The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), is the largest of the common peridomestic cockroaches measuring on average 4 cm in length. It occurs in buildings throughout Florida especially in commercial buildings. In the northern United States the cockroach is mainly found in steam heat tunnels or large institutional buildings. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in abundance.
The Asian cockroach was identified as a newly introduced species to the United States in 1986 when a professional pest control operator collected these insects in Lakeland, Florida. He referred to them as German cockroaches, Blattella germanica (L.), but noted that their behavior was unlike any other German cockroaches that he had previously encountered. Upon further investigation the cockroaches were found to be B. asahinai, Asian cockroaches.
This cockroach is a ready flier and easily travels from trees onto houses. It is commonly attracted to homes to feed on improperly maintained trash containers and pet food on patios and decks. Once by the house, the insect may then enter. The smoky brown cockroach usually invades the attic or crawl space where it finds conditions similar to those found within a tree hole. Once populations grow large inside these areas, the cockroaches regularly venture down into the home. The occasional cockroach may wander into a home from harborage outside but chronic infestations are most always associated with attic or crawl space populations. Research has shown that attics and crawl spaces that have good ventilation are less likely to have these cockroaches living within them. The smoky brown is a common pest of homes along the Gulf Coast from central Florida to eastern Texas. It is also found in a few areas of Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles area.
The German cockroach is the cockroach of concern, the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name. It occurs in structures throughout Florida, and is the species that typically plagues multifamily dwellings. In Florida, the German cockroach may be confused with the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai Mizukubo. While these cockroaches are very similar, there are some differences that a practiced eye can discern.
The Florida woods cockroach, Eurycotis floridana (Walker), is native to the southeastern United States. It is a peridomestic organism that can be found in structures near the home, such as storage areas, greenhouses, or shelter boxes for other structures such as water pumps. It is also an occasional invader of the home, but lacks effective flight wings and is slow moving. Its presence in the home is typically a result of being transported indoors on another item, such as firewood (Smith & Whitman 1992). Eurycotis floridana has not been shown to commonly colonize inside structures, with limited instances of attic breeding (Atkinson et al. 1990). This species also shows no preferences for consuming waste or debris of urban consequence (Cornwell 1968). As a result, the species tends to remain sylvan with overlap into peridomestic areas for protection from sunlight or foraging for food (Atkinson et al. 1990, Cornwell 1968, Young & Cantrall 1958).
The origin of the oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis Linnaeus, is uncertain, but it is thought to be from Africa or south Russia. It is a major household pest in parts of the northwest, mid-west, and southern United States. It is also sometimes referred to as the “black beetle” or a “water bug” because of its dark black appearance and tendency to harbor in damp locations.
The photos and information above were provided by the University of Florida