Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Managements Professional
What Is a Brown-Banded Cockroach?
The brown-banded cockroach is a small, invasive, domestic species of roach that lives indoors and prefers the drier and warmer parts of your home. This roach has two light yellow-brown bands across its body, hence the name. Brown-banded roaches are native to Africa but can be found in the USA as well as Canada, but are now less common in other countries such as the UK.
Brown-banded cockroaches are also known as “furniture cockroaches” because they will spread throughout your home and infest your furniture.
Are Brown Banded Cockroaches a Pest?
This species of roach is a pest and not one you want in your home. Thankfully it’s not as common in the US as it once was, and it’s not a species of roach that I and other pest professionals come across too often.
However, it can still be found in cities and is more likely to be a problem in apartment buildings and other multifamily dwellings. And just like other cockroaches, the brownbanded can carry and spread harmful bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, E. coli, and Salmonella that can cause diarrhea and gastroenteritis.
Their feet and bodies pick up the harmful bacteria when crawling through filth and feces which contaminates your food and anywhere else they crawl on. They also leave behind their bacteria-filled feces.
Overall, any species of roach is dangerous to have in the home as the skin they shed and the feces they leave behind can both trigger asthma and allergy attacks in some people.
What Do Brown-Banded Roaches Eat?
Roaches are scavengers and the brown-banded species is no exception. It feeds on decaying plant and animal matter, food scraps and garbage, and even other roaches.
As well as food, they also feed on starchy items such as wallpaper, glue, paper, clothing, and similar materials. They can also get into your pantry and cabinets and feed on the food stored in there.
What Do Brown-Banded Cockroaches Look Like?
- They are about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) long when mature and brown to light brown in color, with two light, yellow-brown bands that run across the middle and lower sections of the wings. And it’s these bands that help you tell them apart from the similar-looking German cockroach.
- Flattened, oval-shaped body with six legs and two long antennae.
- The pronotum (shield-like area behind the head) is dark brown to black with a bell-shaped pattern and a translucent border.
- Adults are sexually dimorphic, which means the males and females look different from each other. Females are shorter, broader, and are darker than the males. Her wings only cover three-quarters of the abdomen so females are unable to fly.
- Adult males are a lighter brown color with a narrower body, and their wings cover their entire abdomen so they are capable of flying.
What Do Brown-Banded Cockroach Nymphs Look Like?
The nymphs also have the same two light-colored bands, but they are on the body and are more noticeable on the nymphs than the adults.
Brown Banded Roach Life Cycle
There are three stages of the life cycle:
- Nymph (baby)
Brown-banded cockroach females produce approximately 14 egg capsules, each of which contains between 14 to 18 eggs.
Egg capsule (ootheca): Is a yellowish or red-brown color (see photo above) and is only about 3/16 inch (5 mm long) and it is smaller than a German cockroach’s.
After carrying the egg capsule for 24 to 36 hours while it hardens, the female attaches it to protected areas (usually where there are other eggs) in a corner or a crack, such as the underside of shelves and furniture and inside appliances.
Nymph: The nymphs emerge from the egg capsule anywhere from 37 to 100 days depending on the temperature inside the building.
Adult: They will molt six to eight times before they reach adulthood which can range from 8 to 31 weeks, again depending on the temperature in the home.
How Long Do These Cockroaches Live For?
The adults live from 13 to 45 weeks.
Where Do Brown-Banded Cockroaches Live?
The brown-banded cockroach is not like the other species of cockroaches that you might find in your home, such as the American roach, that needs to live near water and food sources. This roach prefers warm and drier locations and will usually be found higher up in a room.
The brown-banded can be found behind moldings and pictures on the walls, in closets, computers, and around the motors of appliances like the refrigerator. They can also be found under and inside of upholstered furniture, which is why they are also known as the ‘furniture cockroach‘.
What Attracts Them and How Do They Get In?
Just like German cockroaches, brown-banded roaches also need our homes for survival because they are attracted to the shelter, warmth, and food they provide them with.
