To the surprise of no one who has ever lived in Texas, it’s one of the “roachiest” areas in the entire United States.
With multiple climates, many of which are pretty close to “cockroach heaven,” and weather events that are kind of like “cockroach hell” (floods and heat waves tend to drive roaches into nearby homes), Texas is not a place well suited to folks who can’t get at least a little used to having these bugs around.
Does that mean your home has to be stuck with a Texas cockroach infestation? Absolutely not.
Let’s take a look at roaches in Texas and nail down the best ways to get rid of them.
Types of Roaches in Texas
The biggest roach gets the most nicknames. Whether you know it as a tree roach, a palmetto bug, a wood roach, or Cockroach Rex (a current favorite of ours), the American cockroach is one monster of a bug.
If you were to hold a ruler to a random Texas cockroach and found it well, really big—this is the roach it would be.
American roaches are oval-shaped and flat, with spiny legs, long wings and long antennae. They’re reddish-brown in color and often feature a yellow ring behind their heads. With the distinctive color of their wings and their often massive size, American roaches are easy to ID.
American cockroaches don’t mind living outdoors most of the time, where they live comfortably in harmless places like compost, trees, and decaying logs, as well as some of the worst places—storm drains, city dumpsters, and sewer systems.
However, they’re quite happy indoors, too, where they’ll nest in basements, boiler rooms, kitchens, and other spaces with lots of moisture.
While there are actually four kinds of flying roaches in Texas, the American roach is the one everyone remembers—and with good reason. With a wingspan up to four inches, the American roach looks huge mid-air, makes a flutter you can hear, and has a bad habit of flying right toward you. (sometimes landing right on you).
Of the various types of cockroaches in Texas, German cockroaches usually do the greatest harm. Like a video gone viral, once German roaches take hold somewhere, they’ll spread and spread until they’re everywhere.
Tiny and light brown, German cockroaches are among the smallest roaches, and partly because of that, often go unnoticed until an infestation is widespread.
Aside from its tiny size, you’ll know a German cockroach by the distinctive dark stripes running down its back. Most visible on the cowl behind its head, the markings appear bolder and thicker on younger roaches that haven’t yet grown wings to cover them.
German cockroaches can squeeze into tiny crevices with their flat bodies and leave behind dozens of eggs at a time. They prefer well-hidden, tightly confined spaces near lots of food and water. In most homes, that means a concentration of them in kitchen and pantry areas, with a seething, filthy nightmare often brewing in the spaces behind and underneath the fridge.
Most roaches actually prefer to live outdoors, but not the German cockroach. Texas droughts, floods, and searing temperatures never touch them because they always live indoors, and always inside human structures.
Though also technically a flying cockroach, Texas residents won’t see them do it often. What they will see is the damage this evil Texas cockroach does. They get into everything, defiling open food, and leaving cockroach droppings everywhere they go. They also spread disease.
With its striking, shiny black exoskeleton, the Oriental cockroach is one of the most distinctive and easily identified roaches in Texas. With its seriously potent stink (you will smell them), it’s one of the strangest too.
At about 1.25 inches in length, Oriental roaches are mid-sized insects. They’re rounder than German or brown-banded roaches and have shorter antennae.
To identify the Oriental cockroach, first look for its jet black color, then look for wings. If wings are short or nonexistent (and it’s not a wingless cockroach baby from another species), you’re probably looking at an Oriental.
Oriental roaches live in cool, damp areas. You’ll find them in basements, garages, bathrooms, laundry rooms and along the perimeter of your house.
Much less agile than other species, slow-moving Oriental roaches feed on crumbs from the floor and find shelter under appliances. These bugs don’t fly or climb; you might catch one in the shower at night or as it explores your basement.
Brown-banded cockroaches should head straight to East Austin because they’re the hipsters of the cockroach scene. Refusing to act like other roach species, they don’t like moisture, don’t like doing things at ground level, and regularly (if they’re males) fly to high-up hiding places.
The brown-banded roach is named after the signature set of brown bands that cross its back. Its body is light brown to tan in color while the stripes are typically dark brown.
These roaches are nearly as small as German cockroaches and can be just as nasty to find in your home.
Being the moisture-hating outliers that they are, brown-banded cockroaches enjoy drier areas of Texas and prefer higher elevations.
They’ll nest in ceilings and attics, hide beneath roof shingles and even attach their egg cases behind wall decorations.
It might sound like we’re about to describe the German cockroach all over again but this is in fact another cockroach species to watch out for in Texas.
About 1/2 inch long, light tan and featuring two dark stripes, the Asian cockroach looks so much like a German roach that researchers sometimes confuse the two species.
Although they look like German roaches, Asian roaches in Texas do mostly live outdoors.
They’re much stronger fliers than their German cousins—but not nearly the threat to your home. More of a nuisance pest than a homewrecking one, it’s their flying that gets under most people’s skin. Leave a window open in a well-lit room on a warm Houston evening and you might find yourself swatting Asian roaches for a good part of the night.
How to Solve a Texas Cockroach Problem
Getting rid of Texas cockroaches for good takes a multi-step cockroach control strategy that the pros call integrated pest management (IPM).
Sanitation and Exclusion
Start with the keystone steps—sanitation and exclusion—that hold up the rest of the plan.
Sanitation Tips for Texas Roaches
Sanitation cuts off roaches’ access to food and water, making them desperate to eat anything they can find.
- Use the vacuum to pick up crumbs, dust and dead and living roaches. Be sure to reach behind and under appliances and furniture.
- Wash the dishes every day and change the garbage bag as soon as it’s full.
- Store all of your food and ingredients in hard containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Repair leaky pipes, dripping sinks and loose hose faucets to remove water sources.
Exclusion Tips for Texas Roaches
Exclusion kicks them out of their hiding spots and makes it difficult for roaches to get in, get comfortable and get away from your traps.
- In eastern Texas and especially along the Gulf, battle moisture with dehumidifiers and fans.
- In western Texas, make sure your storage areas—especially in upper floors—are well-ventilated and decluttered.
- Cockroaches love a good cardboard box for nesting; use plastic containers to store things safely.
- Keep your landscaping clear of debris and avoid over-watering the soil. Look for the dark spots that signal trapped moisture around shrubs and trees and thin out the mulch.
- Seal gaps around water meter boxes, pipes, dryer vents and basement windows.
- It might be necessary to cover soffits with screens to keep out flying roaches in Texas.
- Texans already know to check their shoes for spiders and scorpions; you’ll want to check ‘em for roaches, too.
Texas Cockroach Control Plan
Once the roaches are desperate for food and displaced from their usual haunts, it’s time for a choreographed attack with the latest and greatest pest control tools.
- Traps – Use baited traps, like roach motels, or any of these great roach traps to start catching the pests ASAP. You’ll start to see where most of them are hiding and kill plenty along the way
- Gel bait – Use pea-sized drops of gel bait to target the colony—the heart of the roach infestation that’s hidden well out of reach. Insecticidal dust works well along with baits, killing any roaches that walk through it. You can treat wall cavities with dust to get as close to the colony as possible.
- Outside – Opt for a quality perimeter spray or granular bait to create an anti-roach barrier along walls and in mulched areas. This is especially important if you’re finding American or Oriental roaches in your home or business.
Need an exterminator?
If you’ve ID’d more than a few German, Asian or brown-banded roaches in your home, consider enlisting a professional pest control service. These bugs can explode into truly nasty roach infestations if they’re not controlled quickly and completely.
Since the climate and environment vary widely across Texas, research local exterminators that have experience treating homes in your area.
Ask about the specific products they use and inform them of any pets or other special conditions you might have. They should start with a walkthrough where you show them places where you’ve seen activity and they get an idea of how best to move forward with treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Texas is a huge state with plenty of pests and certainly no shortage of cockroaches. From the arid west to the Gulf Coast, roaches pose an ongoing threat to homes and businesses, spreading bacteria and contaminating food.
Yep! American roaches can fly, although they prefer to walk. Asian and brown-banded cockroaches are strong fliers that can cause problems in attics and ceilings. German roaches fly also, but prefer to crawl.
It’s a combination of the climate, weather events, and the mix of urban centers and rural sprawls that makes Texas like one big cockroach hotspot.
The warmth and varying humidity make different areas ideal for different species of cockroaches. Put it all together and it’s a recipe for roach problems just about everywhere.
Texans, you’re not alone in the uphill battle against roaches—just ask anyone from Florida.
Roaches in Texas come in nearly a half dozen flavors but whatever the species, they’re disgusting bugs to find in your home.
With the details in this survival guide, you can identify the roach(es) you’ve seen and kickstart your plan to eliminate cockroaches for good.
Say goodbye to the Texas cockroach today!
- Brown, Wizzie et al. Cockroach Biology and Management: How to Control Them? Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Retrieved from https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/insects/cockroach-biology-and-management/
- Hurt, Harry III (1976) The World’s Most Despicable Bug. Texas Monthly. Retrieved from https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-worlds-most-despicable-bug/
- Wu, Gwendolyn (2019) Roaches are everywhere. How do I get rid of them? Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/houston-how-to/article/Roaches-are-everywhere-How-do-I-get-rid-of-them-14446305.php