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There exists a staggering 4,500 documented cockroach species in the world today, but only 55 species can be found in the United States. The vast majority of cockroach species exist in humid equatorial regions around the world, particularly in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Generally, cockroaches are not built to thrive within temperate northern regions. This is good for residents of the Massachusetts, as only four roach species are considered significant household pests in the state. These species include the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach and the Pennsylvania woods cockroach. In rare cases, the spotted-Mediterranean cockroach appears within structures. It is sometimes claimed that homes in Massachusetts may become infested with Surinam cockroaches or brown-banded cockroaches, but most experts agree that neither one of these species has established a habitat within the state. All of the above named roach species demonstrate their own unique pest behaviors, which can help residentes identify particular species.

In Massachusetts, it can be hard to tell the difference between each of the four common roach pests that inhabit the state, but astute homeowners may have noticed that each species tends to demonstrate particular behaviors while indoors. For example, brown-banded roaches are notable for gravitating toward the upper third of walls where they rest and deposit eggs, and they tend to establish a presence within every room of a house in a short period of time. This species’ preference for resting beneath, and within, cushioned furniture is often noticed by homeowners who have experience with this species. The most common roach pest species within structures in the northeast is the relatively large-sized American roach. Like most other roach species, the American roach prefers to secure moist living conditions, but this species shows a special preference for resting near steam, such as within steam pipes or behind clothing dryers. American roaches often limit their indoor presence to cellars, basements, beneath sinks and within bathrooms. The Pennsylvania-woods roach is not found in structures as often as the three other above-named species, but they are often found clustering into groups around the perimeter of houses in residential areas. Males of this species fly toward outside lights, and they typically appear within and around homes in the early summer season.

Were you able to discern between different cockroach species that you have encountered in the past?