There is perhaps no other pest in the United States that causes as much panic and uproar as the cockroach. Even the name summons images of filth, decay and illness. With over 3,500 species of roaches throughout the world and nearly 55 species in the United States alone, it’s no wonder we are so fearful of them.
But in truth, not all roaches are bad roaches and not all roaches invade our homes or are a sign of unsanitary conditions.
In fact, there are some roaches that don’t seek out our homes to infest and breed, and many species of roach that live outside even play a vital role in keeping our ecosystem healthy .
Introducing the wood roach.
This insect with an unfortunate name and appearance may be related to America’s most despised pest, but it’s actually a harmless and natural decomposer who helps our environment by eating rotting wood, leaf debris and other decaying matter.
So, if you’ve seen a wood roach inside your home, don’t worry. Getting rid of a wood roach is rather easy. The tough part is identifying a wood roach from other roaches. But this is what we are here to help you with.
Keep reading to find out more about wood roaches, their habitat and habits, and discover which methods and products are best for treating a wood roach problem in or around your home.
What Is A Wood Roach?
Though they look similar to other home-invading roaches, wood roaches are generally an outdoors species of roach.
Though this species of roach looks ominously like his other pesky roach cousins, the wood roach is actually not considered a common nuisance pest in the United States. This is because this species of roach commonly lives outdoors and prefers dark, moist areas. It does not seek out buildings or homes and, if it does happen to get inside, will not breed indoors and will often quickly die.
Also known as the wood cockroach, the wood roach is one of 55 species of roach that dwell in the United States. Wood roaches are outdoor insects that feed on rotting wood, leaf litter, and other decaying organic materials.
They are excellent decomposers, most commonly found in regions that are rich in humidity. Wood roaches can grow to be between 3/4ths and 1 1/4ths of an inch in length. They are often brown or tan, with males being lighter and winged. Female wood roaches do not have wings and in fact are hardly ever encountered.
If you do come across a wood roach, it is likely a male as they are most active throughout the day and night.
While it’s never pleasant to come across any type of home invading insects, if you do come across a wood roach inside your home, know it probably accidentally found its way in there and does not intend to stay.
The sign of a wood roach inside should not cause alarm. These insects are relatively harmless, do not seek out human foods, and do not reproduce inside. Any wood roach infestation that occurs will occur outside and often in areas rich in decaying debris.
If this is the case, having a large number of wood roaches is often a sign of another issue on your property that you may want to address, though an abundance of wood roaches rarely causes any problems for humans or pets.
Since wood roaches don’t seek out human foods and are not attracted to filth or waste created by human habitats, they will not cause any food-borne illnesses like their other roach counterparts. Furthermore, wood roaches do not cause damage to homes, buildings or structures.
In fact, if you find an abundance of roaches inside your home, you are likely dealing with one of four common house invading roaches in the US that are not wood roaches at all. These other species of roaches include:
- The German Cockroach
- The American Cockroach
- The Brown-Banded Cockroach
- The Oriental Cockroach
The below video further discusses the most common types of roaches known to invade homes.
While the above four roaches can look similar to the wood roach in size and appearance, they do differ greatly in habitat and activity.
So, how do you tell the difference between a wood roach and a common home-invading pest roach? Let’s find out.
How To Identify A Wood Roach Infestation
Wood roaches are not light sensitive and can be found almost any time throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the wood roach looks eerily similar to his home-invading roach counterparts, though there are a few ways you can tell the species apart if you look closely.
You can identify a wood roach primarily by his activity. Wood roaches are not skittish or sensitive to light. In fact, they are actually attracted to light and often find their way into homes through cracks and crevices seeking out light sources (more on that later).
Wood roaches can be found any time throughout the day if they get into your home. They are generally tan in color and have wings, as they are typically going to be males.
If you are trying to identify a wood roach versus a home-invading cockroach, it may be easier to do so by identifying what a wood roach is NOT as opposed to what a wood roach IS.
You DO NOT have wood roaches if you:
Find A Number of Dead Roaches
Finding a plethora of dead roach carcasas is often a sign of an indoor roach infestation. Remember, the wood roach does not invade and infest homes. If you find just one roach carcass, you may have come across an unfortunate lone wood roach who stumbled into your home and died. But several roach carcasses means you are dealing with either a German roach, Oriental roach, American roach, or brown-banded roach.
Find Roach Feces
Roach feces looks very similar to ground pepper flakes. People with a large roach infestation will often find these feces behind appliances like toasters, microwaves and refrigerators, in cabinets with food, or anywhere else roaches have been actively feeding during the night. Finding roach feces in these areas are NOT usually going to be a sign of a wood roach but instead a sign of a different type of roach infestation.
