Woods Cockroaches

Though more prevalent throughout the U.S. Great Plains region, the woods cockroach, Parcoblatta pennsylvatica, is also common through various parts of New England. The insects live outdoors in heavily wooded areas.

Many entomologists refer to the insect as a relatively harmless species due to the less-invasive nature of the woods cockroach compared to other species. Woods cockroaches not only prefer to live outdoors but suffer significant decreases in life expectancy when residing indoors.


What Do Woods Cockroaches Look Like?
woods cockroach photo
Woods cockroaches feature many similar physical characteristics as other species of cockroaches. Male specimens found in New England generally grow up to an inch in length, while females grow to 3/4-inch. Some entomologists have reported males in excess of 1 1/4 inches in length.

Males possess long, body-length wings and are generally strong fliers. The wings found on females are much shorter and serve no purpose as females do not fly.

Both males and females are brownish or tannish in color, with six spiny legs and two large antennae protruding from the head. Woods cockroaches also have a transparent or whitish stripe on the thorax, which can be seen in both the nymph and adult stages.


As previously mentioned, woods cockroaches live outdoors and are commonly found in the rotting wood of uprooted or dying trees and under large piles of discarded or purposed firewood. The insects prefer to live in very moist areas.

Woods cockroaches do not acclimate well to dry living conditions and typically die within a few days of gaining entry indoors. The males of the species typically congregate in larger numbers and are attracted to bright lights at night.


What Do Woods Cockroaches Eat?
Primary food sources include decaying organic matter, such as leaves, dead animals, or decomposing timbers. Unaccustomed to living indoors, the wood roach typically dessicates or starves inside homes and other well-ventilated structures.


The mating season, and the time period of greatest activity, for wood cockroaches spans the months of May and June. Female woods cockroaches produce yellowish-brown egg cases, which contain up to three dozen individual eggs. The eggs hatch roughly 30 days later.

The nymphal life stage lasts generally lasts from 10 months to a full year. Adult woods cockroaches generally live for several months. The dryer fall and winter climates of New England often affect overall life expectancy.

Problems Caused by woods cockroaches

The main difference between other New England cockroach species and the woods cockroach is that the woods cockroach lives exclusively outdoors. Woods cockroach infestations may occur in instances where firewood inhabited by the roaches is brought indoors or male woods cockroaches are attracted by light and fly into a structure.

However, the woods cockroach generally dies off within a few days due to lack of access to adequate or desirable food sources and dryer living conditions. The insects carry no known diseases and are harmless in households. The only known cases of property damage by woods cockroaches resulted from infestations in rotting wooden siding or shingles.

Author: Waltham Pest Services