Around 70 cockroach species have been documented within the US, but only a small number of these species are considered indoor pests. In Massachusetts, the German, American, Oriental and brown-banded cockroach species are the most commonly encountered roach pests within homes. These four roach pests are well distributed throughout much of the US, and the German cockroach is generally the most common indoor roach pest in every US state. This is because the German cockroach is one of the very few insect species that maintain a strictly indoor habitat. The brown-banded cockroach is the only other cockroach species in the US that dwells primarily within homes and buildings. Other cockroach pests naturally dwell outdoors, but their adaptation to urban and suburban environments make them frequent pests of homes where they can reproduce and become numerous.

Massachusetts is also home to a significant number of cockroach species that are not considered chronic indoor pests; instead, several cockroach species that are only considered minor pests usually wind up in homes accidentally, and not to exploit human living conditions for their benefit. Many of these incidental cockroach invaders belong to the Parcoblatta genus, which includes 12 native North American roach species, most of which can be found in eastern coastal states. The two most well known incidental cockroach invaders in the northeast are commonly known as Pennsylvania woods cockroaches and spotted mediterranean cockroaches.

Parcoblatta cockroach species, like the Pennsylvania woods cockroach, can be found in wooded areas, and residents living near wooded areas tend to see Parcoblatta roaches within their home frequently, but not usually in large numbers. Parcoblatta cockroaches are attracted to artificial lights at night, which may lure large numbers toward homes where some are likely to gain indoor access. The spotted Mediterraenan cockroach is a non-native species that was first discovered in the US back in 1948 when specimens were recovered in Cape Cod. Today, these roaches can only be found in Massachusetts and parts of Michigan. While spotted Mediterranean cockroaches do not typically inhabit urban environments, they are known for flying around and into homes due to their attraction to artificial light sources. The adult male Pennsylvania woods cockroach is able to fly and both males and females are brown in color, but males are usually a little more than an inch in length, while females are usually a little less than an inch in length. The spotted Mediterranean cockroach is pale brown, and less than half an inch in length, making it the smallest roach species found in Massachusetts homes.

Have you ever encountered roaches flying around your porch light?