Cockroaches in Virginia

Roaches in VA

The four most frequently encountered cockroaches in Virginia are usually the domestic (usually live inside) German cockroach and the peridomestic (meaning they normally live outdoors) American cockroach, European cockroach, and the various species of wood roaches. Peridomstic cockroaches usually prefer to live outdoors, but when conditions favor their movement inside, they will readily move indoors.

Cockroaches are not just a nuisance for Virginians. Should roaches move inside, they can become important spreaders of disease organisms. For example, cockroaches may spread disease organisms as they move around homes and businesses looking for places to find shelter, water, and food. Additionally, cockroach feces, shed skins, and body parts become allergens that can cause mild to severe rashes, other allergic reactions, and extreme asthma attacks.


German Cockroach

German cockroaches are the most common cockroach found inside homes and businesses. They prefer to feed at night and they are probably the roach you see when you turn on the kitchen lights at night. Their typical indoor habitat is cracks, crevices, gaps, and holes behind cabinets close to their food sources, in wall voids, in cracks where floors and walls meet, and inside or behind appliances in the kitchen. They prefer to live in kitchens and bathrooms, but will readily move to other areas of the home where food is available. Adults are light brown or tan with two black stripes located on their body immediately behind their head. If you see a roach that appears to have two “racing stripes” on its head, it likely is a German cockroach. These roaches have wings, but they rarely use them to fly since they prefer moving around by running, and they are quite fast. Also, these roaches are true scavengers and will eat almost anything left in their environment – garbage, spilled food, food left in a sink overnight, even glue in book bindings.

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American Cockroach

American cockroaches are large, reddish brown or mahogany colored, and have a yellowish colored band on their bodies behind the head. The typical outdoor habitat for these roaches is a warm, moist, and protected environment such as under mulch and ground level debris. However, American cockroaches will move indoors to escape the cold of winter and live where food is prepared or stored and where there is abundant moisture. Inside homes and businesses, they are associated with kitchens, basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms. Outside, large populations of these roaches are frequent in sewers and steam tunnels.

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Oriental Cockroach

These cockroaches are shiny black or dark brown in color and are about 1-2 inches long and primarily an outside cockroach. In the outdoors, they are found beneath mulch, leaf litter, rocks, other outdoor debris and can be found in wall voids, crawlspaces, storm drains, floor drains, sewers and other moist areas. Oriental cockroaches show a distinct preference for eating garbage and decaying materials. Their distribution in Virginia is more concentrated in the coastal areas and port cities within the State, but they are encountered more or less throughout the Stale. Large populations may create conditions conducive to asthma, plus their association with filth and moisture makes Oriental cockroaches potential transmitters of food borne diseases.

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Wood Roaches

Wood roaches are similar in appearance to German cockroaches, but appearance is about the only thing they have in common. These roaches live in outdoor locations, such as piles of wood, inside decaying logs, and under the loose bark of trees and large branches. While wood roaches may get inside a home, they do not take up permanent residence like German cockroaches. They usually fly or crawl into homes through an open door or window and do not live very long since they are susceptible to the lower humidity of inside structures. So, if you see cockroaches flying around inside your home, you are likely seeing a wood roach in action.

Wood roaches do not reproduce indoors and are not able to tolerate the drier conditions found inside a home. Therefore, they may fly around or move from one location to another, but will die within a matter of a few days or less. The best method to use against wood roaches is to trap or catch those that get inside and discard them in a well-sealed trash bag. While outside control of wood roaches might get rid of a few of them, the effort and expense is not really worthwhile.

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