They hitchhike their way in through a number of ways such as in boxes, grocery products, electrical items, or when you unknowingly bring in infested furniture. And once they are inside, they can be difficult to get rid of because they spread throughout the home.
Signs of Brown-Banded Cockroaches in Your House
As with any cockroach infestation, spotting cockroaches themselves are the most obvious sign you might have a problem. But a brown-banded roach infestation might not be so easy to spot because they are mostly active at night, they are very small, and they can live anywhere in your home, and not always close to your kitchen or bathrooms.
This roach is often first spotted in the living room or bedrooms, so aside from actually seeing a live or dead roach, another sign cockroaches are in your home is seeing their fecal spots which look like dark brown to black smears or specks like black pepper that they leave behind where they congregate or run across.
Keep in mind that their feces look similar to bed bug feces, so if you are finding these black spots in your bedroom or on your bed and no sightings of a roach, then it might be an idea to check for bed bugs.
As these roaches prefer to live at higher levels of the room, look for their frass on the ceiling and near light fittings and towards the top of cabinets.
Another indication of their presence are the egg capsules. These are extremely small and will be hidden away so they can be hard to find but look carefully underneath chairs, nightstands, dressers, sofa, tables, etc.
As well as inspecting the furniture, this species also deposits its egg capsules high up closer to the ceiling.
Getting Rid of Brown-Banded Cockroaches
This cockroach species can be difficult to treat because it can spread throughout your home. It’s also important to make sure that it is brown-banded cockroaches and not German cockroaches that you have and the best way to do this is to call a pest control company and arrange for an inspection.
Do some research and contact a recommended exterminator who will come out and identify the species and also take care of the infestation for you.
Alternatively, if you want to get rid of roaches without using a pest control company, then click on the link and follow the guidance.
Bear in mind that the inspection must cover the entire house or apartment, and not just the kitchen and bathrooms as it would with other roaches.
Remember, they like to hide in warm environments so start by looking under the sink in the kitchen for live or dead roaches, and fecal spotting. Check the corners for egg cases in the upper parts of the cabinets. Inspect the drawers and any overhangs underneath shelving, and towards the ceiling. Pull the refrigerator out and inspect behind and underneath if you can.
Inspect the bathrooms and look where any plumbing enters the walls, check around the vanity area and inside cabinets and drawers.
In the other rooms, look and see if there’s any evidence of these furniture cockroaches close to the ceiling, and on and in cracks in the walls, look underneath and inside the furniture, including the sofa, chairs, and tables. Inspect behind picture frames on the walls, electrical equipment, moldings, and baseboards.
If you see any number of them, then your vacuum is going to be your best friend here as it can quickly reduce their population numbers.
Use glue traps to help find and monitor these roaches in places where you see feces stains or shed skins, which is an indication they are congregating nearby. As you know, they prefer dry areas that are higher up, so consider this when placing the sticky traps.
When you’ve found their harborage areas apply a roach gel bait.
Gel baits are a reliable pest control method that is effective and easy to apply and kills roaches by ingestion and by contact.
It is important to only apply small pea-sized amounts of gel bait to a harborage site, or as close as possible.
Roach insecticidal dust/powder or boric acid can also be used as a crack and crevice treatment in gaps and voids where it isn’t possible to apply the gel bait (don’t apply it in the same places as the gel).
As long as the roach powder doesn’t get wet it will continue to kill roaches for over a year.
How to Keep This Domestic Pest Out
Having learned of the numerous ways this pest can enter your home, you know there’s always a chance they can get back in. But there are ways to limit the chances of a future invasion and hopefully prevent them from coming back, and these are keeping your home clean and tidy:
- Keep you home as clean as possible by sanitizing and wiping up spills and crumbs from countertops, surfaces, and floors.
- Regular vacuuming of carpets and floors in areas where people eat.
- Caulk and seal all cracks and crevices in walls, around windows and doors, and around plumbing.
- Make sure your trash cans are properly closed and take the trash out on a regular basis.
- Fix any leaky plumbing which they can use as a water source.
- Reduce areas they can use for harborage, so it’s good to be as clutter free as possible.