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Oriental Cockroach – Identify, Prevent, and Get Rid of Them

Closeup shot of oriental cockroach

The Oriental Cockroach, often referred to as the “water bug,” is a pest that poses significant challenges to homeowners and pest control experts alike. This species, known scientifically as Blatta orientalis, is notorious for its resilience and adaptability, thriving in a wide range of environments worldwide.

These cockroaches are particularly problematic due to their preference for damp, dark places, often found in damp basements, drains, garbage chutes,  and other similar areas. Unlike some other cockroach species, oriental cockroaches are not climbers, but their ability to survive in various conditions makes them a widespread issue.

Oriental cockroaches are not just a nuisance; they are also potential carriers of various diseases. Their habits of living in unsanitary places and feeding on filth mean they can spread bacteria and other pathogens, posing a health risk. Therefore, understanding and managing these pests is crucial for maintaining a healthy living environment.

What Is An Oriental Cockroach?

The oriental cockroach, also known as Blatta orientalis, is a notorious pest found in various parts of the world. They are often referred to as “water bugs” due to their preference for damp environments, though true water bugs are technically a different type of insect.

Closeup shot of female oriental cockroach

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This species, despite its name, is believed to have originated in North Africa and is now found worldwide. Oriental cockroaches are distinguishable by their dark brown or nearly black color and shiny body, measuring about one inch in length.

Unlike other species, they are not great climbers and are often found at ground level or in lower areas like basements and drains. They thrive in cool, damp environments and are less likely to be found indoors than other cockroach species.

However, they can still enter homes and buildings in search of food and shelter. Their diet consists of decaying organic matter, which makes garbage and sewage systems ideal habitats for them.

Oriental cockroaches can carry various harmful pathogens, posing a health risk to humans. Therefore, effective pest control is crucial to prevent an infestation and maintain a healthy living environment.

Lifecycle Of An Oriental Cockroach

Understanding the lifecycle of an Oriental cockroach can provide valuable insight into effective pest control strategies. This species has a lifecycle comprising of three stages: egg, nymph, and adult.

Oriental Cockroach Eggs

Cockroach Eggs – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The egg stage begins when a female oriental cockroach produces an ootheca, a protective case housing up to sixteen eggs. This ootheca is often deposited in a safe, hidden location, ensuring the survival of the next generation.

The nymph stage is the longest phase in the lifecycle of an oriental cockroach. After hatching, the nymphs undergo a series of molts, shedding their exoskeletons as they grow. This process can take anywhere between six months to a year, depending on environmental conditions.

The final stage is the adult phase. Male oriental cockroaches usually live for about three to four months, while females can survive up to six months. During this time, they mate and reproduce, perpetuating the cycle.

Adult oriental cockroach isolated in white

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What Do Oriental Cockroaches Look Like?

Oriental cockroaches are typically dark brown or almost black in color, and adults can grow to be about one inch in length.

Unlike some other species of cockroaches, they have a glossy body, which contributes to their distinctive appearance. They’re also known as ‘black beetle cockroaches’ due to their smooth, shiny black, dark bodies.

Males are slightly smaller and have short wings that cover about half the length of their body, while females have very small wing stubs and are essentially wingless. Neither sex can fly. The nymphs, or young, resemble the adults but are smaller and lack wings.

Dorsal view of a female oriental cockroach isolated in white background

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Oriental cockroaches are notorious for their preference for damp, dark environments. If you spot a large, dark, shiny cockroach in a wet area around your home or business, you may be dealing with an Oriental cockroach infestation.

It’s essential to take immediate pest control measures to prevent a larger infestation.

Signs Of An Oriental Cockroach Infestation

Oriental cockroaches are a common household pest. Identifying an infestation early can help you take swift action and prevent a full-blown invasion.

One of the most evident signs of an Oriental cockroach infestation is their distinctive, musty odor. This smell can become more pronounced as the infestation grows.

Sightings of the pests themselves, particularly during the day, are another clear indicator. They are dark brown or black and can grow up to an inch in length. They prefer damp, dark environments, so check basements, drains, and under sinks for their presence.

Another sign to look out for is their droppings, which resemble black pepper or dark, irregularly shaped specks. These can often be found in areas where they feed or hide.

Additionally, you may find egg cases, which are dark red or brown and about a third of an inch long. These are usually deposited in hidden, protected areas.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to act quickly. The faster you respond to an Oriental cockroach infestation, the easier it will be to regain control of your home.

Oriental Cockroach Habitat

The oriental cockroach thrives in damp, dark, and cool environments, hence why they’re also commonly referred to as “water bugs”.

And so, these insects are notorious for their preference for high-moisture areas, making basements, drains, and other damp areas of a home their preferred habitats.

While they prefer to live outside, oriental cockroaches are known to invade homes during the summer. They will enter buildings via door thresholds, sliding glass doors, utility pipes, and floor drains.

As mentioned, oriental cockroaches prefer damp, cool environments and will seek refuge in basements and crawl spaces once inside. Moreover, these cockroaches commonly crawl around toilets, sinks, pipes, and service ducts.

Oriental cockroach crawling in a wall

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They can also be found in leaf piles, mulch, and under stones outdoors. They are not climbers like other cockroach species and are usually found at ground level.

These pests are attracted to decaying organic matter, which forms a significant part of their diet. As such, they are commonly found in garbage bins or anywhere with discarded food.

Oriental cockroaches pose a serious health risk due to their propensity to traverse through unsanitary areas and then contaminate food and surfaces within homes. This makes understanding their habitat crucial for effective pest control measures.

