Understanding cockroach types in Florida is the first step to healthy & safe living
Cockroaches can spread disease, contaminate our food, cause allergies, and even exacerbate asthma attacks.
Cockroaches pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage, then transfer these germs to food or surfaces in our homes. (Gross!)
According to the World Health Organization, they are proven or suspected carriers of the organisms causing diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever, and viral diseases such as poliomyelitis. Certain roaches have been reported to spread at least 33 different kinds of bacteria and six kinds of parasitic worms.
Unfortunately, cockroaches are also one of the most common of all insects and have been around for more than 300 million years. There are many species of cockroaches found in Florida, but generally, these species can be grouped into two categories: indoor cockroaches and outdoor cockroaches.
Outside roaches are usually found in mulch, tree holes, leaf litter, and moist areas located under vegetation. They usually end up in houses unintentionally and prefer to live in nature. But if they do make their way inside, health dangers loom from these gross critters.
Species of Outdoor Cockroaches in Florida
Often referred to as palmetto bug, the American cockroach is the largest of the common cockroach species, growing larger than 2 inches in length. It is reddish brown with a pale brown or yellow border. Males and females both have wings, but the males wings extend beyond their abdomen. Both can glide short distances.
American cockroaches are the most common cockroach species found in city sewer systems. While they prefer to live outside, American cockroaches enter homes to find water or food. They can easily pass under doors if the weather stripping is damaged. Basement windows and garages are also common entryways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. They will forage for crumbs, scraps, and spilled food, and will sometimes eat pet food that is left out.
Smokey Brown Cockroach
These are closely related to the American cockroach, but are slightly smaller in size at just over an inch long. These cockroaches have a shiny appearance and are uniformly a black, mahogany color. They are also strong fliers and have wings that extend beyond their body.
Around homes and structures, the smoky brown cockroach can be found in tree holes, beneath mulch beds and ground cover, and around soffits and eaves, or areas where moisture problems may exist because they dehydrate very quickly. The smoky brown cockroach can easily penetrate buildings through openings or gaps beneath siding, through attic or soffit vents, openings around utility and plumbing penetrations, and through open windows or doors. While smoky brown cockroaches prefer to eat decaying plant matter, they will consume any food source available to them including animal feces, dead bodies and even their own young.
Florida Woods Cockroach
The Florida woods cockroach is also commonly referred to as the stinking cockroach. When threatened by predators, this species releases a foul-smelling liquid. This cockroach is black in color and appears wingless but does have small wings. They are slow-moving and flightless roaches.
The Florida woods cockroach feeds primarily on decomposing plant matter and is effectively a detritivore. Because of these feeding habits, an infestation of this cockroach species is unlikely, but Florida woods cockroaches can be brought inside on firewood or may enter on their own through open windows and doors.
Inside homes, these insects can be found in bathrooms or basements and are particularly attracted to leaking pipes.
These cockroaches are also similar in appearance to the American cockroach, but they are smaller, rarely growing larger than 1.25 inches in length. They are a reddish brown with yellow markings on the top of their head and the front edge of each wing. Both males and females have wings that extend to the tip of their abdomen.
Greenhouses are one of the more common inside locations you could find Australian cockroaches, along with sinks, toilets, and other dark, humid and warm areas. Outdoors, Australian cockroaches prefer to live under tree bark, in piles of firewood and other locations that are moist and sheltered. They feed primarily on plant material, but inside the home will feed on starchy materials.
These roaches appear identical to the German variety but have slightly longer wings. They were originally found in Asia but have spread significantly and can now be found throughout the southeastern U.S., including Florida. Adult Asian cockroaches are brown in color with two darker parallel bands running lengthwise behind their head.
They are most active at dusk and fly long distances toward sources of light. You may see an Asian cockroach attracted to your television screen or perched near lamps and other sources of illumination. However, infestations are rare occurrences.
Oriental cockroaches are believed to be of North African origin, despite their name. This type of cockroach is sometimes referred to as the "black beetle" or a "water bug" because of its dark black, glossy appearance and tendency to harbor in damp locations. The oriental cockroach is approximately 1 inch long and has wings but does not fly.
The Oriental cockroach dwells in darkness and loves moist, damp spots that are out of sight and harm from humans. Because of their habitat preference, they are usually found outside but can survive in dark, damp basements and sewer systems.
Indoor cockroaches are generally smaller roaches and are more of an issue for homeowners. While other cockroach varieties will visit if needed for food and water, the following want to live inside your home:
This cockroach is the most common of all cockroach types found in America. An adult German cockroach is pale to medium brown and has two, almost parallel, dark stripes on their backs behind their head. These roaches have long, almost straight antennae and six legs with spines. Though they have wings, they don't often fly. Females only need to mate once to be able to produce eggs the rest of its life and can breed at a rate of up to six generations per year… that means a single egg-carrying female in a home or building can lead to the generation of more than 30,000 offspring in a single year.
Typically, these roaches are brought into a home inside boxes, bags, containers, used appliances, or other items. Once inside, they have no trouble moving from room to room, or between apartments, using pipes and plumbing. German cockroaches will feed on almost anything, including soap, glue and toothpaste. They thrive in human structures and fit in tiny spaces, making it important to act as soon as you see one.
Brown Banded Cockroach
These are smaller than most other cockroaches, usually not growing more than half of an inch in length. Brown-banded cockroaches get their name from the two lighter bands they have across their dark brownish bodies. Although both males and females are active, only the male brown-banded cockroach is able to fly.
Brown-banded cockroaches tend to prefer higher locations than most cockroach species and warm, dry locations. They are often found in upper cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms, near refrigerator motor housings, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, door frames, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water sources.
Getting Rid of Cockroaches
In general, cockroaches are opportunistic feeders, so it is best to get them out of your house as soon as possible. You can usually tell if you have an infestation by the presence of either adult cockroaches or nymphs and egg cases. If you see roaches or their droppings, it is important to contact a pest control service for identification and removal.
If you think you have a problem and need professional cockroach control, don’t hesitate to call on our team. Our trained and certified pest-prevention experts will be able to get any job under control.
It starts with a no-hassle, free home inspection to understand exactly what’s going on in your home, what needs to be done to properly and permanently fix the problem, and then getting it done.
With our top-notch customer service, constant client communication, and thorough pest control and prevention, we make sure all of our clients get what they need to be safe at home. And we make sure we exceed their expectations to get there.