First, I have to state that there is some disagreement among entomologists as to the proper name for the order of cockroaches. Sometimes they use Blatarria or Blattoptera. Some even use Dictyoptera.
You can help prevent cockroaches from coming into your home by inspecting all incoming food products, all boxes, and any used furniture or appliances for the presence of cockroaches or their egg capsules. Do not store paper bags anywhere in the kitchen. Seal any holes or crevices around plumbing under sinks and behind toilets. Regularly vacuum and clean floors under the kitchen appliances. Keep all of your drains closed at night to prevent them from coming up from the sewer system. Also, get your attic and crawlspace, if you have one, dusted with food-grade diatomaceous earth.
There are a number of good baits available for controlling cockroaches. You can put equal amounts of baking soda and sugar out in flat containers and they will take it. Make a roach dough by combining ½ c. powdered sugar and ¼ c. shortening or bacon drippings. Add ½ c. onions, ½ c. flour and 8 oz. baking soda. Add enough water to make a dough-like consistency. Make balls of bait and put them wherever you see roaches. However, there is a very good roach bait available commercially. It is Niban Bait and it is made from boric acid. It would probably be easier to get this product and use it if you are in an area where roaches are very common. You can’t buy Niban in stores, but it is available online. One good supplier is www.pestcontrolsupplies.com. When using Niban, put it under and behind appliances, around hot water heaters, inside lower cabinets, in the garage and other places roaches will hide.
German roaches, Oriental roaches, Australian and American roaches all originated in North Africa. German and Oriental roaches traveled on Phoenician or Greek vessels to Asia Minor and areas around the Black Sea. Then they moved from Russia to Western Europe and eventually to America. I don’t know where or why they got their common names. It is thought the American cockroaches came to America from Africa on slave ships.
American cockroaches (Blattidae – Periplaneta americana)
This common roach feeds on a wide variety of plant and animal material and it is commonly found in sewer systems. It will come up the drains at night and enter the living space of a home. It also likes the homes that have crawl spaces under them. In some parts of the country, particularly the southeast, they frequently live outside. The is the largest of the home-infesting roaches in the country. It will reach a little over 1 ½ inches in length. It is a dark brown with yellowish band around its thorax (section behind head).
One beneficial aspect of this cockroach is that it will feed on bed bugs. Of course most people don’t want roaches in their bed feeding on the bed bugs that are feeding on the humans. Niban Bait is a very good commercial bait that works well on controlling these insects. Other methods of control are discussed above. American roaches are called “Palmetto Bugs” in Florida. They can fly unlike most roaches.
Australian cockroaches (Blattidae –Periplaneta australasiae)
The Australian cockroach is similar to the American cockroach, but is slightly smaller. The yellow markings on the thorax are much more distinct on this roach and it has a yellowish marking on the outer edge of each wing or the “shoulder”. It is found from central Florida to east Texas in the south. It has been found in some northern states, but usually in greenhouse environments. They normally infest the attics and crawl spaces of homes and then wander in the living areas for food. I would suggest dusting attics and crawl spaces with food-grade diatomaceous earth. Niban Bait works well with these roaches.
Oriental cockroaches (Blattidae – Blatta orientalis)
Oriental cockroaches or “waterbugs” are found throughout the United States but they aren’t seen very often in the southeastern states. They are about an inch long. The female is all black and the male has two brown wing tips, but it cannot fly. These roaches are common in sewer systems and will come up the drains into the homes. They are also common under ground debris outside and love stacks of firewood. These roaches will readily take Niban Bait as well as the homemade baits discussed above.
Turkestan cockroaches (Blattidae – Blatta lateralis)
Turkestan cockroaches are closely related to Oriental roaches. They are about in inch in length with color variations between the male and female. Males are red/brown with pale or white lateral stripes on the ventral side of the wing base. The male also has wings that cover the entire abdomen. Females are dark brown in color with short lateral white dashes at end of the wing. The female wings are very short in comparison to the male and do not cover the entire abdomen.
They are common in north Africa and the Middle East and probably came to America with military personnel returning from that area in the 1970s and 1980s. Although they are found in the southwest from California to Texas, they usually do not infest homes. They can be found in sewer systems, water meters, compost piles, potted plants and large cracks in pavements. Niban Bait is a good product for controlling these insects.
Brown-banded cockroaches (Blatellidae – Supella longipalpa)
Brown-banded cockroaches are about a half inch long. Males are light brown while the female has dark brown wings. Both sexes have light colored bands running across the wings. These roaches do not require as much water as German roaches and will often be found in bedrooms and living rooms. The roach baits described above will work on these insects.
German cockroaches (Blatellidae – Blatella germanica)
The German cockroach is the most prolific of the roaches. It is small, dark brown with two distinct black stripes on its thorax. It will feed on almost anything edible and a lot of things we wouldn’t consider edible. They go from egg to adult in as little as 45 days and, if left unchecked, can severely infest a home or business. Usually they are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. When you are controlling German roaches, you should use German Roach Pheromone Traps as well as some of the baits. The traps will attract and catch the roaches. They are available online. One good supplier is www.pestcontrolsupplies.com.
German cockroaches are also believed capable of transmitting staphylococcus, streptococcus and coliform bacteria and are known to be responsible for many allergy and asthma problems. In addition, German cockroaches have been implicated in the increase of asthma and the spread of typhoid, AIDS, dysentery and leprosy organisms. Living roaches, dead roaches, roach feces, saliva, cast skins, cockroach eggs and their decaying body parts all contain allergens, can contaminate the air with aeroallergens and cause allergic reactions in people.