring with a sufficient number of trap locations will usually provide enough information to design a much more complete and effective management program. If survey results are low on the first night, and an infestation is suspected, it may be necessary to re-position some of the traps and monitor for a second or third night in order to locate some harborage more precisely.
When traps are picked up, record the numbers captured in each trap. Also, notice the position and direction in which captured cockroaches were heading. These observations can give important clues regarding the location of nearby cockroach harborages. Use this information to direct further inspections, trap placements or insecticide applications.
The first aspect of the treatment phase is sanitation. Sanitation efforts will help to eliminate food, moisture and harborage available to the cockroach population; thereby stressing cockroach populations which will lead to better control results. Sanitation not only involves various types of cleaning procedures to remove food and water sources, it also involves the elimination of cockroach harborages by caulking or similar structural repairs.
Of course, sanitation should be practiced for general public health reasons. In commercial facilities, it is generally mandated by public health codes applicable to restaurants and other food handling facilities. It is interesting to note that research where high levels of cleaning, caulking and other sanitation procedures have been applied to cockroach-infested apartments failed to show that sanitation alone can substantially reduce German cockroach numbers. Other research indicates that insecticide applications provide greater initial control and have better residual action where proper sanitation procedures are first applied, and then routinely followed. These latter observations are supported by researchers who have noted that grease and other typical forms of soiling on household or commercial kitchen surfaces can substantially decrease the residual action of insecticide applications. Rigorous sanitation also causes stress on German cockroach populations, so they will forage more actively and may be controlled more readily by insecticide applications. Some laboratory studies have also shown that starved German cockroaches are more susceptible to insecticides.
In general, all sanitation deficiencies should be noted during the inspection and survey. Recommendations should be made and reinforced with the client (commercial or residential) to correct these problems, and continuously monitored thereafter. Some pest management firms conduct all aspects of a necessary sanitation program as part of the overall program for commercial clients, at extra cost. Others have devised ways to encourage or force these clients to follow-up on needed sanitation procedures. Very often, high quality programs which guarantee cockroach elimination will include in their guarantees a requirement that the client must adhere to rigid sanitation standards.
Those who do not understand the importance of sanitation to the overall program, or who will not implement reasonable sanitation recommendations, will either be forced into excessive reliance on insecticide treatments or should expect to continue having a cockroach problem. Pest control firms sometimes have a policy of canceling accounts with unresponsive customers who do not take sanitation seriously.
We have already discussed caulking and screening to eliminate harborages as part of the sanitation effort. These procedures are also effective to prevent cockroach movement between rooms or floors of a structure, or to keep invading outdoor species from entering the premises. These are called exclusion techniques. Other exclusion techniques would be the use of sticky barriers (e.g., using rodent glue board adhesive or special insect trap adhesives) to prevent cockroaches from climbing the legs of tables or other furniture. There are also aerosol formulations of Teflon which leave a dry, powdery film on treated surfaces. If properly applied on vertical surfaces, these films can be effective cockroach barriers. Such techniques may be especially useful under special situations where no pesticide can be used. Some items which cannot be treated with insecticides (e.g., in food-handling facilities) can be routinely bagged in sealed plastic garbage bags each evening to exclude cockroaches from using them as harborage or contaminating them.
While use of monitors was stressed for survey purposes, they can be used as part of the treatment program. However, they will rarely provide acceptable levels of control when used alone. Roach motels used by themselves will not provide adequate control.
Many types of electrical or mechanical devices have been marketed for cockroach (and other pest) control in recent years. These include electromagnetic, ultrasonic and mechanical vibration devices. To date, no valid scientific studies have shown any of these devices to be effective at repelling, sterilizing, killing or otherwise affecting cockroaches or their behavior in a way which can be used effectively in a management program. Therefore, none of the devices currently in the marketplace are recommended.
Lastly, there are a number of predators, parasites and disease organisms present in nature which act to naturally limit the size of cockroach populations. This is called biological control. Some types of wasps lay their eggs in cockroach egg capsules, especially capsules of the Periplaneta species and the brown-banded cockroach. The wasp larvae eat the contents of the roach egg capsule. Spiders can also serve as cockroach predators. Microorganisms, such as yeasts and other bacteria, can provide substantial population reduction or suppression under specific circumstances. Overall, however, the slow speed of action, low levels of control and the inconsistency of results experienced with biological control renders this approach of little use in urban cockroach management programs. These types of programs are usually limited to greenhouses and shopping malls.
In spite of the most rigorous sanitation and non-chemical management procedures, cockroach management will usually require carefully selected and conducted insecticide applications.
Remember that these applications should be made in conjunction with, and complementary to, the other appropriate sanitation and non-chemical procedures discussed above. Taken as a whole, these treatment procedures, when directed by careful inspection, surveys and use of your experience and judgment, will constitute integrated pest management. This integrated approach should involve looking at the "big picture" while examining all aspects of the cockroach's behavior and the structural factors which affect the management program. This approach will ensure that maximum control is obtained with the greatest safety and efficiency.
