Wood Roach, The Accidental Home Invaders

Have you ever had unwanted guests at your house? The guests whom you dislike or annoy you so much until you get sick of. Well, you may have had them. If the unwanted guests are just people, you might politely ask them to leave or forcibly kick them out of your house. But what if the unwanted guests are not human beings? They can’t understand you and don’t speak your language. There are no normal methods you can communicate with them. The only way to remove them from your house is learning everything about them, including how to get them away.

Wood cockroach, or wood roach, is one of the unwanted guests that may come to your house without invitation, especially if your house is located near or in the woods. You may find them at your house one day, either it’s just one or in a large numbers. Their existence at your house may irritate you and make you desperately want to get rid of them. This article will prepare you to do that by explaining everything you need to know about wood roach, so you’ll be ready to handle them properly.

Get to Know Wood Roach

Wood roach is one of the common cockroach species found in North America. This insect, whose scientific name is Parcoblatta pensylvanica, has a long flat oval-shaped, long curved antennae, and six spiny legs. Its color is chestnut brown with some shades of yellow. Its normal length is about three quarters (3/4) to one and one quarter (1 ¼) inches.

Female Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach closeup

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The body of adult male wood roach is slightly longer than its female counterpart because it has wings that longer than its body. Those wings make the color of adult male roach look more tan. The adult female wood roach also has wings, but those wings are only small wings and are not used to fly. Both male and female wood roach have translucent stripes on the outer edge of their chest cavity as well as on the outer edge of their wings.

The male wood roaches use their wings to fly, especially during mating season around the end of May to June. The male wood roaches will fly across great distances in large swarms to look for female wood roaches who gather somewhere to attract the males. In one mating process, female wood roaches can produce around nine hundred and thirty eggs. Those eggs hatch in a month and develop into adult wood roaches in the following spring next year. The time span of their growing up process from eggs to adult is about ten months.

As is common with cockroach species, wood roaches undergo incomplete metamorphosis with three developmental stages: the “egg – nymph – adult” cycle. The average lifespan of wood roaches after becoming an adult is only lasted a few months.

Wood Roach’s Habitat, Behavior, and Diet

As the name suggests, wood roach is a species of cockroach that lives in wood. It likes damp and woody environment, including wet woodland areas, piles of firewood, wet soil composts, decayed leaves or straw, behind peeling barks, between roof shingles, or inside dead tree trunks.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach | Project Noah

https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/2360013/fullscreen

Since wood roaches need moistness, they usually prefer being outdoor in always-damp places. Adult female wood roaches breed her eggs outdoor and store them behind peeling tree barks, in logs, or in tree trunks. This is done to hide the eggs from being eaten by predators.

Wood roaches are not afraid of bright places, so they do not have to hide in dark places. They can roam anytime during day or night. Adult male wood roaches are even attracted to light so they like to approach light sources at night. This fact is often used by the adult female wood roaches during mating season. The adult female wood roaches will gather under a light source, waiting for adult male roaches to fly over to them.

Wood roaches are also not some typical easily-scared insects. They are not afraid of people and usually do not run away when human approaches.

The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach: Year-Round Solutions | Cockroach ...

https://cockroachfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Parcoblatta_pennsylvanica_adult_female_with_ootheca_NC.jpg

Dead or decayed plants are wood roaches’ main food. Wood roaches love rotted trees, as well as litter of branches and leaves. Essentially they can eat any type of rotted plants, although they prefer plants that contain starch/amylum instead of fats or proteins.

How Do Wood Roaches Come to House?

A warm and dry house is not a suitable habitat for wood roaches. It will be difficult for them to get their usual foods inside a house, so they will not survive there for a long time. Therefore, they rarely enter a house by their own will. If you find them at your house, it usually happened by accident. That’s why people often call them as “accidental home invaders”. Here are some situations that cause you to find wood roaches at your house:

  • Brought in by firewoods you took outside

If you still maintain an old-style fireplace at your house instead of gas fireplace, you will need firewoods to light the fireplace. You will regularly go outside in the winter to collect firewoods and bring them to your house. Some wood roaches may be accidentally brought within the firewoods. If you just put the pile of firewoods on your floor and do not burn them in your fireplace as soon as possible, the wood roaches can crawl out from the firewoods and wander around your house.

