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Houston Pest Guide: Cockroaches

An image of a cockroach

To the surprise of nobody who has ever lived here, East Texas has one of the highest concentrations of roaches anywhere in America. Houston's multiple climate zones, overall warmth, and mix of urban and natural environment together create an ideal breeding ground for multiple species of roaches.

There are over 4,000 different species of cockroaches worldwide, but only about 40 cockroach species will live in or close enough to people that you would encounter them in everyday circumstances. Eight of these species can be found in Houston, and of those eight there are four species you’re likely to find inside of your home - German, American, Oriental, and Brown-banded cockroaches.

Most Common Types of Cockroaches Found in Homes in Houston

German Cockroach

German cockroaches are one of the most common types of cockroaches to infest homes in Houston. Adult German cockroaches are usually from 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in size, with light brown bodies accented with darker bands down the wings. German cockroaches are scavengers, feeding on a wide variety of detritus, and can often be found living in restaurants or around kitchens in homes. German Cockroaches are primarily nocturnal, and are known for quickly scurrying to hide when disturbed by light. They can emit an unpleasant smell when disturbed or excited. German cockroaches are also very fond of moisture, and will often infest bathrooms or kitchens.

German cockroach mothers carry their eggs on their bodies until they hatch, protecting the eggs from damage or predators. This gives German cockroaches a much higher survival rate than other cockroach species. A female can carry up to 50 eggs at one time, and the German cockroach also has a comparatively short reproductive cycle, with roaches reaching sexual maturity within 60 days of hatching. An unchecked German roach population can grow exponentially in the space of just a few months. Because they have few natural predators in an urban environment, these roaches can establish large populations relatively quickly.

Are German Cockroaches Dangerous?

German cockroaches can be a threat to human health. German cockroaches are prone to carrying disease, since they commonly feed on garbage from which they can spread bacteria and germs. People with asthma should be particularly cautious when it comes to German cockroach infestations. The waste products of these roaches carry allergens that can cause or exacerbate asthma.

How do I Keep German Cockroaches Out of My Home?

Cleanliness is essential in keeping German cockroaches out of your home. Keeping surfaces clean, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, and promptly removing all garbage from the home are all effective ways to reduce the chances of infestation. However, since these pests are everywhere in Houston, even the cleanest home will occasionally see a roach.

American Cockroach

Despite their name, American cockroaches were originally introduced to this county from Africa several centuries ago, and have since become incredibly well established. American cockroaches thrive in hot, humid urban environments, making Houston almost perfect for them to live in. The American cockroach is one of the larger species of roaches in Houston, with mature adults routinely measuring up to an inch and a half in length. They are identifiable by their dark reddish brown bodies and lighter colored bands on the back near the head. They are often referred to as waterbugs, a name shared with the also common Oriental cockroach.

American cockroaches thrive in sewer systems and will often enter homes by crawling along plumbing and drainage pipes. American cockroaches are most often drawn into homes seeking heat and moisture. Warm, damp areas, such as under kitchen sinks, are their preferred nesting ground.

American cockroaches have an unpleasant odor which they can transfer to food they encounter. This odor is particularly noticeable when large groups of American cockroaches are present.

Are American Cockroaches Dangerous?

American cockroaches can spread salmonella, along with other diseases and pathogens. They can also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

How Do I Get Rid of American Cockroaches?

Getting rid of American cockroaches can be an ongoing process. These roaches are more likely to be seen inside homes during cooler months or droughts, when they seek warmth or moisture. But because they are so prevalent in Houston, the threat of infestation is nearly constant

Keeping homes clean and pipes well sealed can help reduce the chances of roaches infesting the home. There are also a number of effective professional pest control options available when an infestation becomes established.

An Oriental cockroach photographed in Houston

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroaches are highly glossy with a dark brown or black shell, with lighter colored legs covered with black splotches. These roaches are usually around 1 inch in length when fully grown.

Originally from the Middle East and North Africa, oriental cockroaches have become very successfully established in Houston, thriving in the area's high humidity. Unlike other roach species, oriental cockroaches are slow-moving and can't easily climb vertical services. When they invade homes, they tend to stay under sinks and refrigerators. Oriental cockroaches will usually find their way into homes through cracks or by climbing along pipes. They are most active during milder weather, usually being seen in Houston in the early spring and late fall.

Are Oriental Cockroaches Dangerous?

Oriental cockroaches can pose a threat to human health. They can spread dysentery, E. coli, and food poisoning, and have been known to spread some species of parasitic worms.

How Do I Get Rid of Oriental Cockroaches?

Oriental cockroaches can be especially difficult to control. Many over-the-counter roach control products are ineffective against these cockroaches, and usually professional treatment is required to get rid of an infestation.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches are small roaches, with fully grown adults being only around 1/2 an inch in length. They are recognizable by their light brown bodies colored with a pair of blotchy, dark-brown bands that horizontally cross their wings. These cockroaches are less attracted to moisture than other types of roaches, and prefer dryer environments.

Because they seek homes away from ground moisture, they are a particular problem in high-rise buildings. These roaches prefer dark, sheltered places, and are often found under furniture and in the upholstery, where they are known to lay their eggs.

