Of the 3,500 species of roaches found worldwide, less than 2% of the species are found within the Untied States. Oriental cockroaches often invade from the outdoors, traveling into homes and buildings along plumbing and other utility penetrations or slipping in through gaps and cracks at foundation level. They have also been known to travel through the muck filled sewer drains. Commonly called water bugs, Oriental roaches have an affinity for water and humid areas with a preference to dark cool spaces like crawlspaces, basements, under sinks and washing machines. Indoors or out, they tend towards areas where decaying matter, trash, food and most importantly water. Without a water source Oriental roaches typically die within a few weeks if they are unable to move to an area of higher humidity.
Compared to many of their relatives, Oriental cockroaches are sluggish in movement and are rarely found in areas in which they would have to climb to get there such as high cabinets or at higher levels on walls. Adults are roughly an inch in length. In general, their appearance is dark brown to black in color with a shiny luster to their bodies. Males have wings that cover nearly ¾ of their abdomen, but are flightless. Females display only wing pads and thicker bodies. Females produce around 200 offspring in their 5-26 week lifespan. Egg capsules will hatch in approximately 2 months, but hatch times will vary depending on environmental conditions including temperature. A majority of activity is found during warmer months in late spring and summer while activity typically decreases during the cooler fall and winter months. Secretions from roaches in higher levels of infestation produce a distinct odor.
Due to their unsanitary living conditions and migrations through disease-ridden areas like sewers, Oriental cockroaches pose a significant health risk. Bacteria, protozoa and viruses are carried on their bodies from location to location and deposited on everything they come in contact with including food. As a result, episodes of food poisoning, dysentery and general gastroenteritis are common occurrences where Oriental roaches are a problem. Allergens are another common problem associated with roach infestations.
Successful treatment for Oriental cockroaches starts with modification of the environment. A deep cleaning may be necessary to remove food sources, moisture and decaying matter. Sealing gaps around plumbing and utility penetrations both inside and outside the home. Examine and repair exterior vents to ensure proper screening to prevent roach entry. In areas prone to Oriental roaches, keeping mulch and landscaping rock away from the foundation of the home will decrease moisture around the foundation. Installation of drains to properly divert water away from the home, repair of any exterior water leaks and removal of standing water sources will also assist in decreasing the attractiveness of the site. An exterior perimeter insecticidal spray can be used to create a barrier for Oriental roaches coming in from outdoors. Aerosol foggers/bug bombs should be avoiding inside the structure of the home as they may cause roaches to spread increasing the difficulty of obtaining control. Interior pesticide treatments are typically most effective when completed in coordination with a monitoring program in which glue monitors are placed in suspected areas of harborage in order to provide continuous monitoring of activity levels. Insecticide baits are often an effective method for the interior control and elimination of Oriental roaches on the interior of a structure.