While its name sounds exotic, the Australian cockroach is common in the United States. Scientifically classified as Periplaneta australasiae, the Australian cockroach is foundthroughout the South and areas up the coast into Southern New England. Originally native to Africa, the Australian cockroach was distributed across the globe by international trade. The cockroach is thought to have entered the United States by hiding in shipments of bananas and other tropical fruits.
photo source:Univ of Florida; P. G. Koehler, B. E. Bayer, and D. Branscome
What do Australian cockroaches look like?
Similar in appearance to the American Cockroach, however the Australian cockroach is smaller, measuring between 20 and 35 millimeters. Reddish brown in color, the Australian cockroach features a distinctive bright-yellow border around the pronotum, the area located behind the head. Both male and female specimens have wings that extend slightly past the abdomen. The insects rarely use their wings and only glide from higher to lower points. Nymphs look similar to adults but are smaller and lack wings.
These tropical roaches prefer warm, humid climates and make homes in wood piles and decaying logs. Australian cockroaches living as far north as New Hampshire mainly inhabit greenhouses, conservatories, and indoor gardens. The insects may enter homes in search of food or by accident when hiding in plants or cardboard boxes. Once inside a structure, Australian cockroaches typically hide under refrigerators and stoves or inside of cupboards, water pipes, and electrical appliances. Nocturnal in nature, Australian cockroaches come out at night to search for food.
What do Australian cockroaches eat?
Australian cockroaches are scavengers and can survive on nearly any food source. Australian cockroaches living outdoors eat decaying vegetables, plants, and roots. When indoors, the insects scavenge for food scraps and eat any food left in the open. Australian cockroaches also eat starch materials found around the home, like paper and book bindings.
A female Australian cockroach lays an egg case, known as an ootheca, about every 10 days. The ootheca contains between 14 and 24 eggs and takes about a month to incubate. Females typically hide egg cases in crevices of walls or inside moist wood piles. After hatching nymph maturation takes between six and 12 months. Mature Australian cockroaches begin mating within four or five days of reaching adulthood. Adults usually live between one and two years. In a lifetime, one female may produce over 450 offspring.
Problems Caused by Australian Cockroaches:
Homes infested with Australian cockroaches may pose health threats to occupants. The pests can contaminate household surfaces by spreading droppings and bacteria from decaying material they walk through. This can lead to occupants contracting potentially deadly pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. Areas infested by Australian cockroaches may also take on musty smells due to the pheromones the insects produce.