Cockroach Identification (Blattodea)

What Are Cockroaches?


Small, brown, and generally considered disgusting, cockroaches are a common pest problem in Snohomish & Western Washington that no one wants to have. If you’ve ever had one scurry by you, you know why. But they’re more than just a creepy nuisance: they’re a dangerous one, and one that can be incredibly difficult to deal with as a home or business owner.

While foraging for food, they often enter inside through spaces in the foundation or underneath doors; but the main way these invasive cockroaches enter homes and other buildings is by hitching a ride in cardboard boxes, used appliances and furniture, grocery bags, and other deliveries and packages. Once inside, cockroaches can often be found living in large numbers in warm, humid places like kitchens and bathrooms.

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Types Of Cockroaches In Western Washington

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are dark brown in coloration and about 1/2" - 1 3/4" of an inch in length. They can be identified by the two parallel black stripes placed right behind their head. The female has a wide abdomen, while the male has a narrower shaped abdomen.

The German cockroach is the most common cockroach found in the Pacific Northwest and the most common species of cockroach worldwide. They are commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms as they prefer warm and moist locations with easy access to food sources. While capable of flight, they more often scurry across surfaces to get where they are going or to elude capture. German cockroaches breed very quickly, as each female can carry 40 eggs and there can be as many as 6 generations produced per year.

German cockroaches are very dangerous, having been shown to spread bacteria, parasitic worms, and several human-affecting pathogens. Studies have also linked the cockroach to allergic reactions in children and exacerbation of asthma.

Oriental Cockroaches

Also called “waterbugs,” Oriental roaches are smooth and black in appearance, growing to about 1 inch in length. The female has a wide body while the male’s body is more narrow. While the male’s wings are more developed than the females, neither are capable of flight. Oriental cockroaches are known for the musty odor they leave behind anywhere they go, which can be an early warning sign as to their presence.

Outside, Oriental roaches are typically found living in moist, damp areas such as sewers, in garbage, or in wood piles. They can also be found underneath mulch, under landscaping timbers, and in fallen, decaying logs. If the weather becomes too hot or dry for them, they will make their way inside buildings to seek a more humid environment,  getting inside through cracks and crevices in the foundation and exterior walls, through the spaces underneath doors and around windows, and through floor drains and pipes. When living inside, they are typically found in basement areas and crawlspaces.

Are Cockroaches Dangerous?

Cockroaches are very dangerous inside human residences due to the huge number of viruses, bacteria, and parasites they can spread. They pick up bacteria on their bodies and spread it to any food or surfaces they come into contact with. Their shed skins and feces can spread dysentery, salmonella, and a host of other dangerous and even deadly diseases. They can also have other negative effects, such as causing diarrhea or triggering asthma attacks, especially in young children.

Oriental cockroaches also have the ability to bite people, but bites generally only occur during very large infestations – at which point the other health hazards they pose are often more pressing.

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Cockroaches In Western Washington

Cockroaches are very difficult pests to treat once they get inside a structure, making prevention all the more important. However, there are some helpful steps you can take to lower your risk for cockroach infestation, including:

  • Keep doors and windows closed when not in use.
  • Seal any holes in your home’s walls and siding that they could use to get inside.
  • Clean and vacuum the house often.
  • Store food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator.
  • Clean up spilled food or beverages immediately.
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors, caulking all gaps around windows and doors.
  • Eliminate any moisture issues both inside and outside your home, using air conditioners and dehumidifiers where necessary – especially in the basement or attic.
  • Inspect boxes and packages for signs of cockroaches before bringing them inside.
  • Seal the holes around exterior utility lines, wires, and pipes entering your home.
  • Keep the sink clear of dirty dishes.
  • Take out the trash regularly and store outside in sealed containers.
  • If purchasing used furniture or appliances, make sure to thoroughly inspect them for roaches and vacuum and/or sanitize them before bringing them into your home.
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