People use the name “waterbug” to describe two different cockroaches. Some people use the name “waterbug” when they are talking about the oriental cockroach. Other people use the name “waterbug” when they are talking about the American cockroach. Although they are both cockroaches, the two types are very different.
The oriental cockroach is a shiny black insect. Adults are about one inch long. The adult oriental cockroaches cannot fly because they do not have full-sized wings.
Oriental cockroaches are not able to climb smooth surfaces, so they are commonly found in low places. Outdoors they hide under sheds and doghouses, in water meter boxes, and under ground cover. When they move into homes, they are usually found in crawl spaces, basements, and ground-level rooms.
American cockroaches are large roaches. Adults can reach almost 2half an inch in length. The males seem even larger because their wings extend past the end of their abdomen. American cockroaches are fairly good fliers and they can run very fast.
American cockroaches like warm, humid areas. In the southern states, they are found outside in alleys and yards. They are common on trees and in flowerbeds. In northern cities they often gather in sewers in great numbers.
When they move indoors, American cockroaches seek areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. In commercial buildings they are often found in equipment rooms, laundries, and kitchens.
Both types of waterbug cockroaches are easier to control outside – before they get into the home. Homeowners can start by eliminating their hiding places. Move firewood away from the house and stack it on a rack. Trim weeds, grass, and ground cover away from the foundation. In flowerbeds, rake mulch away from the foundation to make a clear zone that is at least 12″ wide.
Make sure exterior doors close tightly. Install weather-stripping to eliminate any gaps under the doors. Secure the access door to the crawl space and repair any damaged screens on crawl space vents.
Granular roach bait is an effective tool for controlling waterbug cockroaches. Many brands of bait are water-resistant, so they can be used in flowerbeds and ground cover. A liquid insecticide barrier on the foundation can help prevent these pests from gathering near the house.
Because of rain and sun, the treatments will have to be re-applied periodically. Many homeowners call on pest control professionals to make these bait and insecticide applications.