How To Recognize Male And Female Turkestan Cockroaches, And Why These Cockroach Pests Are Truly Unique

Cockroaches are among the most ancient and successful organisms that have ever existed, and several species have adapted to survive within a variety of habitats all over the world. In fact, all cockroach species in the United States that are regarded as major indoor pests are non-native species that originated from tropical regions around the world, most notably Africa and East Asia. Technically, any established non-native species that demonstrate pest behaviors could be called an “invasive species, though the terms usage differs from source to source.

The domestic (indoor dwelling) German cockroach and the peridomestic (indoor and outdoor dwelling) American cockroach species were the first roach pests to arrive in North America. Like many other non-native arthropod pests, the German and American cockroaches arrived in the New World by means of colonial era ships. Several non-native cockroach species that are now recognized as significant pests of American homes are relatively recent arrivals in the country. Some of these newer roach pest species include Australian, Asian, Surinam, and Turkestan cockroaches. Turkestan cockroaches are unique in their invasiveness, and they are the only roach pests in the country that became established partly due to the online selling and purchasing of exotic insect species.

The Turkestan cockroach (Blatta lateralis) is native to a region spanning north Africa to central Asia, and it is believed that this species first arrived in the US during the 1970s and 1980s by hitching a ride on a US military ship returning to the country from the Middle East. While all cockroach pests are notable for spreading rapidly and proliferating at tremendously rapid rates, the Turkestan cockroach has surprised even experts by the speed with which the species has established itself as one of the most common indoor roach pests in the southern states. In fact, the Turkestan cockroach is displacing the Oriental cockroach in the southwest region of its invasive habitat range, and the pest has become prevalent throughout Louisiana.

The Turkestan cockroach’s unusually rapid spread has been helped by the online sale of these roaches as live food for pet reptiles, which explains why specimens have repeatedly appeared in New York and other northern regions where the species cannot survive. The Turkestan cockroach male can be recognized for its brownish yellow body that measures ½ inch to 7/8 inch in length. Females appear strikingly different due to their skinnier light brown to reddish colored body, which is around the same length as that of the males.

Have you ever encountered Turkestan cockroaches in your home?

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