Some cockroach species have been living in close association with humans for centuries, and today it is well known that indoor cockroach pests negatively impact human health in several ways. Worldwide, more than 3,500 cockroach species have been documented, most of which are non-pests that inhabit tropical regions. Surprisingly, only 70 cockroach species have been documented in the US, and only five are major pests of homes and buildings in California. These five cockroach pest species are commonly known as American, German, Oriental, brown-banded, and smokybrown cockroaches. German cockroaches are easily the most common cockroach pests in all areas of the US, as they have evolved to live primarily indoors. The brown-banded cockroach is the only other roach pest that dwells primarily indoors, but this species accounts for only around one percent of all cockroach infestations documented in California. The smokybrown cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa) is prevalent in the humid southeastern states, as well as in southern California where it’s becoming an increasingly common household pest.
The smokybrown cockroach is closely related to the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), and they both resemble one another and exhibit similar pest behaviors. For example, both American and smokybrown cockroach species are between 1 ¼ to 2 inches in length, but only the former is well known for growing in excess of 2 inches. Both species are brown in color, but the smokybrown cockroach is a bit darker and wider in body shape than the American cockroach. The most notable similarity between these two common cockroach pests is their preference for dwelling in sewers where each species is free to feed on as much organic waste as possible. Like most cockroach pest species, smokybrown cockroaches prefer to dwell outdoors, but they readily move indoors whenever it is advantageous to do so, such as during bouts of extreme weather. Smokybrown cockroaches are also capable flyers and they are often found in attics, the uppermost floors of homes and buildings, and even beneath roof shingles. However, smokybrown cockroaches need even more moisture than other cockroach pests, and their indoor presence often indicates a moisture problem, such as rainwater or plumbing leaks.
Have you ever encountered a flying roach within your home?