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Steve’s Cockroaches

STEVE’S COCKROACHES – TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, STEVE CLARK – 88.9 WCVE producer Steve Clark shares his latest cockroach experiences with entomologist Dr. Art Evans.

SC: I’m Steve Clark with Dr. Art Evans, entomologist, and this is What’s Bugging You. A fond, well a not so fond, look at the animals we love to hate today. I’m going to talk about cockroaches again. I’ve seen an increase in these insects running around my house. I don’t see them every day. I don’t see any egg casings. Sometimes I’ll see one at a time, and if I’m lucky, I can kill it. Sometimes I see two. Then I don’t see them for days.

AE: Where’s your sense of tolerance? I taught you nothing all these years?

SC: Not as it pertains to cockroaches.

AE: (laughing) First of all, this is the season for cockroaches, when it’s hot and sticky outside, you’re often more likely to see them outdoors and in your home. What kind of a cockroach are you seeing? Is it the . . . ?

SC: The biggest ones.

AE: Oh, okay. So maybe the American cockroaches that are sort of brown?

SC: Yeah, I guess so, yeah.

AE: Yeah, you guess so?

SC: Reddish-brown.

AE: See this makes a difference.

SC: Reddish-brown and this kind of like a , looks like a round spot on their thoracic . . .

AE: Oh, yeah. Sounds like an American cockroach, and they don’t typically live indoors. They’re usually outside, and they move in very easily and go back and forth. Sometimes you’ll find them well-established in homes and warehouses.

SC: So it’s a tourist?
AE: Well, hopefully, but if you’re seeing them frequently, then you might need to do a little more investigating to see . . . you don’t have any pets?

SC: Nope.

AE: So you don’t have pet food lying out. You take your trash out daily?

SC: Yes.

AE: You don’t leave dishes, dirty dishes in the sink.

SC: Correct.

AE: My guess is that . . .

SC: I’m seeing them on the second floor too, where there is none of those sort of facilities.

AE: Oh that’s exciting. (laughing) No wonder you’re a little wound up.

SC: Maybe I’ve seen five since March.

AE: If you have a lot of plants up against the home and you’re doing a lot of watering, that will attract cockroaches and other things in. And if you’ve got a lot of gaps and spaces underneath doors or in walls around conduit . . .

SC: No. They seem to come up out of the sewers . . .

AE: Okay, yeah, that’s . .

SC: . . . in the street.

AE: Right.

SC: But I don’t always see them there.

AE: Yeah. Umm, do you find them in your bathtub or sinks?

SC: Yes, I have found them in the bathtub.
AE: Oh, okay. Well, they will come up through the drains on occasion.

SC: Really? In spite of the traps?

AE: Sometimes they will. I can’t explain it, but they’re known to do that. That’s why their relatives, the Oriental cockroach, are sometimes called water bugs because they move from house to house or apartment buildings through the sewers. So you might want to stick some sort of a trap or a screen or something on the drains in your sinks and bathtubs.

SC: Yeah, right.

AE: That might slow the traffic down a little bit.

SC: Now the Oriental cockroach is what size?

AE: It’s a wee bit smaller. It’s about, oh, I’m guessing maybe an inch, just over an inch long. They appear black, very dark and shiny. And those are the ones that I see out on the sidewalks and in the streets on a really hot, steamy night. They look like beetles. Most people delude themselves into thinking they’re really fast beetles – they’re not. (laughing) I have yet to see a cockroach in our home, but in this very warm, humid weather, they’re going to be on the move.

SC: Can we post pictures of them side-by-side?

AE: Sure, we can provide some information on the more commonly found cockroach species in the home and offer some links to how to secure your home from their visits.

SC: Well, that would be some comfort. (laughing) Dr. Art Evans is the author of Beetles of Eastern North America. You’ll find photos, audio, and a link to Art’s Facebook page at ideastations.org/radio/bugs.

Photo [top]: American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Dictyoptera: Blattidae). Gary Alpert, en.wikipedia.org,  CC BY 2.5

Photo [bottom]: Male Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis (Dictyoptera: Blattidae). Rebecca W. Baldwin, University of Florida