Meet the Turkestan cockroach

Jul 29, 2020, 06:44 AM by Fred Speer

Cockroaches have been a staple of the pest crowd for decades. Whether it be American, German, or Oriental, cockroaches are not only a nuisance to people, but they are a health threat as well. Cockroaches are known vectors of harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella, and can spread the bacteria to kitchen countertops, tables, and other areas where your family cooks and eats.

There is a new cockroach species that is making its presence felt in and around California homes, which Clark, your neighborly pest control, termite, and lawn care expert, would like to make sure you know about: the Turkestan cockroach.

The Turkestan cockroach is a more recent invasive species. It’s usually found in outdoor locations such as water meter boxes, cracks between blocks of poured concrete, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, and sewer systems.

The male Turkestan cockroach is often confused with the American cockroach. It ranges from 1/2 to 7/8 inches long and is brownish-yellow with a pale outer edge at the base, with a reddish brown pronotum that features two translucent lateral yellow bands.

The female Turkestan cockroach is slightly larger at 3/4 to 1 inch, and is dark brown to black, with short wings whose basal outer edge is pale. The female is often confused with the Oriental cockroach.

In their service and inspection reports, Clark Pest Control technicians have noted that the Oriental cockroach is being displaced by the Turkestan cockroach, especially in southern California, the Central Valley, and other warm, dry parts of the state.

While primarily an outdoor pest, Turkestan cockroaches, which can breed and mature quickly, will try to gain access to structures in search of a cooler – preferably damp – spot indoors. Food left out in kitchens and pantries will also serve as an attractant, as it does with other cockroaches.

How did the Turkestan cockroach arrive in California? Many experts think that it hitched a ride to the United States in the household goods of military personnel returning from its native habitat in the Middle East.

Another point about the Turkestan cockroach is that it’s popular as a food for insect-eating pets, like reptiles, and a pet keeper can accidentally release them indoors if their pet feeding gets careless.

Control tips for Turkestan cockroaches

The most effective steps to deter Turkestan cockroaches (and other pests) are to follow these two simple rules:

  1. Maintain good sanitation practices outside, including removing debris and litter that provide harborage to these cockroaches.

  2. Prevent access to your house through cracks and conduits, under doors, or through other structural flaws.

Some tips to follow include:

  • Seal cracks and other openings to the outside.
  • Use door sweeps and weatherstripping on doors and windows.
  • Look for other methods of entry, such as from items being brought into the building, especially appliances, furniture, boxes, and items that were recently in storage.
  • Inspect food deliveries before putting them in kitchens.
  • Locate and seal cracks where cockroaches can hide.
  • Trim shrubbery around buildings to increase light and air circulation, especially near vents, and eliminate ivy or other dense ground covering near the house, as these may harbor cockroaches.
  • Remove trash and stored items, such as stacks of lumber or firewood, from around the outside of buildings that provide hiding places for cockroaches.
  • Consider keeping a layer of gravel about 6 to 12 inches wide around the perimeter of buildings. This will reduce moisture, making the area less hospitable to outdoor cockroaches.

If you have questions about Turkestan cockroaches, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or send an email to for more information.

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.

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