Unveiling the Truth About Flying Roaches in Florida

September 20, 2023

Cockroach infestations in Florida are an all-too-common occurrence, and flying roach infestations can be especially disturbing. We will endeavor to explain how to identify flying Florida cockroach species as well as what attracts them to your property.

Common Cockroach Species in Florida: Do They Fly?

All adult cockroaches have wings no matter the species, however not all species fly. The German cockroach is able to fly but will rarely do so, while Oriental and Florida woods cockroaches cannot fly at all. For the purpose of this guide, we will be looking more closely at the Florida cockroach species that can and do fly.

American Cockroach

The American cockroach is the second most abundant roach species in America after the German cockroach. Adult American cockroaches are reddish-brown in color with a pale yellow band around their pronotum, which is the area behind their head. They typically grow to be between 35 and 41 mm (1.4 to 1.6 inches) long, though they can reach more than 50 mm (2 inches) in length. Their antennae are roughly 40 mm long. Male American cockroaches are longer than females because their wings extend 4 to 8 mm beyond the ends of their bodies, while females’ wings do not cover their entire bodies.

American cockroaches do not fly in the traditional sense of flapping their wings to travel from one place to the next; a more accurate description of their air travel is gliding. When they drop from a high place like a tree branch, they will extend their wings and glide to their next location, but they cannot stay in the air for long periods. They are very fast runners, so more often than not, they prefer to travel on foot.

American cockroaches prefer to live outdoors, where they can be found in damp, shady areas like mulch, wood piles, debris piles, hollow trees, and beneath shingles. When they wander indoors, they commonly infest basements, attics, crawl spaces, boiler rooms, pantries, kitchens, bathrooms, and steam tunnels.

Asian Cockroach

Asian cockroaches, not to be confused with the Oriental roach species, are extremely similar in appearance to German roaches. However Asian cockroaches’ wings are longer and narrower than those of German cockroaches. Asian cockroaches are light brown or golden in color with two parallel lines on their pronotum. They are small, only reaching around 16 to 17 mm in length, and their antennae are longer than their bodies.

Asian cockroaches are excellent fliers thanks to their wings, which extend longer than their body length. They prefer to live outdoors and almost never enter homes and businesses. Outdoors, they like to live in shaded, damp areas like compost piles, grass, and mulch. If they do enter a building, it is usually because they were attracted to a light source; Asian cockroaches are extremely attracted to light sources, unlike their nearly identical counterparts, German cockroaches, who hate light.

Australian Cockroach

Australian cockroaches are the most common outdoor roach species in southern Florida. They are similar in appearance to American cockroaches, but they are smaller than American roaches and have slightly different markings. Australian cockroaches are reddish- to dark-brown in color with a prominent black spot on the pronotum. They also have light yellow lines along their “shoulder” areas, or the upper, outer edges of the forewings. They grow to be between 30 and 38 mm in length with antennae that are roughly the same length or longer than the body.

Australian cockroaches are only capable of gliding flight. They prefer to live outdoors, though they will move indoors as well. Outdoors, they can be found in areas like flower beds, trees, wood piles, shrubs, and leaf piles. Indoors, they prefer humid, warm areas and are most commonly found in greenhouses, attics, garages, crawlspaces, and near heated fish tanks. The presence of Australian cockroaches in spaces like attics and crawlspaces almost always indicates a chronic infestation.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroaches are so named for their dark brown or mahogany color. They are generally between 25 and 38 mm long with antennae that are as long or longer than their bodies.

Smokybrown cockroaches are strong fliers with wings that extend beyond their body length. Moisture is vital to the survival of smokybrown cockroaches, which is why they prefer to live in locations like wood piles, mulch, and tree bark. Indoors, they may be found in the upper areas of buildings, like in attics or beneath shingles.

Wood Cockroach

Wood cockroaches, not to be confused with Florida woods cockroaches, range in color from light brown to nearly black. Some have cream-colored markings on the edges of their wings. Males reach roughly 25 mm in length and have more slender abdomens. Females are smaller, reaching around 19 mm in length. Females also have wider abdomens and are usually darker in color. Both males and females have long antennae.

Female wood cockroaches cannot fly due to their short wings, which do not cover their entire abdomen. Males can fly, and their wings extend beyond the ends of their abdomens. Wood cockroaches like to live in very moist conditions. Outdoors, they live in rotting logs, clogged rain gutters, wood piles, leaf piles, wooden siding, loose tree bark, decaying plant material, and wooden fences. Indoors, they can be found in attics, crawl spaces, and walls.

