C: Side view of female
D: Young male
The oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis), also known as the waterbug (as they live in damp areas) or black cockroaches (as their bodies are mostly dark), is a large species of cockroach, adult males being 18–29 mm (0.71–1.14 in) and adult females being 20–27 mm (0.79–1.06 in). It is dark brown or black in color and has a glossy body. The female has a somewhat different appearance from the male, appearing to be wingless at a casual glance, but is brachypterous, having non-functional wings just below her head. She has a wider body than the male. The male has long wings, which cover three quarters of the abdomen and are brown in color, and has a narrower body. Both of them are flightless. The female oriental cockroach looks somewhat similar to the Florida woods cockroach and may be mistaken for it. Originally endemic to the Crimean Peninsula and the region around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, its distribution is now cosmopolitan.
Oriental cockroaches tend to travel somewhat more slowly than other species. Often called "waterbugs" since they prefer dark, moist places, they can generally be found around decaying organic matter, in bushes, under leaf groundcover, or under mulch, and in sewer pipes, drains, basements, porches, and other damp locations in and around human habitations where they may be major pests.
To thrive, cockroaches need a source of food/liquid and a place to hide, preferring warm places and relatively high humidity; the optimum temperature for oriental cockroaches is between 20 and 29 °C (68 and 84 °F). Female oriental cockroaches have vestigial tegmina (reduced fore wings) and males have longer tegmina. Oriental cockroaches are mainly nocturnal, and they can be elusive in that a casual inspection of an infested dwelling during the day may show no signs of roach activity.
Signs of cockroaches are their oothecae, which are "egg cases". The blackish-brown oothecae are formed a day after mating, and are deposited typically a day or two after formation (but up to seven days later), in a sheltered area or attached to a substrate by oral secretion. About 10–12 mm (0.39–0.47 in) long, with indistinct egg compartments housing 16–18 eggs, they are initially a yellow-white, turning reddish- then blackish-brown. They hatch on their own in about 42 days at 29.5 °C (85.1 °F) and 81 days at 21 °C (70 °F); at temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) they lose viability.
Nymph and adult stages
Like all cockroach species, the immature nymph lacks wings. The adult form is sexually dimorphic; the male has prominent wings, however the female is brachypterous, having very small non-functional wings. The female is shorter and wider than the male.
A colony, containing many different life stages
Nymph (immature stage with no wings)
Adult male, with semi-functional wings
Adult female, with very short, non-functional wings
Relationship with humans
Oriental cockroaches can be harder to get rid of than other roaches. Although adults can be fairly easily killed by the application of residual insecticide, the insecticides can get washed away, allowing new nymphs to survive.
Comparison of three common cockroaches
|Roach||German cockroach||Oriental cockroach||American cockroach|
|Size||13–16 mm (0.51–0.63 in)||18–29 mm (0.71–1.14 in)||29–53 mm (1.1–2.1 in)|
|Preferred temperature||15–35 °C (59–95 °F)||20–30 °C (68–86 °F)||20–29 °C (68–84 °F)|
|Nymphal development[note 1]||54–215 days
(at 24–35 °C (75–95 °F))
(at 22–30 °C (72–86 °F))
(at 25–30 °C (77–86 °F))
|Lifespan||Around 200 days||35–190 days||90–706 days|
|Able to fly?||Uncommon[note 2]||No||Yes[note 3]|
- Dependent on several factors, including temperature (significantly), sex, and nutrition.
- German cockroaches can glide, especially males, but powered flight is uncommon.
- American cockroaches can fly short distances, usually starting from high places, but real flight is uncommon, despite popular belief.
- "How to Get Rid of Oriental Roaches | Oriental Cockroach Control". www.doyourownpestcontrol.com. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- Robinson, William H. (14 April 2005). Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-521-81253-5.
- "Oriental Cockroach - Types, Facts, and How to Identify | Oriental Cockraoch Control". Holder's Pest Solutions. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- "Oriental cockroach - Blatta orientalis Linnaeus". entnemdept.ufl.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- Arnett Jr., Ross H. (28 July 2000). American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico (Second ed.). CRC Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-8493-0212-1.
- "How to Get Rid of Oriental Cockroaches In the House". Orkin.com. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- "Oriental Cockroaches: Facts about Their Size, Habitat & Dietary Habits". www.arrowexterminators.com. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- "Oriental Cockroaches Control - Identify Cockroaches". www.pestworld.org. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- "Oriental Cockroach Control: Facts & Identification | Terminix". Terminix.com. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
- Robinson, William H. (14 April 2005). Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 45–46, 51–54. ISBN 978-0-521-81253-5.
- Bassett, W.H. (12 October 2012). Clay's Handbook of Environmental Health. Routledge. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-135-81033-7.
- Oriental cockroach egg parasitoid on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site.
- Oriental Cockroach Fact Sheet from the National Pest Management Association with information on habits, habitat and health threats
- Black and white photographs of top view of B. orientalis male and female specimens, from Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections.
- Oriental Cockroach on the Orkin website