  • Attracted

    by lights from your house

As mentioned before, adult male wood roaches are attracted to lights at night. Those lights include light that radiates from your house, light from your porch lamp, or light from your car’s headlamp. If they see light radiates from your house, they may approach it and enter your house through opened window, doors, holes, or other opened parts of your house. Meanwhile, porch lamp outside can also be the place for female wood roaches to wait for male wood roaches during mating season. The females will gather under the light of porch lamp, looking forward to the males.

  • Hunting

    for food from litter of fallen leaves in your yard

Remember that wood roaches eat decayed plants. Litter of fallen leaves in your yard may attract them, especially if those leaves are rotted. Wood roaches can assume your yard as a storehouse of abundant food that is too precious to miss.

  • Finding a

    place under roof shingles

There are cases when wood roaches are found under the roof shingles. As we all know, shingles are made of woods. Those woods can become dank if they are often exposed to rain, then become the perfect habitat for wood roaches. Usually wood roaches reach the roof through tree branches that extend into the roofline, using it as some kind of bridge to conquer your roof shingles.

  • Attracted to the damp parts of your walls

If you have experienced leaks during rainy season, your walls might be clammy. It may draw wood roaches to come, since they love moist places. They may even go further by getting inside your house unintentionally if there are cracks on your wall.

What Do Wood Roaches Do at My House?

You may be wondering, if wood roaches already happened to be inside your house, what will they do? How bad their infestation will be?

Actually, you don’t need to be really worried about it. The worst thing wood roaches can do is just wandering around your house, causing you to see them here and there and be annoyed by the glimpse of them. They will not cause damage to furniture, frame, nor structure of your house because in general they do not eat unrotted woods. They also will not breed inside your house because, as mentioned above, female wood roaches favour outdoor to be the place where they lay their eggs.

Wood roaches can occupy any part of your house. However, following their biological preferences, they are likely to choose moist part of your house, such as basement or bathroom. It’s also possible to find them in your kitchen’s trash can where they try to find some plant-based leftovers or vegetable wastes.

What are the Differences between Wood Roach and Usual Household Cockroach?

There are more than four thousand and five hundred species of cockroach in this world. The most well-known and common species are American cockroach, German cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, Australian cockroach, oriental cockroach, smoky brown cockroach, and of course wood cockroach. The so-called “household cockroach” usually refers to American cockroach, so we will take that species as the comparison to wood roach here.

  • Physical differences

Wood roaches and household cockroaches resemble each other so much that people are often mistaken one for another. They are physically quite similar in appearance and color, so unexperienced eyes may not be able to immediately distinguish them. However, if you look very closely, wood roaches’ browny color is more yellowish, while household cockroaches’ is more reddish. Wood roaches are also slightly smaller than household cockroaches for about an inch. Wood roaches also have those translucent stripes that household cockroaches do not have.

  • Diet differences

Unlike wood roaches who only eat decayed plants or organic matters, household cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers. They basically eat everything. They do like decayed plants, but they also love crumbs, food wastes, anything sweet or starchy, moldy food, milk spills, or any leftovers you threw in your trash can. You can say that household cockroaches’ food choices are far more varied and more unclean than wood roaches’, so household cockroaches are more likely to carry bacteria and disease with them.

  • Habitat differences

Both wood roaches and household cockroaches prefer being outside in moist places. However, while wood roaches can not tolerate being inside a house for a long time, household cockroaches have no problem about indoor living at all. They frequently go inside a house or building to find food, which is not surprising if we look at their diet list. The female household cockroaches are also able to lay their eggs inside (and they sometimes do).

