It is often said that cockroaches are one of the most difficult insect pests to eliminate from homes and buildings, and their indoor presence must be addressed by a professional pest control operator. While cockroaches are, indeed, relatively difficult to control, spotting a few of the pests within a home does not necessarily mean that professional intervention is necessary. For example, simply finding one or two cockroaches in an obscured indoor area does not mean that a home is definitely infested, but it does mean that potential for an infestation exists. Unless large congregations of cockroaches are found, the number of cockroaches found in a home says little about whether or not an infestation exists; instead, the time of day in which indoor roaches are found, the presence of particular odors, and the number of potential harborage sites within a home can indicate the significance of a roach presence.

The species of cockroach found within a home can say a lot about the number of additional cockroaches present. Therefore, it is important for residents to accurately identify the roach specimens found indoors. German, American, Oriental and brown banded cockroaches are the only roach species that are known to be pests within Massachusetts homes. Unlike American and Oriental cockroaches, German and brown banded cockroaches dwell primarily indoors, so if one single German or brown banded roach is found, it is likely that numerous others are well hidden throughout a home. German cockroaches are the most frequently encountered roach pests within homes throughout the US, and they can be recognized for their tan or light brown ½ to ⅝ long inch body. These roaches also have two dark parallel stripes on their back, and females are darker in color than males. Brown banded cockroaches are not as abundant as German cockroaches, and both males and females of this species are around ½ an inch in length with light brown bodies, fully developed wings and light colored stripes running along the outer edges of their wings and abdomen.

These two indoor dwelling species are easy to differentiate from the large 2 inch long American cockroach and 1¼ inch long black Oriental cockroach. However infestations may exist even if one or a few American or Oriental cockroaches are spotted indoors. In fact, spotting roaches in open living spaces may indicate that their indoor hiding places have become overcrowded with cockroaches. This is especially true if a few cockroaches are spotted in a home during the day, as roaches are nocturnal and they instinctively avoid foraging in homes during the day when humans are present. Lastly, the presence of a noticeably unpleasant or musty odor in a home may indicate the presence of numerous cockroach pests hiding within wall voids and other inaccessible areas. If a few roaches repeatedly appear in homes after earlier roaches have been killed, than a call to a pest control professional is in order.

Have you ever found roaches in your home, but never experienced a roach infestation?