Adult Turkestan cockroach females are about one-inch long, colored dark-brown to black, plus have cream-colored markings along the edges of the body and behind the head. Females are equipped with short, rounded wings with light-colored stripes along the edges of the wings. Males of the species are smaller than the females, are brownish orange or red, have yellowish wings that extend beyond the tip of the abdomen and have the same cooler markings on the margins of their body as do the females. Blatta lateralis is also known as the rusty red cockroach and the red runner cockroach.
BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITS
Turkestan cockroaches usually live outdoors, but may be found indoors when they reaches their population peak in the summer. More often than not, the cockroaches found inside are males that were attracted to lights and flew in the structure. Outdoors, their preferred habitats are water or electrical meter boxes, cracks in concrete, compost piles, fallen leaves and potted plants. As with many other cockroaches, Turkestan cockroaches are active after dark.
Turkestan cockroaches go through three developmental stages – eggs, nymphs and adults. In a field study comparing oriental cockroaches and Turkestan cockroaches, it was discovered that Turkestan cockroaches had a shorter development period than oriental cockroaches and produced considerably more eggs than oriental cockroaches. These biological characteristics help explain why Turkestan cockroaches are able to out-compete and replace oriental cockroach populations in some locations.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
The most obvious signs of a Turkestan cockroach infestation are seeing them flying at nighttime around lights and finding them in their preferred habitats.
Blatta lateralis has its normal distribution in central Asia, northeastern Africa, the Middle East and India. Within the United States, its distribution is throughout California and urban cities in the southwest, the Southeast and some reports of populations in the Northeast. Turkestan cockroaches were likely introduced into the United States via military shipments from the Middle East.
This species is widely available for purchase on the Internet by animal breeders, especially reptile breeders, who use Turkestan cockroaches to feed their pets. For this reason, this species is likely to continue to spread in the country.
If a homeowner suspects they have a problem with Turkestan cockroaches, they should contact their pest management professional and request an inspection and plan to control cockroaches.