Roaches in Florida

German Cockroach
© 7th Son Studio/Shutterstock.com

Written by Taiwo Victor

Published: April 14, 2022

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Roaches have been around for more than 300 million years and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Although popularly characterized as dirty pests, majority of the species are not harmful and live in a wide range of habitats around the world. Unfortunately, Florida is home to some of the most troublesome pest cockroaches in the entire United States. These cockroach species feed on human and pet food and can leave an offensive odor. Cockroaches love dark, warm and humid environments, and Florida’s subtropical and tropical climate provides an ideal condition for them to thrive.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the densest cockroach population in the United States can be found in Southern Florida – with at least one roach infestation per year reported by 30.4% of homeowners in the state. This alone tells us that cockroaches are becoming an increasingly huge headache for most Florida homeowners.

In this article, we’ll find out the different types of roaches in Florida and whether or not cockroaches are dangerous when they become unwelcome guests in the home. Then, we’ll learn more about how to know if you have a cockroach infestation and what you can do to get rid of these ancient insects from your home –hopefully for good!

Types of Roaches in Florida

The cockroach species in Florida can be grouped into two general categories – indoor cockroaches and outdoor cockroaches. Outdoor cockroaches in Florida are the American cockroach, Florida woods cockroach, Australian cockroach, Smokybrown cockroach, and Asian cockroach, while the indoor cockroaches are the German cockroach and the Brown-banded cockroach. Nonetheless, many outdoor cockroaches sometimes find their way inside the house to become indoor problems.

Let’s take a look at the special characteristics of these common types of roaches in and around Florida.

Florida Woods Cockroach 

Florida wood cockroach (Eurycotis floridana) on stucco wall; reddish brown color, long antennae.

Florida woods cockroaches release a foul-smelling spray to deter predators.

©iStock.com/Dan Rieck

Also called ‘palmetto bug’, the Florida Woods cockroach is prevalent in the Southeastern United States. Florida residents frequently find significant numbers of these huge insects under rocks or in the mulch outside their homes. Florida woods cockroaches are also called “stink roaches” because of the extremely foul-smelling spray they release to deter predators. The easiest way to distinguish them from the American roaches is their lack of wings. They also prefer locations with sufficient moisture and do well in warm, damp climates.

American Cockroach 

American cockroach on wood

American roaches can spread diseases.

©skifbook/Shutterstock.com

The American cockroach is an outdoor species found in places such as mulch piles and leaf litter. It is dark brown or reddish-brown, about three inches in length, and has two wings that extend beyond its body length. It is one of the largest house-infesting cockroaches in Florida and can cause the spread of diseases and also trigger symptoms of allergies. 

German Cockroach

Types of Cockroaches - German Cockroach

The most common type of cockroach in Florida is the German roach.

©IrinaK/Shutterstock.com

The German cockroach is the commonest type of cockroach in Florida (and also in the entire United States). An article published by the University of Florida described it as “the cockroach of concern, the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name.” They are an indoor cockroach species, known to gain entry into the home through paper bags and cardboard boxes, used furniture, and used appliances.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroaches, larvae and adults.

Smokybrown cockroaches, larvae and adults.

©iStock.com/Yusuke Ide

The smokybrown cockroach is a prevalent flying cockroach species in Florida. It has a distinctive mahogany body and a shiny black head. To distinguish the smokybrown cockroach from other cockroach species, they’re about an inch in length with wings extending beyond their bodies. They are also strong fliers, usually seen under the mulch, decaying matter, and in holes in trees. 

Australian Cockroach

Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae) laying eggs.

Australian cockroaches are smaller than American cockroaches.

©Vinicius R. Souza/Shutterstock.com

The Australian cockroach is very similar in appearance to the American cockroach, however, it is slightly smaller and has a yellow margin on the thorax and yellow streaks at its sides. It may come indoors to live and to look for food, but in warm weather, it may move outdoors. Like most cockroaches, the Australian cockroach is a scavenger and appears to prefer eating plants, but can feed on a wide array of organic (decaying) matter.

Brown-banded cockroach 

Types of Cockroaches - Brown Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches thrive in environments with temperatures between 25 and 33 °C.

©Freedom my wing/Shutterstock.com

The brown-banded cockroach can be found in most U.S states, as well as in Florida. This small cockroach species tends to avoid water and prefers high locations like ceilings or upper portions of walls. You may also find them behind picture frames, on shelves, and within crawl spaces and cabinets. Brown-banded cockroaches have been found to thrive in environments with a temperature between 25 and 33 °C.

Asian Cockroach

Asian cockroaches are attracted to light.

©Barry Fitzgerald – Public Domain

Though they are easily mistaken for German cockroaches because of their similar appearance, Asian cockroaches have longer wings and are stronger fliers. They are predominantly found outdoors in shaded mulched, composted areas where fresh plant litter accumulates as well as in damp areas. They are unusually attracted to light and often gain entry indoors through open windows.

Are Florida Cockroaches Dangerous? 

Cockroaches are harmful pests. They are dangerous disease carriers and sources of allergens. Their habit of feeding on both human food and human waste illustrates their potential as a health hazard to man. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cockroaches are carriers of intestinal diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever. Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches do not bite or sting. They may only scratch humans with their heavy leg spines which may cause irritation, swelling, and lesions on the skin.

A study by Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research journal showed that cockroaches are one of the most common sources of indoor allergens worldwide. Certain enzymes found in their shed exoskeleton, feces, eggs, and saliva cause allergic reactions in many people, including children. 

Therefore, even though these insects are small and may seem harmless at first glance, they are bad house guests at the very least. They aggressively invade closets and take over cabinets. If left unchecked, not only will they contaminate your food, but they’re also known to eat clothes, paper, and leather, causing physical damage to properties.

How to Tell if You Have a Cockroach Infestation 

If you’re worried that you may be suffering from a cockroach infestation, then you most probably are. Surprisingly, some people have a cockroach infestation without even knowing it. So you must be aware that the most obvious sign of an infestation is the presence of adult roaches in your home. Finding one adult cockroach in your home is often an indication that more are lurking nearby. Another sign to look out for is the presence of baby cockroaches (also called nymphs) and cockroach eggs encased in egg cases. These indicate that you have a breeding population of cockroaches in your home and they will grow to exponentially increase the roach population. 

If you see cockroach droppings or you notice the unpleasant ‘musty’ cockroach smells or stains in your home, then you may likewise be dealing with a serious cockroach infestation. Whatever the case may be, make sure that you eliminate your roach problem as soon as possible before it gets out of hand!

How to Get Rid of Roaches in Florida

With all the heat and humidity, Florida is a ‘paradise” for most species of pest cockroaches. Luckily, there are effective steps homeowners in Florida can take to eliminate these pests. The best step may be to contact a professional pest exterminator to effectively manage the situation. However, the most common do-it-yourself method is the use of insecticides available in a wide range of formulations such as baits, sprays, dust, and powders. Be aware that these chemicals can be toxic to both people and pets, so extreme caution should be applied.

Sticky traps and gel baits are less toxic methods that can be used to monitor or reduce roach populations. Sanitation is also an important part of roach control. Limiting their access to water, food, and shelter can have a significant impact on reducing the chances of a severe cockroach infestation. Finally, exclusion practices such as sealing gaps, cracks, or crevices will block their entry points and nesting places and therefore prevent cockroaches from infesting your home. 


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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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