General Description
Except for size, all cockroaches are relatively similar in shape and appearance. They are most active at night and stay in the dark whenever possible. When they are seen in the open or in light, it often means that a large infestation is present. Cockroaches do not uniformly infest a structure or room. They seek hiding places (harborage) such as cracks and crevices where their bodies can touch surfaces both above and below. Knowing the basic biology of cockroaches gives the pest control technician important clues to the source and location of a cockroach infestation. By considering their habits, one can increase the effectiveness of a cockroach management program.

Like all insects, cockroaches have three body parts: head, thorax and abdomen. Particular attention must be paid to the color of the three body parts in order to properly identify the species of cockroach. Cockroaches are gregarious. They congregate and tolerate each other but are not truly social, e.g., like ants and honey bees.

A cockroach undergoes gradual metamorphoses with three distinct stages: egg, nymph and adult. Young cockroaches grow and molt (shed their exoskeletons) and develop into adults. The time it takes to go from egg to adult varies between species and is influenced by environmental conditions. While adults of most structureinfesting species have well-developed wings, most are incapable of flight.

General Control

Proper control of cockroaches is species dependent, and control practices for the common structure infesting species are found on the following pages. They can be divided into two groups, based on how they are managed: smaller cockroaches include German and brown-banded cockroaches; larger cockroaches include the Oriental cockroach and the American cockroach.

1) Management of Smaller Cockroaches - German and brown-banded cockroaches are responsible for most pest complaints and pesticide use in public and commercial buildings, with the German cockroach being by far the most important structure-infesting cockroach. Control success depends not only on insecticides, but on attention to good maintenance and housekeeping practices. Cockroaches and their egg capsules are often introduced into buildings in packaging and boxes. Consequently, both pest control staff and building management must understand that an effective control program should include monitoring and inspection.

2) Management of Larger Cockroaches - Although these insects may travel along pipes throughout a building, in most parts of the country they live mainly at ground level or below. Prevention and treatment should focus on warm, moist areas such as basements, boiler rooms, steam tunnels, pipe chases, sumps, elevator and sewer shafts.