Want to hear the joke about the flying cockroach? Probably not. Because if you’ve ever come face-to-face with one, as in literally face-to-face – you know the utter horror that a flying roach can bring.
Let’s look at the kinds of flying roaches, and then afterward – show you how to get rid of them for good.
A Simple 5-Step Guide For Getting Rid of Roaches
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Cockroaches That Fly and Cockroaches That Don’t
Some cockroaches fly. Others don’t. The first step toward solving your cockroach problem, is identifying the ones you have.
Cockroaches That Fly
The American cockroach is the largest flying cockroach you’ll encounter in the United States. They prefer to live outside, but when they enter homes, they can cause big problems. They’re awkward flyers, but even so, an American cockroach flying around your kitchen can easily reach counter tops and upper cabinets.
American roaches love warm, dark places with access to water. Indoors, common hiding places include attics, cabinets and drains. Controlling them starts with identifying their entry points and targeting these hotspots with baits and pesticides.
By the name, you can guess that flying wood roaches are usually found outdoors. They live in and around wooded areas, often inhabiting tree trunks, woodpiles, and decaying organic matter.
The males glide from trees or shrubs into nearby homes. They’re especially active at night during breeding season, and are attracted by nighttime lights. Preventing them begins outside by removing firewood and leaf litter from the area around your house.
Smoky Brown Roaches
Smoky brown cockroaches are only slightly smaller than American roaches. They’re dark reddish-brown in color with long antennae and long wings.
This flying roach hangs out in gardens, woodpiles, and other humid environments, occasionally coming inside when temperatures cool down. You might accidentally bring them in with firewood from outside, or in boxes that were stored in the garage. Then, it’s important to control them quickly before they can reproduce and spread.
The Australian cockroach is a big flying cockroach that looks quite similar to the American cockroach, but carries characteristic yellow markings around its head and wings. Australian cockroaches are decent fliers and often live in tree hollows and other damp places.
If flying Australian cockroaches take hold in a home or business, they’ll hide near sources of water, such as leaking pipes or faucets.
The Asian cockroach is a tiny flying roach that lives primarily along the U.S. Gulf Coast, hiding and laying egg capsules in mulch, grass and other shady areas.
Light brown in color and about the size of German roaches (in fact, they’re nearly identical-looking), they’re strong flyers and are attracted to artificial light. If the lights are on and a window is open, they’ll fly straight inside to find it.
Cuban cockroaches are excellent, agile, and frequent flyers. They’re about an inch long and often inhabit elevated locations. They like hanging out in trees and shrubs and being attracted to light, occasionally glide into homes through open windows.
If you live in an area where these green flying roaches are prevalent, it’s important to cover all open windows with screens, and keep your gutters clear of anything they’d want to eat.
German cockroaches are one of the world’s most common indoor pests. If you’ve ever seen a cockroach anywhere, chances are it was one of these.
Do German cockroaches fly? Yes, they have the ability to fly, and that only makes them more of a risk to homeowners. Beyond climbing into buildings through holes and crevices in walls, they can also fly in through windows.
However– a German roach can barely fly; they’re quick on their feet and will usually crawl to where they need to go.
Cockroaches That Don’t Fly (But That You Might Also Have)
Oriental roaches are medium-sized bugs with glossy, dark bodies. They’re slower than other species and don’t crawl up steep surfaces very well. Although they do have wings, the wings are non-functional, rendering the insects flightless.
This means they’re primarily ground pests that look for ground-level ways into buildings. If your home has a few tiny holes in its exterior walls, these roaches have an easy way in.
Do baby cockroaches fly? No. If you think you’ve seen a baby flying cockroach, it had to be something else. Baby roaches don’t have fully-developed wings until adulthood, and don’t fly (if they come from a flying species) until then.
How to Keep Flying Roaches Away
To keep flying cockroaches away, you’ll have to add a few steps to your normal cockroach prevention plan.
You’ll want to begin by installing screens on all the windows you tend to leave open. If windows and doors already have screens, great! Just make sure they’re intact, with no tears or holes that a persistent cockroach could climb through.
American roaches, Asian roaches and Cuban roaches (in some areas) are the most likely to fly in through open doors and windows. Other flying species are more likely to come in on foot.