Are Brown-Banded Cockroaches Dangerous?

The greatest risk to human health from brown-banded cockroaches is as an allergen. They can be particularly problematic for individuals with asthma.

How Do I Get Rid of Brown-Banded Cockroaches?

Brown-banded cockroaches can be difficult to control, and may require professional pest control to fully eliminate.

Other Types of Cockroaches found in Houston

Asian Cockroach

Asian cockroaches are a newcomer to Houston, first coming into the country through Florida in the 1980s. In appearance, they are almost identical to German cockroaches. Both species grow to be about and inch and a half in length and both have the same light brown bodies colored with dark bands on the wings. The main ways to distinguish Asian cockroaches from German cockroaches are that Asian cockroaches are more likely to be found outside of buildings, and Asian cockroaches are capable of sustained flight, which German cockroaches aren’t.

Like moths, Asian cockroaches are attracted to light. Because of their ability to fly and their attraction to light, they are more likely than other cockroach species to end up directly interacting with people. Many people have had the unpleasant experience of sitting under a lamp or porch light and suddenly having a large cockroach flying directly at their heads.

Asian cockroaches are most active in the late spring and early summer. While they generally prefer to stay outdoors, under some circumstances they can become established inside homes.

Are Asian Cockroaches Dangerous?

Asian cockroaches are mostly more of a nuisance pest than a threat to human health. Because they move by flying, they are less likely to pick up and spread bacteria than other cockroach species.

How Do I Get Rid of Asian Cockroaches?

Because Asian cockroaches usually enter a house by flying, sprays and treatments on surfaces are almost completely ineffective in controlling them. There are some baits and traps they will respond to, but eliminating a persistent Asian cockroach problem generally means having a pest control professional locate and treat their outdoor habitat near the home.

Palmetto Bug or Florida Woods Cockroach

Florida woods cockroaches, more commonly known as palmetto bugs or tree roaches, are generally the largest cockroach species found in Houston. Palmetto bugs commonly grow over two inches long. When they feel threatened, they'll spray a foul-smelling liquid like a skunk, earning them one of their other names as stinking cockroaches. Fortunately, these roaches prefer to stay outside, seeking warm, sheltered places and bushy vegetation for their homes. They are nocturnal and capable of flying great distances.

Although they rarely enter homes, they can become a nuisance pest in outdoor spaces, particularly yards or patios surrounded by bushes. They will also occasionally infest sheds or garages.

Are Palmetto Bugs Dangerous?

Because they tend to remain outdoors, palmetto bugs are less of a direct threat to human health than other species. But, Palmetto bugs can carry several types of disease, and can pose a threat to individuals with a cockroach allergy.

How do I Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs?

Keeping bushes well-trimmed and undergrowth well-maintained can help keep palmetto bug populations down. A persistent palmetto bug problem will usually require professional pest control to locate and treat their nests.

A smokybrown cockroach photographed in Houston

Smokybrown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroaches are closely related to American cockroaches, although they are slightly smaller than American cockroaches, with the largest adults reaching less than an inch and a half in length. These cockroaches are recognizable by their uniformly dark, shiny brown bodies, often described as mahogany colored, crowned with dark black heads. These roaches need a vey high humidity environment to survive, so naturally they are thriving in Houston. While they typically prefer outdoor habitats, they can infest houses and buildings.

Are Smokybrown Cockroaches Dangerous?

Smokybrown cockroaches can carry disease and cause asthma, and they are known to carry parasites that can cause colitis.

How Do I Get Rid of Smokybrown Cockroaches?

While Smokybrown cockroaches are mostly found outdoors, they will sometimes infest outbuildings or garages and will often be seen on the exterior walls of homes. Smokybrown cockroaches are attracted to light and will sometimes enter human homes, which can result in infestation. This species is known to have developed a resistance to many commercially available roach bait and traps, and professional pest control is usually required to get rid of an indoor infestation.

Surinam Cockroach

The Surinam cockroach is another invasive cockroach species, a medium-sized roach with dark brown wings and a darker head, most adult roaches are about 3/4 of an inch in length. These are burrowing cockroaches who spend a good amount of their time underground. Surinam cockroaches rarely interact with humans, and when found inside they are usually nesting in houseplants. They can also infest mulch beds and gardens.

Are Surinam Cockroaches Dangerous?

Surinam cockroaches rarely present a threat to human health. However, they are known carriers of parasitic roundworms that can infect the eyes of poultry, so they should be on the watchlist of threats for anyone keeping backyard chickens.

How Do I Keep Surinam Cockroaches Out of My Home?

Surinam roaches are easy to keep out of your home. Check the soil of potted plants for the presence of roaches before bringing them into your home, and be aware of their presence on any gardening tools or clothing brought into the house. They are easy to treat for and seldom pose a serious infestation problem.

Bothered by Roaches?

If you have a problem with any kind of roach in your home, give Bulls Eye a call at 713-222-PEST (7378) . We offer safe, effective pest control services that will get rid of roaches and keep them from coming back.

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