The three most prevalent cockroaches in New England are the German cockroach, American cockroach and Pennsylvania Wood cockroach.
German cockroaches are common indoor insects found worldwide. German cockroaches are approximately 1/2 - 5/8” long, tan to light brown in color with two black horizontal stripes directly behind the head. German cockroach bodies are flat enabling them to hide and travel in small spaces, often hitchhiking in bags, boxes and packaging material. German cockroach pathogens contaminate food and utensils causing food poisoning, dysentery, rashes and asthmatic reactions in children. In commercial settings, German cockroaches are most often found in “tropical” conditions with high humidity and temperatures. Starches, sugary products, grease and meat are often their meal of choice.
American cockroaches normally live outdoors, in warmer climates they are often referred to as “palmetto bugs” because they can live in trees. American cockroaches are much larger than German cockroaches, growing to 3 inches in length with an average size of approximately 2 inches. This cockroach is reddish-brown in color with a yellow band directly behind the head. American cockroaches like warm, damp/wet areas; often found in sewer systems and drain lines.
PENNSYLVANIA WOOD COCKROACHES
Pennsylvania Wood cockroaches are typically found living outdoors. Males grow up to 1 inch in length, females slightly smaller. Males have fully developed wings, can fly short distances and are attracted to light. Pennsylvania Wood cockroaches vary from light brown to dark brown in color; to the untrained eye they may be mistaken as German cockroaches. Pennsylvania Wood cockroaches feed on decaying organic matter, sweets and starchy materials and are commonly found in woodpiles, stumps and leaf litter. In most cases Pennsylvania Wood cockroaches enter properties unintentionally, as males follow wandering females during mating season (May-June) or accidentally brought in from outdoors.