What Is the U.S. Cockroach Population? (2023 Statistics)
With an “ick” factor worse than any other insect, it’s no surprise that cockroaches are officially the nation’s most hated pest. A 2021 study by OnePoll found that 39% of Americans detested cockroaches more than any other creature, beating spiders (37%), ants (29%), and even home-destroying termites (28%).
There’s no question that a cockroach makes a different impression. You might squash the random ant, fly, or even spider that wanders onto the kitchen counter without a second thought. But cockroaches on the counter? That’ll make people run away screaming, grab cans of Raid, or even contemplate burning the house down, as 3 in 5 survey respondents have noted.
It sounds dramatic, but such is the desire to avoid seeing, hearing, or catching the faintest whiff of the creepy crawlies.
Fortunately, cockroaches aren’t a problem for everyone. There are preventative steps to take, and if you’re unwilling to uproot your life over a fear of roaches, you have places to go to make them a non-issue. Get the insights you need with this look at the state of the U.S. cockroach population today.
U.S. Cockroach Population Statistics
- Cockroach infestations affect 14 million American households.
- Houston is the most cockroach-infested city, with over 37% of residents having roach issues.
- Less than 1% of Portland’s residents have cockroaches in their homes.
- Over 28% of Florida homes have had cockroaches in the last 12 months.
- Buildings with 10–50 units are more than twice as likely to have cockroaches than detached houses.
- Cockroaches appear in 8.5% of households with incomes over $200K and 15.7% of households with incomes under $10K.
- 74% of pest control companies implement resistance strategies.
- 81% of pest control services rotate baits.
Cockroaches in America
1. Cockroach infestations affect 14 million American households.
(American Housing Survey)
Every two years, the U.S. Census Bureau, with sponsorship from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducts the American Housing Survey (AHS) to provide data on the size, makeup, and quality of American households. It has been the nation’s most comprehensive survey of its kind since it began in 1973, with the most recent taking place in 2021.
In 2021, the AHS revealed that 14,482,000 housing units had shown signs of cockroaches in the past year, accounting for 11.27% of the nation. The percentage of the country reporting cockroaches has been relatively consistent over the last decade. The most notable deviations occurred in 2013 (10.26%) and 2017 (12.58%).
2. Houston is the most cockroach-infested city, with over 37% of residents having roach issues.
New Orleans had been running away with the title of “most cockroach-infested city” for the early part of the past decade, reporting 37.17% of its population as having signs of cockroaches in 2011 and 41.09% in 2015. But the Big Easy surprised everyone in 2019, posting a relatively low 29.75% and losing the top spot to Houston, Texas.
Houston reported 35.23% of households as having cockroaches in 2019. That was actually much lower than the ludicrously high 43.61% of Houston households in 2017.
In 2021, Houston again led the nation at 37.03%. New Orleans is notably only part of every other survey (once every four years), so it was not part of the 2017 or 2021 counts. If 2019 was a fluke, New Orleans could again contend for the title in the 2023 survey.
3. Less than 1% of Portland’s residents have cockroaches in their homes.
On the other side of the cockroach spectrum (and the other side of the map) is Portland, OR, where a minute 0.93% of households showed signs of cockroaches over 12 months in 2019. It was a significant improvement from the previous survey in 2015, when 1.6% of residents had cockroaches, causing it to barely fall behind Detroit (1.59%) for one year at least.
4. Over 28% of Florida homes have had cockroaches in the last 12 months.
Florida’s warmth and humidity prove irresistible to the country’s cockroaches, as 28.44% of residents reported seeing the pests in their homes in 2021. Texas was next on the list at 24.43%, while New York took the bronze position at 14.83%. States with the fewest instances of cockroaches in homes include Colorado at 2.4% of households (2019 survey), Ohio at 2.68% (2019), and Massachusetts at 3.37%.
Cockroaches and Housing Factors
5. Buildings with 10–49 units are more than twice as likely to have cockroaches than detached houses.
Keeping a physical distance from other people may help you avoid cockroaches as well. According to the American Housing Survey, living in an apartment building makes you twice as likely to see a cockroach as someone who lives in a detached house.
Standalone homes suffer cockroaches 9.04% of the time, while 19.88% of residents in buildings with 20–49 units see them. In general, buildings with 10–49 units have the greatest likelihood of having cockroach problems. With numerous move-ins/move-outs during the year, apartment buildings offer multiple opportunities for cockroaches to infiltrate a home and spread to other units.
6. Cockroaches appear in 8.5% of households with incomes over $200K and 15.7% of households with incomes under $10K.
Lower-income individuals have the most to worry about when warding off cockroaches. Of people making under $10,000/year, 15.7% have had cockroaches in their homes. By contrast, only 8.5% of households with incomes over $200,000 had cockroaches. Signs of cockroaches generally become less common as income increases, but the income bracket with the lowest rate is the $180,000–$199,999 group at 7.66%.
