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Ask the Expert: Question of the Week

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Q: How can I tell the difference between a German cockroach and an Asian cockroach?

A: The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is one of the most ubiquitous pests on earth.  Originally thought to have originated in Europe, then Africa, the most recent theories surrounding its indigenous range trace it to Asia.  Today, it can be found on nearly every continent on earth (except Antarctica) and is almost always associated with human dwellings.

The species’ predilection for warm, humid environments make human structures, particularly areas where food is prepared, the perfect habitat for infestation.  Anywhere that humans are found, cockroaches are probably present too.  The Asian cockroach (Blattella asahinai), not to be confused with the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis), has a more recent history of association with humans compared to German cockraoches.  To the casual observer, and even the seasoned pest management professional, the Asian cockroach looks nearly identical to the German cockroach.  They are closely related, but there are some key differences in behavior that make management methods different for the two species.

Asian cockroaches have longer and narrower wings compared to German cockroaches, along with a few other minor morphological differences.  The most obvious difference is the ability of Asian cockroaches to fly.  They are often attracted to lights and are most commonly found outdoors.  In North America, the Asian cockroach is currently known to be established in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, but has the potential to spread further throughout the United States because it can be established indoors.

Email Brittany Campbell, NPMA’s staff entomologist, for answers to your most challenging questions. Include your name and company’s name to have your question potentially featured in the next ePestWorld!  


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