Pest Identification: Oriental Cockroach


April 1, 2001

Cockroaches are one of the most successful animals known in the evolution of the planet. There are more than 3,500 cockroach species existing in the world. Cockroaches are now classified in the insect order Blattaria. They are separated into five families based on their shared characteristics, namely, Blattidae, Blattellidae, Cryptocercidae, Polyphagidae and Blaberidae. In general, cockroaches are tropical and live outdoors. However, 25 species are found in close association with humans. Of these, the Oriental cockroach is of great public importance.

Like other cockroach species, Oriental cockroaches undergo gradual metamorphosis with three distinct stages, including egg, nymph and adult. The female produces an egg capsule, or ootheca, that is blackish-brown in color. Approximately 16 eggs are laid in the egg capsule, arranged in two rows of eight eggs each. An average of at least 14 eggs can hatch per egg capsule. The female may deposit up to 18 egg capsules, with an average of eight per female. A single female Oriental cockroach has a much lower potential for producing offspring when compared to female German or brown-banded cockroaches.

Generally, egg capsules are deposited in places where food is readily available. Eggs hatch in about two months. Newly emerged nymphs are very light, but later change to a reddish- to blackish-brown color. Adults are glossy, with a dark reddish- to blackish-brown color.

Males and females have different wing formation. Males have well-developed brown-black wings, covering about 75 percent of the abdomen. The shiny black female has rudimentary wing stubs with definite venation. The adult females may live from 34 to 181 days.

Oriental roaches are omnivorous, but they prefer to feed on starchy foods. They are less wary and more sluggish than other cockroaches. Their ideal habitat temperatures range from about 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They are typically found in dark, damp basements, crawlspaces, areas between soil and the foundation, underneath sidewalks, in sewer pipes, floor drains and any other cool, moist place.

Oriental cockroaches are important pests in residences, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, cruise ships, railroad cars, warehouses and many other places where sufficient food and water are available. They are of public health importance because they can mechanically transmit pathogenic organisms, and are a source of powerful allergens.

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