By Chris Williams on June 21, 2017.

All of a sudden we have cockroaches in our house! At least they look like cockroaches. They’re bigger than the cockroaches that we used to see when we lived in an apartment in the city, and lighter-colored, and the worst thing is that they fly! How can we get rid of them? D. E., Malden, MA

If you lived in Florida and were talking about cockroaches that can fly, I would say you had American cockroaches, but since you’re in a house in Massachusetts, I’m pretty sure that you’re dealing with wood cockroaches. This is the time of year when we get calls about these outdoor roaches.


Pennsylvania wood cockroaches, Parcoblatta pennsylvanica, are common outdoors, especially in wooded areas, where they are found under bark, in stumps, in hollow trees, or in ground litter or mulch. Normally they don’t care about getting into your house, but May to June is their mating season and the males, especially, become very active. If yours have wings and were flying, you are seeing the males that are brown and about an inch long. The female is smaller, chestnut brown, and has very short, nonfunctional wings.

When male wood cockroaches suddenly appear in a home in late spring or early summer, it’s usually because (1) they were flying to outdoor lights and then accidentally ended up inside, or (2) there is a hidden female wood cockroach in your house and the mating pheromones that she releases will draw any males in the neighborhood. I mean that literally since males can detect and follow the female’s scent for a long distance. Wood cockroaches can also be carried inside on firewood, in potted plants, or on other items. But since you have apparently seen more than one, you are more likely dealing with cockroach lust. These cockroaches hide during the day but become active, and may fly to lights, at night.


You should probably have us come out to confirm that what you’re seeing are indeed wood cockroaches. If so, they probably won’t stay around long. They don’t reproduce or survive well indoors and once the males can no longer detect the presence of a female, they would rather be somewhere else. We can treat around your windows and doors to keep them out and can advise you on reducing the outside lighting that attracts them, and moving woodpiles, mulch piles, etc. away from the house.

Remember that the wood cockroach is an outdoor insect that may seasonally and accidentally end up indoors. Its presence is no reflection on housekeeping skills or poor sanitation, and doesn’t mean that you have a “cockroach problem.” See our blog, Wood Cockroaches Are Only Temporary.

Photo Credit : By Happy1892Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link



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