The United States is home to at least 70 native and non-native cockroach species, at least a dozen of which are known pests of homes and buildings. In the US, both pest and non-pest cockroaches are most prevalent and species-diverse in the southern states, particularly in the southeast where mild winters, frequent rainfall, and excessive humidity provide cockroaches with an ideal habitat. Four cockroach pest species can be found in all 48 states of the contiguous US. These species are commonly known as American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana), German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis), and brown-banded cockroaches (Supella longipalpa). The German cockroach is the most commonly controlled roach pest within homes throughout the country, and along with the brown-banded cockroach, the German cockroach is one of the few insect pest species that dwells solely indoors. In addition to the four above mentioned cockroach pest species, smokybrown cockroaches and Australian cockroaches are very common indoor pests in southern Louisiana.
A few years ago, the American Housing Survey revealed New Orleans to be the most cockroach-infested city in the nation. This put the Big Easy ahead of other cities that are notorious for having healthy roach pest populations including Houston, Atlanta and Miami. While visiting northern areas where cockroaches are less problematic, Louisiana residents are often asked about the cockroach situation in their state. Northerners are always surprised to hear how frequently Louisiana residents witness cockroaches flying. One New Orleans resident, Ann Butcher, described an incident in which she screamed in response to finding a cluster of roaches in her kitchen. For the brief moment she opened her mouth to scream, one of the roaches literally flew into her mouth. Since then, Butcher has learned to scream with her mouth closed upon finding creepy-crawlies in her home.
With the exception of the German cockroach, the large sized American and smokybrown cockroach species are the two most frequently encountered roach pests both indoors and outdoors in Louisiana. American and smokybrown cockroaches both fly in response to high-moisture conditions, and the latter frequently flies toward porches, patios, and into homes due to their attraction to white light. American cockroaches are particularly filthy due to their commonality in sewer systems, and adults of this species range from 1 ¼ to a bit more than 2 inches in body length, making them slightly larger than smokybrown cockroaches.
Have you ever witnessed a cockroach fly into your home?