See Roach Egg Sacs
Roach egg sacs, also known as ootheca, are one of the biggest signs that you do not have wood roaches but are instead dealing with another type of roach infestation. Why? Because wood roaches do not breed indoors, so there will be absolutely no reason for you to find wood roach egg casings inside your home.
Find Roaches Scurrying When the Lights Come On
Remember, the wood roach is not sensitive to lights like his other cockroach counterparts. Instead, he is actually attracted to light. So, if you go inside a bedroom and turn on a light only to find a roach that does not run for cover, it’s likely just a wood roach. On the other hand, if the roach scurrys off in a panic, it’s a different type of roach and you may have a problem.
Smell A Musky Odor
Last but not least, smelling a musky odor along with finding any of the above signs of roach activity is a signal that you have a serious roach problem. In large numbers, home-invading roaches release a smell that is musky, sweet and foul.
Again, because wood roaches do not congregate in large numbers in the home and are not known for inside infestations, this smell is NOT indicative of a wood roach.
You DO HAVE wood roaches if you:
Find One Roach On Occasion
Seeing one roach in your home just hanging around may be a sign a wood roach has found his way in. If you do find just one roach and haven’t noticed any other signs of roach activity, don’t panic. The roach is likely a wood roach who just stumbled into your home accidentally.
Find A Roach That Is Not Skittish or Fearful Of Light
Wood roaches are attracted to light and won’t go running if you suddenly flip the light on in a dark room. If you turn on the light to find a single roach just living his best life, you’re probably just dealing with a wood roach.
Find A Single Roach Carcass But No Other Signs of Roach Activity
Finding multiple roach carcasses along with roach feces, a musky odor, and roach egg casings is never a good sign. However, if you simply find one dead roach in your home on occasion, don’t worry. A single wood roach likely found his way inside your home and died.
What Attracts A Wood Roach To Your Home?
Wood roaches are attracted to rotting wood, leaf litter and other decaying organic matter outdoors.
Wood roaches are highly attracted to areas rich in moisture and natural decay. They are commonly found living outdoors in decaying logs, stumps, leaf litter, tree bark, wood piles, and more.
Remember, wood roaches are not known to seek out manmade structures and homes. They do not cause structural damage or seek human foods and instead feed on decaying organic matter. Furthermore, wood roaches do not breed indoors or infest homes. If they do get inside your home, it is often by accident and they are likely to die shortly thereafter.
So, if the wood roach does not survive well indoors then why did you stumble across one in your home?
Wood roaches are attracted to light, as we mentioned above. Oftentimes, a property rich in outside wood roaches may find a few wood roaches inside now and then after they got in via cracks or crevices in the foundation seeking light. Wood roaches can also find their way in through gaps in doors, tears in window screens, and other openings.
Since wood roaches are also commonly found living in wood piles, many people accidentally bring them into their home when they bring in outside firewood or other wood sources.
How To Get Rid Of A Wood Roach Infestation – Most Popular Methods
Fighting off wood roaches does not have to be a battle so long as you use the right methods and products.
Since wood roaches do not infest homes, any type of wood roach infestation will likely be outdoors. Wood roaches are generally harmless and actually beneficial to outdoor environments, but that doesn’t mean you want an abundance of wood roaches scurrying about your property.
For the most part, changing your habits and doing some landscaping can help rid your yard of wood roach activity. However, you may need to use other methods to control and manage a wood roach problem.
If you have a large wood roach problem on your property and are looking for pet-safe and kid-safe methods of removal, we would recommend sticking with natural methods. Natural methods for wood roach control include organic sprays and dusts that are harmless for people, pets and the environment and that can work just as effectively as insecticides when it comes to getting rid of unwanted backyard pests.
Since wood roaches are generally not too problematic and often only require a few lifestyle changes and landscaping, using home remedies and do it yourself pest control methods to manage them is simple. We will go over some of our favorite methods you can use at home to control wood roaches on your property further down.
You will rarely need insecticides to manage a wood roach infestation on your property. However, if you have a large wood roach infestation you may also be dealing with other backyard pests. If this is the case, you might consider looking into some routine backyard insecticides to control the problem.
An overwhelming wood roach infestation on your property can lead to other problematic pests and may even be a sign of a larger issue. In this case, you may need to contact professionals.
But before you decide to contact the pros, let’s discuss how to manage a wood roach problem on your own using natural methods. Keep reading.
How To Get Rid Of A Wood Roach Infestation Using Natural Methods
Using natural methods to get rid of wood roaches may be especially important for people with children and pets in the home.
