Wood Cockroach

Nobody wants to spend tons of time thinking about cockroaches. However, the best way to attack any home infestation is to know your enemy. Here’s a complete rundown on the wood cockroach, including how to identify, control, and exterminate them.

Facts, Identification, and Control

Let’s start with the basic science behind these creepy-crawlies.

Latin Name

Parcoblatta pensylvanica


What does a wood roach look like? They resemble the “classic” American cockroach found throughout North America, although they’re smaller, averaging between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches long.

They have traditional cockroach characteristics:

  • Chestnut brown color
  •  Thin legs
  •  Long antennae
  •  Flat, oval body

Adults and nymphs (juveniles) have a creamy-white or transparent stripe on the outer edge of their bodies. Of course, finding the stripe does require getting pretty close to the roach!

Adult males have wings. They can fly fast, but only for short distances. Adult females have shorter, non-working wing pads.

Facts about Wood Roaches

Where Do They Live?

Wood roaches are primarily found in central and eastern North America, although they can appear as far south as Florida and as far central as Oklahoma.

Wood roaches are also called Pennsylvania wood roaches. While they do live in Pennsylvania, they’re not any more prevalent there than in surrounding states.

They live around timber and bark. They seek out tree trunks, woodpiles, stumps, hollow trees, and similar. For this reason, they’re sometimes called tree roaches.

They need a moist environment, too. Damp, wooded areas are the only place they can live long-term and successfully reproduce.

What Do They Eat?

Wood cockroaches have the same diet as other cockroaches. They’re omnivores who will eat practically any organic matter. They eat animals, fruits, vegetables, grains, and basically anything except metal or plastic.

How Did I Get Wood Cockroaches?

Wood cockroaches prefer to live outdoors in wood piles rather than inside your house. Usually, they don’t seek out human dwellings. Instead, they’re carried in on firewood.

Additionally, they’re attracted to lights. While they’re not necessarily looking for a new place to live, they will move towards porch lights and windows.

Also, wood cockroaches like the leafy, moist environment of roof gutters. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, roaches can move in. They especially like gutters next to a wood shingle roof.

How Serious Are Wood Cockroach Problems?

Fortunately, wood roaches typically don’t pose major problems. They don’t thrive indoors, and they don’t particularly love hanging out in homes. However, they still pose several issues:

They’re Unsanitary

Any insect running through your home poses potential health risks. After all, they live around, and eat, decaying organic matter. They could potentially carry salmonella and other diseases.

Additionally, cockroach waste and skin cells commonly trigger allergies and asthma attacks. Symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

They’re Unsightly

Wood cockroaches are bold. They’ll skitter around the house at any time day or night – and they don’t care about bright lights. Plus, they don’t limit themselves to any specific area. Once inside, they’ll travel from room to room like they own the place.

They’re Upsetting

Even just one wood cockroach is a stressful sight. They’re creepy, icky, and unsettling. Even when you can’t see them, knowing they’re in your house can have you feeling edgy and uncomfortable.

They’re Vandals

Wood cockroaches don’t particularly want to live in your house. However, they seek out piles of wood anywhere, even a pile of it by your fireplace. Also, they leave behind droppings, oily tracks, and eggs.

What Can I Do About Wood Cockroaches?

wood cockroach

Fortunately, wood cockroaches can’t reproduce indoors. They need a moist environment found under outdoor woodpiles. They’re unlikely to infest a dwelling in any major way.

However, wood cockroaches are still a nuisance. You want to minimize their ability to enter your home.

Signs of a Wood Cockroach Infestation?

Wood roaches are unique in that they don’t run and hide. Instead, explore every room. They’re also comfortable in the light. If you have a wood cockroach infestation, you’ll likely see them.

Even if you don’t see them, you’ll almost certainly see their droppings. Wood cockroach droppings are small, dark spots with blunt ends and ridged sides. They look similar to mouse droppings.

Finally, wood cockroaches have a pungent, musty smell. Even if they’re only in your house for a short time, the smell can permeate and linger.

Wood Cockroach Prevention and Control Tips

#1 – Store Wood Away from Your House

Don’t store wood logs alongside your house. Don’t store them inside, either. Keep all woodpiles, branches, and other wood in a shed or otherwise far from your home.

#2 – Maintain Your Lawn

A large, trim lawn acts as a natural barrier in which wood roaches are unlikely to cross. Plus, the noise and motion of frequent moving creates an inhospitable environment for roaches.

#3 – Seal Up Garbage

Make sure the lids on your outdoor trash cans are tight. Also, remove any stagnant water and rotting wood from your yard, as they emit roach-friendly smells.

#4 – Turn off Porch Lights

Keep your lights off at night. They act as an enticement for curious roaches, especially around May during the mating season.

Wood Cockroach Professional Pest Control

Dealing with one or two wood cockroaches usually isn’t a big deal. However, if you notice they’re frequently invading your living space, you should hire a pest control professional.

An exterminator can check your home and surrounding area to determine why wood cockroaches are a problem.


Do wood roaches cause damage to property?

No, wood roaches can’t cause property damage. Wood roaches do not thrive and reproduce in homes because they require their natural habitats’ consistently moist environment, such as under woodpiles or loose bark and decaying logs.

Do wood roaches bite?

No, wood roaches don’t bite. This particular species of cockroach is not particularly dangerous. They are more of a nuisance to humans and are not known to carry any diseases.

Can cockroaches enter your body?

Yes, cockroaches can enter your body. There are several cases of cockroaches entering the ear and nose while sleeping. Small cockroaches can readily enter body orifices if you’re in a deep sleep.