A New Cockroach on the Block
The District lab recently identified Turkestan cockroaches in samples submitted by a county resident. The Turkestan cockroach, Blatta lateralis, was first noticed in California in 1978 around Sharpe Army Depot. Researchers believe they were initially introduced to California from military equipment returning from Asia or Afghanistan. In many parts of the United States, the Turkestan cockroach is rapidly displacing the oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis. Turkestan cockroaches produce considerably more offspring than do the oriental cockroach. While this may explain the observed shift, the ecological impact is unknown. Despite this concern, these cockroaches can easily be purchased online to feed pet reptiles.
Turkestan cockroaches rarely invade indoors and prefer moist locations such as leaf litter, potted plants, and compost piles. They lack the ability to climb smooth surfaces and do not burrow. Female cockroaches are about an inch long with a dark head and brown body and have cream-colored markings along the edges behind the head. Males are slightly smaller with a yellow-tan body. These cockroaches have only been found in the southern part of San Mateo County, but could extend their range northward.
Suspected Turkestan cockroach sighting? Request an insect identification online.