Palmetto Bugs: Fact vs. Fiction

“Palmetto bug” is an interchangeable name for cockroaches. The term “palmetto bug” is especially popular in southern states like Florida and South Carolina. It most often refers to American cockroaches, who like to live in palmetto bushes.

Attraction Factors: What Brings Roaches Inside?

Cockroaches are attracted to indoor environments for several reasons, primarily related to their basic needs for food, water, and shelter. Understanding these factors can help you prevent or manage cockroach infestations:

Food Sources: Cockroaches are opportunistic feeders and can consume a wide range of organic matter. They are attracted to crumbs, food residues, pet food, and even garbage left in open containers.

Water: Cockroaches require water to survive, and they are attracted to sources of moisture. Leaky pipes, dripping faucets, and condensation around appliances can provide the necessary water sources for cockroaches.

Shelter: Cockroaches prefer dark and hidden spaces where they can hide and breed. Clutter, cardboard boxes, and cracks in walls or floors can provide them with suitable hiding spots.

Warmth: Cockroaches are more active in warmer temperatures, so they may seek refuge indoors during colder seasons.

Odors: Cockroaches are known to be attracted to certain odors and pheromones. For instance, they can be drawn to the scent of other cockroaches, which can encourage them to congregate in specific areas.

Neighboring Infestations: If your neighbors have a cockroach infestation, the insects can easily migrate from one building unit or house to another through shared walls, pipes, or utility lines. Cooperation with neighbors to address the issue collectively may be necessary in such cases.

Transport: Cockroaches can inadvertently hitch a ride into your home or business through bags, boxes, or packages that have been in infested areas.

Environmental Factors: In some cases, environmental conditions such as extreme weather events, floods, or natural disasters can force cockroaches to seek shelter indoors.

Eliminating Flying Cockroach Infestations

Getting rid of cockroaches can be a challenging process, but it's essential for both your health and peace of mind. Here are steps to help you effectively eliminate cockroaches from your home:


First, identify the type of cockroach you're dealing with as different species may require slightly different control methods. The most common types are the German cockroach, American cockroach, and Oriental cockroach, although of these three, only American cockroaches fly. Check out Part 1 of this article to verify which species of flying cockroach you have on your Florida property.

Sanitation and Cleaning:

Start by thoroughly cleaning your home. Remove all food particles, crumbs, and standing water. Pay close attention to kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas where you've seen cockroaches. Use soapy water to clean surfaces, as it can help remove cockroach scent trails that attract others.

Call In Professional Pest Control:

If your infestation is severe or persists despite your efforts, consider hiring a licensed pest control professional. Pest control experts have access to stronger pesticides and the knowledge to effectively eliminate cockroach infestations.

Regular Monitoring:

Continuously monitor for cockroach activity even after implementing control measures. If you see any signs of a returning infestation, adjust your treatment as necessary.

Prevent Reinfestation:

Maintain a clean and hygienic living environment to prevent future infestations. Keep food stored in airtight containers, promptly fix any plumbing leaks, and eliminate excess moisture.

Consult with Neighbors:

If you live in an apartment building or a multi-unit dwelling, inform your neighbors about the infestation and encourage them to take similar preventive measures.

Consider Natural Remedies:

Some natural remedies, like diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or essential oils, may help deter cockroaches. However, they may not be as effective as professional-grade products. Remember that cockroach infestations can be persistent, and it may take time to completely eliminate them. Consistency in your approach to cleaning, sealing entry points, and using appropriate treatments is crucial. If you're unsure about how to proceed, or the infestation continues despite your efforts, consulting with a pest control professional is often the most effective solution.

Embracing Pest Prevention: Keeping Your Home Roach-Free

Preventing cockroach infestations requires a combination of good hygiene practices, regular maintenance, and the elimination of potential entry points. Here are some effective ways to prevent cockroaches from infesting your home:

Keep Your Home or Business Clean:

  • Regularly clean countertops, floors, and other surfaces to remove crumbs and food residues.
  • Wash dishes promptly and avoid leaving them in the sink overnight.
  • Store food in airtight containers, and keep pet food in sealed containers as well.
  • Empty and clean pet food and water bowls overnight.
  • Dispose of garbage regularly and use tightly sealed trash cans.
  • Vacuum your home or business regularly, paying special attention to cracks, crevices, and baseboards. Empty vacuum bags or canisters outside your home to prevent any captured cockroaches from returning indoors.

Eliminate Moisture:

  • Fix any plumbing leaks, including dripping faucets and leaky pipes.
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp areas like basements and crawl spaces to reduce moisture levels.
  • Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to reduce humidity.

