Surinam Cockroach

Identifying Surinam Cockroaches in Your Home or Business

General Information

Native to the Southeastern United States and other regions with warmer climates, Surinam cockroaches are sometimes found in indoor settings throughout New England. The tropical insects, scientifically named Pycnoscelus surinamensis, typically travel to the New England area as stowaways in potted plants, soil and mulch, and similar items imported from their native habitats. Though not considered household pests in the same vein as other New England cockroach species, Surinam cockroaches can still cause damage in the buildings they inhabit.

Picture of Surinam Cockroach
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Appearance

What Do Surinam Cockroaches Look Like?

When fully grown, Surinam cockroaches generally measure slightly less than an inch in length. Dark and shiny, the bodies of Surinam cockroaches are black with olive-green or dark brown wings that stretch past the abdomen and give the insects a distinctive two-tone look.

Developing nymphs have no wings, while adults are able to fly. In New England, only female Surinam cockroaches exist. These females are able to reproduce asexually through a process termed parthenogenesis (females lay unfertilized eggs).

Habits/Habitat

As natives of the tropics and subtropics, Surinam cockroaches can only survive in warm indoor areas when transplanted to colder regions. In New England, the Surinam cockroach is almost exclusively found in:

  • Buildings with indoor plants
  • Greenhouses
  • Offices
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping malls

Surinam cockroaches are burrowing insects and primarily live in loose soil, compost, and mulch. During the day, the pests may also hide in crevices and holes providing ample heat and darkness. The nocturnal insects emerge at night, often en masse, to feed.

Diet

What Do Surinam Cockroaches Eat?

Unlike other New England cockroach species that invade homes to find moisture and feed on human food, Surinam cockroaches prefer to eat plants. The Surinam cockroach often feeds on the stems of plants rooted in the soil in which the insect lives. Due to their status as herbivores and their need for warm, moist areas, Surinam cockroaches can become a major problem in heated greenhouses.

Reproduction

Surinam cockroaches found in New England are always female and only produce female offspring. Classified as a parthenogenic species, Surinam cockroaches do not need to mate in order to reproduce.

Adult females produce egg cases, or oothecae, which are between 12 and 15 millimeters long and carried internally until hatching. Each case contains roughly 25 eggs that hatch into nymphs after about 35 days. The average adult female Surinam cockroach lives for up to seven months and produces three egg cases in a lifetime.

Problems Caused by Surinam Cockroaches

Though not native to New England, Surinam cockroaches can survive and thrive indoors upon relocation to the area. If undetected and permitted to reproduce, the Surinam cockroach has the ability to create infestations capable of wreaking havoc on houseplants. On a larger scale, Surinam cockroach invasions can overrun the indoor vegetation in greenhouses and shopping malls, creating unsightly landscaping and negatively impacting the commercial operations of plant retailers.

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