Oriental Cockroach

Identifying Oriental Cockroaches in Your Home or Business

General Information

Also known as black beetles or water bugs, Oriental cockroaches are common in New England and other regions of the Northern United States. The Oriental cockroach, scientifically classified as Blatta orientalis, is an immigrant species thought to have originated in Northern or Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite their warm-weather origins, Oriental cockroaches survive in colder areas like New England due to their ability to overwinter outdoors and withstand freezing temperatures. Oriental cockroaches also infest home, creating problems ranging from unpleasant nuisances/odors to serious health complications.

Picture of Oriental Cockroach
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Appearance

What Do Oriental Cockroaches Look Like?
Oriental cockroaches are sometimes called black beetle cockroaches due to their shiny black bodies. A typical Oriental cockroaches are roughly an inch in length and are the second largest common New England cockroach (American cockroach is larger).

Like all species of cockroaches common to the region, the Oriental variety boasts six spiny legs and a pair of long, slender antennae. The sex of Oriental cockroaches determines whether the insects have wings; males feature a short pair of wings covering most of the abdomen, while females remain wingless. Despite having wings, male specimens are not known to fly.

Habits/Habitat

The water bug, the other common name for Oriental cockroaches, comes from the tendency of the insects to enter homes and buildings through drains and pipes. Once inside, Oriental cockroaches typically occupy damp, dark areas such as basements and crawl spaces. The insects rarely venture to the upper levels of buildings with multiple floors. Highly adaptable, Oriental cockroaches can also live outdoors in places like:

  • Cisterns
  • Dumpsters
  • Leaves
  • Mulch
  • Piles of firewood
  • Sewers

Diet

What Do Oriental Cockroaches Eat?
Oriental cockroaches eat a wide variety of food sources but prefer to feed on starches and decaying organic material. Oriental cockroaches are often seen foraging in garbage cans and other discarded containers used to store food.

Oriental cockroaches need water to live and, with a regularly available water source, can survive for up to a month without consuming any food. If removed from a constant water source, Oriental cockroaches generally die within a couple weeks.

Reproduction

Like other New England cockroach species, Oriental cockroaches hatch from eggs and emerge as nymphs before fully maturing into adults. Adult females produce up to 16 eggs at a time in a protective capsule or egg case, which is deposited on or near a shielded food source. At room temperature, the eggs hatch in roughly two months.

Newly hatched Oriental cockroaches live as nymphs for six months to two and a half years. While nymphs grow and develop, they typically molt, or shed their skin, seven to 10 times. After developing into adults, Oriental cockroaches usually live for six to twelve months, with females producing an average of roughly 200 eggs in adulthood.

Problems Caused by Oriental Cockroaches

Notorious for giving off a pungent and unpleasant odor, Oriental cockroaches also unwittingly spread hazardous bacteria picked up from the unsanitary surfaces on which the insects crawl. Oriental cockroaches regularly live in and crawl through sewage and other filth containing disease-causing organisms.

When the insects infest homes and other occupied buildings, they frequently transfer the bacteria and viruses from their legs to food, dishes and utensils, counter tops, and other objects used and consumed by humans. The most common diseases spread by Oriental cockroaches include dysentery and food poisoning.

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