Wood cockroaches, or wood roaches are similar in appearance to that of a German cockroach (household roach). Both species are common in North America, but today is all about the wood roach.
Wood roaches are common outdoor dwelling insects that are native to North America and are found throughout Ontario. They are most commonly found in moist woodland, ground litter, mulch, firewood, potted plants, shingles and rain gutters. Wood roaches are not dangerous—just more of a nuisance, especially when they enter homes. Their common food source is decaying organic matter and unlike other roaches (German roaches for example) they are attracted to light sources.
Wood roaches have a flat, oval body with long antenna, spiny legs and an overall chestnut brown colour. A male is usually about 25 mm while a female is up to 19 mm and generally the males appear to have a bit of a tan colour because of the colour of their wings. Adults and large nymphs of the wood roach can be recognized by the pale, creamy white or transparent stripe on the outer edge of the thorax. The pale edge extends onto the first 1/3 of the front wings on adult roaches.
Wood roaches that have entered a home will act differently than other roach species simply because they are not secretive, they are active day and night and they are less likely to run when approached. They will also wander around a house, without stay localized to a specific area such as the kitchen. Unlike other species of roaches however, wood roaches will not thrive or reproduce indoors, because they require specific habitat to do so. They need a consistently moist environment such as under wood piles, loose bark and decaying logs into order to reproduce.
Wood roaches will not harm your home, the furnishings or you, but they are an annoyance that can be controlled by yearly treatments and habitat modifications.