Oriental Cockroach Habits

Oriental cockroaches are notorious for their invasive and adaptable nature. These pests are primarily nocturnal and prefer to stay hidden in dark, damp areas during the day.

They are most commonly found in basements, under sinks, and in drains where they can access moisture, their primary survival need. Unlike other cockroach species, oriental cockroaches are poor climbers and are usually found on lower levels of buildings.

Many roach species, like the German cockroach (Blatta germanica), the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), and the oriental cockroach, may move to a new area when there are a large number of them.

Their diet is quite diverse, ranging from garbage to decaying organic matter, demonstrating their adaptability to various environments. They are also known for their strong, unpleasant odor, which is a result of the chemicals they produce for communication and defense.

Despite their preference for outdoor habitats, they often venture indoors during extreme weather conditions. Their habits of living close to human dwellings and feeding on garbage make them a significant pest problem.

Are Oriental Cockroaches Dangerous?

Yes, Oriental cockroaches can indeed pose a threat to human health and wellbeing.

These pests are notorious for their ability to thrive in damp, dark environments, often found in basements, drains, and sewer systems. They are carriers of various harmful bacteria, pathogens, and parasites.

As they move from filth to food, they can easily contaminate our living spaces, leading to the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, food poisoning, salmonella, dysentery, and gastroenteritis.

Moreover, their droppings, shed skins, and dead bodies can trigger allergic reactions and asthma, especially in children. They also emit a foul odor, which can permeate your home and affect the indoor air quality.

Blatta orientalis in white background

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While they may not directly bite or sting humans, the indirect health risks associated with them are substantial. Therefore, it’s crucial to take preventative measures and maintain a clean, dry environment to deter these pests. .

Damage Caused By Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches are notorious for the significant damage they can inflict on households and businesses.

In addition to health hazards, allergens, and viruses, they can cause substantial property damage. They tend to dwell in dark and damp areas, such as basements, drains, and under sinks.

Oriental cockroach in palm of hands

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Here, they can damage paper products, books, and even some types of fabrics. Their droppings can also stain surfaces and create an unpleasant odor.

Plus, an infestation can lead to significant reputational damage, particularly for businesses. Customers are likely to be deterred by the presence of these pests, which can result in loss of business.

Therefore, it’s crucial to take immediate action at the first sign of an oriental cockroach infestation to minimize these risks.

How To Prevent Oriental Cockroach Infestations

Preventing an infestation primarily involves maintaining cleanliness and eliminating their attractive habitats.

Start by sealing off potential entry points. Cockroaches can squeeze through tiny cracks, gaps, and crevices, so check your home for any openings and seal them with a silicone-based caulk.

Good sanitation is of utmost importance. Regularly clean your house, focusing on the kitchen and bathroom, as these pests are attracted to food particles and moisture. Don’t forget to manage your outdoor space too.

Oriental cockroaches often dwell in damp areas, so ensure your garden, yard, or any outdoor space is well-drained. Remove any piles of leaves or debris that can act as a breeding ground for these pests.

Professional pest control worker

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Lastly, consider professional pest control services if the infestation is severe. They have the necessary tools and knowledge to effectively deal with these pests. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to Oriental cockroach infestations.

How To Get Rid Of Oriental Cockroaches

Getting rid of these pests involves a multi-faceted approach. Start by ensuring your home is clean and free of food scraps, which can attract these cockroaches. Regularly empty your trash and keep your kitchen and bathroom areas dry as much as possible.

Secondly, seal any cracks or crevices in your home’s structure that could serve as entry points for these pests. This includes gaps around pipes, windows, and doors.

Also consider using pest control products such as baits, traps, or insecticides. These can be effective in eliminating an existing infestation. However, it’s essential to use these products safely and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cockroach bait with trapped cockroaches

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

You can also apply a chemical barrier around the perimeter of your home with insecticides to help control them.

It’s important to note, however, that Blatta orientalis often deposits oothecae in cracks and crevices that are difficult to treat with insecticides, or by the time the nymphs hatch from the oothecae, the insecticide application has degraded or been removed.

In addition to sprays and dusts, new techniques are being developed to combat the cockroach.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using juvenile hormone analogues (JHAs) for the control of numerous insect pests.

JHAs have low toxicity to vertebrates, a highly specific biological action, and the ability to disrupt insect growth and reproduction, which makes them a viable option for use in domestic and public environments.

Blatta orientalis can be controlled by erecting a chemical barrier around the home’s perimeter and applying insecticides in strategic locations inside. Due to the fact that oriental cockroaches prefer to rest on moist surfaces, insecticides can degrade rapidly.

Remember, if the infestation seems overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional pest control services. They have the expertise and tools to effectively eradicate oriental cockroaches from your home. I also recommend checking out our complete guide to getting rid of cockroaches for further information.


Other Cockroach Guides by Planet Natural:

Cockroach Control: Get Rid of Cockroaches Step-by-Step

Common Types of Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches But Aren’t

Do Cockroaches Bite + What Do Cockroach Bites Look Like?

Do Cockroaches Fly? The Complete Guide to Flying Cockroaches

Baby Cockroach: What They Look Like + How to Get Rid of Them

What Do Cockroach Eggs Look Like and How to Get Rid of Them?

Palmetto Bug Or Cockroach: Differences & How to Kill Them

Roaches In Your Car: How They Get In and How to Kill Them

Hissing Cockroach: Guide to Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches