The brown banded cockroach is frankly, a weird little pest…

It lives and lays its eggs in “high-up” places like walls and ceilings. The males are fast flyers but the females can’t fly. And while many other roaches live in wet or humid places, the brown banded roach is different – it prefers things dry.

Despite these unique characteristics, it’s often mistaken for the German cockroach – and not entirely without reason. Because both are dangerous household pests.

Brown banded roaches don’t live outdoors like the American cockroach or the Oriental cockroach, so if they take up a habitat in your home they’ll be determined to stay. Their diet and behavior make them tricky to control, too.

Keep reading to learn more about these tiny pests and discover important tips for controlling them and protecting your home from cockroach infestations.

Identifying Brown Banded Cockroaches

Brown banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg case size comparison

The brown banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa, is a species of small roach named for the distinctive brown bands that stretch across the lower and middle parts of its abdomen. On another animal, they might look like a cute belt. But in a safe and healthy home, there’s nothing cute about finding a roach with stripes.

The insects grow to about 1/2 an inch in length–about the size of a German cockroach. Their bodies are narrow and fairly flat. Males have wings that extend past the tip of their abdomens, while females have shorter wings. If you see a flying brown banded cockroach, you’ll know it’s a male.

Where Do Brown Banded Cockroaches Live?

Brown banded cockroach range USA: Map illustration
The U.S. range of the brownbanded cockroach (in orange). Data courtesy of BugGuide.

The brownbanded cockroach probably originated in Africa. It might have been brought to the U.S. from Cuba and eventually spread to Europe. Today, the brown banded roach is dotted across the continental United States and Canada.

Knowing where brown banded cockroaches live will help you identify them. Unlike many other cockroach species that live primarily in rooms with plentiful food and water, brown banded roaches like to live in bedrooms, closets and other areas of a building. You might spot their tiny, light brown egg cases stuck to the ceiling or upper portions of walls.

Because of their preference for higher elevations, you might find them behind picture frames, on shelves, and within crawls spaces and cabinets. They’ve even been known to live inside clocks and radios. German cockroaches rarely live in these types of locations, so you can be fairly sure that the small roach you’ve found on a high shelf is a brown banded cockroach.

Exploring the Life Cycle of Brown Banded Cockroaches

Brown banded cockroach illustration: Egg and adult on picture frame
Females attach tiny egg capsules to walls, ceilings, shelves, and other objects.

Brownbanded cockroaches go through 3 growth phases, starting with an egg. A female deposits 14-17 eggs into a tiny, purse-shaped egg capsule called an oothecae, then carries it on her back for a day or so before attaching it to furniture, shelves, ceilings and other objects that have been invaded.

It can take half a year or longer for nymphs (the babies) to fully mature after hatching. Depending on the environment in which they live, the life span of an adult brown banded roach can range from 13 to 45 weeks. With adult females producing hundreds of offspring per year, signs of cockroach activity mean you could be facing a large infestation in no time.

Will I Notice Brown Banded Cockroaches in My Home?

Cockroaches certainly aren’t known for being picky eaters. Brownbanded roaches feed on everything from leftover food and organic material to paper, draperies, wallpaper and even glue. Their feeding habits can be destructive to many parts of your home, including important documents, cherished photos and your favorite furniture.

If brownbanded roaches infest your pantry, they can get into thin boxes or loose bags and contaminate lots of good food. These cockroaches can’t survive outside so once they find an easy food source in your house or apartment, you can count on them sticking around. Before you know it, you might have a few hundred cockroaches sharing your leftovers and living in cracks in the walls or out-of-reach cabinets.

Brown Banded Cockroaches Are Dangerous Pests

Brown banded cockroaches carry dangerous bacteria and can put your family at risk by spreading disease throughout your house. These roaches are bad house guests–they’ll ruin your leftovers, invade your closets and contaminate lots of food. They’ll also spread bacteria over cooking surfaces, tabletops and shelves, putting you at risk of stomach illnesses.

Brownbanded roaches have been known to eat fabric, paper and nylon stockings, so your furniture and clothes aren’t entirely safe either. They’re also a major source of allergens; their molted skins and droppings can cause sneezing and skin irritation in people with allergies.

