This pest hitches a ride in plant soil and infests plants inside buildings. It is not normally considered a pest, but sometimes finds its way into homes via houseplants. The female Surinam cockroach does not fly. The male Surinam cockroach can fly very short distances. Spring, summer, and fall are the most active seasons for the Surinam cockroach. People have reported seeing large populations of Surinam cockroaches emerging out of the ground in places the species has not been known to inhabit.
Surinam Cockroaches Identification
A female Surinam cockroach is about three-fourths of an inch long, has a shiny black head and pronotum, and has light brown, dark brown, or olive green wings. The pronotum has a pale white band on the front edge by the head. Surinam cockroaches have stout, broadly oval bodies with short legs adapted for burrowing in soil. Adult Surinam cockroaches can be winged or wingless. Females without wings are black and shiny with dull and matte segments in the rear section of the abdomen. Females and males with wings have forewings that are brown in color with pale edges. The thorax is black with a pale front edge. Males with wings are very rare. Both sexes can be found in Europe and Indo-Malaysia.
Surinam Cockroach Habitat and Food Source
This species of cockroach is well-established in Virginia and along the Southeast Gulf Coast in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. No males of this species are found in the United States. It is also found in Australia and in humid tropics around the world. It lives mostly outdoors and does not breed inside human habitations. Therefore, it is considered a nuisance insect. Occasionally, it finds its way into Northern states in malls and zoos, usually in atriums and potted plants imported from Southern states like Florida. Surinam cockroaches build huge populations around landscape beds in the South in areas with thick layers of mulch, heavy ground cover, and landscape timbers. These roaches are sensitive to cold temperatures and can only survive indoors in Northern regions. Indoors, Surinam cockroaches can be found as far north as Canada.
Surinam cockroaches live in piles of firewood, leaves, mulch, lumber piles, and other outdoor harborages. They avoid light and like moist, dark places. Surinam cockroaches hide under stones and mulch; underneath wood; and in barrels, holes, cracks, and crevices in building walls—wherever they can conceal themselves. Surinam cockroaches burrow three to four inches deep into soil. They build burrows for nymphs and incubating females.
They are omnivorous, but mostly feed on a wide variety of plants at night when they come out in full force to gnaw the stems of plants.
Surinam Cockroach Life Cycle
Surinam cockroaches develop by metamorphosis—ootheca, nymphal stages or instars, and adult stages.
Only females are found in the United States; they reproduce by way of parthenogenesis or asexual reproduction without male fertilization. The female keeps the eggs inside and fertilizes them herself before giving birth to live nymphs. Even though the female Surinam cockroach can carry as many as 42 eggs, usually only 24 eggs will hatch and survive.
Once the nymphs hatch from the egg cases, they look like smaller versions of the adult Surinam cockroach but lack fully developed wings and cannot breed at this point. The nymphs will molt 10 to 13 times in about a year.
Surinam Cockroaches and Humans
The biggest harm Surinam cockroaches inflict on people is economic in nature. These pests will cause severe damage to expensive tropical plants in atriums, green houses, and yards by destroying plants from the roots. They have not been known to bite or harm humans in any way, are not aggressive, and stay hidden from sight.
Surinam Cockroach Control
1. Surinam Cockroach Identification: Call in a professional exterminator to assess suspected infestation areas thoroughly to determine which type of cockroach has invaded.
2. Bait and Insecticide: A professional pest control expert can place large bait stations and sticky traps around the base of infested plants to catch pests as they leave. An exterminator may need to use granular cockroach baits in active Surinam cockroach harborages. Residual insecticides can be applied to foundations, mulches, plantings, potted plants woodpiles, and any other infested area. Surinam cockroach populations can be significantly reduced by treating the barriers of the home with insecticide.
3. Removal of Surinam Cockroaches: Plants containing Surinam cockroaches need to be removed and treated off the premises.
DIY and Green Solutions for Surinam Cockroach Control
1. Inspect it! Look closely at potted plants before bringing them indoors to prevent infestation inside the home.
2. Spread it out! Thinly spread mulch piles to make them less hospitable to Surinam cockroaches.
3. Seal it up! Fill any cracks or crevices in building foundations to keep Surinam cockroaches out of your home. Make sure all foundation and attic vents have tight-fitting screens over them.
4. Do yardwork! Take dead leaves from flowerbeds especially near foundations. Stack firewood on a rack and remove landscape timbers. Keep weeds pulled and mow grass very short.
5. Bait them! Use granular roach bait, which is a great way to control these pests. A lot of brands are water-resistant and are useful in damp areas such as flowerbeds. Use liquid insecticide to soak the soil in which Surinam cockroaches have been burrowing. Sun and rain will affect insecticide treatment staying power. Reapply treatments and repeat the above steps to maintain a Surinam cockroach-free property.