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Updated January 6, 2023
Of all the disgusting creatures, the cockroach is the one most likely to incite hatred. But what if we told you that not all cockroaches are malicious invaders? The wood cockroach (AKA tree cockroach) is a notable exception to the cockroach stereotype.
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Of course, exceptions can be unwelcome, so it's important to know when you're dealing with a woodroach and how to deal with them. Let's take a closer look (but not too close) at these critters and how to keep them out of your home.
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Get to know forest cockroaches
Out of approximately 3000 known species of cockroaches, only 12 are classified as wood cockroaches. Some more common species are the Boll woodcock, the broadwood cockroach, the Pennsylvania woodcock, and the Virginia woodcock.
Much of their life and appearance resembles common cockroaches, but there are also many differences.
Related:Wie man Palmetto Bugs (Florida Woods Roaches) loswird
What a wood cockroach looks like
Adult forest cockroaches vary greatly in appearance depending on their sex. Males have fully developed wings that extend beyond the abdomen creating a lighter tanned appearance. They can fly long distances.
The female, however, is flightless and retains the same chestnut coloring throughout. A stripe on the outer edge of the thorax is cream (female) or yellow (male).
Overall, adults range in size from 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches and have a flat, oval build. They have long antennae and long, spiny legs that allow them to traverse varied terrain more efficiently.
Woodroaches have a life cycle similar to other cockroaches, with three stages. Because a single adult female can lay up to 950 eggs over the course of her lifetime, this animal can reproduce quickly.
Up to 32 eggs are stored in a shell called an ootheca. These are sticky on the outside so they can be placed almost anywhere.
You can usually find an ootheca hidden on top of tree stumps, fallen logs, or behind loose bark. Its maroon coloring provides good camouflage and it has a slightly crescent shape.
When the eggs hatch about a month later, light brown nymphs hatch. These are generally only a quarter of their adult size and their undersides darken as they age.
Their bodies resemble a bug rather than a cockroach. The nymphal stage lasts ten months to a year before reaching fertile adulthood.
As the name suggests, woodroaches prefer wooded areas and are likely to perch in woodpiles. They prefer the great outdoors and avoid buildings whenever possible.
Their native range extends from the East Coast to the states of the Midwest and southern United States, although some species extend as far as Canada and Mexico. They remain active year-round, with males dispersing to find females when it comes time to mate.
Forest cockroaches differ from most other cockroaches in three ways:
- They hate being indoors and will not live in a house for long
- They are indifferent to people
- They are drawn to the light
While they have no interest in human food, they are still a source of disease and allergens, so any that make their way into your home should be removed.
See also:25 cockroaches found in Florida,17 cockroaches found in California
Woodcock vs American Cockroach
American cockroaches share a similar appearance to male wood cockroaches, but there are some key differences.
American cockroaches can grow up to three inches in length, and both males and females have wings. They are reddish brown in contrast to the chestnut brown of wood cockroaches and also have a light yellow band around the thorax.
Forest Cockroach vs. Oriental Cockroach
Oriental cockroaches are one of the most feared species of cockroaches in existence. They leave an unpleasant odor due to their diet and are about 1.25 inches long. The females have an appearance similar to female woodcocks, although the males have shorter wings than their counterparts.
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The most obvious difference between wood cockroaches and oriental cockroaches is coloration. While wood cockroaches are maroon in color, oriental cockroaches have a glossy reddish brown to black appearance.
Oriental cockroaches are primarily found in the southern, central, and western coastal states, while forest cockroaches span the entire continent.
How to get rid of wood cockroaches
The good news is that wood cockroaches aren't nearly as harmful as the American, Oriental, or German cockroaches. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you want to encounter them.
There are several chemical pest control methods for those rare occasions when the outdoor woodroach population gets out of control, but it's extremely unlikely you'll ever need thishire an exterminatorget rid of them.
Related:How to get rid of all other cockroaches
Getting rid of outdoor wood cockroaches
While not a major threat, male woodcockroaches can become a major nuisance in the summer, similar to that ofbrakes. They travel around in groups, often ending up on your windshield or disrupting the best of picnic weather.
Even worse is the risk that there will be even more next year if you don't get rid of them this year (preferably before they have a chance to mate). Wood roaches eat rotting organic matter, so mulch and compost can create an outdoor roach problem.
Some wide range of pesticides and chemical barriers, such asLambdaStar UltracapandBifen I/Tand are a great way to create a protective barrier in gardens and other places where organic matter is needed.
Most pesticides that work against other roaches may have a more limited effect on wood roaches, but they can still have some effect. However, your best defense is to take preventive measures.
When wood cockroaches land in the house
Unlike other pests, spotting a wood cockroach in the home doesn't mean you have a nest. In fact, woodcocks need a humid environment and their eggs do not develop at temperatures below 80 degrees.
If you have a cockroach in your home, chances are you accidentally carried it in or it flew through an open window at night because the lights were on.
They're not afraid of humans, so you're likely to see an accidental intruder wandering aimlessly. Because they move relatively slowly, you can gently shoo them away, or leave a nearby door or window open, and they'll find their way back out.
If only we could teach how to fly...
You are only likely to see roaches in large numbers indoors during the mating season (May to June). At this time, males often part in search of potential mates. Visits to your garage or tool shed are not uncommon during this time, although they still try to stay away from homes and other occupied buildings.
On rare occasions, woodroaches have been known to take up residence in log cabins or wooden cottages that are abandoned during the winter. They get confused and think the building is just a big, half-warm pile of wood since there is no activity.
One of the easiest ways to get rid of indoor woodroaches is to simply vacuum them up. Just be sure to empty the canister right away or discard the bag so the corpses don't attract flies or other vermin.
A broom and dustpan are also an easy way to remove dead ones, especially if you've set sticky traps for an existing pest problem.
Prevention of wood cockroaches
A combination of exclusion and prevention can help keep forest cockroaches from becoming a nuisance. The good news is that forest cockroach prevention techniques will also deter a variety of common pests.
Start by giving your garden a full swing. Remove any dirt, especially branches, wood or leaves. These are both a source of food and shelter for wood cockroaches. If possible, keep firewood in a safe place outside the home to reduce the risk of attracting females.
You should also remove any major sources of moisture. A bird bath won't do much, but swampy areas or standing water along the bottom are perfect breeding grounds for roaches, mosquitoes, etc.frogs, and other pests. Indoors, this extends to sealing leaking pipes or other potential sources of moisture.
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Avoid leaving yard or porch lights on during mating season, as they attract wood cockroaches as well as a variety of flying pests. Likewise, open windows and switched on lights can lure men into the house.
Cracks or gaps in walls, doors and windows are everythingpossible entry pointsfor a whole range of living beings. Be sure to locate and seal any such openings. This also means that any cracks in the foundation are adequately sealed. A little putty or caulk can go a long way in keeping unwanted critters out.
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owneratFree my critters
After 15 years as an operator for a local pest control company, Morgan has retired from the industry and now shares his wealth of knowledge and experience through writing and consulting. A keen outdoor enthusiast, he's encountered a few critters over the years, some welcome and some not. He now enjoys spending time with his family and helping others solve their "cancer" problems.
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