The Turkestan cockroach, also known as ‘Blatta Lateralis,’ ‘Shelfordella Lateralis,’ ‘red runner roach,’ and ‘rusty red cockroach,’ is an invasive species usually found in the Southwestern United States. However, they’re quickly affecting many areas, not just the American Southwest but possibly NYC.
What’s alarming about this new cockroach is that in a short amount of time, the Turkestan cockroach has become the primary peridomestic cockroach in the Southwestern United States, replacing the Oriental cockroach (Blatta Orientalis). So we’ll tell you about this invasive urban pest species.
Where Do Turkestan Roaches Come From?
This species of cockroach was first detected in 1978 at Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop, California. Shortly, more were discovered at Fort Bliss in Texas and others. Why exactly were they found on military bases? A researcher, Tina Kim, believes military equipment returning from the Middle East and Central Asia brought with it these Turkestan roaches.
They’re a native species from the Middle East through Central Asia and Northern Africa. In addition, the species is distributed through the Caucasus Mountains, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, northeastern Africa, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Libya.
How do they keep spreading so rapidly? Part of the reason is that they’re widely distributed on the internet. To illustrate, Turkestan roaches have become very popular for reptile breeders and those with pet reptiles.
You can easily buy 25-25 Turkestan roaches online that’ll be shipped straight to your home. This species is particularly desirable since they can’t climb smooth surfaces, making them perfect for your pet to eat. Yet, males can quickly fly out of the cage.
Biology And Life Cycle
Females have a more rusty red color to dark brownish orange than adult males. Alternatively, males are more of a muted orange or tan color. Also, males are more slender than females with long, yellowish wings. And the female Turkestans have shorter wings with cream-colored markings. Finally, males can fly, but females cannot, so if you see a Turkestan cockroach fly, it’s a male.
Additionally, an adult female Turkestan can produce 2 to 25 ootheca, or egg capsules, over their life. Inside each ootheca are around 18 eggs. This means that adult females can make as many as 350 baby cockroaches in their lifetime.
Also, Turkestan females carry considerably more eggs than other roaches. And this high rate of reproduction is rapidly replacing other cockroach species, such as the Oriental roach.
Moreover, Turkestan cockroaches have a life span of about a year and a half. And they go through three developmental stages: egg, nymph, and adult. So they have a shorter developmental period than other cockroaches. And they’re able to breed twice as fast as oriental cockroaches. And although Turkestan cockroaches are quickly spreading, not much is known about their biology.
Turkestan Cockroach: Replacing Oriental Cockroaches
The alarmingly quick spread of Turkestan cockroaches, or shelfordella lateralis, has brought a side effect. Due to the female Turkestan roaches carrying more eggs than most cockroaches and breeding twice as fast, they’re dominating urban areas. And this is causing a demographic shift in the U.S. roach population in the urban environment.
In an article titled “Life History and Biology of the Invasive Turkestan Cockroach” of the journal of economic entomology, they describe their life history and compare it with the similar oriental cockroach, which they are quickly replacing.
Additionally, Turkestan cockroaches are closely related to oriental cockroaches. The oriental cockroach was also believed to have come from the Middle East. Yet, the Turkestan cockroach nymphs take less time to develop than the oriental roach.
Turkestan Cockroach: Pest Control Tips
The Turkestan cockroach isn’t known as an aggressive indoor pest. Instead, they mainly live outdoors, similar to Oriental cockroaches and American cockroaches. So this is primarily what the Turkestan cockroach overtakes.
Moreover, you can find the red runner cockroach in your compost piles, hollow block walls, electrical boxes, leaf litter, water meter, potted plants, and sometimes even sewer systems. They prefer dark, moist areas. And they’re nocturnal insects, so infestations are best discovered at night.
Furthermore, cockroach baits can be effective both indoors and outdoors against this cockroach species. Many types of pesticides will kill the outdoor insect if they don’t become resistant.
There are also more natural solutions if you prefer a less aggressive approach, such as diatomaceous earth. However, preventing these live insects from infesting your house in the first place is the best option.
Preventing The Rusty Red Cockroach
To prevent the rusty red cockroach from infesting your space, you need to understand the different things that attract them. Your house doesn’t have to be necessarily dirty to find these roaches living around you. Here are some things that draw them:
- Food: Cockroaches will feed on any organic material, so almost everything can be food.
- Water and humidity: They can’t survive long without water so take care of any leaky pipes.
- Warmth: Attics and closets are popular spots for these roaches.
- Safety: Your home could be a refuge from predators or floods.
Now that you see the different factors that could draw these cockroaches into your home let’s go over the steps you can take to prevent these Turkestan cockroaches. These tips will help you avoid roaches and help contain an existing Turkestan cockroach infestation.
- Clean up regularly: Wipe all surfaces to avoid leaving any crumbs or food for them.
- Seal cracks: Small crevices or cracks are perfect for cockroaches to come inside, so inspect your property thoroughly.
- Clean up clutter: This is for the inside and outside; rake up leaves and keep garbage away from walls.
- Turn the heat down: They can be sensitive to cold so that a lower temperature won’t be inviting.
Finally, since Turkestan cockroaches are mainly outdoor insects, simply getting rid of their outdoor habitat or treating their site should help control their infestation.
Are Turkestan Cockroaches Dangerous?
Like most cockroaches, Turkestan roaches can cause health problems for the people living in the environments they invade. So, their saliva and excrement can bring on asthma or allergies. They also bring about bacteria and parasites that quickly spread disease.
Do I Need To Call Professional Pest Control For Turkestan Roaches?
If you’ve seen these new roaches infesting your home, and it seems they’re spreading fast, it’d be the best idea to call a professional. They know how to control these dark brown roaches.
Do Turkestan Cockroaches Bite?
The Turkestan cockroach can bite but rarely bite humans, so you’re safe. After all, they’re as scared of us as we’re afraid of them.
To Wrap Up
As discussed, the cockroach dominating urban areas is the Turkestan cockroach or Blatta Lateralis. So, if you discover a roach that’s red or dark brown with cream-colored markings, there’s a good chance you have a Turkestan cockroach on your hands.
So, please don’t take this lightly, as this species spreads much more rapidly than others and can infest your home before you realize it. Instead, use the prevention measures and tips above to keep your family safe and healthy.
- Environmental Protection Agency 2016 https://blog.epa.gov/2016/10/25/a-changing-population-turkestan-cockroach-overtakes-the-american-southwest-and-possibly-nyc/
- Cockroach Facts, Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, Ph.D. https://cockroachfacts.com/turkestan-cockroach/
- Copesan, Specialists in Pest Control, Written by Christain Wilcox. https://www.copesan.com/technical-updates/tech-talk-invasive-turkestan-cockroach/