A new pest in town: the Turkestan cockroach

Sep 16, 2022, 13:09 PM by Fred Speer

There’s a new pest in town, and its name is the Turkestan cockroach. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle details the rise in sightings of a pest that was once considered an exotic species not often found in homes. Today, it’s commonplace in many parts of the state, taking over in habitats formerly occupied by the oriental cockroach.

How much has Turkestan cockroach activity risen in recent years? In the article, the Alameda County’s Vector Control Services District reported receiving no calls involving the Turkestan cockroaches three or four years ago. In the past 18 months, the agency has received 33 calls regarding Turkestan cockroaches, which are distinguished by their rusty red color and the fact that they are primarily outdoor pests.

The rise in numbers come as no surprise to Clark, your friendly pest control, mosquito, termite, and lawn care expert, or to Darren Van Steenwyk, Clark Pest Control’s Director of Field Services, who was recently interviewed by Pest Control Technology magazine on the topic.

Van Steenwyk told the magazine that Clark service technicians first observed Turkestan cockroaches in locations where they were displacing oriental cockroaches, but now they are found in a lot of places where oriental cockroaches weren’t found. “For example,” he said, “we have lots of customers that never dealt with oriental roaches that are finding Turkestan roaches in structures, in their garages, or in their warehouses.”

According to Van Steenwyk, oriental cockroaches are more prolific in milder, more humid areas of California (e.g., coastal areas), while Turkestan cockroaches thrive in hotter and drier areas, such as Northern California’s Central Valley and the Inland Empire area of Southern California. He said that Clark has been training its service technicians on how to distinguish between Turkestan and oriental cockroaches to better serve their customers.

The 411 on the Turkestan cockroach

Turkestan cockroaches usually live outdoors, but may be found indoors once they reach their population peak in the summer. Often, the cockroaches found indoors are males that were attracted by lights and flew into the structure.

Common habitats for Turkestan cockroaches around homes include wood and debris piles, irrigation and water meter boxes, crevices in pavement or rock walls, and outdoor drainage pipes. They are also common in public storm drains and sanitary sewers, as these habitats provide the dark, moist hiding places that cockroaches prefer.

Turkestan cockroaches live and breed outdoors, but can invade indoor spaces in search of water. However, they can’t survive indoors. You may find them upside down and dead in indoor spaces such as garages or near entryways, but as much as you find them disgusting and startling when you encounter them, rest assured that Turkestan cockroaches will not establish and thrive in indoor environments.

Like all outdoor pest cockroaches, Turkestan cockroaches are seen as both serious nuisance pests and (potentially) public health pests, as they can carry disease-causing pathogens. The most obvious signs of a Turkestan cockroach infestation are seeing them flying at nighttime around lights and finding them in their preferred habitats.

Turkestan Cockroach control tips

  • Good sanitation, especially around outdoor trash storage areas, and exclusion from the home are important for effective control.
  • Reduce sprinkler irrigation, if possible. Fix plumbing and irrigation leaks to reduce water availability. Reduce moisture around the perimeter of your home by ensuring proper soil grading, and avoid planting within one foot of the foundation. Consider using gravel or bare soil instead of mulch or ground covers in these areas.
  • Don’t leave pet food outdoors, especially at night. Keep trash in containers with tight lids and regularly clean outdoor trash storage areas to remove food residues. Remove trash and stored items, such as stacks of lumber or firewood, from around the outside of your home.
  • Trim shrubbery around your home and clear leaf litter to increase light and air circulation. Locate and seal cracks in paved walkways, masonry features, and other hardscape crevices where cockroaches may hide.


Got questions about Turkestan cockroaches? Call Clark

Call or text California’s trusted, friendly pest control expert at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at if you think Turkestan cockroaches have paid you a visit.


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