Coming across a roach is often unnerving, regardless of the species. However, if you are going to be dealing with a roach problem, perhaps the best roach problem to contend with is a wood roach problem.
Remember, these insects generally prefer to live outdoors and are often easily remedied using a combination of natural treatments, lifestyle changes, and maybe some landscaping.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best natural treatments you can use that are safe for people, pets and the environment and that will help you take your property back from the wood roaches causing you grief.
MDXConcepts Organic Home Pest Control Spray
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If you find you are running into a wood roach now and again inside your home, you can try using a natural spray like the above organic pest control spray by MDXConcepts. This spray uses essential oils and other natural ingredients that are safe for people and pets and can be used both indoors and outdoors to repel roaches.
EcoSmart Organic Home Pest Control
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Another product that is both kid and pet friendly is an organic home spray called EcoSmart. This pest control spray comes in a large container and includes a spray wand for easy application. It can be used both inside and outside and used as a repellent as well as a treatment for any current wood roach problem.
This spray uses all organic ingredients and doesn’t include any chemicals, so it is even safe to use on garden plants and lawns. It can help eliminate a number of pests like roaches, spiders, ticks, ants, and crickets while being safe for beneficial critters like birds, fish, and mammals.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
Wondercide is another natural product that uses organic ingredients like essential oils to repel and kill pests like roaches. The above product in particular is designed for outdoor use and can serve as a preventative or treatment depending on your needs.
It comes with an application spray wand for easy application around your perimeter and you can even use this spray in your garden and on edible vegetation.
The product not only works to repel wood roaches but also other common roaches, spiders, fleas, ants, mosquitoes, and more.
Eco Defense Home Pest Control Spray
To keep wood roaches at bay and repel them from coming into your home, you may want to check out Eco Defense spray. This natural pest control spray can be used indoors and out to repel a number of pests from the wood roach to common house roaches, spiders, ants, earwigs, stink bugs, mites, and more.
It is made with natural ingredients like essential oils and is safe for people, pets and the environment.
Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
We recommend Diatomaceous Earth to anyone looking for a completely organic and safe form of pest control both indoors and out. It is a dust insecticide that is derived from fossilized algae and works by penetrating the exoskeleton of pests like roaches, bed bugs, crickets and spiders.
It is an effective form of pest control you can use both inside and out. That said, Diatomaceous Earth does not work as effectively once it gets wet so reapply it often in order to ensure it keeps pests at bay.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control
Another product by Wondercide is this indoor pest control spray. This spray is more of a spot treatment spray but it is perfect for dealing with those occasions when you come across a wood roach in your home.
It can not only serve as a treatment but also a preventative for future pests as it contains essential oils like peppermint, cedar oil, rosemary and more that repel pests like roaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, and even bed bugs.
Ultrasonic Pest Repeller Plug In
Last on our list of natural methods you can use to keep the wood roach out of your home are these ultrasonic pest repeller plug ins above. They are designed to repel a number of pests including house roaches, wood roaches, spiders, mice, rats, and plenty of other home-invading pests.
They work by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations that repel pests without the use of harsh chemicals or toxins. Best of all, these plug ins are harmless to people and pets and are almost completely maintenance free.
How To Get Rid Of A Wood Roach Infestation Using Home Remedies
Removing wood piles and excess wood from around your home can reduce wood roaches.
Some pests are easier to get rid of than others, and you’re in luck when it comes to the wood roach. Oftentimes, you won’t need to spend a single cent to get rid of them and instead will only need to change a few bad habits. Let’s take a look at the best home remedies you can use to get rid of a wood roach infestation on your property.
First and foremost, landscape your yard. Clean up your lawn and surrounding property and remove any decaying wood materials such as dead trees, logs, stumps, etc. Rake up leaf litter and remove excess water sources. Use straw instead of mulch and keep wood piles and other debris stored in a shed or garage or at least three feet away from the side of your home.
Use Fabric Softener
You can sprinkle fabric softener in areas where you notice wood roach activity. This will not only deter the roaches but can also kill them if they come into direct contact with the product. However, use this product carefully around gardens and vegetation, and remember that fabric softener can be toxic to children and pets if ingested.
Many people interested in organic pest control find that essential oils can help repel pests like roaches, mosquitoes, mites, chiggers, beetles, and even wasps. Some of the best essential oils you can use to repel the wood roach outdoors include:
- Oregano OIl
- Peppermint Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
To make a wood roach spray at home, simply add five to ten drops of any of the above essential oils of your choice to two cups of water and mix it into a spray bottle. Then spray your yard and the perimeter of your home as needed to repel roaches and other pests.
Invite the Predators
Wood roaches have a number of natural predators. Birds are especially keen on eating wood roaches, so you can keep birds coming around by adding bird baths, bird houses and bird seed to your property.
