- Common Name(s): Smokybrown Cockroach, Palmetto Bug, Water Bug
- Order: Blattodea
- Family: Blattidae
- Common Species: Periplaneta fuliginosa
- Commonly Confused With: American Roaches, Australian Roaches
How to Identify?
Smokybrown roaches are dark brown or black in coloration with a dark shiny area directly behind their head (pronotum). They range from 1.25-1.5 inches in length with both the males and females being capable of flight. Juvenile roaches have a color similar to the adults later in life, but they will have a white band on their back and tips of their antenna when they are in their initial juvenile stages. They will not have wings until they reach their adult stage; they also cannot reproduce until reaching adulthood. The antenna of these roaches will be roughly the length of the body and can even be longer than the body.
Where do they live?
These roaches are most commonly found outside. They tend to live in leaf litter (leaf piles) and mulch around homes. Their dark color helps them stay camouflaged and protected from the untrained eye. They like damp dark locations and are commonly found in basements. They tend to be attracted to sources of water so leaking or dripping pipes and roofs, leaf piles in the gutters or on porches, heaps of wood, and trash can attract these roaches to your home. They make their way into the home under broken or missing door sweeps, through cracks or crevices on the home, using plumbing voids, etc. Once inside they can be found all around the home, but they are seen most commonly in areas with high humidity and warm temperatures like bathrooms or laundry rooms.
What do they eat?
Outside they are foragers feasting mainly on decaying plant material. However, they will eat dead insects, feces, other cellulosic/starchy material, sugars, and a collection of other organic materials. Inside the home, in addition to looking for water, they feed on crumbs that are left lying around, food that has fallen under appliances, dishes stacked in the sink, and even pet food that is not properly stored or picked up at night. One reason these roaches are so common inside is their search for a water source. Just like humans, they need water to survive!
What do they do?
Since they are opportunistic insects these roaches come inside in search of food, water, or shelter. These roaches are primarily active at dusk and night when their dark coloration really helps to keep them hidden. They remain in safe, dark locations during the day before coming out to forage at night. These areas can include but are not limited to inside tree holes, under mulch, under garbage cans, under pine straw, and on the inside of gutters. Any area with a fairly high moisture content is great for their occupancy!
Compared to many other roaches smokybrown roaches are relatively strong fliers; their wings are often longer than the full length of their body!
Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
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