Turkestan cockroach

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Turkestan cockroach
Mating (male light, female dark) above, nymphs below
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea
Family: Blattidae
Genus: Periplaneta
P. lateralis
Binomial name
Periplaneta lateralis
Walker, 1868

Shelfordella lateralis (Walker, 1868)
Blatta (Shelfordella) lateralis (Walker, 1868)
Periplaneta tartara Saussure, 1874
Shelfordella tartara (Saussure, 1874)
Shelfordella ahngeri Adelung 1910
Shelfordella tartara v. zarudnyi Adelung, 1910
Paralobotoptera sillemi Hantisch, 1935

The Turkestan cockroach, Periplaneta lateralis (also known by its synonyms Shelfordella lateralis and Blatta lateralis),[3] also known as the rusty red cockroach,[4] red runner cockroach[5] or simply rusty red, red runner,[5] or lat, is a primarily outdoor-dwelling cockroach native to an area from northern Africa to Central Asia.[6][7] Adults measure around 3 cm (1.2 in) in length.[8] Adult males are a brownish orange or red, are slender, and have long, yellowish wings which allow it to attract females and to glide.[8][9] Adult females are dark brown to black, with cream-colored markings on the shield and a cream-colored stripe edging its wings; they are broader than males, and have short vestigial wings.[9] Nymphs are brown in front, black on the rear, and are wingless.[9]


The Turkestan cockroach is primarily an outdoor insect, not known as an aggressive indoor pest, unlike some cockroach species such as the German and brown-banded cockroaches,[9][10] though it will inhabit areas around dwellings where shelter can be found.[7] However, in specific localities or tropical locations, it can become a significant indoor pest.[10] Of occasional indoor interlopers, males are more commonly encountered than females, due to their ability to fly and an attraction to lights.[9] In Arabia, it lives beneath stones in damp hollows, desert farms, and wadis, feeding primarily at night.[11]


The species is found in central Asia, the Caucasus Mountains, and northeastern Africa. It can be found throughout the area of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kashmir, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (adventive).[12][13]

US introduction[edit]

The Turkestan cockroach was first noticed in the US in 1978, around the former Sharpe Army Depot in California, followed shortly after by appearances at Fort Bliss in Texas and several other military bases.[6] Researchers believe the species arrived on military equipment returning from central Asia, perhaps Afghanistan.[6][14] Since then the species has been rapidly replacing the common oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) in urban areas of the southwestern US “as the most important peri-domestic species”, with advantages of laying more eggs and maturing more quickly than the oriental cockroach.[7][14] “They typically inhabit in-ground containers such as water meter, irrigation, and electrical boxes, raises of concrete, cracks and crevices, and hollow block walls.”[7] They are well established in the Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and have been reported in the Northeast.[14] It has become established in California.[15]


Pet food[edit]

In the US, Turkestan cockroaches are sometimes kept to feed to pet reptiles and other insectivores, chosen partly because they can't climb smooth surfaces and don't burrow.[6][8] Cockroaches have been replacing crickets, the most popular feeder insect for decades, due to the cricket's noise, odor, short lifespan, and expense.[16] Turkestan cockroaches are a popular choice of species, and are readily available for sale over the Internet, which may hasten their spread to new habitats.[6]

Although reliable information on specific dietary requirements of insectivores is scant, Turkestan cockroaches provide a high-protein, low fat nutrition composition similar to crickets, more so than mealworms or superworm larvae provide.[4] The gut contents of the cockroach, depending on its diet, may provide essential nutrients unavailable from a cockroach with an empty gut.[4]

In a study of commercially ordered specimens, small second instar nymphs (0.9–1.3 cm or 0.35–0.51 in) consisted of 21% dry matter, made of 76% crude protein and 14% crude fat, while medium third instar nymphs (1.3-1.9 cm) consisted of 28% dry matter, made of 53% crude protein and 27% crude fat.[4] Mineral content is well represented except for a low calcium:phosphorus ratio typical in cockroaches, and calcium supplementation may be advisable. Vitamin A and E content was relatively low, and is generally significantly higher in free-ranging cockroaches.[4] Insectivores which fed on unsupplemented invertebrates have been found to suffer from vitamin A deficiencies,[4] and a study of panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) found vitamin A deficiency shortened life spans and reduced reproduction rates.[17]

Turkestan cockroaches are rich in vitamin B12.[18]

Parasite host[edit]