Dish Soap and Water
Soap and water can work well to repel roaches and many other pests. Mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle can kill roaches and many other pests on contact by suffocating them.
How To Get Rid Of A Wood Roach Infestation Using Insecticides Or Poisons
Most wood roach infestations will not require insecticides.
For the most part, a wood roach infestation will not require the use of insecticides. That said, a very large infestation may lead to other insect problems in your yard which can require a more intensive treatment.
If you are looking for an outdoor roach control insecticide product that works, we have listed some of the products most highly recommended by experts for you to consider below.
Ortho Home Defense Spray
If you find you are consistently dealing with a wood roach problem both inside and out, you may need to use a more intensive treatment. The above product by Ortho is an insecticide spray that you can use both inside and outside of your home.
Outside, we suggest using it as a perimeter spray around your property to keep wood roaches and other pests from getting inside. Inside your home, spray this product along baseboards, windows, and other areas of entry a wood roach or other pests may use to get inside.
Harris Roach Killer Spray
If you aren’t sure if you’re dealing with a wood roach problem or the beginnings of a more serious roach problem, it may be wise to use a more targeted treatment like the above Harris Roach Spray.
This product will work on a number of home-invading pests from wood roaches to common house roaches and will not only kill them on contact but can prevent them from returning for up to 12 months.
The spray is odorless and does not stain, but it does contain harsh chemicals that can be toxic to people and pets. Use it only as directed and keep it out of reach of children.
Ortho Home Defense Lawn Granules
If the wood roach is causing you major problems outdoors, we recommend using an outdoor targeted product like the above granules by Ortho. This product is designed to be used in yards and gardens to repel pests like outdoor roaches and garden destroying insects.
While it is an effective treatment that can help keep the wood roach at bay, remember that this product is an insecticide treatment that contains chemicals which can be toxic to people, pets and the environment.
How To Get Rid Of A Wood Roach Infestation – When To Call A Professional
If you have an overwhelming infestation and you’re not sure which type of roach you are dealing with, it may be time to contact a professional.
In the case of an overwhelming wood roach infestation, insecticides, home remedies, and natural methods may not be enough. This is because some large roach infestations lead to other, more serious pest problems.
Furthermore, a large roach infestation inside your home is likely not a wood roach infestation at all and could be a more serious roach problem like one of the above four listed roaches who can carry serious bacteria that leads to illness and food waste.
If you aren’t sure which type of roach you are dealing with or if you feel you cannot handle the roach infestation on your property without help, we suggest contacting a professional pest care expert.
Professional pest care experts generally charge between $100 to $500 depending on your region and the severity of your roach infestation. One of the benefits of contacting a professional is that they should also be able to assist you in locating the problem at the source and help you properly identify which type of roach you are actually dealing with.
Once you have figured out how to manage your wood roach problem, we recommend you follow through with preventative measures.
How To Prevent A Future Wood Roach Infestation
Wood roaches are repelled by a number of plants including catnip.
Luckily, wood roach infestations are rare and they are not known to be problematic indoors. Still, no one wants roaches hanging around their property. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few steps you can take to prevent a future wood roach problem in or around your home.
Plant Roach-Repellent Plants
Wood roaches are outdoor roaches, and they commonly prefer moist areas rich in wood and decay. You can help keep them off of your property by planting plants that repel them. Some common plants known to repel roaches and other pests include:
- Bay leaf
- Hedge Apples
- And Cucumbers
Use Straw Instead Of Mulch
Mulch is commonly used in landscaping and is often very sightly and even pleasantly scented. Unfortunately, mulch is also highly attractive to insects like roaches, earwigs, and other pests that seek out wood, moisture and decay. Instead of using mulch in your garden and around your home for landscaping, we suggest using straw.
Remove Excess Wood And Rake Away Dead Leaves
Keeping your yard free of wood and leaf debris will help reduce the number of wood roaches you come across. Remove dead stumps, trees, and wood piles and keep your yard free of an excess of leaf litter.
Practice Routine Home Maintenance
To keep wood roaches from entering your home, we recommend practicing routine home maintenance. Make sure cracks and crevices are caulked and sealed and that doors and windows shut securely. You can also help prevent wood roaches from entering by turning off porch lights at night to keep them from becoming attracted to your property.
Use A Year-Round Pest Control
Last, using a year-round pest control product around the perimeter of your home can protect against not only a wood roach infestation, but other pest invasions.
And remember, while wood roaches are unsightly and related to some of the most formidable pests in the United States, they are generally harmless and are actually beneficial to our environment.
So try not to be too alarmed if you come across one or two in your home.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.