SIZE: An adult wood roach measures between three-quarters and 1.25 inches in length.
COLOR: The wood cockroach is chestnut brown with a flat, oval-shaped body, long antennae and spiny legs.
BEHAVIOR: Sometimes called “accidental invaders,” wood cockroaches live outside but wander into or get carried inside homes. They are often confused with German, American or Smoky Brown cockroaches. The males appear tan because of the color of their wings. The females are wingless and rarely seen. Both males and females have a translucent stripe on the outside edge of their thorax and the outside edge of their wings.
This roach looks somewhat like the common German cockroach, though the degree of similarity depends on the species as their appearance varies. Examining their behavior is the best way to tell the difference between the wood roach and the household roach. Wood cockroaches aren’t sensitive to light, so you can see them day or night. They aren’t skittish and are less likely to scurry away when you approach. Additionally, they will wander around your house without gathering in any particular area.
Native to North America, wood roaches live outdoors in moist woodland areas, including woodpiles, mulch, under the loose bark of trees, branches or decaying logs. These roaches need an environment that is consistently moist, so they don’t survive long nor breed indoors. The female wood roach uses this outdoor environment to her advantage, depositing egg capsules behind the loose bark of dead trees, fallen logs or stumps, safe from the prying eyes of hungry predators.
These particular roaches aren’t prone to infest houses like other cockroaches, but you may see them inside your home occasionally. They could find their way in via a bundle of firewood. The males are drawn to lights at night, so they may crawl into your home through a window frame or other opening. When they are indoors, it’s a temporary situation, typically a few weeks in the spring.
The wood cockroach eats decaying organic matter such as rotting trees and leaf litter. They don’t eat your home’s structure or furniture. They are merely a nuisance should they find their way into your house.
Because these roaches don’t breed inside the home, you seldom need to treat your home’s interior. The pesticides that control household roaches aren’t as effective against these types of roaches anyway. To get rid of wood roaches that have wandered inside your home, pick them up with a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan and discard them.
Your best approach is to take steps to keep wood cockroaches out of your house:
Don’t bring firewood inside until you’re ready to burn it.
Keep woodpiles away from your house and off the ground.
Seal cracks and small openings so they can’t slip inside.
Keep screens and weather-stripping around windows and doors in good repair.
Close your blinds or turn off lights at night so you don’t attract the males.
Limit using your porch light during mating season in late May and June when the males are often in flight.
If you live near a wooded area and wood roaches frequently enter your home, contact a Terminix® specialist to help determine the most effective treatment options for the exterior of your home.