Wood Roach vs Cockroach: Similarities and Differences.

Currently, we have about 4600 species of cockroaches in the world. Yet, only 30 species can be found in human dwellings and they are quite easy to identify.

However, oftentimes, many people mistake one particular kind of cockroach; the wood roach, with other kinds of cockroaches.

Of course, this has resulted in using the wrong approach to eliminating some cockroaches. And because of that, we have made this article to analyze the differences between wood roaches and other cockroaches.

But first, let’s ask:

What Are Wood Roaches?

You see, unlike general belief, wood roaches are also cockroaches. In fact, their full and actual name is the wood cockroach.

But compared to other species of cockroaches, wood roaches are most likely to be found in North America.  Over there, you can find these roaches near places that are cool, damp, and rich in decaying matter.

Common examples of such places include decaying logs, tree branches, stumps, hollow trees, tree barks, and even underneath dead leaves. So, normally, these roaches are not indoor breeds.

As we all know, most leaf litters are brownish in color and so also are the males of wood roaches. Because of their color, they can blend with their surroundings and escape potential predators.

Then again, male wood roaches can fly quite fast but only for a short while. So, without their ability to blend with their surroundings, they may tend to survive less in the wild.

Are Wood Roaches Harmful? Can They Infest Your House?

Not particularly, they are not. Because compared to other cockroaches, wood roaches pose a much lesser threat.

For instance, other cockroaches infest our house anytime they get the chance. Some of them even go as far as damaging our properties, contaminating our food, and thus causing infections.

However, wood roaches are outdoor insects. As such, they are less likely to breed within your house or damage your indoor belongings.

But sometimes, wood cockroaches can sneak into homes during the dry season and other extreme weather. They do this by crawling under the doors and windows or squeezing their way through gaps and wall cracks.

At other times, house owners themselves do bring in these cockroaches through the use of infested firewood, cedar shake shingles, and the construction of houses in woody areas.

Now, this is where the problem with wood roaches sets in. Because you see, wood roaches, especially the males, move about in large numbers.

Then again, the females can live for several months and be with up to 32 eggs at once. These eggs only take 34 days before they hatch. So, there’s a high chance that the roaches you brought in would number up within a few weeks.

When that happens, the wood roaches would roam about your house from one room to another. Because in most cases, wood roaches don’t congregate in a specific room. Rather, they wander about.

It is their wanderer habit and their large size that cause a nuisance to homeowners. That’s because it’s quite embarrassing when a visitor discovers such a large number of big pests moving about your house.

Aside from that, wood roaches pose no harm. They don’t bite. They don’t eat your indoor belongings like books or furniture. Neither are they known to cause any diseases.

It’s only that we can’t bear to live with wood roaches under the same roof. So, everybody with a wood roach situation would do anything to get rid of it.

What Is the Difference Between a Cockroach and a Wood Roach?

As said earlier, wood roaches (aka tree roaches) are also among the 4600 species of cockroaches. So that means, they have the same body outline and internal organs common to all cockroaches.

However, certain things set the wood roaches apart. These things include their body color, overall size, food habit, habitat, and general behavior. So, let’s look at these features in tandem below:

  • Habitat.

Most cockroaches found in the United States are indoor species. Whereas, wood roaches prefer to hide in outdoor spaces that are cool, damp, and rich in the rotten matter.

Such places include hollow trees, rotten logs, decaying leaves, gutters, and farm mulch. So, normally, wood roaches don’t invade homes unless:

  1. during harsh weather;
  2. when they are transported into the house by the house owners themselves via infected firewood;
  3. in wooden houses built in woody areas.
  • Food Habit.

Some house cockroaches can eat old books, sugary materials, and other things because most cockroaches are omnivorous. So, anything goes.

However, wood roaches are quite picky. As such, they tend to eat only rotten matter like decaying leaves and rotten logs.

  • Size and Body Color.

Compared to other cockroaches, wood roaches are quite small. Likewise, their males are bigger than the females and they have more-developed wings.

This is why they can fly and the females cannot. And in terms of body color, wood roaches are light-brown in color.

