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Wood Cockroaches

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General Facts

Structure-infesting cockroaches have changed little over time and can be challenging to control. These skilled scavengers seek out food, shelter, and water in homes and buildings across Canada. Wood cockroaches sometimes invade structures that are prominent in forested and wooded areas and homes that use firewood.


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There are several species of wood cockroaches. The Pennsylvania wood cockroach is the most common wood roach found across Canada. This pest is light, yellowish brown in colour with pale colouration along the wing margin.

It is oval in shape, measuring about 12 – 30 mm in length. Both sexes have wings but it is only the male that is a strong flyer. The males are larger than the females in general.


While Pennsylvania wood cockroaches prefer to dwell outdoors in ground litter, under loose tree barks and in wood piles, homeowners may accidentally bring them inside with firewood.

The pests may also find their way into homes when they fly towards light. Once in homes, the pests prefer warm, moist areas. They squeeze into narrow spaces and typically occupy the lower levels of buildings.


In nature, wood cockroaches prefer dead plant material, but will feed on virtually anything. The pests usually choose starchy foods over proteins or fats if given the choice.

Life Cycle/Reproduction

Female Pennsylvania wood cockroaches produce about 29 egg cases with each case containing around 32 eggs. Development time from egg to adult is about 10 months. While they rarely breed indoors, wood roaches may reproduce inside firewood that’s stored indoors.

Problems Caused by Wood Cockroaches

Pennsylvania wood roaches are rarely indoors and do not damage structures. They are more of a nuisance pest when they enter indoors in large numbers.

Structure-infesting cockroaches spread disease by walking over surfaces and contaminating them with droppings and saliva. Their cast skins may also trigger asthma in sensitive individuals as well as children and the elderly.

Detection/Signs of Infestation

In May and June, males fly in search of mates. This is a problem because they travel in swarms over long distances. This can also be a serious sign of a wood cockroach infestation.

Prevention Tips

Homeowners who use a fireplace should inspect wood prior to bringing indoors and from to time should check indoor stored wood for infestation.

Inspect the exterior of buildings and homes for openings that will allow cockroaches in. Seal any cracks in foundations, windows, or doors, especially on lower levels of the house. Small, humid spaces like vents, open pipes, and drains also attract cockroaches.


Getting rid of wood cockroaches is best approached from the exterior of the home with well planned and targeted exterior treatment by a pest management professional. For professional advice and treatment, contact Orkin Canada.