Roaches in Tennessee

Written by Volia Schubiger
Published: October 25, 2022
© PitukTV/
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The experience of dealing with roaches is never pleasant! Most of us would rather never see one again because they are both creepy and crawly. After all, there are some pretty big cockroaches out there in the world, aren’t there? However, here in the United States, we actually have it pretty easy. The cockroaches we have here in our country are domesticated, meaning they are very different from their tropical counterparts. For example, did you know that a cockroach with a wingspan of seven inches can be found in Peru? Even so, Tennessee residents may have noticed that cockroaches are popping up in their houses and businesses more often. 

There are several reasons why cockroaches can be a nuisance, including the risk they pose to our health. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify them, as well as how to avoid becoming infested. Let’s discover the most common species of roaches in Tennessee.

The Most Common Species of Roaches in Tennessee

North America is home to nearly 100 species of cockroaches out of the 4,000 species worldwide, each with its own unique characteristics. Even though cockroaches have a wide variety of features, there are a few common traits that they all share. They generally have six spiny legs, as well as wings, and the majority of them are reddish, brown, or black in color, depending on the species. While most species don’t interact with human-made environments regularly, the ones that do are certainly noteworthy. Let’s take a look at the most common roach species in Tennessee. 

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Smokybrown Cockroaches (Periplaneta fuliginosa)

Smokybrown cockroaches caught in a highly adhesive trap.
The smokybrown roach is an outdoor roach that can be found in wooded areas of Tennessee.

© Ide

Smokybrown cockroaches are pretty common all throughout Tennessee. Unlike many other species of roaches, they come in a distinctive mahogany color and are long and thin. The wings of these roaches are both quite visible and useful, making them frequent and powerful fliers. Typically, smokybrown cockroaches live outdoors in piles of leaves and near sewers or drains. 

Smokybrown cockroaches prefer warm and humid environments, which is why they tend to live in southern states most of the time. It is also known that this species of cockroach tends to dry out faster than any other species in Tennessee. Because of this, they need to drink water every two to three days in order to survive. There are various types of foods that smokybrown cockroaches eat, and they are generally omnivorous. As a rule, sweet foods, such as candy or cookies, are usually what attracts them to a particular place. So make sure to seal up your sweets real good so that these roaches don’t make a home out of your kitchen! 

German Cockroaches (Blattella germanica)

Types of Cockroaches - German Cockroach
The German roach actually comes from Southeast China and not Germany.


German roaches are quite possibly the most common species of roach found in the United States. As a result, Tennessee is no exception to having these creepy crawlies hanging around. There are a few interesting facts about this roach, including the fact that it is one of the smallest. They typically only measure up to 0.25 inches long. They have two dark stripes on their heads and are light brown or tan in color. 

These roaches are a particularly troublesome species in Tennessee as they plague homes and businesses all throughout the year. They are typically nocturnal and only come out at night in search of food and water. They are particularly skittish and will quickly run away once the light comes on. As scavengers, they feed on both plants and meat, making them omnivores. There are a number of foods that this cockroach is attracted to. They will feast on meat, starchy foods, and even sweets. When food isn’t available, they may eat household items such as detergent, soap, and even toothpaste.

It is important to note that these roaches rarely come out during the day. So if you happen to come across a German roach during the daytime, you have a serious infestation on your hands. 

Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)

Types of Cockroaches - Oriental Cockroach
Oriental roaches are also known as waterbugs because they love damp, moist areas.

©Yuliia Hurzhos/

Oriental roaches are found in more moderate numbers in Tennessee than many other roach types. The oriental roach is also known as the waterbug. It is because they really like hanging out in dark and moist places. In addition to being shiny, their exoskeletons are often very dark brown or black. Typically, the oriental roach reaches a length of about an inch or so. The females and males both have short wings, and neither can fly, so they aren’t classified as flying roaches.

Oriental cockroaches spend most of their time in dark, damp places. Decomposing organic matter, sewers, drains, damp basements, porches, and other damp places are ideal habitats for them. Oriental cockroaches are rarely found indoors in Tennessee but can be found occasionally in damp basements, especially in hot and humid cities like Memphis. They have a very particular smell, and that is one of the worst things about these roaches. You will be able to smell them, so you will be aware of their presence in your home.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica)

Wood Roach vs Cockroach - Pennsylvania wood roach
Pennsylvanian cockroaches are outdoor roaches that rarely infest homes.

