There are 4,500 cockroach species, 30 of which are considered a nuisance pest. Nuisance cockroaches are capable of spreading disease and illness in businesses and residences.

For our August bug of the month we are going to focus on the most common nuisance cockroach in our Northern California and Nevada region, the oriental cockroach.


Identification and Background:
The oriental cockroach is of North African origin. Other names for the oriental cockroach include “black beetle” and “waterbug”. They are typically 1” to 1 1/4”, shiny black to dark reddish brown, with wings. One of the easiest ways to differentiate the male from female oriental cockroach is by the placement of the wings. While the males have large and noticeable wings covering most of the abdomen, females have smaller wings just at the top of the abdomen. Despite these features, adult oriental cockroaches do not fly.


Photo courtesy of UC Davis

Habits and Lifestyle:
The oriental cockroach is often found surviving quite well outdoors; living under stones, logs, leaf litter, or other debris. They prefer dark, moist living conditions. A lack of such conditions will drive the roach inside; this has been especially true in our recent drought conditions. While a roach can go a month without food, they will only survive two weeks without water. They feed on decaying organic matter, not discriminating food from filth. The oriental cockroach can reproduce very quickly. In one year one female and her offspring can produce nearly 200 new cockroaches.

Pest Habits:
Oriental cockroaches will get creative to find a way into a structure, entering through voids under doors, unscreened ventilators, air ducts, or utility pipes. Once indoors they seek dark, cool places such as sewers, drains, crawl spaces, damp basements, or floor drains. Their tendency to travel through sewer pipes and feed on filth makes them of great potential risk to inhabitants of the structure they vacate. Food poisoning and dysentery are diseases that can be transmitted by oriental roaches. These and other diseases can be easily transferred when they forage through kitchens. The oriental cockroach can also cause allergic reactions in some people. To make matters worse, they also have a particularly repugnant “roachy” odor. 


An oriental cockroach found in the public restroom of an Advanced IPM customer.

Prevention and Control:
In drought conditions, it is important to have a preventative system in place. This is especially true for restaurants, food processing facilities, and grocery stores where disease can be easily passed on to the customer. Roach prevention is a multi-step process consisting of inspections of all items coming in, good sanitation practices, regular inspections of the structure, treatment where necessary, and follow-up maintenance.

If you are already experiencing a cockroach infestation, you should call a pest management company right away. The licensed professionals at Advanced Integrated Pest Management know how devastating these conditions can be and will come to your business or residence and perform an inspection free of charge.