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Cockroach Identification: American vs. Oriental

Upon seeing a roach in their home or business, most people do not stop to think very carefully about what the insect actually looked like. Though your first instinct is to get rid of the intruders, taking some time to positively identify the type of cockroach you have encountered will help you win the battle against roaches. Though Combat baits gel, and strips will eliminate both American and Oriental cockroach varieties, knowing the difference between them can help you know what products to choose.


Identifying Characteristics


Cockroaches have several characteristics that you can look for when trying to identify them. These include:

  • Size – Try to estimate overall body size. Use a common reference point, like a battery or the pad of your thumb, to help determine accurate size.
  • Color – Though American and Oriental roaches are primarily a single color, other roach varieties have more than one visible color.
  • Habitat – Take note of where you saw the roach or where a large population is centered.


A Closer Look at Two Common Roaches


The American cockroach is a common household pest. Measuring an inch and a half or more, it is easily identified by its flat, reddish-brown body. Though it has wings, it rarely flies. Young roaches, or nymphs, are reddish in color. Sweet, starchy foods are its preferred diet; this is why you can often find roaches living behind wallpaper or even feasting on book bindings. This roach prefers humid and warm temperatures of 82 degrees F or above; when the temperature drops below this point, the roaches may move indoors.

Oriental roaches are dark brown or shiny black in color and about 1 ¼ inches long. Male roaches have wings that don’t fully cover their body, but can be easily seen. Neither male nor female Oriental roaches fly. Young Oriental roaches are oblong and rusty brown in color, and look similar to American roach nymphs but are darker in color. They like dark and damp spaces and will settle in basements, crawl spaces, and near garbage cans. They prefer starchy, pulpy food, like what can be found in mulch piles. These roaches prefer cooler weather compared to other roach species.


Successfully Controlling Roaches


First, it is important to remove food sources to deter roach activity. Make Combat roach baits their prime food source. Seal cracks and other access points; Oriental roaches, in particular, will access a building through the holes cut to accommodate incoming pipes. Insulated boards can help close these important holes without interfering with pipe operation. As the fall weather comes, remove rotting leaves and other mulch piles in your lawn to eliminate hiding places.