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smokybrown cockroach, bugwood.org

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Fewer things are more unsettling than a cockroach scuttling across your foot in the middle of the night. The creepy feeling is sure to elicit a gasp even in the broad daylight.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Entomologist, Xing Ping Hu, said the smoky brown cockroach is a roach commonly found living and breeding outdoors.

“High populations of smoky brown cockroaches can be found living in and around dumpsters or garbage cans, piles of lumber, under the siding of buildings, even in sewer drains as well as various other habitats,” Hu said. “Those outdoor habitats include palm trees, hollow trees, landscape mulch and leaf litter.”

Smoky Brown Cockroach

The smoky brown cockroach prefers outdoor habitats, but can invade homes in search of food or water. These roaches are likely to appear in kitchens and bathrooms.

Hu said the roaches can breed and develop inside buildings in poorly-ventilated areas that are dark, warm and humid—such as the inside of hollow concrete blocks, wall voids, soffit voids, attics, crawl spaces and basements.

“Roaches are scavengers and detritivores,” she said. “This means they eat a wide range of diets from dead leaves and dead insects to other rotting organic materials, including bird droppings.”

How to Protect Residential Areas

Hu said there are three important things to do in and around the home to prevent roach infestations. First and foremost, seal off entry points.

Outdoor Prevention

“It is imperative to remove breeding sites,” Hu said. “Eliminating food sources and water is often enough to control outdoor populations.”

  • Dispose of leaf litter.
  • Clear gutters and drains to remove standing water or decaying organic material.
  • Keep trash cans tightly closed.
  • Trim shrubs and rake mulch to keep it dry and separated from the walls of the home.

Indoor Prevention

Hu said homeowners need to eliminate potential habitats indoors and make it difficult for roaches to find food and water.

  • Wash dishes and wipe kitchen counters nightly to clean up crumbs and spills.
  • Empty pet food containers at the end of the day.
  • Sweep and vacuum frequently.
  • Store items or toys neatly.

Neat storage can go a long way toward eliminating places for cockroaches to lay egg cases. Hu said homeowners can use baits, traps or insecticide dusts inside and outside of the home to combat smoky brown cockroaches.

“To use them effectively, focus on areas closest to the suspected hiding places,” she said. “Cockroaches usually live within a few feet of their food source. Always read the warnings carefully, but especially if you have pets or children who play outside.”

Hu also said homeowners should be aware that smoky brown cockroaches are extremely resilient and may be difficult to eliminate without professional help.

More Information

Find more information about household pest control on Alabama Extension’s website, or by contacting the local Extension office.




Featured image by Michael Merchant, Texas Cooperative Extension, Bugwood.org.

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