  • Behavior.

Male wood roaches tend to be more light-sensitive compared to other roaches like the house cockroach which prefer to live in dark corners.

This is why even though most wood roaches are nocturnal, they still forage in the afternoon. Although sometimes, they get started by abrupt light flickers. But after a while, they come back even with the light source still turned on.

  • Removal Technique.

Unlike other roaches, wood roaches tend to be more resistant to common insecticides. This is because most insecticides, even though they work to some extent, are not designed with wood roach biology in mind.

As such, only a few wood roaches tend to die when sprayed with common insecticides. So, to get rid of wood roaches, you will need to deter them with repellents or limit their food source and water.

When that happens, wood roaches, like some other cockroaches, would begin to feed on one another. And in the end, the rest would find their way out of your home.

Comparison Between Wood Roach and Other Non-roach Insects.

  • Wood Roach vs Water Bug.

It’s true that wood roaches (tan or dark-brown color) tend to have the same skin tones as water bugs (tan or black). Certain things tell them apart.

For one, water bugs are much bigger (about 4 cm at least) than wood roaches (half a inch), which are one of the smallest species of cockroaches.

Then again, water bugs tend to have pointed beak near the underbelly of their head. That; they have in addition to their normal body outline which is very similar to that of a wood roach.

Also, wood roaches reside mostly in dead logs. According to their name, water bugs are found in moving streams or stagnant water.

Aside from that, wood roaches can’t or rather rarely bite. Whereas, water bugs, when provoked, can inflict painful bites on humans.

And finally, wood roaches are from a class of insects generally called cockroaches while water bugs, as in their names, are true bugs.

  • Wood Roach vs Bed Bug.

Like water bugs, bed bugs are also true bugs. But unlike water bugs, bed bugs are blood-suckers. Whereas, wood roaches rarely even bite, if at all.

In terms of size, wood roaches are larger than bed bugs which, regardless of age, are just as small as poppy seeds.

Male wood roaches can fly with their well-developed wings. But even though bed bugs have wings, they are not meant for flight. So oftentimes, bed bugs move about by crawling on their legs.

Both wood roaches and bed bugs are not known to cause any diseases. They are also both nocturnal. But wood roaches are more attracted to light sources.

Wood Roach vs Palmetto Bug.

Unlike bed bugs and water bugs, palmetto bugs are not true bugs. In fact, the name palmetto bug is the local name for certain species of house cockroaches.

Common species of roaches named like this include the American cockroach often found near the basements and sewers all over the United States.

Another species commonly called the Palmetto bug is the Smokybrown cockroaches. These roaches have shiny skins and like the wood roaches, they are found inside tree hollows and mulch.

However, palmetto bugs in most cases, are named after a plant called Palmetto. This plant bears fan-shaped leaves similar to those of palm trees.

So, any cockroach that’s associated with any palm tree or palmetto tree is named as such. These roaches can survive both indoors and outdoors. Though, they tilt towards indoor dwellings.

Since our dear old wood roaches are primarily outdoors and would do anything to remain outside, they are a bit different from palmetto bugs.

In fact, it’s very rare to see people call a wood roach a palmetto bug. Even though they are both cockroaches.

Does Wood Attract Cockroaches? 

For certain kinds of cockroaches like the wood roaches, yes; wood attracts them. This is because almost all types of cockroaches love to feed on organic matter.

Two primary examples of such matter include leaves and wood. So, anything woody (especially rotten ones as in the case of wood roaches) smells yummy to cockroaches.

This is why most cockroaches are often found near books, paper bags, boxes, and cardboard (made from wood pulps), and near cabinets (built with wood logs).

Final Words.

In this article, we made it clear that wood roaches are just another species of cockroaches. But compared to others, they are smaller, more attracted to light, hide in deadwood, and are often found outdoors.

However, during extreme weather or in houses made of planks in woody areas, wood roaches tend to constitute a nuisance.

Aside from that, wood roaches are not particularly dangerous and do not bite nor are known to spread any diseases.


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