Cockroach Species

There are over 3,000 different species of cockroaches - some are considered pests while others are beneficial in their natural environment.

The three main types of cockroaches commonly found in homes in South Africa include the German cockroach, Oriental cockroach and American cockroach.

See below for facts and information on types of cockroaches common in South Africa: 

German Cockroach

(Blatella germanica)

Appearance

Notorious for their world-wide distribution, German cockroaches are easily identifiable by 2 dark longitudinal stripes on their pronotum. Adults grow to approximately 12 – 15mm in length.

Lifecycle

  • Females carry 35 – 40 eggs in an ootheca (egg case) until they are ready to hatch.
  • Hatch in 1 month.
  • Nymphs take between 6 weeks to 6 months to develop into adults.
  • Generally 3-4 generations per year.

Habits

  • Most commonly found indoors.
  • Prefers wet, humid conditions and are typically found in kitchens and bathrooms in homes and commercial properties.

Oriental Cockroach

(Blatta orientalis)

Appearance

  • Dark brown or black in colour.
  • 20 -25mm long.
  • The wings undeveloped in female and cover ¾ length of the abdomen in the male.

Lifecycle

  • Females deposit 16 eggs in an ootheca (egg case).
  • Hatch in 2 months.
  • Nymphs take 6-18 months to develop into adults.

Habits

  • Highly adapted for surviving in the natural environment, Oriental cockroaches thrive in cool, damp areas such as basements, drains and openings beneath porches.
  • Known for their preference for feeding on garbage and decay, these insects can most commonly be found in rubbish tips and leaf litters.
  • Runs rather than flies.

American Cockroach

(Periplaneta americana)

The American cockroach is one of the largest pest cockroaches to invade homes and commercial properties.

Appearance

  • 35 - 40mm long.
  • Shining red–brown in color.
  • Wings longer than the body in male; only just overlap abdomen in female.
  • Runs (may fly at very high temperatures).

Lifecycle

  • The ootheca (egg case) containing up to 16 eggs is carried by the female for several days before being deposited. Sometimes cemented down and tend to be grouped.
  • Hatch in 1 – 2 months.
  • Nymphs usually develop in 6 -12 months, but it can take up to 15 months.

Habits

Also known as the ‘Palmetto bug’ because they live on trees, the American cockroach prefers dark, humid and undisturbed areas and can be found in subfloors, basements, kitchens, roof voids and bathrooms of homes.

Brown Banded Cockroach

(Supella longipalpa)

Appearance

One of the smallest pest cockroaches, brown banded adult cockroaches are approximately 10 – 15mm in length and characterised by yellow-brown stripes across their abdomen.

Lifecycle

  • Females deposit the ootheca (egg case) containing 16 eggs a day after production.
  • The ootheca of the Brown banded cockroach are cemented down and widely scattered.
  • Eggs hatch in 1 – 2 months.
  • Nymphs develop into adults after 2 – 4 months.

Habits

  • Brown banded cockroaches mostly stay on ground, but may fly in very warm climates. 
  • Their preference for warm, humid environments leads them to harbourages within heated buildings - ceilings, attics, inside and around appliance motors. 
  • Primarily active at night, these opportunistic feeders particularly enjoy materials with high starch contents.

Dusky Cockroach

(Ectobius Lapponicus)

Appearance

  • Adult males are 9–11mm in length, whereas females are 6–8mm in length.
  • The body of the Dusky Cockroach is dark grey–brown, except for the male’s dark pronotum and the female’s dark brown abdomen.

Lifecycle

  • The Dusky cockroach’s egg cases (oothecae) are produced and carried by the female for one or two days between January to April.
  • The oothecae over-winter on the ground and the nymphs hatch in the spring.
  • The nymphs hibernate during the late stages of development to become adults in February.
  • The adults die between April and May.

Habits

  • The Dusky cockroach is mainly ground–dwelling and favours scrub, grassland and woodland habitats.
  • Male Dusky cockroaches only fly in warm weather.

Lesser Cockroach

(Ectobius Panzeri)

Appearance

  • Males are 6–8mm in length, whereas females are 5–7mm.
  • The Lesser Cockroach is pale to dark brown, with dark brown or black legs. Their tegmina (leathery outer wings) are pale yellow-brown with dark speckles.

Lifecycle

  • The egg cases of the Lesser Cockroach are known as oothecae, and are produced and carried by the female for one or two days between January and April.
  • They over winter on the ground and the nymphs hatch in the spring.
  • The nymphs hibernate during the late stages of development to become adult in December to January.
  • The adults die between April and May.

Habits

  • Adult Lesser cockroaches are not easy to find.
  • These cockroaches have a preference for coastal and sandy plains.
  • The males only fly in warm weather.