A Guide to Florida Cockroach Species

August 17, 2021

Cockroaches are never a pleasant sight, especially when they are spotted inside your home or business. Being as unsanitary as they are, it is important to eradicate any indoor cockroach populations as quickly as possible. To do this, though, you first have to know which species you are dealing with. There are a variety of cockroach species in Florida, so we put together a list of the most commonly encountered species and how to identify them.

Indoor

Asian Cockroach

Adult Asian Cockroaches are generally between 13 and 16 mm long. They are light brown in color with two parallel lines on their pronotums. The pronotum is the plate-like structure behind the head that covers all or some of the thorax. This species usually lives in moist, shady, outdoor areas like gardens and mulch. Although they prefer to live outdoors, they will readily venture inside if they spot a source of light, which is why they are grouped with other indoor cockroach species. They are most active at dusk, and they will fly long distances just to reach a light source. Once inside though, they do not live long.

The Asian Cockroach is commonly mistaken for the German cockroach, because the two species look almost identical. There are a few ways to tell the difference, though. First, the Asian cockroach has longer wings and are strong flyers, whereas German cockroaches are not. Second, Asian cockroaches are much more likely to be found outdoors, while German cockroaches prefer to live indoors. Finally, if the cockroaches you are seeing do not scurry away when a light is turned on, or even hang out around light sources, they are likely Asian cockroaches. German cockroaches typically run away when a light is turned on.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

The brown-banded cockroach is one of the smallest of the invasive cockroach species, only growing to around 11 to 14.5 mm long. Adults are light brown or tan in color, with transverse bands on their wings. Being nocturnal creatures, they like to hide during the day in dry, warm places, avoiding water sources. Some common locations to find brown-banded cockroaches are cabinets, clocks, closets, chairs, door frames, dressers, light switch plates, pantries, picture frames, and more. They are also commonly found in electronic equipment and around refrigerator motor housings. In general, they hide closer to the ceilings of infested buildings. Only the males of this species are able to fly.

German Cockroach

German cockroaches are the most common species of cockroach in America, and according to entomologists at the University of Florida, they are “the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name.” Adults grow to be about 13 to 16 mm in length, with six spined legs and long, nearly-straight antennae. They are light brown or tan in color with horizontal black stripes on their pronotum. Nymphs have the two stripes as well, but their bodies are very dark in color, almost black. This species does have wings, but they rarely fly. These cockroaches are able to live outdoors in tropical conditions, but they prefer to live indoors. They can be found in warmer, more humid areas of a home or business, like kitchens and bathrooms. They will, however, move to other areas of a building that can provide food and water.

Outdoor

American Cockroach

Adult American cockroaches can grow to be a whopping 3 inches long. They are reddish-brown or mahogany in color, and their pronotum is outlined with a band of yellow. They prefer temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In southern states, they like to live in humid, shady places like flower beds. If they move indoors, they gravitate towards humid areas, but they are able to survive dry conditions if they have a food and water source available. Some common indoor areas to find American cockroaches include food-prep areas, boiler rooms, steam tunnels, and basements. Both the males and females of this species have wings and are able to glide short distances.

Australian Cockroach

Australian cockroaches, also called shad roaches, look similar to American cockroaches but they are smaller, only growing to be about 1.25 inches long. They are reddish-brown to dark brown in color, and they have yellow markings on their heads as well as the front edges of each of their wings. Their wings are between 1.25 and 1.5 inches long. Their favorite places to live include firewood piles, tree bark, greenhouses, drains, toilets, and water pipes.

Florida Woods Cockroach

Although the name “palmetto bug” may refer to any large cockroach species, the Florida Woods cockroach is the true palmetto bug. They are roughly 1.5 inches long and one inch wide. They are reddish-brown to black in color. Like many cockroach species, its wings are not fully developed causing it to look wingless. They can be found in dark, damp places that offer a large food supply, including leaf piles, palmetto leaves, trees, firewood piles, leaky pipes, basements, and bathrooms.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Adult smokybrown cockroaches can grow up to 38 mm long. They are shiny and black or mahogany in color. Early nymphal stages have a white stripe on their thorax and the tips of their antennae. Later nymphal stages are colored similarly to adults. Their antennae are curved, and they have spined legs. Their long wings extend beyond their bodies, and they are strong flyers. This species is prone to dehydration, so they need to live in very moist areas. They prefer warm, protected places like gardens, greenhouses, nurseries, and tree holes. They often hide in mulch and leaf litter, where their coloration allows them to remain camouflaged from predators. They are also commonly found around eaves, soffits, gutters, and other high-moisture areas. When indoors, they breed in attics, which can allow their populations to grow unchecked.

Hopefully, you never have to encounter any of these species in your home or business. If you do, though, give the experts at Excel a call and we’ll make sure you never see the pests again. 

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