How to Get Rid of Brown Banded Cockroaches

If you’ve found brown banded cockroaches in your home, you now know to target areas that are high up and dry. Cabinets, walls, shelves and the spaces around refrigerators are common habitats for the creatures.

You can use various kinds of baits to attract and kill cockroaches. Both gels and bait stations can be effective in the right places. You should place baits close to where you suspect the cockroaches are living. And don’t forget to replace the bait every few weeks so the pests don’t have a chance to regroup.

Brown banded roaches are a bit tricky to bait for because they don’t congregate tightly around areas where food and water are present. Of course, if you’ve seen a roach or signs of one, they’re probably nearby. However, it’s important to inspect beyond one specific area.

Cockroach dusts that roaches crawl through, then carry back to their nests, can be effective.

Cockroach bombs are also available in many stores. These products attempt to poison roaches across wide areas. However, they aren’t very effective against small cockroaches (which can easily hide in tiny crevices), especially brown banded cockroaches (which might live high off the floor and therefore out of reach).

If you’re worried that more than a few have invaded your home, your safest bet is to call a pest control professional. They’ll have access to the most effective tools and techniques to target roaches’ specific hiding spots and create an ongoing control strategy. Professional pest control methods include traps to identify cockroach hotspots and pesticide sprays to kill the pests.

Tips for Protecting Your Home from Brown Banded Cockroaches

Always start planning your pest management plan by thoroughly inspecting your home for weaknesses. Holes and crevices in walls and ceilings provide easy entry points for roaches. If you live in an apartment, these small openings can let roaches move from unit to unit and spread throughout the building.

Unlike other cockroach species, you won’t have to focus too intently on the bathroom. However, keeping a clean kitchen is an important part of preventing any type of pest infestation–especially cockroaches.

Always wash your dishes or load them into the dishwasher before you go to bed. Wipe your counters and stovetop to remove cooking residue and crumbs. And don’t forget to sweep or vacuum regularly–carpets might hide crumbs from guests but they won’t hide them from pests.

You can also call a professional to do regular inspections and spray for cockroaches and other pests.

Conclusion

Brown banded cockroaches do things a bit differently from other species. Nonetheless, they’re a dangerous and disgusting pest that’s best kept out of your home.

Follow the above tips to control cockroaches and keep them out: brush up on your cleaning habits, seal holes and crevices and use baits to fight back if you see signs of roach activity. Now that you have the information, it’s time to get started. You can do this.

FAQ

Do brown banded cockroaches fly?

Both males and females have wings but only the males can fly. This is because the male roach’s wings are longer, extending past the tip of its abdomen and giving it the ability to fly away quickly. You won’t see swarms of them flying around, but even one cockroach taking off toward the ceiling can be a scary sight in the middle of the night.

Can brown banded cockroaches trigger allergies?

They can trigger reactions, including itchy eyes and sneezing, in people who are sensitive to allergens. As they grow, brown banded nymphs molt their skin. These discarded skins, along with the droppings they leave behind are what cause allergic reactions.

Do brown banded cockroaches live in drains?

Unlike other cockroach species, the brown banded cockroach prefers dry habitats. Instead of living in drains and sewers, these roaches live high off the ground, in ceilings, cabinets and furniture.

Will brown banded cockroaches eat my clothes?

They have a wide-ranging diet that includes items like book bindings, wallpaper and glue. They’ve also been known to eat nylon stockings. However, clothing is not typically part of a brown banded cockroach’s diet.

Sources

  1. Jacobs, Steve (2017) Brownbanded Cockroaches. PennState Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/brown-banded-cockroaches
  2. Cockroaches. University of Maryland Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cockroaches
  3. Jiang, Shiyao and Andrea Lucky (2016) Brownbanded Cockroach. Featured Creatures. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/URBAN/roaches/brown-banded_cockroach.htm
  4. Facts About Brownbanded Roaches. Hulett Environmental Services. Retrieved from https://www.bugs.com/bug-database/roaches/brown-banded-roach/
  5. Cockroaches. Got Pests? Retrieved from https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/bugs/cockroaches.htm
  6. Potter, Michael F. and G. Mark Beavers. (2018) Cockroach Control. Kentucky Pesticide Safety Education Program. Retrieved from http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/PSEP/cat8cockroaches.html

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