Understanding Florida Cockroaches

June 3, 2024

You might think cockroaches can only be found in big cities like New York City or Los Angeles, but for the most part, they actually prefer humid and subtropical or tropical climates. Just like–you guested it–South Florida! Roaches can pose a serious threat to your home and health, so let’s learn how to identify some of the most common Florida roaches and how you can prevent them year-round. 

To learn more about common cockroach species in Florida, visit our Pest Library page!

Palmetto Bugs (American Cockroaches)

First up on our list is the infamous palmetto bug, which is actually just another name for the American cockroach. These large roaches are often found in warm, humid environments. Here’s how you can identify them.

How to identify palmetto bugs

Palmetto bugs are the largest of the common cockroach species, growing up to 2 inches long. They have reddish-brown bodies and a yellow shield on their head with black markings. Both males and females have wings and can fly short distances (usually when escaping danger).

In Florida, palmetto bugs are a year-round problem, and they’re most active at night when they forage for food, and are overall most active in the spring and summer months. Palmetto bugs prefer to live outdoors in moist, shady areas like mulch piles, woodpiles, leaf litter, and Palmetto trees (where they get their name!). However, they can easily make their way indoors in search of food, water, and shelter. Some of their favorite foods include starches, grease, sugar, meat, and cheese.

They’re attracted to garbage, crumbs, and even the smallest amounts of standing water.
While palmetto bugs don’t bite or sting, they can spread bacteria and contaminate food, making them a health concern.

How to get rid of palmetto bugs?

Here are some tips for keeping palmetto bugs away:

  • Seal entry points around windows, doors, and utility lines.
  • Keep your yard free of debris like leaf litter and woodpiles.
  • Fix any leaks and eliminate standing water sources.
  • Keep garbage in sealed containers and clean up food debris promptly.
photo of american cockroach
Palmetto Bug/American Cockroach in Florida

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are the most common indoor cockroach species in the country. If you see several small roaches at once, they’re likely German cockroaches.

How to identify German cockroaches

German cockroaches are much smaller than palmetto bugs, only growing to about 1/2 inch long. They are light brown with two dark parallel stripes running from their head to their wings.

Unlike palmettos, German cockroaches prefer to live indoors where they have easy access to food, water, and warm, humid hiding spots. They are omnivores and will eat everything from garbage to pet food, to wax or gum. 

German cockroaches are opportunistic travelers and can enter your home in many ways, including hitching a ride on bags, boxes, used furniture, and appliances. Once inside, a single female can produce tens of thousands of offspring in a year! They can produce year-round indoors so they don’t have a specific seasonal pattern.

How to get rid of German cockroaches?

Preventing German cockroaches requires diligence:

  • Inspect bags, boxes, used items, and used furniture before bringing them inside.
  • Seal all potential entry points like cracks and gaps.
  • Keep kitchens and bathrooms clean and dry.
  • Store food in airtight containers.
German Cockroach
German Cockroach in Florida

Florida Woods Cockroaches

Florida woods cockroaches are outdoor roaches that occasionally make their way indoors. They get their name from their preferred habitat of wooded areas.

How to identify Florida woods cockroaches

Florida woods cockroaches are large, growing up to 1.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. They are dark reddish-brown to black and appear wingless, though they do have small wings. They are slow-moving compared to other roach types.

These roaches feed primarily on decaying plant matter and are unlikely to infest homes. However, they can accidentally be brought inside on firewood or may enter through open doors and windows. Indoor sightings tend to happen in spring and summer. 

How to get rid of Florida woods cockroaches?

Preventing Florida woods cockroaches from entering your home is key:

  • Inspect firewood and plants before bringing them inside.
  • Keep doors and windows screened and sealed.
  • Eliminate damp hiding spots near your home’s foundation.
Florida woods cockroach (Source: University of Florida)

Australian Cockroaches 

Up next are the cockroaches from Down Under. Like the Florida Woods Cockroach, they prefer to be outdoors, but if they get inside they can do serious damage to household items. 

How to identify Australian Cockroaches 

Australian cockroaches can measure approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in length and are a dark brown or mahogany color with expandable wings. Outside, you can find them in dark sheltered areas like leaf litter, flower beds, mulch, woodpiles, tree bark, and palm fronds. If they make their way inside in search of food and shelter, you’ll most likely find them around moisture sources like sinks, toilets, drains, water pipes, and potted plants, or in attics or crawl spaces. 

