AUSTRALIAN COCKROACH

Periplaneta australasiae (Fabricius)

[Blattodea: Blattidae]

Article by Bruce Gow

Aussie roach

Adult: Australian cockroaches are approximately 35 mm long. Their elongate body is dark brown with clearly defined yellow markings on the pronotum and a yellow stripe on the margin of the forewing. Nymphs resemble the adult cockroach but lack wings.


Head: The head is concealed beneath a large shield-like pronotum. Antennae are long (often longer than the body) and thread-like. Compound eyes are large in relation to head size and kidney-shaped. The mouthparts consist of mandibles for chewing with 5-segmented maxillary palps and 3-segmented labial palps.


Thorax: Cockroaches have two pairs of wings. The forewings are leathery and protect the hindwings. The Australian cockroach resembles the American cockroach but has a pale stripe along the anterobasal margin of the forewing. The hindwings are membranous, fan-shaped and fold flat over the body when at rest. Legs are strongly spined and designed for running.


Abdomen: The abdomen has a pair of multi-segmented cerci at the base. Cerci are used as tactile receptors.


Reproduction & Life-cycle:

Adults live 4-8 months. The life-cycle of the Australian cockroach is 6-12 months. An adult female cockroach will lay 12-20 oothecae in that period. The oothecae contain 16-24 eggs. Oothecae are dropped or glued to a substrate when laid. Nymphs hatch from the ootheca and undergo 10-12 moults before reaching the adult stage.


Distribution:

The Australian cockroach is a cosmopolitan urban pest. The species was probably endemic to Africa and distributed to America with slave trade. Cockroaches have since moved elsewhere via commerce.


Pest Status:

The Australian cockroach is more common in tropical-subtropical environments and tend to live outdoors. The Australian cockroach commonly inhabits greenhouses, factories and building voids. Nymphs and adults occupy the same habitat and feed on material of plant origin.


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