Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental Cockroach: Facts, Identification & Control

General Information

Also known as black beetles or water bugs, Oriental cockroaches are common in New England and other regions of the Northern United States. The Oriental cockroach, scientifically classified as Blatta orientalis, is an immigrant species thought to have originated in Northern or Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite their warm-weather origins, Oriental cockroaches survive in colder areas like New England due to their ability to overwinter outdoors and withstand freezing temperatures. Oriental cockroaches also infest home, creating problems ranging from unpleasant nuisances/odors to serious health complications.

Appearance

What do Oriental cockroaches look like?
Oriental cockroaches are sometimes called black beetle cockroaches due to their shiny black bodies. A typical Oriental cockroaches are roughly an inch in length and are the second largest common New England cockroach (American cockroach is larger). Like all species of cockroaches common to the region, the Oriental variety boasts six spiny legs and a pair of long, slender antennae. The sex of Oriental cockroaches determines whether the insects have wings; males feature a short pair of wings covering most of the abdomen, while females remain wingless. Despite having wings, male specimens are not known to fly.

Habits/Habitat

The water bug, the other common name for Oriental cockroaches, comes from the tendency of the insects to enter homes and buildings through drains and pipes. Once inside, Oriental cockroaches typically occupy damp, dark areas such as basements and crawl spaces. The insects rarely venture to the upper levels of buildings with multiple floors. Highly adaptable, Oriental cockroaches can also live outdoors in places like cisterns, dumpsters, sewers, and piles of firewood, leaves, or mulch. p>

Diet

What do Oriental cockroaches eat?
Oriental cockroaches eat a wide variety of food sources but prefer to feed on starches and decaying organic material. Oriental cockroaches are often seen foraging in garbage cans and other discarded containers used to store food. Oriental cockroaches need water to live and, with a regularly available water source, can survive for up to a month without consuming any food. If removed from a constant water source, Oriental cockroaches generally die within a couple weeks.

Reproduction

Like other New England cockroach species, Oriental cockroaches hatch from eggs and emerge as nymphs before fully maturing into adults. Adult females produce up to 16 eggs at a time in a protective capsule or egg case, which is deposited on or near a shielded food source. At room temperature, the eggs hatch in roughly two months. Newly hatched Oriental cockroaches live as nymphs for six months to two and a half years. While nymphs grow and develop, they typically molt, or shed their skin, seven to 10 times. After developing into adults, Oriental cockroaches usually live for six to twelve months, with females producing an average of roughly 200 eggs in adulthood.

Problems Caused by Oriental Cockroaches

Notorious for giving off a pungent and unpleasant odor, Oriental cockroaches also unwittingly spread hazardous bacteria picked up from the unsanitary surfaces on which the insects crawl. Oriental cockroaches regularly live in and crawl through sewage and other filth containing disease-causing organisms. When the insects infest homes and other occupied buildings, they frequently transfer the bacteria and viruses from their legs to food, dishes and utensils, countertops, and other objects used and consumed by humans. The most common diseases spread by Oriental cockroaches include dysenteryand food poisoning.

The oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis (L.), is a member of the cockroach family Blattidae. There are several other cockroaches that are members of this family. Some of the best-known members of the family Blattidae are the American cockroach, the Asian roach, and the smokeybrown roach. The brown roach and the Australian roach are also members of this family.

All of these cockroaches live outdoors. They seem to prefer damp locations. They hide under woodpiles and trashcans. They live under sheds and doghouses. They also live under ivy and ground cover. They even hide in drains and water meter boxes.

Even though they all prefer damp environments, they have very important differences too. Some of them, like the oriental roach, cannot fly and do not climb well. When these roaches invade homes, they can usually be found in basements or ground-level rooms.

Others, like the smokeybrown roach, are very good fliers. They are attracted to light and they fly toward houses at night. They often enter homes through the attic vents or cracks in the eaves.

In the southern states, the American roach lives in alleys and yards. It walks into homes by squeezing under the doors. In northern cities, this roach is common in sewers and storm drains.

The Australian cockroach feeds on plants. It is often transported throughout the country in potted plants. It thrives in warm climates, but in the cooler northern states it often lives in greenhouses and atriums.

Controlling the members of the oriental cockroach family starts outside. Place firewood on a rack and move it away from the building. Rake mulch and leaves away from the foundation. Clean the gutters and make sure down spouts drain away from the foundation.

Granular cockroach bait is an effective tool against these pests. Many brands of bait are water-resistant. They can be used effectively in flowerbeds and ground cover. The bait will have to be applied any time the roaches are active.

A barrier of liquid insecticide is also effective. It helps prevent the roaches from gathering near the foundation. Since sun and rain break down insecticide, the barrier will have to be re-applied periodically.

Rather than fight these cockroaches themselves, many homeowners prefer to get a pest control professional to apply the bait and the insecticide.