In Southern California, the pleasant year-round climate draws new residents every year. Unfortunately, this also attracts a wealth of household pests, including cockroaches. While the most common species of cockroaches to infest homes are the American, German, and Oriental cockroaches, these too are considered non-native to our area, these species were once dominant when it came to cockroach infestations. Since the late 1970s, however, another cockroach species, the Turkestan cockroach, has quickly spread, becoming the most common cockroach species in our area, and, as a homeowner, these roaches have a unique trait that makes them even more unpleasant when found inside the home.
- Understand the difference between the many cockroach species in California
- Learn how to identify the Turkestan cockroach
- Explore the life cycle, habitat, and behavior of the Turkestan cockroach
- Learn how to eliminate and prevent a cockroach infestation
What is a Turkestan cockroach?
The Turkestan roach, or Blatta lateralis, is an invasive species that has quickly taken over many areas in Southern California. It is commonly referred to as the rusty red cockroach or the red runner cockroach. While these cockroaches are becoming more and more common in outdoor residential areas and public storm drains and sewer systems, the good news is while they thrive in dark, damp conditions, they prefer to live outside. While they may wander into the home in the search of water and food, they are unlikely to establish residence inside your home.
The Turkestan cockroach is a species that, like many others, entered the United States from its natural habitat in Central Asia, Northeastern Africa, the Middle East, and India. In California, the Turkestan cockroach was first found at a military depot in Lathrop in 1978. This very hardy cockroach can reproduce quickly and in large numbers. In fact, the Turkestan cockroach recently surpassed the American and Oriental cockroaches as the most common pest species in the southwest, including California.
A female Turkestan cockroach is larger in size and can be about an inch long. They are dark brown to black in color with cream markings near the wing buds. Male Turkestan cockroaches are slightly smaller in size, with yellowish wings with cream stripes.
The Turkestan cockroach has three different developmental stages: egg, nymph, and adult. What makes this cockroach species so invasive, however, is the speed at which they move through the lifecycle. A female cockroach can hatch an average of 14 nymphs at a time, with each having a lifespan of a year and a half or more. On average, a female cockroach will deposit 25 oothecae (eggs) throughout her lifetime, with each egg averaging 14 or more nymphs. This gives the Turkestan cockroach the ability to produce many more offspring than other species and these offspring have a much shorter development time, meaning they will reach full adulthood and reproductive status much quicker than other common cockroaches.
The Turkestan cockroach prefers to live outside in areas that are dark and damp and close to food sources. Around your home, they are often found in wood piles, debris piles, compost piles, irrigation systems, water meter boxes, outdoor drainage pipes, and in cracks and crevices. They are also creating thriving populations in public storage drains and inside sewer systems. These pests are nocturnal and come out at night to search for food. While they prefer to stay outdoors, they often make their way into homes at night, with the males flying around light sources and entering your home.
While they prefer to live outside, they often move indoors looking for water and food during dry periods. They may explore your home looking for food sources and water and, unlike other cockroach species, they have a unique skill that allows them to explore just about anywhere. While other cockroach species struggle to climb up smooth surfaces, such as walls, the Turkestan cockroach’s feet allow them to scale just about any surface, and, in our area, these cockroaches are commonly found hiding behind framed photos on the walls.
Are Turkistan roaches invasive?
Because of their durability and quick reproductive cycle, the Turkestan cockroach is considered highly invasive. They have quickly become the most common cockroach pest, overtaking the American and Oriental cockroaches. In addition, these cockroaches are available for purchase over the internet as great reptile food. Unfortunately, this has further helped them spread throughout Southern California as well as the rest of the Southwest.
Signs of an infestation
Because cockroaches are nocturnal and hide during the day, it may be difficult to see signs of an infestation. With the Turkestan cockroaches, the most common sign is the presence of cockroaches flying around lights inside and outside your home as well as uncovering them outside in their preferred habitats.
How to get rid of Turkestan cockroaches
If you have an infestation of Turkestan cockroaches in your yard that are making their way into your home, professional cockroach control is recommended. While over-the-counter pest remedies may seem to help, the fact is these insecticides are often ineffective. Cockroach baits may provide some help when placed near hiding places, such as around irrigation areas and near water meters. If you see these cockroaches coming out of storm drains or sewers, notify your local water agencies as they often have policies in place for cockroach management. Applying insecticides directly to these areas can affect your water supply.
If Turkestan cockroaches have not been a problem yet, then there are things you can do to deter these pests from your yard and home.
- Remove any yard debris, such as leaf piles or stacks of wood
- Fix any irrigation leaks that can lead to areas of standing water
- Ensure you have proper soil grading around your foundation
- Avoid placing plants around your foundation
- Avoid mulch around your foundation and instead, opt for gravel or bare soil
- Seal any potential points of entry into your home, such as cracks in the foundation
- Pick up pet foods left outdoors at night
- Keep garbage cans away from the home and sealed
Quickly becoming the most common cockroach pest in your area
As an invasive species, the Turkestan cockroach is quickly surpassing the American, Oriental, and German cockroaches in our Southern California area. While these cockroaches prefer to live outdoors, when they become well-established outside, they will move indoors, especially during dry periods. Eliminating these pests in the yard and home can often be difficult and professional pest control is often recommended.
You don’t have to share your space with cockroaches
No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night to find a cockroach scurrying across the floor or greeting you in the shower when you wake up in the morning. At Insight Pest Management, our team of experts understand cockroach behavior and work with you to eliminate the pests and ensure any points of entry to your home are sealed, helping to keep you cockroach-free. To learn more about our services, contact us today to schedule a free evaluation.