Each year, from late spring through summer, we receive dozens of phone calls from concerned homeowners who are certain that they’ve found a cockroach. “Our house is clean,” they usually insist, but some friend or relative works in a restaurant or lives in an apartment building and is sure the captured insect is a roach. Panic ensues.
But if you’ve found a lone brown cockroach in or around your home, there’s no need to panic. It’s quite possibly a Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach, which might have been attracted to outdoor lights and slipped inside as a door was being opened. Unlike their relatives, wood roaches do not infest structures.
Wood roaches are common to wooded areas (not just in Pennsylvania), and live in hollow trees and stumps. Males are approximately one inch long and can fly, while females are slightly smaller and cannot. Unlike other pests that might enter a home for food and water, wood roaches prefer the outdoors. However, homes with cedar shingles are attractive to them, and any structure in a wooded area is likely to receive occasional visits from wood roaches. The good news is that they rarely breed indoors, and do not congregate in harborages, as do other species of cockroaches (e.g., German, Oriental, etc.).
House interiors rarely need to be treated for this pest, but exteriors can be treated with appropriate insecticides. If you burn firewood, be sure not to store it indoors or against the side of your home; in addition to providing roach harborage, firewood attracts termites. Gaps and cracks in wooden siding should be repaired or caulked. And, though it might not be an option, a wide lawn will create a barrier between these wood-dwelling pests and your home.