Out of all insects, one of the most despised and unwanted pests is cockroaches. There are over 4,000 species of cockroaches in the world, with only a few of these considered pests. In Missouri, there are five types of cockroaches. Two of these species, the Blatella germanica (German cockroach) and Supella longipalpa (brown-banded cockroach), are considered domestic. This means that they are almost always found inside homes. They are able to sustain their population in terms of sustenance and reproduction while living indoors.
The Periplaneta americana (American cockroach) and Blatta orientalis (oriental cockroach) are considered peridomestic because they can be found indoors and outdoors. The fifth species, the Parcoblatta spp. (wood cockroach), is an outdoor species that are not able to complete its lifecycle indoors. This means that if a wood cockroach gets into your home, it is likely by accident, and it usually won’t spread.
You may notice that cockroaches are more prevalent at different times of the year. As long as the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, populations that live indoors can continue reproducing and spreading. Wintertime reduces many outdoor populations and causes cockroaches to enter a hibernation-like state called diapause. However, this means that the cockroaches will be back once temperatures are consistently warm again.
The most common time of year for cockroach problems is during the spring and summer when temperatures are the warmest.
If you’ve noticed these little pests around your home, you may be wondering which type or types you have. Here’s a guide to the five species of cockroaches that live in Missouri.
One of the most common species in the world is the German cockroach. If you see a roach in your home, garden, or corner store, it is likely this species. They are flat and ovular and are a tan color with tan and black stripes behind their head. Both males and females have a pair of wings and six legs.
This species is most commonly found in warm and humid spaces. Kitchens and bathrooms are generally places where they live. They like to be close to a source of food and water, so the population will usually be located within a few yards of both. Since this species of roach eat just about anything from soap to crumbs, they can live in many places in the home.
German cockroaches are unique because the female roach carries the egg sack for the entire incubation period. After hatching, she will drop it in a safe location. From this one egg case, thirty to forty roaches will emerge to expand the population. Population issues can certainly be an issue for homeowners. Especially since this species has become immune to some common insecticides.
This is especially an issue because German cockroaches can carry many diseases and germs. They crawl around in debris and other biohazards and are known to spread over thirty-three types of bacteria and six parasitic worms. Therefore, taking care of the population and removing them is crucial to keeping your home and family healthy. Luckily, if one insecticide is not working, another should get the job done. There are many products available in stores to target cockroach populations, and pest control companies are widely available to do the work for you as well.
The brown-banded cockroach is the other domestic cockroach species living in Missouri. They are slightly less common than the German species but still prevalent nonetheless. They are physically different than the German roaches because they have brown bands running across their bodies rather than stripes running up and down. This species also has wings, antennae, and six legs.
Their reproduction cycle is slightly less effective than that of the German variety. Females lay only about half the eggs that German roaches do, also laying them in an egg case. The egg case is called an ootheca. Rather than carrying the ootheca, brown-banded cockroaches cement it to an object in a safe location and keep moving. They do not always lay eggs daily, but will usually create ten to fifteen oothecae over the course of their lives.
Because this species doesn’t carry its eggs until they hatch, you may be able to spot the ootheca. They are often in high places on walls or ceilings, in tight spaces, or hidden under furniture. This species prefers higher places and doesn’t need a warm or humid environment to thrive. If you find a cockroach living high on a shelf or in a cooler area, it is more likely that it is a brown-banded species.
The eggs take much longer to mature into adult roaches, with the average time from hatching to an adult being around 100 days. They also live considerably longer than the German species. They can be especially pesky because of their long lifespan and ability to eat just about anything, including paper.
Like their German relatives, they also carry many diseases and are hosts to parasitic worms. If you see any sign of these pests, you should try to eradicate them immediately. Just one roach is capable of producing many more, and they often hide in hard-to-reach places or cracks. They are best treated with a course of multiple insecticides.
The American cockroach is the largest of the peridomestic species. They are a darker brown color than German and brown-banded roaches. They’re commonly found outside and often get indoors through plumbing or by trees and shrubs that are next to buildings. These roaches are the type that is usually found in places where food is present — like factories, restaurants, and grocery stores. They are not usually found in homes.
