The Asian cockroach was identified as a newly introduced species in 1986, when a heavy infestation was found in Lakeland, Florida (Polk County). A second, more heavily infested area was identified in 1987 near Brandon and Tampa (Hillsborough County). After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this species was introduced into South Louisiana. Today, the Asian cockroach has spread to infest the southeastern United States. This cockroach is a rural and suburban pest that mainly infests single-family, suburban houses and yards. It is abundant outdoors, where populations of 30,000 to 250,000 per acre have been found. The adults are strong fliers and readily enter the houses.
The Asian cockroach is almost identical in appearance to the german cockroach. In fact, entomologists believed it was an outdoor strain of the German cockroach in Asia. The main morphological differences between the Asian and German cockroaches are the shape of a groove in one segment (eighth) of the abdomen and a small gland in the males. The wings of the Asian cockroach are usually longer and narrower than those of the German cockroach and extend beyond the tip of the abdomen and cover the egg capsule in the females. Also, Asian cockroaches are lighter in color than most German cockroaches. This particular cockroach can be identified by gas chromotography of the waxes found in the exoskeleton. Any part or any stage of the cockroach can be identified with this procedure. They should not be preserved in alcohol but simply dried when sent for analysis.
The Asian cockroach is a strong flier, and is both a feral (wild) and peridomestic species. Adults take flight even during the day if disturbed and are readily seen in an infested lawn, because their flight is similar to that of moths and leafhoppers. At dusk there is a frenzy of activity; adults are very active in the grass and mulch climbing to the tips of grass and leaves to take flight. They are attracted to light-colored surfaces or brightly lit surfaces, where they alight. Numerous adults have been seen at all heights on single- and two-story homes. These cockroaches will invade any opening in a house, such as a lighted doorway or window. Once inside, they will crawl on an illuminated television screen and on walls while the lights are on during the evening. Because the peak activity period of Asian roaches coincides with our leisure time, the presence of the cockroach is obvious.
Asian cockroaches are abundant in shaded areas with leaf litter or where there is ground cover. In feral habitats, the Asian cockroach is found in shaded areas of pastures, along shaded road sides in leaf mulch, in shaded areas of thick grass, and in ground cover of abandoned citrus groves. The adults have been found feeding on the honeydew of aphids on citrus trees, and on the flowers of other plants during the night.
The female Asian cockroach produces an egg capsule that has about 40 eggs. It is carried by the female until the young are ready to hatch. The nymphs mature to adults in about 6 to 7 weeks. From late May through early August, nymphs predominate and adults are rarely encountered. However, adults are abundant during the early spring months (February through May) and again in mid-August to October.
The feeding behavior of the Asian cockroach appears to be similar to other cockroaches, in that they are omnivorous. Thus, they may be capable of carrying the same pathogenic organisms as the other peridomestic and domestic species of cockroaches. Considering their ability to produce large populations and their likelihood of entering homes, pathogens associated with animal droppings and soil microorganisms will be carried by this cockroach when it enters the home. People sensitive to allergens of German cockroaches are also sensitive to allergens of Asian cockroaches.