Most Wanted: Turkestan cockroach


February 22, 2016

This pestiferous peridomestic is pushing into the United States.  

  • Description: Adults are about 1-in. long. Females are wider than males, dark-brown or black, and slightly yellow-tinged on the pronotum with stripes on vestigial wing edges. Female wings are short (brachypterous), triangular and appear leathery. Adult males are slim and a brownish-orange or red. They feature yellowish, flight-capable wings, which cover the abdomen, and are attracted to light. Nymphs are brown, black, wingless and lack fully-developed reproductive organs. Oothecae possess 14 to 22 denticles, are single-end rounded and shortened at the other end, on the back.
  • Life Cycle: Complete metamorphosis. Undergoing a rather rapid lifecycle, the adult stage occurs after five molts. Nymphal development takes approximately 224 days at 80°F.
  • Habitat: Survives in numerous structurally adjacent microenvironments similar to the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis. Studies indicate that the Turkestan cockroach’s success stems from its rapid development and large numbers of offspring. Populations can survive within drain systems, wet basements, hollow block walls and porches, sewers, and other damp organic waste locations. Outdoor locations include decaying organic matter, under leaves and groundcover, under mulch, and in bushes, tree hollows, water meters, and irrigation and electrical boxes.
  • Food: Readily exploits pet foods and other food provided to urban wildlife by people.
  • Range: California, the southwest, parts of the southeast, and reports in the northeast.
  • Significance: Some believe this species might be supplanting the Oriental cockroach as a significant peridomestic pest.

Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at or 515-333-8923.


About the Author

MITCHELL, D.O., DVM, PsyD, BCE, is technical director of PestWest, and a frequent contributor to PMP.

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