By Chris Williams on June 13, 2019.

Every year about this time, we get these light-brown flying cockroaches in our home. We’ve been told they’re wood roaches and there’s nothing we can do about them since we’re on a heavily wooded lot. Is that true?

W. F., Peabody, MA

Never say never. There is always at least one way to address a pest problem, and usually several. I can give you a few suggestions that should cut down on visits from the Pennsylvania wood cockroach, Parcoblatta pennsylvanica.

What you’re seeing are the male wood roaches that are very active during the mating season from May into June. You may be seeing the female wood cockroach, too, and just not realizing it since she looks different: dark, shiny brown with only very short, nonfunctional wings. The nymphs are shiny reddish-brown and wingless.

It’s true that woods and wood roaches go hand-in-hand since they feed on decaying organic matter like rotting wood and they can be found underneath the bark of logs, stumps, and firewood, or in mulch or ground litter. We normally don’t even notice them until they accidentally end up inside. At other times of the year, they can be carried indoors on firewood but in spring, the males fly to houses.

Male wood roaches have long wings, are active fliers, and are attracted to lights. Once drawn to lights around your home, they can find ways to get inside. If a female wood cockroach is in or around your home, you are even more likely to be visited by many male roaches since they are strongly attracted by mating pheromones that she releases.


  1. Reduce outside lighting, at least during May-June. Use lower wattage porch and deck lights or replace them with lights less attractive to insects such as warm-colored LED lights (see also Porch Lights Attracting Bugs? Choose a Better Bulb). Use motion detectors or timers to reduce the amount of time that outdoor lights are on. Redirect outdoor lights so they shine down rather than out. Block escaping indoor light by turning lights off when not in use and by using blinds or curtains.
  2. Check for and repair gaps around doors and windows, including garage doors, holes in screens, or other openings that will let wood cockroaches inside.
  3. Because wood roaches are associated with rotting wood, bark, and firewood, you should store firewood away from your house, and consider debarking it before bringing it inside. Likewise, fallen trees, limbs, and stumps should be managed so they don’t become home for wood cockroaches.
  4. Clean gutters of accumulated leaves and rotting debris that attracts wood cockroaches. Other wood roach hiding places around your home are in or under potted plants, under wood siding or shingles, and in damp sheds.
  5. Call Colonial Pest to treat cockroach entry points around your home. In fact, ask about our Preventative Maintenance Program that includes twice annual treatment around your home’s perimeter to stop outdoor pests from getting inside in the first place. If they do, our program includes free callbacks.

Rest assured that the few wood cockroaches that get inside are not going to set up housekeeping and start reproducing in your home. Pennsylvania wood cockroaches are outdoor insects that can be temporary and seasonal indoor pests. They may last for a while inside but eventually the drier indoor air and lack of suitable habitat will contribute to their demise.

For more on the lives and habits of wood cockroaches, check out these blogs:






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