Is There a Cockroach Season?

Let’s see, how does that old expression go? April showers bring May…. cockroaches? Well, it depends on where you live and the species of roach. Smallish German cockroaches, about a half-inch long, are not tolerant of the cold. They depend on temperate environments for their survival so they make their nests in the walls of homes, apartments, restaurants, supermarkets, and other buildings where food is found.

German roaches go on the move when the weather is warm, moving from building to building or foraging for eats outdoors in garbage cans and sewers. They consume all kinds of food and may hitchhike into your home in warm weather on egg or soft drink cartons, beer cases, sacks of onions or potatoes, and even used furniture.

When temperatures plunge, German roaches hole up indoors. The roaches spend the cold months hiding in clusters behind baseboards and drawers, in cracks around cabinets and closets, and under the sink, stove, or refrigerator. And they produce a nasty stink when gathered in large numbers.

The American cockroach is about twice as big as its German cousin and equally affected by changes in the season. Resident of southern and western states know that when temperatures regularly soar above 100°, American roaches will stream into buildings in search of food, water, and relief from the heat. While Americans are mostly dormant when it’s cold and rainy, summer is roach season and the critters can appear in droves. While it’s sound practice all year long, in the summer it is particularly important to keep your kitchen clean, store food in airtight containers, and take out the trash on a regular basis. This will discourage roaches from invading your home.

And if you’re expecting roach relief in winter, there’s something new to worry about—in the Big Apple anyway. It seems that in December 2013, a new type of cold-weather cockroach was discovered in New York City. The Periplaneta japonica is an Asian cockroach that likely traveled to the U.S. with imported ornamental plants. The roach has been sighted on sidewalks and in parks during the dead of winter. Researchers say they don’t even mind snow. So New Yorkers might now have a new breed of hated cockroaches beyond the billions living in their apartment walls. And even with New York’s famously sky-high rents, these little buggers are not likely to face eviction anytime soon.