Outdoors, this species prefers damp and dark places, not responding well to sunlight. They’re often found under mulch, trees, or in garbage facilities. They don’t often venture indoors unless they have found a food source or are trying to get out of the sun. They feed mainly on garbage, so they usually will not expand their population in a clean, dry home.
This species takes a long time to mature, with a period of around 600 days of growth from egg to adult. Adults usually live for a year to a year and a half. During this time, the female roaches deposit eggs into oothecae, which they produce about once per month. After producing the ootheca and filling it with eggs, the female will stick it in a safe location close to a food source.
This species is not a common household pest, but it can create big problems if they do get inside. This is because so many of them live in sewers and feed on human waste. They are generally pretty easy to remove through the use of insecticides. After removal, it’s very important to deep clean and sanitize any areas that they were in to prevent contamination.
This common roach species is a dark brown or black color and a bit smaller than the other species mentioned. Oriental cockroaches appear to be shiny, which likely earned them the nickname ‘black beetle.’ The females are wingless, and the males have very short wings. They are most commonly found outside and live in dark, damp places. They feed on decaying matter, often thriving in compost, debris, and other moist areas.
Oriental cockroaches have quite a long lifespan compared to other species of roaches. Very similar to that of the American cockroach, the oriental species lives for about a year to a year and a half after reaching adulthood. The eggs take a long time to hatch, usually around two months after being deposited in the ootheca. Once the eggs are hatched, the nymphs take anywhere from six to twenty months to mature into adult roaches. Like many others of their species, the temperature greatly affects the young’s maturation.
They may venture indoors through moist areas, often following water pipes to enter a building. If your home has a basement or a water leak, this is typically where this species will live. Something interesting about oriental roaches is their odor, which is stronger and more distinguishable than others.
If you have an infestation of this kind of cockroach, removing their food and water source is the most important thing to do. This may mean fixing leaky pipes, using de-humidifiers, and sealing cracks in your home. Traditional insecticides may work on them, but you have to remove the source to prevent them from returning.
Wood cockroaches are a deep brown color and a smaller size than other roaches. Both males and females have wings, but only the males of the species usually fly. They reproduce in fairly large quantities. A female will produce around twenty-nine oothecae in her lifetime, with each egg case containing over thirty eggs. Their mating season occurs during May and June, so you may see this species more often during this time. They also commonly swarm during mating season, so if you have a population in your home, you will certainly notice them then.
This cockroach species lives its life outdoors and is usually unable to establish an indoor population. They feed on wood and other organic matter and are attracted to lights. They often enter homes accidentally because of their attraction to porch lights and other lighting. If they do enter a home, it is usually because they are carried inside on firewood.
If you have a fireplace, be aware of the wood you are using and check it thoroughly. Wood cockroaches will rarely reproduce inside, but if they do, it is usually on wood. It’s best to burn through wood quickly and avoid keeping a stockpile. They may also congregate in areas that are moist and dark, like basements or lower levels of a home. While these roaches don’t cause any structural damage, they do, like their relatives, spread disease and other bacteria.
Any of the above species can cause many issues if they enter and begin reproducing in your home. All of these roaches can spread bacteria and worms and cause damage to your property through feces and regurgitation.
If you notice a few roaches in your home, it’s best to start eradicating them right away. One female can reproduce many more roaches, so it’s crucial to start on removal as soon as possible. First, clean any areas with debris or places where roaches can hide. This may mean sealing cracks, fixing leaks, or repairing holes in walls and other areas. Remove any food sources like food boxes and products, paper, glue, cardboard, or other clutter. Keeping clean gutters is also important to keep roaches from living in them and using them to enter attics.
Once you have removed any food and water sources and sealed cracks, begin killing the existing population. Glue strips are a safe and effective way to remove these pests.
If you prefer more natural forms of pest control, you can sprinkle boric acid or diatomaceous earth around areas where they live. Be aware that the roaches do have to consume both of these for them to cause an effect, however.
Gel baits can also be an effective form of pest control if you know where to apply them. It’s worth noting that each of these methods can help with a small population of roaches. You should contact a pest control company for large infestations or if the population isn’t declining after trying these methods.
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