©Melinda Fawver/

Also known by the name Pennsylvanian cockroach, you can find this species hanging out on trees and low branches, especially in wooded areas. It is also common for them to hang out in log piles, tree stumps, and hollow trees in order to survive. As a general rule, the males are usually dark brown in color, while their front wings will be yellow in color. The males also have fully formed wings. Females, in comparison, are dark brown but have shorter wings that they cannot use. 

As a rule, Pennsylvania wood cockroaches do not usually infest people’s homes. The chances are that if you do happen to get them into your house, one of them will have been tracked in by you while you were cutting firewood. The roach is a solitary type of roach, which means they do not like to be around a lot of other roaches. Aside from that, they also prefer cooler temperatures than other species of roaches. They also can’t live indoors for long due to the dryness of the environment and the fact that they eat decaying stuff, such as manure, compost, and dead plants.

American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

American roaches are the biggest roaches that you’ll find in Tennessee!

©Gary Alpert at the English language Wikipedia / Creative Commons

This roach is one of the few species of roaches in Tennessee that can actually fly. American roaches look reddish-brown and are easily identified by their yellowish figure 8 shape at the back of their heads. The size of these insects can reach a maximum of two inches. In other words, they can get pretty big over the course of their lifetime. Among all the roaches that you can find in Tennessee, this is the largest roach that you will find. 

In Tennessee, American cockroaches live in gutters and sheds but can sometimes infest indoor spaces when the weather is right. The American roach is not picky about its diet, like many of the other roaches we’ve discussed. You will find that they will make a meal out of almost anything inside your home or commercial space. These insects are known to eat dry skin, leather, hair, and other strange things when they can find them. 

Once again, this is a roach you will smell if it makes its way into your home. Their pungent, unpleasant odor can be detected at a distance. They can actually change the taste of your food if they drop any secretions on it. In the event that this roach finds its way into your home, you should get it out as quickly as possible. 

Are Roaches Common in Tennessee?

Throughout the year, Tennessee’s humid subtropical climate makes it a paradise for cockroaches. Tennessee’s wild heat and humidity make it attractive to insects like ticks, stink bugs, and cockroaches. Nevertheless, cockroach infestations in Tennessee pose a major domestic problem. It is believed that cockroaches were introduced to Tennessee mainly through road trade routes and the Memphis International Port. It is, therefore, no surprise that many highrise buildings, apartments, homes, hotels, and restaurants are infested with cockroaches in Tennessee.

In addition, cockroaches were introduced to Tennessee by tourists from across the country and other countries. Tennessee has a lot of tourist attractions, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In Tennessee, however, there are a few cockroaches native to the state, but they are not commonly found in homes. The wood roach is one of these species that don’t typically infest homes. So yes, roaches are quite common in Tennessee, but not every species will invade homes or businesses. 

What Time of Year Are Roaches the Worst in Tennessee?

What Do Cockroaches Eat
Since Tennessee has a humid, subtropical environment, roaches tend to be active all throughout the year.

©gan chaonan/

A cockroach’s body temperature is regulated by its external environment since it is a cold-blooded insect. It is for this reason that many cockroaches do best in environments that are humid and warm. So is there a cockroach season in Tennessee? The answer is that most of the roaches in the state are active all year round. This is thanks to the pretty humid environment of the state. 

Although roaches are more prevalent in spring and summer, they can stay active year-round as long as the temperature inside is above 50 degrees. Unlike many northern states, Tennessee doesn’t get as cold. This is why roaches can survive throughout the wintertime and will be active all throughout the year. 

What Are the Signs of a Roach Infestation in Tennessee?

When it comes to cockroaches, it is often easier to spot the signs of an infestation rather than the actual insects. The reason for this is that these insects are nocturnal, as we said earlier. Daytime appearances are very rare. They are more likely to hide during the day in cracks and crevices since this is their favorite hiding place. In the evening, they will come out to feed in the open. So how can you know if your home is currently infested by roaches?

There are a few key signs you can look for in order to figure out whether your home is infested with roaches. One of the ways to tell if you have cockroaches in your home is to look for their droppings. Droppings from cockroaches are black in color and are less than 1mm wide and range in length. Additionally, be aware of any skin droppings around the house. In order to reach adulthood, cockroaches shed their nymphal skin 5-8 times during their lifetime. Finally, pay attention to any unusual odors. There is a musty smell that lingers and is associated with items that have been in contact with cockroaches during a cockroach infestation.

These signs can help you determine if you have an infestation and begin getting rid of the roaches in your home as soon as possible.

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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