Seal Entry Points:

  • Cockroaches can enter your home through tiny cracks and crevices. Seal gaps around doors, windows, and utility wire entrances with caulk or weatherstripping.
  • Inspect and repair any damaged screens on windows and doors.
  • Keep doors and windows closed, especially in the evening when cockroaches are more active.


  • Reduce clutter in your home, as cockroaches love hiding in cluttered areas.
  • Store unused items in plastic bins or containers with tight-fitting lids.

Inspect and Clean Appliances:

  • Cockroaches can hide in and around appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves. Regularly clean these areas and check for signs of infestation.

Maintain Outdoor Areas:

  • Keep outdoor areas clean and debris-free, as cockroaches can enter your home from outside.
  • Trim shrubs and trees away from your home or business to reduce potential entry points.
  • Store firewood and mulch away from your home or business’s exterior.

Put Screens on Vents and Openings:

  • Install screens on vents, chimneys, and other openings to prevent cockroaches from getting inside.

Regular Inspections:

  • Periodically inspect your property for signs of cockroach activity, such as droppings, egg cases, or a musty odor.

Professional Pest Control:

  • If you have recurring or severe cockroach problems, consider hiring a licensed pest control professional to assess and treat your home or business. They can use effective methods and pesticides to eliminate infestations.
  • Schedule regular inspections with your pest control professional to ensure that the infestation does not return.

Expert Insights: Addressing Common Questions About Roaches

  • Do cockroaches fly in Florida?

Yes, there are a number of species of cockroaches in Florida that can fly. There are also several species that cannot fly. Take a look at part 1 of this article to learn how to identify the flying species of cockroaches in Florida.

  • Are cockroaches dangerous?

Cockroaches are in fact quite dangerous. They are known to carry and spread a number of diseases, bacteria, and parasites, all of which can be very harmful, even deadly, to humans and pets. Additionally, they are considered a significant allergy and asthma trigger.

  • Do cockroaches bite?

Cockroaches can bite, though the instance is very rare and generally only occurs during periods of food shortage.

  • How long can cockroaches survive without food?

Cockroaches are able to survive for up to a month without food. However, they will usually die within a week without a source of water.

  • When are cockroaches most active?

Cockroaches are predominantly active during the evening, night, and early morning hours. In states like Florida, they are active year-round, though they are usually most active during the summer.

  • How long do cockroaches live?

Depending on species, cockroaches may live anywhere from several months to a few years. The shortest cockroach lifespan belongs to the field cockroach, who only lives around 90 days. The longest living species is the Australian giant burrowing cockroach, which can live for as long as 10 years.

  • Do cockroaches reproduce quickly?

Cockroaches reproduce extremely quickly, typically producing between 200 and 300 offspring per year.

  • Are cockroaches difficult to get rid of?

Cockroaches are extremely difficult to get rid of, and have a strong tendency to re-infest.

  • Is It Possible to Get Rid of Cockroaches and Keep Them From Coming Back?

Cockroaches commonly reinfest properties, even after they have already been eradicated. Re-infestations are more common on properties with certain risk factors, though they are possible on any property due to cockroaches’ resilient nature. In order to prevent re-infestations, it is vital to practice prevention both indoors and out.

  • How Are Cockroaches Getting Into My House?

Like other pests, cockroaches usually enter homes and businesses through cracks in the walls or foundations, or through openings around doors, windows, and utility wire entrances. They are also sometimes brought inside on any items that have spent time outdoors.

  • Are cockroach treatments safe?

Yes, professional cockroach treatments are safe, especially if your hired professional uses IPM, or integrated pest management. Professional treatments, especially IPM, are administered in a manner that minimizes risk to inhabitants of the home or business. This being said, DIY methods are far less effective and safe. While they may work to eliminate 1 or 2 cockroaches, they do not work for full-blown infestations and are more likely to be administered incorrectly or in vulnerable areas, posing a far greater risk to children and pets.

Partnering with Pest Control Professionals

Hiring a professional pest control company for cockroach infestations is crucial due to their expertise, access to effective pesticides, and ability to tailor treatments based on cockroach species. Professionals ensure safe, efficient eradication, reducing health risks and damage. Their guidance on preventive measures and warranties provide peace of mind, making it a cost-effective, stress-free solution for a persistent and unsettling infestation.

We hope that we have provided you with the information you were looking for regarding flying Florida roaches. If not, please contact our office today or visit our cockroach control page for more information.