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Surinam Cockroach

( Pycnoscelus surinamensis )

Characteristics

SIZE: An adult Surinam cockroach measures about three-quarters to 1 inch in length.

COLOR: Surinam cockroaches have dark brown or black bodies with shiny brown wings. Males have longer wings than the females, but regardless, neither gender can fly particularly well.

BEHAVIOR: There are no male Surinam cockroaches in North America, but the species is far from extinct. In fact, the population is surviving quite well. This abundance is due to the fact that females can reproduce through parthenogenesis, which is not dependent on male participation. Females produce female clone offspring and do so very quickly. This swift reproduction process means trouble – just a few of these cockroaches can rapidly turn into an infestation. And since these cockroaches feed on plants, an infestation can mean doom for your garden. 

Habitats

Surinam cockroaches are common in the Southeastern part of the United States, from North Carolina to Texas. They sometimes spread to other regions when they are inadvertently burrowed in the soil of tropical plants that are shipped to greenhouses and plant nurseries across the country.

The Surinam cockroach causes extensive damage to vegetation, especially in heated greenhouses where large numbers can hide during the day, coming out at night to feed on the plants. They have the ability to destroy any vegetation, whether inside or outside your home. These cockroaches are also considered garden dwellers, specifically in gardens located in Florida, Louisiana or Texas.

The Surinam cockroach prefers dark, moist areas such as your garden. They are burrowing insects and make their homes almost exclusively in soil. They can also be found beneath rocks, rotten branches, in trash bags, compost piles, woodpiles, lawn thatches and other debris. Even in houseplants. People may water their plants outside then bring the plants back in, not knowing that a roach has crawled into the soil. This is often the first point of contact.

Tips for Control

While the this cockroach can be spotted inside of homes on occasion, it’s not a common household pest. Even if it does get inside, the cockroach is unlikely to cause damage to your home. Still, cockroaches can spread disease and bacteria, causing health complications. Control the Surinam cockroach population around your home by:

  • Removing your leaf piles, trash and/or any moist places mentioned above.

  • Sealing exterior cracks.

  • Making sure your foundation and attic vents have tight-fitting screens to prevent entry.

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