Controlling the Cockroach Population
7. 74% of pest control companies implement resistance strategies.
(Syngenta Professional Pest Management)
Resistance to pesticides is an overarching concern for many pest control experts when dealing with cockroach infestations. Researchers have found German cockroach populations resistant to several commercial bait products, indicating stronger and more challenging infestation potential.
If any cockroaches in a population have resistance to a pesticide, they’ll pass the resistance on to the next generation. Adults produce an egg case about once a month, each containing up to 48 eggs, so it won’t take long for a resistant group of roaches to retake a household after one treatment.
Knowing the risks of immune roaches, most pest companies apply resistance strategies. Despite only 50% of companies mentioning concern over resistant cockroaches in their area, 74% of companies approach cockroach infestations anticipating resistance.
8. 81% of pest control services rotate baits.
(Syngenta Professional Pest Management)
How are pest professionals creating an integrated approach to controlling cockroaches? The number one method by far is bait rotation, a frequent swap out of cockroach killers to keep them palatable and effective. The practice is essential for 81% of pest control companies, with 46% of them rotating baits once every three months.
Most control strategies include multi-pronged attacks. Resistance is a particular issue in homes where residents used commercial pesticides before calling an exterminator, creating an already resistant problem for the pros to tackle. To ensure better results, 82% of pest experts use a combination of sprayable treatments and gel baits rather than a single product.
Treatments are done every month in 66% of cockroach services and quarterly 18% of the time. By changing and using multiple products that react in different ways with cockroaches, many pest experts find that resistance is not a common challenge.
Frequently Asked Questions About the U.S. Cockroach Population
How Many Types of Cockroaches Are in America?
There are over 4,500 types of cockroaches, and researchers estimate that 55–70 species live in the United States. Only a handful are domestic or peri-domestic pests worth worrying about in the home.
The German cockroach, a domestic variety, is one of the most common types spread across the country, a particularly pervasive pest in inner-city neighborhoods. Other common cockroaches you may find in the house include:
Certain species of cockroaches in the United States, such as the German and American cockroaches, are widely distributed, and others have preferred regions. The Florida woods cockroach, for example, is a southern resident of Florida and the West Indies, while the Oriental cockroach is more likely to appear in a New England apartment.
What Are the Most Cockroach-Infested Cities?
Houston and New Orleans may be perennial contenders for Cockroach Capital, U.S.A, but they’re hardly the only places to avoid if you can’t stand the thought of roaches. In 2019, New Orleans had an off year and even fell out of the top three. Here are the top ten most cockroach-infested cities in America, based on the most recent data:
- Houston, TX: 37.03%
- Atlanta, GA: 30.93%
- Orlando, FL: 30.31% (2013 data)
- New Orleans, LA: 29.75% (2019 data)
- Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL: 29.14?5
- San Antonio, TX: 28.31%
- Austin, TX: 28.24% (2013 data)
- Birmingham, AL: 27.95%
- Miami, FL: 24.97%
- Raleigh, NC: 24.12% (2019 data)
The muggy southeast is a clear favorite for cockroaches. As you might imagine, moving north to areas with less rain and fewer hot days means you’ll see fewer of these persistent pests. The following are the places with the fewest instances of cockroaches:
- Portland, OR: 0.93% (2019 data)
- Detroit, MI: 1.29%
- Seattle, WA: 1.34%
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: 1.38%
- Rochester, NY: 1.48%
- Buffalo, NY: 1.50% (2011 data)
- Pittsburgh, PA: 1.59% (2019 data)
- Milwaukee, WI: 2.25% (2019 data)
- Denver, CO: 2.42%
- Providence, RI: 2.48% (2011 data)
Are Cockroaches More Common in the City?
The interconnectedness of city residences makes it much easier for cockroaches to spread to new homes. Sewers offer ideal conditions for them to feed, breed, and travel, and shared walls and plumbing systems in apartments can quickly make one unit’s infestation a common problem in multiple homes.
With that in mind, it’s understandable that 12.88% of households in urbanized areas had signs of cockroaches, while only 6% of rural households reported issues.
Cockroaches affect over 1/10th of American households, putting millions at risk of exposure to allergens and asthma-causing contaminants. Being so quick to reproduce and adapt, cockroaches can easily overcome many consumer products, making it crucial to contact an expert at the first sign of trouble. Stay aware of the cockroach population around the neighborhood, and take proactive measures to make them a non-issue in your home.
Featured Image Credit: Erik Karits, Pixabay