In this article, the author explores the five common types of cockroaches found in Delaware and provides an identification guide for each species. Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that prefer to stay hidden during the day, making them difficult to spot. They are fast runners, reaching speeds of up to 11 inches per second. The article emphasizes that if a cockroach is seen during the day, it may indicate a severe infestation that requires the assistance of an exterminator. Each cockroach species is described in detail, including their identifying characteristics, habitats, and potential health risks. The author also includes videos for further visual reference.
The German Cockroach, scientifically known as Blattella germanica, is a common sight in Delaware. This species can be identified by its tan or pale brown color, with two dark streaks on the head. The abdomen is slender and tapers down, with a yellowish underside. Females are darker brown and have broader abdomens.
Originally from Southeast China, the German Cockroach made its way to Delaware and has become a significant year-round pest. These cockroaches are sensitive to the cold, which is likely due to their warm-climate origin. German Cockroaches are nocturnal and come out at night to search for food and water. However, they are quick to dash away if they sense any disturbance, such as a light turning on.
German Cockroaches are opportunistic scavengers and are attracted to meats, starches, sugars, and fatty foods. In the absence of these food sources, they may resort to consuming household items like soap, glue, and toothpaste. These cockroaches invade various types of spaces, including houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other institutions. During the day, they hide in tight spaces around refrigerators, stoves, sinks, and within walls, making it difficult to detect a cockroach infestation. The presence of German Cockroaches during the day may indicate a severe infestation.
The American Cockroach, scientifically known as Periplaneta americana, is another common cockroach species found in Delaware. It is known for its shiny, reddish-brown wings and a paler neck with two darker reddish-brown blotches in the center. Males have wings that extend beyond their abdomen, while females have shorter wings. This species is also referred to as the Ship Cockroach, Kakerlac, and Bombay Canary.
Contrary to its name, the American Cockroach is native to Africa and the Middle East and was brought to Delaware centuries ago on ships. It is one of the largest cockroach species in Delaware and one of the fastest running insects, despite being weak fliers.
American Cockroaches are active throughout the year and prefer moist and warm locations, making homes a common target. They infest various commercial settings like restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, warehouses, and shipyards. However, they also frequently find their way into homes and apartments through sewage and plumbing systems or air ducts. Basements, crawl spaces, and foundation cracks also provide suitable habitats for these cockroaches.
As omnivores, American Cockroaches have a varied diet, including beer, leather, hair, dry skin flakes, fermenting foods, book bindings, and even dead animals, including other cockroaches. They can pick up disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella on their legs and transmit it to other foods, which can lead to food poisoning or infections. House dust containing cockroach parts or feces can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in some individuals. The presence of a strong odor is also an indication of a high population of American Cockroaches.
The Oriental Cockroach, scientifically known as Blatta orientalis, is commonly referred to as the Waterbug or Black Beetle. It has a shiny dark reddish-brown to blackish-brown coloration. Males have wings that cover three-fourths of their abdomen, while females have short, almost non-existent wings.
As the nickname suggests, Oriental Cockroaches prefer dark and moist places, such as sewers, drains, and damp basements. Outside, they are typically found under mulch, bushes, leaf litter, and woodpiles. These cockroaches primarily feed on decaying plants, starchy human scraps, and animal matter.
Considered one of the dirtiest cockroaches in Delaware, the Oriental Cockroach is a major household pest. It can transfer bacteria and viruses from its legs to food, dishes, utensils, and countertops. This species is known to spread Salmonella, E. Coli, Dysentery, and food poisoning. If you encounter Oriental Cockroaches in your house, it is important to call an exterminator promptly.
The Brown-Banded Cockroach, scientifically known as Supella longipalpa, is the smallest cockroach species found in Delaware. It can be identified by its tan to light brown color and two light-colored bands across the wings and abdomen, giving it a broken appearance. Males have slender wings that cover the abdomen, while females have broader abdomens and shorter wings.
Unlike other cockroaches, the Brown-Banded Cockroach does not require as much moisture. This allows it to inhabit areas in your home that other species would typically avoid. These cockroaches tend to hide in appliances, cabinets, and other areas throughout the house.
The Brown-Banded Cockroach is an opportunistic eater and will consume a wide range of foods, including sewage, boxes, drapes, books, and wallpapers. This dietary flexibility presents a challenge for humans, as these cockroaches can carry microorganisms and spread pathogens.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach
The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach, scientifically known as Parcoblatta pensylvanica, is unique in that it prefers cooler temperatures compared to other cockroach species. Males have dark brown coloring with yellowish sides of the thorax and front half of the wings. Their wings are fully developed and longer than the abdomen. Females, on the other hand, have short and useless wings. This species is also referred to as the Pennsylvanian Cockroach.
As the name suggests, Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches are typically found in wooded areas, such as on tree trunks, lower branches of oaks and elms, piles of wood, tree stumps, and hollow trees. They can find their way into homes by hitching a ride on firewood brought indoors.
While Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches prefer to live alone and are not known for causing harm to humans, they can survive indoors for only a few weeks. They prefer to feed on decaying organic matter like compost, dead plants, or manure. If you encounter Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches in your home, they are relatively harmless and are not likely to make you sick.
Field Guide for Identifying Cockroaches in Delaware
For further assistance in identifying cockroaches in Delaware, the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide To Insects and Spiders of North America can be a valuable resource. This comprehensive guide provides detailed information about various insect species and their characteristics. It can help individuals understand the differences between different cockroach species, their behavior, and their habitats.
In addition, there are pest control professionals and exterminators available who can provide expert guidance and assistance in identifying and addressing cockroach infestations. These professionals have the knowledge and skills needed to effectively eliminate cockroach populations and prevent further infestations.
Remember, if you suspect a cockroach infestation in your home, it is essential to seek professional help. Cockroaches can multiply rapidly and pose health risks to humans due to their potential for spreading bacteria and pathogens. Prompt action can help ensure the safety and well-being of your home and family.