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6 Types of Cockroaches in Tennessee (With Pictures)

German Cockroach

Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State due to its rich history of being there for others in their time of need. This beautiful destination has something for everyone. Whether you want to see the bright lights of Nashville where country music reigns supreme or enjoy the beauty and tranquility of The Smoky Mountains National Park nestled throughout East Tennessee, a visit to this state is at the top of many people’s vacation dream list. It’s also an area where many people from out of state choose to relocate or purchase rental properties.

Unfortunately, just like every state in the United States, Tennessee is home to pests that most of us don’t want to encounter. Cockroaches. These insects are the source of nightmare fuel for many people leaving us to rampage through our homes when one is spotted and cringing at the mere sight of them. Whether you’re local to Tennessee or going down for a visit, it’s important to know the type of creatures you may encounter, even these hated nocturnal pests. Let’s take a look at the six types of cockroaches found in Tennessee so you can better identify them if they happen to show their faces around your home or property. This will help you explain the situation better to the exterminator when you call them in to irradicate these unwanted visitors.

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The 6 Types of Cockroaches in Tennessee

1. German Cockroach

german cockroach
Image Credit: Erik Karits, Pixabay

The German cockroach, or Blattella germanica, is easily one of the most common cockroaches in the world. It is found in every state in the US. By the name, you would expect these insects to have originated in Germany. In actuality, these cockroaches originated in Southeast China. The German cockroach isn’t a fan of the cold weather. This is why when things outside cool down, they need to find their way into homes, motels, grocery stores, and basically any dwelling where they can hide.

These roaches are known as meat and plant scavengers. They prefer to do their scurrying at night. If you happen into a room while they are scavenging and turn on the light, you’ll notice they dash away quickly to avoid you. Spotting one of these cockroaches during daytime hours could be a sign of a major infestation.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • Males are pale or tannish brown with 2 dark streaks on their heads
  • =Females have wider abdomens and are darker in color

2. American Cockroach

american cockroach
Image By: guentermanaus, Shutterstock

The American Cockroach, or Periplaneta americana, is next on our list.  In the United States, this insect can be found dwelling in all 50 states making Tennessee one of their homes. The native homes of these cockroaches were Africa and the Middle East. They made their way to the US by boat hundreds of years ago. Of the six species of cockroaches found in Tennessee, the American cockroach is the largest. These insects are very fast, making it difficult to chase them down when encountered.

Luckily, they aren’t the greatest fliers which can give you some peace of mind. You’ll find these cockroaches enjoy being inside your home as they will eat anything they encounter. They are also common in commercial settings like restaurants, warehouses, and supermarkets. Unfortunately, these cockroaches can be dangerous. They are odorous, which can cause allergic reactions in certain people. They also have the potential to carry diseases on their legs from the food they encounter. These diseases can be spread to other areas of the home making it important to call in an exterminator if you feel you have an infestation.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • American cockroaches are reddish-brown with paler necks that have 2 darker blotches in the center.
  • These roaches have short wings that are reddish-brown like their bodies only shinier

3. Oriental Cockroach

Image By: Liz Weber, Shutterstock

The Oriental cockroach, or Blatta orientalis, is often referred to as a water bug in the United States. This is due to their preference for moist, dark places. Outside of the home, you’ll often find this cockroach living under plants, leaf litter, and woodpiles. Inside the home, however, is where the real issue occurs.

While they are common in drains and sewer pipes, this cockroach, like the American cockroach, is known for carrying diseases. It is often considered the dirtiest cockroach species residing in Tennessee. They are also odorous but have a much stronger smell. As soon as you notice the Oriental cockroach in your home it is important to reach out for professional extermination. This will help keep the people in your house free of any illnesses these insects may carry.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • The Oriental cockroach is dark-reddish brown to blackish-brown in color
  • The female has very short wings, almost non-existent, while male wings cover the majority of their abdomen

4. Brown-Banded Cockroach

brown banded cockroach
Image By: Freedom my wing, Shutterstock

The brown-banded cockroach, or Supella longipalpa, is the smallest cockroach species in Tennessee. Unlike other cockroach species, the brown-banded cockroach doesn’t need a lot of moisture to survive. This makes it easier for this insect to hide around your home. They are often located inside appliances or in darker areas as they aren’t fans of light. This species is also known for eating everything. They will eat fabrics, meat, and even sewage. They spread pathogens and carry microorganisms making them dangerous when they infest a home.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • The brown-banded cockroach is tannish in color with 2 lightly colored bands around the wings and abdomen
  • Males have thin wings that cover the entire abdomen while the female’s wings are shorter and darker

5. Smoky Brown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach
Image By: eye-blink, Shutterstock

The smoky brown cockroach, or Periplaneta fuliginosa, is a species of cockroach mostly found in the Southeastern parts of the United States. This is due to their love of warmer climates. This species doesn’t do well in colder climates and often finds its way inside when things get too chilly for them. While the smoky brown cockroach prefers to live outside around piles of leaves, sewer pipes, and drainage systems where they can feast on decaying organic matter, they are like most species of cockroach and will scavenge to find something to eat if needed.

Another note of interest is that the smoky brown cockroach loses moisture faster than the other five species of cockroaches found in Tennessee. This means these insects must find water at least every 2 to 3 days to survive.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • The smoky brown cockroach is shiny with a dark brown mahogany hue
  • Both sexes of this cockroach have long wings that reach beyond their abdomen

6. Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach

Pennsylvania wood cockroach
Image By: Melinda Fawver, Shutterstock

The Pennsylvania wood cockroach, or Parcoblatta pensylvanica, is easily the preferred cockroach of people living in Tennessee. Why? It prefers to live its life outdoors scurrying around at night and not in your home. As a matter of fact, if this species of cockroach makes its way inside, it’ll only survive a few weeks due to the dryness of your home.

The Pennsylvania wood cockroach prefers a life outside where it can dwell in woodpiles, hollow trees, and tree stumps. These insects normally feed on compost, manure, and dead or dying plants. You’ll even be pleased to know they aren’t fans of other cockroaches. Since the Pennsylvania wood cockroach steers clear of other roach species, they don’t tend to carry diseases with them.

Identifying Characteristics:
  • Male Pennsylvania wood cockroaches are dark brown with long wings that are yellow on the front half
  • Females are also dark brown but their wings are much smaller and useless

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If you’re a native of Tennessee or someone planning on visiting or relocating to the area, being armed with the tools to identify the pests you may encounter is quite beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to cockroaches. Understanding how they act, what they feed on, and where they usually live can help you determine whether you’re dealing with an infestation on your property or not. Considering the dangers associated with cockroaches, it is in your best interest to reach out for professional assistance if you find yourself under attack from these nuisance insects.

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Featured Image Credit: Erik Karits, Pixabay


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