The American cockroach is the largest of the common cockroaches measuring on average 4 cm in length. It occurs in buildings throughout Florida, especially in commercial buildings. It consumes decaying organic matter but is a scavenger and will eat almost anything. It prefers sweets but has also been observed eating paper, boots, hair, bread, fruit, book bindings, fish, peanuts, old rice, putrid sake, the soft part on the inside of animal hides, cloth, and dead insects. Caulking of penetrations through ground-level walls, removal of rotting leaves, and limiting the moist areas in and around a structure can help in reducing areas that are attractive to these cockroaches.
Brown Banded Roaches
Brown banded cockroaches prefer warm and dry locations, such as near refrigerator motor housings, on the upper walls of cabinets, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, doorframes, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water sources. Accurate identification is paramount to controlling brown banded cockroaches. Control strategies for other cockroaches will not be efficacious for brown banded cockroaches.
The German cockroach is the cockroach of concern, the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name. It occurs in structures throughout Florida and is the species that typically plagues multifamily dwellings. The availability of water, food, and harborage governs the ability of German cockroaches to establish populations and limit growth. Nontoxic and low toxic alternatives for German cockroach control are available. Sticky traps can be used to monitor or reduce population size. Improving sanitation by eliminating food and water sources and clutter can have a significant impact on reducing the chances of infestation population size. Exclusion practices such as sealing cracks and crevices will reduce harborage space and also negatively impact population size.
The Oriental Cockroach is sometimes referred to as the “black beetle” or a “water bug” because of its dark black appearance and tendency to harbor in damp locations. It is common outdoors and lives in warm, damp, shady areas near the ground or any area containing natural debris. It will often seek refuge indoors when a drop in temperature occurs but is still quite tolerable of cooler weather. The oriental cockroach is often found feeding on garbage, sewage, or decaying organic matter and will eat almost anything. A diet high in starch is preferred. New methods are being developed to manage the roach in combination with regular sprays and dusting.
Smoky Brown Roaches
Although closely related to the American cockroach, the smoky brown cockroach is readily distinguishable from it by its uniformly dark brown–mahogany coloration. Furthermore, unlike the American cockroach, which possesses a light-rimmed pattern on its thorax, the smoky brown cockroach’s thorax is dark and shiny. This cockroach may come indoors to look for food and even to live; generally, however, in warm weather, it will move outdoors. The smoky brown cockroach prefers warmer climates and is not cold-tolerant. It may, however, be able to survive colder climates by going indoors. In addition to this, it fares well in moist conditions and appears to be particularly prevalent in moist concealed areas. It often lives around the perimeter of buildings.