Perhaps the golden rule for applying insecticides against cockroaches is this: regardless of the type of insecticide used, insecticide placed directly into, or near cockroach harborage will produce far better control than those placed where roaches will only walk over them occasionally. Search, locate and treat harborage.
Typical insecticide application techniques used with residual insecticide formulations are crack & crevice, spot and general. Remember: to prevent misapplications, always check the label before applying an insecticide.
Residual spray formulations made from emulsifiable concentrates (E or EC), flowable micro encapsulations (FM or ME), wettable powders (WP) and oil or water solutions (S), along with ready-to-use aerosols, are available for use against cockroaches. Dusts (D) and baits, along with ULV or aerosol formulations of non-residual insecticides, are also available. During the inspection phase of the cockroach management program, take note of the types of surfaces and other conditions present, and choose insecticides and formulations accordingly.
In general, formulations such as wettable powders (Demon WP) and micro encapsulations (Suspend or Demand) will give better residual action against cockroaches on porous surfaces such as unpainted wood, particle board, concrete, or paper, and latex-painted or vinyl surfaces. Emulsifiable concentrates (Viper) are generally used where no visible residue can be allowed, or where long residual action is either unwanted or impossible, and more moderate residual action will be acceptable. Little or no residual action can be expected where treated surfaces are exposed to excessive heat or moisture in commercial kitchens, laundry rooms and some bathrooms. Use of residuals in either a crack and crevice or spot treatment mode around sources of heat and steam will not give significant residual action, so consider use of non-residuals (e.g., aerosols) applied into such cockroach harborages and baits placed nearby, where any surviving cockroaches will find them. Voids that will remain dry are usually best treated with dusts or residual aerosols (with crack and crevice tips). If other areas require treatment, this should generally be done with non-residual aerosol or ULV applications. Baits can be placed in other areas where cockroaches are expected to forage. Fogging is frequently used to supplement thorough crack and crevice and void treatments.
There are many types of sprayers, dusters and other equipment available for use in applying insecticides for cockroach management. Compressed-air sprayers, aerosol insecticide systems and hand dusters are most commonly used. Power sprayers are often used in outdoor applications, while power dusters and fogging equipment can be used for certain indoor applications.
Chemicals which mimic the cockroach's natural juvenile hormone, such as hydroprene (Gencor) and Point Source, are useful in cockroach management. While they can be thought of as merely another type of insecticide, their action is quite different from that of traditional insecticides which generally affect the nervous system. When used properly, these IGRs will sterilize a high proportion of the adult cockroaches which survive other insecticide applications and management efforts. While they may kill some immature cockroaches, their most important action is to prevent the immatures from becoming reproductively capable as adults. Since the adults present at the time of IGR application will not be sterilized, it is important to use these IGRs in conjunction with an effective residual insecticide spray (Demon WP). This can be done as a combination spray, or by use of an IGR fogger and a separate residual spray. In general, the conventional residual treatment should provide 1-2 months of 80% or greater control in order for the added IGR effect to be of significant value to the overall management program. Repeating applications at 2-4 month intervals will not only produce a high level of control, but most remaining adults will not be capable of reproduction.
In general terms, IGRs restrict the high reproductive potential of the cockroach population. And because this reproductive potential is a key aspect of the success and persistence of cockroach populations (especially German cockroaches), IGRs provide a substantial advantage to the pest management professional in many circumstances. However, it is important to understand that IGRs are only useful additions to cockroach management programs, which may permit the use of fewer insecticide applications, spaced at longer intervals, over the long run. These products are not effective tools when used alone.
IGRs have less utility in intensive cockroach management and elimination programs that rely on frequent and thorough applications of conventional insecticides. On the other hand, IGRs are particularly valuable in multi-family housing units or other situations with chronic cockroach problems where frequent insecticide applications are not practical. They might also be useful in situations where applications of conventional insecticides are less desirable or not permitted for whatever reason. In multi-family housing units and other complex structures, it is important to use the IGR in every unit so non-sterile cockroaches will be less likely to invade IGR treated units. These IGRs are not recommended for outdoor use in spray applications, because they degrade in the outdoor environment.
You will leave less food for the roaches if you:
Treatment for roaches involves more than using Raid. Use what the Pros use and you will get results.
If you don't know where they are, how can you kill all of them ?
Like humans, roaches can go much longer without food than without water. To keep roaches away, keep them thirsty.
To prevent roaches from migrating from your neighbor's place to yours, seal up common roach entryways.
Cockroach control usually requires an ongoing treatment program. Many pest control companies will require a monthly or quarterly treatment to guarantee that roaches will not come back.
Why not setup your own program ? Like the old saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in this case that saying is 100% correct ! It only takes a few ounces of the right pesticides placed into strategic places like those listed above every few months to get good cockroach control.
Don't expect to treat only 1 time and the cockroaches to be gone forever. Mark your calendar and treat your home or structure at least on a quarterly basis. If you do, you will get good control, you will be happy with the results, and most of all, you will have saved yourself several hundred dollars in the process !