Did You Know?
The Pennsylvania Wood cockroach plays an important role in nature, as it forms 50% of the diet of the endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker.
Cockroaches have been reviled ever since humans set sight upon them. Their sudden appearance in washrooms and kitchens is enough to evoke a feeling of disgust, bordering on creepiness. There are different types of cockroaches in America, ranging from the large American cockroach to the smaller Oriental cockroach, to the even smaller Brown-banded cockroach. Most are similar in their behavior and diet, and only differ in appearance. Most deserve their disgusting reputation, owing to the fact that they are carriers of dangerous bacteria and parasites.
One cockroach that does not deserve to be a part of the above group is the Pennsylvania wood cockroach. This roach, which enters homes only accidentally, is commonly mistaken with its other, more harmful cousins. But the fact is, the Pennsylvanian wood cockroach does not prefer living near humans and is not aggressive. Slowly, with time, people have recognized the harmlessness of this roach, which can be seen with its new reputation as a household pet.
The general shape in both sexes is oval, with a reddish-brown to brown color, and spiny legs. They are similar in appearance to the common American roach, but slightly smaller. Male cockroaches are up to an inch long, with dark-brown-colored wings. The wings in males are longer than the body. Females can grow to be ¾ of an inch, and are flightless with small, underdeveloped wings, which cover only ⅓ or ⅔ of the abdomen. Thus, males are longer than the females. Males can fly for short distances, but females cannot. This cockroach is commonly confused with the Oriental or American cockroach.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach
The infants, called nymphs, are light-reddish to grayish-brown in color. Egg capsules are about ½ inch in size, and yellow to brown in color. They are longer than wide, and have a general appearance like a purse.
Pennsylvania wood roaches can be identified by the presence of a white to yellow stripe extending from the fore wings, the sides of the thorax, and the back of the head in adults and well-grown nymphs.
These cockroaches can be seen on lower tree barks toward the end of the day. Males can be seen flying toward light sources, like car headlights. These are generally outdoor pests, but can enter houses via infested firewood, through small openings, or through open doors and windows, when attracted by light. These insects are more active in winter. They need moist conditions like those found under logs and inside barks in woody areas. They generally cannot survive for long indoors, but are sometimes found in homes, cottages, and rain gutters.
Specimen Seen on Wood
Wood cockroaches thrive under litter, hollow trees, stacks of wood, rotting logs, and stumps. They are not startled by movement like other cockroaches, and will not scamper when approached. Also, Pennsylvania wood cockroaches are active both during the day and night, unlike other cockroach species. Once inside a house, they will aimlessly wander without assembling at any particular location. Nymphs also seek the protection of homes during winter, though they are more likely to choose older homes with a wooden siding.
They are found in some provinces of Canada, like Quebec and Ontario, and Eastern and Central US states like Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, Carolina, and Oklahoma.
They eat decaying organic matter generally found in their natural habitat, such as rotting leaves. They have a fondness for starchy food and sweets. Fungi also forms a considerable part of their diet.
Mating takes place during the months of May and June, sometimes till October. Males are attracted to female cockroaches by secretions called pheromones. After mating, eggs are laid under tree barks in warm weather. A collection of eggs are laid together, called egg capsules, which generally contain around 32 eggs each. At any one time, each female will lay about 30 capsules. These cockroaches do not prefer laying eggs indoors.
Cockroach Egg Capsule
They have three stages of development: egg, nymph, and adult. Infants, called nymphs, hatch in the summers and grow through the winters as large nymphs. The life cycle takes around a year to complete, and may go up to two years. One generation of cockroaches is produced per year. They do not mate when indoors, nor do they go searching for mates.
Pennsylvania wood cockroaches, being outdoor pests, cannot live indoors for long, since they require moisture. If indoors, they are temporary pests, and will soon die. If upkeep of the house is not looked after, then only these roaches may be a problem. Given below are a few ways to control infestation, which is usually rare.
- Keep the porch lights switched off, or replace white porch lights with yellow ones to decrease attractiveness to roaches.
- Clear fallen logs surrounding the house.
- Store firewood away from the house, and thoroughly check it before use.
- Check for exterior cracks, and caulk the ones found.
- A wide lawn will keep away cockroaches from houses located in a woody area.
- Ensure that the doors and windows fit tightly. The windows should be fitted with screens and the doors with door sweeps.
- Remove any individual cockroaches you find indoors.
- In extreme cases of infestation, treat the building exteriors, such as the porch, patio, and outer doors and windows with an insecticide like permethrin or cyfluthrin. Indoor chemical treatment is generally not required.
These cockroaches have no reason to be feared. They don't bite, damage furniture, or carry parasites on them, unlike most other species of roaches. Also, if some enter your home, they will die by themselves within a few days.