Shelfordella lateralis has been identified in Iraq as a host for larvae of the parasitic wasp Ampulex assimilis. An adult wasp stings the cockroach, pulls or leads it by its antenna to the wasp's nest, deposits its egg on the femur of the cockroach's midleg, then closes the nest with debris. Upon hatching, the wasp larva feeds externally, then bores into the cockroach for further food and pupation.[19]

Additional Images[edit]


  1. ^ Cockroach Species File: species Periplaneta lateralis Walker, 1868 (Version 5.0/5.0 retrieved 28 March 2024)
  2. ^ "Synonyms of Turkestan Cockroach (Shelfordella lateralis)". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Taxonomic Information for Turkestan Cockroach (Shelfordella lateralis)". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Oonincx, D.G.A.B.; Dierenfeld, E.S. (2012). "An Investigation Into the Chemical Composition of Alternative Invertebrate Prey" (PDF). Zoo Biology. 31 (1): 40–54. doi:10.1002/zoo.20382. ISSN 0733-3188. PMID 21442652.
  5. ^ a b "BioLib – Shelfordella lateralis (Red Runner Cockroach)". BioLib. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Mohan, Geoffrey (9 December 2013). "Military, not the Internet, blamed for invasive cockroach". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Kim, Tina; Rust, Michael K. (December 2013). "Life History and Biology of the Invasive Turkestan Cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattidae)". Journal of Economic Entomology. 106 (6). Entomological Society of America: 2428–2432. doi:10.1603/ec13052. PMID 24498744.
  8. ^ a b c "Turkestan Cockroach – Blatta lateralis – Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) – Overview – Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e Floyd G. Werner; Carl E. Olson (1994). Insects of the Southwest. Fisher Books. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-1-55561-060-9. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b Xavier Bonnefoy; Helge Kampen; Kevin Sweeney (2008). Public Health Significance of Urban Pests. World Health Organization. p. 35. ISBN 978-92-890-7188-8. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  11. ^ D. H. Walker; A. R. Pittaway (1987). Insects of eastern Arabia. Macmillan. p. 26. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Species Shelfordella lateralis (Walker, 1868): Blattodea Species File". Species File. Retrieved 13 December 2013. Asia (central); Caucasus Mountains; Azerbaijan; Afghanistan; Iran; Kashmir; Iraq; Africa (northeastern Africa); Canary Islands; Egypt; Palestine; Israel; United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia; Sudan; Libya; USA [adventive]
  13. ^ Atkinson, Thomas H; Koehler, Philip G.; Patterson, Richard S. (1991). "Catalog and atlas of the cockroaches (Dictyoptera) of North America north of Mexico". Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America (78). Entomological Society of America. ISSN 0071-0717. "Distribution. Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, southern USSR. United States: Arizona: Maricopa, Pima; California: San Joaquin; Texas: El Paso.
  14. ^ a b c Main, Douglas. "Look out, Southwest, there's a new cockroach in town". LiveScience. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Turkestan Cockroach (Blatta lateralis)". UC Statewide IPM Program (UC-IPM).
  16. ^ Jacobi, Michael. "The Perfect Roach — Blatta lateralis (The Turkestan roach or red-runner)". Arachnoculture E-Zine. No. 5. Michael Jacobi's Exotic Fauna. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  17. ^ Ferguson, Gary W.; Jones, J. R.; Gehrmann, W. H.; Hammack, S. H.; Talent, L. G.; Hudson, R. D.; Dierenfeld, E. S.; Fitzpatrick, M. P.; Frye, F. L.; Holick, M. F.; Chen, T. C.; Lu, Z.; Gross, T. S.; Vogel, J. J. (1996). "Indoor husbandry of the panther chameleon Chamaeleo (Furcifer) pardalis: Effects of dietary vitamins A and D and ultraviolet irradiation on pathology and life-history traits". Zoo Biology. 15 (3): 279–299. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-2361(1996)15:3<279::AID-ZOO7>3.0.CO;2-8. ISSN 0733-3188.
  18. ^ Schmidt, Anatol; Call, Lisa; Macheiner, Lukas; Mayer, Helmut K. (2018). "Determination of vitamin B12 in four edible insect species by immunoaffinity and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography". Food Chemistry. 281: 124–129. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.12.039. PMID 30658738.
  19. ^ Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. Smithsonian Institution Press. 1961. p. 257. Retrieved 13 December 2013. Alt URL