Keeping flying cockroaches away means protecting your home at ground-level, too. Outdoors, use caulking to seal gaps around pipes and wires that enter your home. Inside, seal all cracks and crevices, too.
Many flying cockroach species like to live outdoors in wet mulch or piles of leaves or wood. You should keep the area around your house clear of leaves, twigs and other materials. These kinds of debris give roaches perfect places to hide. You can also spread mulch more thinly so it doesn’t retain moisture and invite cockroaches to live in it.
Regularly cleaning floors, counter tops and dishes is vital to keeping cockroaches under control. Flying roaches eat much more than just crumbs (think paper, glue, garbage, pet food, and other insects) but reducing their access to easy food sources will make them think twice about staying.
How to Get Rid of Flying Roaches
If you’ve seen a cockroach flying in your house, it’s important to act quickly. While some species are greater threats than others, all pose health risks by contaminating food and spreading bacteria.
Though flying insect sprays containing pyrethroids (a common ingredient in household pesticides) are effective for killing roaches as you find them, they don’t solve cockroach infestations. For that, you need to target them at the source.
Start by identifying their hiding places in your home (see “Where do roaches hide?“), paying special attention to signs like cockroach droppings, discarded skin or shells, egg cases, and an acrid cockroach smell.
Begin with areas that are dark, warm and humid, such as your cabinets, crawl space, attic and bathroom. Kitchen appliances offer perfect habitats–they produce heat and any roaches hiding beneath them are well protected. Plus, they’re usually right next to easy food sources.
You might not be able to pinpoint every area, but once you’ve identified the most likely ones, you can start taking action.
- Distributing cockroach baits in these areas will kill any cockroaches that come out to feed.
- A treatment such as boric acid can be effective against cockroaches and other insects. Spray it carefully along walls or in cracks and crevices where you suspect the roaches are hiding.
Remember to carefully read all warnings when using pesticides as well as baits, and keep them far away from children and pets.
How to Get Rid of Flying Cockroaches Naturally
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is an excellent natural pest control product. It’s safe for people and pets but deadly for flying cockroaches. Sprinkling it in areas where these pests hide is an easy and effective way to get rid of roaches.
Sugar mixed with baking soda is another natural cockroach control solution that you can make with ingredients you probably already have. Baking soda is toxic to flying cockroaches when eaten. Applying a little of this homemade pesticide near the roaches’ hiding places both attracts and kills them.
When using any type of bait or homemade solution, you’ll have to replace it from time to time as the roaches eat it. If it’s working, the flying cockroach population will gradually decrease and your baits and sprays will last longer.
Flying roaches add another dimension to the threat of a pest infestation. Although most live outdoors, they won’t hesitate entering buildings when temperatures change or food becomes scarce. Indoors, cockroaches can trigger allergies and spread bacteria that cause food poisoning and other illnesses, so they’re best kept out and as far away as possible.
If you think you have a serious flying cockroach infestation, you should call a professional pest control service to inspect your home and create a comprehensive plan for elimination. Professionals can treat the inside and outside of your home with pesticides that kill cockroaches and prevent them from coming back.
With these tips and, if needed, the help of a professional, you can get rid of flying cockroaches in your house and keep them out.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, not every cockroach with wings is capable of flight. Some female cockroaches have wings that aren’t developed enough for flying. Cockroach nymphs also don’t fly, even if their wings have begun to develop.
Cockroaches fly to escape from danger and to reach food and water. Some roaches will fly into gutters where leaves and twigs provide food and trap water.
Others fly toward lights, attracted by lamps and TV screens in homes.
Many flying cockroaches will take to the air when faced with danger. That danger could be you spotting it in your kitchen or a hungry predator hunting it out in the wild.
Flying roaches can fly through windows and onto roofs, giving them more opportunities to find their way inside. Some roaches can squeeze through gaps between roof shingles, then make their way into the attic–which is often a perfect cockroach habitat.
Since some roaches fly toward lights, it’s especially important to keep windows closed at night to avoid attracting flying roaches inside.
Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, PhD.
Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.
Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.
Rae Osborn, PhD.
Dr. Rae Osborn holds Honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Entomology, and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Natal in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington, where her research was in Entomology. You can learn more about our contributors here.
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