How to get rid of Australian cockroaches?

Australian cockroaches are known to eat through holes in clothing and feed upon household items like book covers, so here are some tips to prevent these pests:  

  • Remove leaf litter, excess mulch, and debris from around your yard. 
  • Seal entry points.  
  • Reduce moisture by fixing leaks or using dehumidifiers in damp areas.
Australian Cockroach
Australian Cockroach in Florida

Brown-banded Cockroaches 

Another type of cockroach in Florida is the brown-banded cockroach.  

How to identify brown-banded cockroaches 

These roaches are distinctive for two light brown bands across their dark brown bodies. They’re small, around 1/2” long with an oval-shaped body. They have wings and can fly, but they’re not as strong flyers compared to other cockroach species.

Unlike most Florida cockroaches that prefer humidity, brown-banded cockroaches prefer a drier environment. They’re often found in higher areas like upper cabinets, behind picture frames, in electronic equipment, or inside furniture. 

How to get rid of brown-banded cockroaches 

  • Make sure to keep your kitchen clean and tidy, clean up crumbs, and store food in sealed containers. 
Brown-banded Cockroach
Brown-banded Cockroach in Florida

Asian Cockroaches

The final cockroach species that is common to South Florida is the Asian Cockroach. 

How to identify Asian cockroaches 

Asian roaches are similar to German cockroaches, but have a groove on the segment of their abdomen that is a different shape than the German roach. They are light brown in color, with two dark parallel stripes running lengthwise behind their head, and are usually 5/8 to 1 inch in length. They are also stronger flyers than German cockroaches. 

Asian cockroaches prefer to live outdoors in shaded, moist areas like garden mulch, leaf litter, and woodpiles. But they’re attached to lights so can sometimes fly into the home through open doors, windows, or gaps. They’re more noticeable indoors, often handing around windows, doors, or light fixtures.  

How to get rid of Asian cockroaches 

  • Seal entry points. 
  • Keep plants and yard debris away from the house. 
  • You can replace outdoor lights with yellow incandescent “bug lights” that are less attractive to roaches. 
Asian Cockroach
Asian Cockroach in Flordia

Flying Cockroaches

Several cockroach types in Florida have wings and can fly, including palmetto bugs, smokybrown cockroaches, and Asian cockroaches. Seeing a flying roach can be quite startling, but don’t worry, they’re not trying to harm you. 

Flying cockroaches will vary in size and appearance depending on the species. All flying roaches are attracted to light and may fly toward windows, light fixtures, and TV screens. Smokybrown and Asian cockroaches prefer to live outdoors but will fly inside toward light sources.

Flying cockroach activity peaks in the spring and summer months, especially after rain. This is when winged adults emerge to mate and start new colonies.

How to get rid of flying cockroaches?

To prevent flying cockroaches from invading your space, try the following: 

  • Seal potential entry points around windows, doors, and utility lines.
  • Reduce outdoor lighting near entrances or switch to yellow bulbs.
  • Keep your yard free of moisture and debris.

Cockroaches Eggs 

If you find cockroach eggs, you’ll want to contact a pest control tech right away as this is a sign you have an active infestation. 

How to identify cockroach eggs 

Cockroach eggs are contained in protective egg cases called oothecae. The exact appearance will vary based on the species, but generally, they’re shaped like a small, inflated bean or pill capsule, in a reddish-brown, dark brown, or black color, and are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Inside there can be up to 50 actual cockroach eggs! 

Some common places where you find cockroach eggs include: 

  • Under sinks, near pipes, in cabinets, drawers, or pantries. 
  • Inside floor or bathtub drains. 
  • Inside the crevices of furniture.
  • In basements, attics, or crawl spaces.  
  • Outside around woodpiles, compost bins, or garbage areas. 

It’s also possible you could see immature cockroaches called nymphs. They will look similar to the adult versions but are smaller and don’t have fully developed wings.  

Cockroach laying eggs (Source: Planet Natural)

Cockroaches aren’t just nuisance pests, they can spread diseases, bacteria, parasitic worms, and allergens into your home or business. They are resourceful and DIY pest control methods may not be enough to keep them away. Ongoing pest control from the experts at Nozzle Nolen can help keep your home roach-free. 

Our trained technicians use integrated pest management techniques to effectively eliminate existing infestations and prevent future ones. Learn more about our cockroach control services

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