Did you know that there are over 3,500 species of cockroaches in the world? While that was a fact that you probably didn’t want to know, you can rest easy (easier at least) that only 69 cockroach species reside here in North America, and no the Madagascar hissing cockroach, despite its popularity as a dish for TV contestants (remember Fear Factor anyone) is not one of them. And despite what you may think, most cockroach species do not infest homes; however the species that do infest homes multiply quickly and can become ubiquitous and resilient household pests. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common cockroach species in North America that you are likely to find in your home.
The German cockroach is by far the most common type of cockroach you will find. Get just one female in your home and it will soon be WWII all over again; each egg case can hatch between 20 to 40 little roaches. Also, German cockroach females don’t just lay eggs, they carry them until hatching, making them an even more persistent nuisance. German cockroaches are quite small, just over half an inch long, light brown in color and can be distinguished by two dark stripes going from its head to its wings. While they have wings, they very rarely fly although they will glide for short distances if they have to. German cockroaches prefer areas near sources of food and water such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Brown Banded Cockroach
The second most common species after the German cockroach. Slightly smaller than German cockroaches and dark brown in color they also have distinguishing yellow-brown stripes across their abdomen. While both brown banded cockroaches and German cockroaches may infest your house, you won’t find them in the same areas as brown banded cockroaches prefer warmer areas such as in your heated ceilings or near appliances.
Fitting in with its namesake, the American cockroach is the largest of all the pest cockroach species, measuring an inch or more in length. They can also live the longest; up to 2 years. While they aren’t the most common, they are the most likely to elicit screams from the weaker hearted members of your household. They are reddish-brown in color, and they do fly as well, only adding to their scream generating ability. They prefer the outdoors but can also be found indoors in warm damp areas such as drains and bathrooms.
Smoky Brown Cockroach
While its name says smoky brown, this cockroach is actually a dark mahogany in color with a black head. It is rather large about 1 to 1.5 inches, second only to the American cockroach. Their wings are longer than their bodies, which is a distinguishing feature. And just like American cockroaches they are excellent fliers as well. Fortunately you are much less likely to see them as they are extremely nocturnal and you are likely to find them in boundary areas between the outdoors and indoors such as vents.
These cockroaches love sweet and sour and soy based dishes as well as manufacturing merchandise cheaply for American cockroaches (kidding!). And just like people living in China, they are out of our sight most of the time as the Oriental cockroach prefers dark and damp areas that are out of sight of humans. These are mostly outdoor cockroaches as they prefer feeding on garbage and other assorted decay; you can likely find them in leaf litters and rubbish tips.
Cockroach Elimination Strategies
If you are wondering how to kill cockroaches, rest assured that there are many ways to get rid of cockroaches. The method we recommend the most is cockroach baits, which can come in the form of granules, gels, solid blocks, or liquids. Because roaches cannibalize their dead, poisonous bait can easily lead to a chain reaction force multiplier effect; you don’t need all or even most of the roaches in your house to take the bait in order to get rid of them. Depending on the bait product, some already have the pesticide inside the bait container while others have the pesticide separate and require you to manually add it to the bait container. Obviously the former is a safer option as it reduces your risk of accidental exposure.
Place these bait traps in areas where you have spotted roaches before, but ensure that children and pets will not accidentally encounter the bait; also don’t put it near food preparation areas. Gels, which usually come in a syringe or squeeze tube, are ideal for tiny cracks and crevices. It is also advisable to rotate the type of pesticide used to avoid resistance; since some roaches might already be resistant to certain pesticides, if you find one bait product isn’t working effectively, try another one with a different active ingredient.