Cockroaches (including Wood Roaches)

photo of a German cockroach female beside a US penny
German cockroach (female) (Blattella germanica)

Cockroaches generally have a flattened, oval appearance, long spiny legs and long antennae. Color, which depends on species and age, ranges from a reddish brown to dark brown and from tan to black. The German cockroach (pictured at right as well as below) is by far the most likely species to infest homes in Maine. It is about 1/2-inch long, light brown, with two lengthwise black stripes on the shield behind its head. The adults are fully winged, but rarely fly. The nymphs resemble the adults but are smaller, darker and wingless.

Due to its size (up to 2″ long), the American cockroach is the species most likely to be recognized in Maine (see link and first photo below). American cockroaches may be found in any room of the house.

Although cockroaches carry disease organisms, they are not known to transmit disease to humans. They do contaminate food and kitchen utensils with excrement and salivary secretions, leaving an unpleasant odor.

There is also a type of cockroach that lives outdoors in wooded/forested habitats and feeds on decaying organic matter. These are known as wood cockroaches or sometimes just wood roaches, for short (see below for some examples). They are very common in Maine and the Northeast, and can be a nuisance when they end up indoors as ‘accidental invaders’ (which happens often during the summer months in New England).  The males have fully functional wings and since they are also attracted to lights at night, they consequently tend to be encountered by people far more often compared to the females. Fortunately, wood roaches cannot sustain or establish themselves indoors.

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