Smoky Brown Cockroaches
Facts, Identification & Control
The smoky brown cockroach is a common pest of the southeastern Unites States. Although mainly found from central Texas eastward, and as far north as North Carolina, the smoky-brown cockroach also has been found as far north as Indiana and Illinois. This primarily outdoor pest gets its name from its uniform brownish-black coloration and, as adults, can reach a length of 38 mm. These strong fliers have wings that extend beyond their body.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Outdoors, smoky brown cockroaches can be found in areas that are warm, very moist and protected from the elements. Since this insect is prone to dehydration, the availability of a moist environment is critical for its survival. Around homes and structures, the smoky brown cockroach can be found in tree holes and cavities, beneath mulch beds and ground cover, and around soffits and eaves, or areas where moisture problems may exist. The smoky brown cockroach can easily penetrate buildings through openings or gaps beneath siding, through attic or soffit vents, openings around utility and plumbing penetrations, and through open windows or doors.
Smoky brown cockroach feeding activity is most evident during the late dusk or early dawn hours when the insects leave their hiding places in search of food. These opportunistic feeders will utilize any food that may be available, including human food scraps, dead insects, fecal matter and even plant materials. It is also not uncommon to see these insects taking a drink when water is available.
Dependent upon environmental conditions, the development time for a smoky brown cockroach, from egg to adult, can vary greatly, with a range of 160 days to 716 days. As adults, a female smoky brown lives an average of 218 days, and a male will live, on average, 215 days. During her lifetime, a female will produce an average of 10 egg cases, or ootheca, with an average of 20 eggs per case. These egg cases are then attached to a protected surface within a day of production, where they will remain until the young hatch.
Signs of a Smoky brown Cockroach Infestation
Smoky brown cockroaches are a more regionally important species, impacting the southeastern United States. These insects are commonly found outdoors and can be seen primarily at night, walking in search of food around landscaping beds, running in and out of ivy or other ground cover, and in and around gutters and fascia of homes and structures. These insects then become a pest when, attracted by interior lights, they gain entry into a home or structure through openings in windows, doors and other gaps into the home.
Fecal material and droppings can be evident in areas that the smoky brown cockroach frequents.
Attached to a surface within a day of production, the 11 to 14 mm long, dark-brown to black egg case, or ootheca, may be observed in areas that the smoky brown cockroach frequents.
Although smoky brown cockroaches are related to the American cockroaches, they are slightly smaller in size and uniformly mahogany in color. Nymphs are the same color as adults and their antenna tips are white. Smoky brown cockroaches can grow up to 38 mm in length. Both sexes have wings that are longer than their abdomens. Smokey brown cockroaches are capable of flying, and they are attracted to light.
Their oothecae, or egg capsules, hold an average of 20 eggs. Each female is capable of producing up to 32 oothecae in one lifetime. Nymphs undergo several molting stages, after which they emerge as adults. The life span of smoky brown cockroaches averages over a year, although they can live as long as 2 years or more under ideal conditions.
While smoky brown cockroaches prefer to eat decaying plant matter, they will consume any food source available to them. They are nocturnal and hide in small places during the day, making themselves inaccessible to humans and predators. Commonly found in tree holes, wood-shingled roofs and in gutters, smoky brown cockroaches thrive in damp, dark and poorly ventilated areas. Inside, they breed in attics, where their populations can grow unnoticed.
They prefer nondwelling areas such as greenhouses, nurseries and gardens but can be an indoor pest. They can be found throughout the southern United States and are most common from Texas to Florida. They have also been found in Southern California. They are major pests in cities such as Houston and New Orleans.
It is almost that time of year again. The flowers will soon be blooming, the bees buzzing and the long sleeves finding their place in the closets for a while. It will be nice to go out and feel the new spring warmth on your skin.
Gardens will need tending, and spring cleaning will be the order of the day.
Some of the more romantically inclined will even say that spring brings out the lovers in us.
There is one creature that certainly longs for spring all winter, with lovin’ on their minds: Eastern Subterranean Termites.
We have surely seen clouds of them each spring, floating lazily by on the warm currents, silver wings fluttering in the sun. Some people may simply think of them as “just another bug” floating by, while others see them as a sign of sheer terror. Those that have seen them violate the sanctity of their home’s interior certainly know the danger involved. This is a very probable sign of a termite infestation.
Realizing that they missed Valentine’s Day, winged reproductive termites, commonly known as “swarmers” are activated by a chemical signal within the colony called a pheromone. At the right time of year (spring and early summer), under a very favorable set of weather conditions, the colony produces one or more “flights” of many hundreds of these star-crossed lovers. This usually occurs during the mid morning to early afternoon, generally after a rainy period.
In a natural setting, these swarmers, which are weak fliers, flit and flutter by on the wind currents until they land in search of a moist patch of soil. Here they shed their wings, make mad passionate whoopie and burrow into the soil in hopes of growing the termite family tree. Should they land on a dry part of a house or other unsuitable surface, they will usually dehydrate and die within a few hours or so. These swarmers do not eat wood, their only job is to reproduce and lay eggs.
The importance of this to the home owner is that if you should see these swarmers’ bodies or clear wings inside of your home, it is extremely important that a qualified inspector check your home for infestation. The most certain sign of infestation is if you actually see the swarmers exiting from a hole or muddy spot on an interior wall or surface. Sometimes you can actually scrape these “swarm castles” off of the surface and see the white worker termites inside.
If this does happen, you can apply a piece of tape over the hole(s) and the swarm will usually stop there. This is not the final solution though, because the swarm is only a symptom of a deeper infestation. You should then immediately place a few of the loose swarmers into a zip-lock bag or closed container. After that, call your local Knox branch office (or 1-800-689-1079) where a professional inspector will respond quickly to assess the situation.
Not all swarming insects are termites. Some of the most commonly mistaken insects that look similar to termites are carpenter ants, mayflies and gnats.
Carpenter ant swarmers can even be accompanied by damaged wood and soil deposits, but your Knox inspector knows the difference. Mayflies are smaller than termite swarmers and have distinctive features as well. Gnats are often seen collecting around plants and windows, but are not nearly as large as termites.
If you just must know if you are looking at termite swarmers before the inspector arrives, here are a few pointers to tell ants and termite swarmers apart:
Ants’ bodies have three distinctive segmented sections with a “pinched” waist, where termites’ bodies are full all the way from head to bottom.
Ants have elbowed antennae, where termites’ antennae are straight, unbent and have a “pearled” appearance.
Ants have two pair of unequally sized wings, yet termites’ wings are generally clear and equal in length. Also, termites’ wings are close to their body, where ants’ wings are somewhat offset from the body and spread a little.
Whether you have ants or termites, damage could be occurring to your valuable investment from the inside out. It costs absolutely nothing for our friendly experts to visit and let you know just what is happening in your home and the surprisingly affordable options available to you for getting things back to normal. There will be no high-pressure sales pitches to listen to. Just friendly neighbors helping neighbors. It’s what makes us different.
If you choose to use our services, then we will look forward to a great relationship for many years to come. We treat every house like it’s our family’s house, because you are our family. That’s the way we do business here at Knox, and have since 1929.