Alabama is blessed with mild winters thanks to the warm air that flows through the state from the gulf. However, having warm temperatures for extended periods means cockroaches appear more frequently. Therefore, understanding the life cycle of these pests, the types, where they occur, and what species are native to the area will help prevent infestations. So, when is cockroach season in Alabama? Cockroaches are most active during the spring and summer. However, as long as the temperature stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they can remain active all year.
Types of Cockroaches in Alabama
There are over 30 species of roaches in Alabama. However, there are four species that are more common than others; they include:
German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)
Due to the German cockroaches’ name, one would think they are native to Germany, but this pest actually comes from Southeast China, which is why they are so sensitive to the cold. Identifying a German cockroach is easy; there are three prominent characteristics to look for:
- Their abdomens are slender and taper down, and they have a yellowish underside
- Males are pale brown or tan, with two dark stripes on their heads
- Females are darker than males, and their abdomens are wider
Unfortunately, German cockroaches are a problem all year round in Alabama. They usually only come out at night to scavenge for water and food but will make a quick getaway if you turn a light on or disturb them. Foods that really excite the are sugars, meats, starches, and fatty foods. However, they may eat items like glue, soap, and toothpaste if they don’t have access to food. Furthermore, you can find them in restaurants, homes, apartments, hospitals, hotels, and other institutions. But where do they hide during the day? These pesky insects find refuge in tight spaces around stoves, refrigerators, sinks, and in walls. Therefore, it makes it difficult to determine whether you have a cockroach infestation. However, one clear-cut sign you have a problem is if you see a German Cockroach during the day.
American Cockroach ( Periplaneta americana)
It’s hard not to miss an American cockroach because of its large size. But other identifying characteristics include:
- Reddish-brown wings
- Short wings, but the male’s wings extend beyond their abdomens
- Pale neck with two dark brownish-red blotches in the middle
The American cockroach is the largest species of cockroach in Alabama. In addition, they are incredibly fast runners. However, unlike some of their cousin, they are not very good fliers. While these massive roaches occur in the Middle East and Africa, they are invasive and were brought to these countries on ships hundreds of years ago.
When inside a warm home, they are active all year round. However, they are mainly commercial pests, often infesting supermarkets, restaurants, warehouses, shipyards, and bakeries. But, they are not limited to these locations; they also invade apartments and houses. They enter properties through plumbing or sewage systems or air ducts. In addition, you can find them in crawl spaces, basements, and cracks in the foundation. Unfortunately, American cockroaches in Alabama can survive on anything; they usually eat:
- Skin flakes
- Fermenting foods
- Other cockroaches
- Dead animals or insects
- Starch from book bindings
If there is a large population of American cockroaches in your home, you will be able to smell them as they secrete an odorous scent. Unfortunately, these secretions can also change the flavor of food. Furthermore, they can carry disease-causing bacteria on their legs, like Salmonella. So, when they walk over food in your home, it causes contamination. As a result, infections or food poisoning can occur. Additionally, their feces collected in dust can trigger asthma or allergic reactions.
Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)
The best way to identify the Oriental cockroach is by observing the following characteristics:
- They have shiny dark blackish-brown to reddish-brown exoskeletons
- Males have long wings that cover ¾ of their abdomens
- Females have short, basically non-existent wings
Because they prefer dark, moist places, Oriental cockroaches are often referred to as waterbugs. Luckily, they are flightless, sluggish, and poor climbers.
Oriental cockroaches primarily occur in damp basements, drains, porches, sewers, and other moist locations. However, they inhabit woodpiles, leaf litter, mulch, and bushes when they are outside. As a result, you can sometimes spot them eating animal matter, decaying plants, and starchy scraps.
These roaches are major pests. Additionally, they secrete a disgusting odor and are considered one of the filthiest cockroaches in Alabama. For example, the Oriental cockroach can spread viruses and bacteria from their legs to utensils, dishes, food, and surfaces like countertops. Unfortunately, they spread diseases like Dysentery, Salmonella, and E. Coli, and they cause food poisoning. So, if you find one of these horrible pests in your home, call an exterminator immediately.
Asian Cockroach (Blattella asahinai)
The Asian cockroaches identifying characteristics include:
- Long wings
- Small in size
- Dark brown to tan in color, with two dark stripes on their heads
Asian cockroaches are typically found outside in composted areas with leaf litter, shaded mulch, and other damp places. Unfortunately, once they have established a habitat they really like, they will form hordes of 250,000 individuals per acre! However, once the weather gets colder, they will disperse.
These roaches are different from other species of cockroaches in Alabama due to their attraction to light and excellent flying abilities. As a result, they are drawn to lights in and around restaurants and homes. And unfortunately, sealing up crevices and cracks won’t keep these roaches out because they fly through open windows and doors. One thing they do have in common with other cockroach species is their diet. They are omnivores and often feed on cotton and soybean crops but will eat anything.
Are Cockroaches Dangerous?
Yes, cockroaches are very dangerous, no matter the species. These pests invade in massive numbers, contaminating food because they carry parasites, bacteria, and human pathogens on their legs and bodies, which they spread to the food and surfaces they walk over.
They can spread diseases like:
- E. coli
In addition, their fecal matter mixes with dust and causes children and adults to experience allergic reactions or asthma. Furthermore, they can damage items in your home. For example, these pests chew through rugs, paper, upholstered furniture, clothing, and wallpaper.
What Causes a Cockroach Infestation?
While most people believe that a dirty home attracts cockroaches, clean homes are also susceptible to infestation. Any property with food, moisture, and heat is at risk. There are two ways for cockroaches to enter a house while searching for sources of moisture and food, or they are introduced by accident. For example, they often enter properties inside boxes, bags, deliveries, electronics, wood from woodpiles, or used appliances or furniture.
Cockroach Prevention in Alabama
Here are some easy ways of preventing a cockroach infestation in your home:
- Install door sweeps, seal around areas where wires and utilities enter your home, and place covers over drains and vents.
- Because cockroaches have flat bodies, they can squeeze through the tiniest gaps. Therefore inspect exterior walls and seal any cracks or crevices.
- Reduce excess moisture around and inside your home by repairing leaky fixtures, not overwatering lawns and gardens, and installing gutters.
- Inspect all deliveries and used goods you receive before taking them inside your home
- Limit their food sources by wiping down surfaces and vacuuming your home frequently. In addition, wash dirty dishes before bed, clean up leftover food, and only eat at designated spots like the dining room table.
- You can use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to lower the humidity levels in your home.
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