Another difference is wood roaches can survive better in the winter, while household cockroaches generally do not bear low temperatures. When winter comes, wood roaches become very active outside, wandering on firewoods. That’s why you can find them there if you bring the firewoods inside your house. In contrast, when temperature starts getting lower, household cockroaches will move into a house or building to get a warmer place to live. They will stay until the winter is over and the weather outside is back to their tolerable temperature, around 29 C or 84 F.

  • Behavior differences

Wood roaches, especially the males, are attracted to light and commonly fly to the light source. They also are not scared of humans. These are different for household cockroaches, who usually shun lights and run away when people approach.

So, Are Wood Roaches Dangerous?

‘Dangerous’ is not the exact word because wood roaches do not particularly harm. They don’t bite and are not venomous, so they basically are not life-threatening in any way. Nevertheless, wood roaches may become a nuisance, especially if they come to the house in large numbers. If your porch happens to be the place when the adult male wood roaches meet the adult female wood roaches during mating season, there will be a crowd of wood roaches which is very likely not a scenery you want to enjoy on your porch. Moreover, if they enter your house, they may contaminate the surface of objects or foods by their feces or saliva and spread disease with it, although the possibility is not high since they do not eat filthy food like their cousin, household cockroaches. However, their outer skin can also trigger allergies or even asthma for house residents who are sensitive to it, especially children and the elderly.

Pennsylvania wood cockroach beside Parcoblatta_divisa

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Even though wood roaches are supposed to be not dangerous, they are still cockroaches after all. The sight of them at your house may sicken you and your family. You may want to get rid of them immediately.

How to Prevent Wood Roaches Come to My House?

There are some steps you can do to stop wood roaches from accidentally invading your house. Here they are:

  • When you’re looking for firewoods outside, try to check first whether wood roaches are there. Bring only a sufficient amount of firewoods inside your house. It’s better if you intend to burn them straight away so you can avoid stacking the firewoods on your floor.
  • Keep your firewood piles in a good distance from your house, not too close for wood roaches to accidentally get inside.
  • Close your window curtains or blinds at night to minimize light radiating from your house.
  • Limit your porch lamp in May and June to prevent male and female wood roaches meeting and mating at your porch.
  • Try to not keep your doors or windows open if unnecessary. Tightly seal any cracks, gaps, holes, or other opening on your house’s outside walls.
  • Check if there are any damp part on your walls caused by rain, leaky pipes, splashes from faucets and hoses, or other causes. If there are any, try to dry them or repaint the walls with waterproof paint. Also, clean your drain and make sure it is closely capped.
  • Maintain your yard clean from fallen leaves and put away any leaves that fallen to your window sill. Rake those fallen leaves away before they get rotted and pile them tidily far from your house.
  • Cut any tree branches that extend to your roofline so that wood roaches will lose the bridge to your roof shingles.

How to Get Rid of Wood Roaches If They are Already in My House?

If wood roaches already got inside your house, don’t panic. You have learned many things about them, so you know that they are not dangerous. You just have to put them back to their original environment: outside.

You can manually expel them out from your house with a broom and dustpan, vacuum cleaner, or even with your own gloved hands if there are not many of them. You can just sweep them and cast them outside. You don’t need to spray them with insecticide because it hardly works on them like it works on household cockroaches. So please don’t spray insecticide to your firewoods, especially if you plan to burn them later. It will be risky for your respiration health.

If the wood roaches still come to your house after you practicing the prevention and expulsion tips above, please contact professional pest control.

Final Thoughts

Wood roach is a unique species of cockroach as they do not share many similar traits with other species of cockroach. Since wood roaches are only accidental home invaders, they are supposed to not be often found at your house, except for some circumstances aforementioned. Nevertheless, it might be useful if you apply the prevention methods above, especially if your house is located near or in the woods area.

References

https://www.quikkill.com/differences-between-wood-roaches-and-other-cockroaches

https://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/woods.htm

https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/wood-cockroach

https://www.orkin.com/cockroaches/woods-cockroach

https://www.terminix.com/pest-control/cockroaches/wood-cockroach/

https://www.orkincanada.ca/pests/cockroaches/wood-cockroaches/

 

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