Brown Banded Cockroach

Male Brown Banded Cockroach

Brown Banded Cockroach

The brown-banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa (Fabricius), is a small domestic (cockroaches that live their entire life indoors) cockroach species. This species derives its name from two prominent bands present on nymphs and adults. The brown-banded cockroach resembles the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) with its small size and body shape, but it can be distinguished by the absence of two dark pronotal stripes.

Female Brown Banded Cockroach

The brown-banded cockroach is sometimes referred as the “furniture cockroach” because it tends to distribute throughout residences, including non-food-containing environments such as the bedroom, under tables, and behind pictures on the walls (Schal 2011). This species favors higher resting locations with 92.5% of all oothecae (egg cases) deposited on the upper third of walls (Benson and Huber, 1988). However, several surveys show the distribution range and abundance of this species are declining. Kinfu and Erko (2008) conducted a survey in central Ethiopia, which is thought to be the area of origin of the brown-banded cockroach, but did not recover any specimens of this species among 2,240 cockroaches collected in Addis Ababa. Additionally, only 10% of the 4,240 cockroaches collected in Ziway were the brown-banded cockroach. The brown-banded cockroach was the major household pest in Hawaii in a 1948 survey (Zimmerman 1948), but it was about 23-fold less abundant than the German cockroach 37 years later (Toyama et al. 1986). This decline is thought to be caused by the increasing use of air-conditioners, eliminating the ideal temperature and humidity for this species to thrive indoors (Schal 2011).

The life cycle

The life cycle of the brown-banded cockroach consists of the eggs (enclosed in an ootheca), 6-8 nymphal instars and the adults (Cornwell 1968). Each ootheca usually contains 18 eggs, with an average hatch rate of 13.2% (Ebeling 1978). According to Tsai and Chi (2007), the life history of this species varies significantly with temperature. At the highest temperature (33°C) tested, preadult development (including eggs and nymph stage) took about 80 days, with both sexes of adults living for about 80 days. However, preadult development took 124 days, with both sexes of adults living for about 60 days at 25°C. Each adult female was shown to produce about 13 oothecae in her lifetime at 33°C. Tsai and Chi (2007) concluded that the brown-banded cockroach was expected to establish and thrive in environments with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 33°C.

Management

The first step to control brown-banded cockroach is to correctly identify this species. Because this species is exclusively domestic, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for indoor cockroaches could be used. Like German cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches are most difficult to control in multi-family structures (e.g., apartments, condominiums, dormitories). Because the brown-banded cockroach prefers warm environments, places such as small crevices, electronic equipment, and storage cabinets should be carefully inspected. Baited traps (e.g. gel and station type) can be used to control cockroach populations. It is necessary to check baits monthly until the population decreases and refill empty traps with fresh bait. Additionally, structure modifications such as caulking cracks and crevices may help reduce populations of brown-banded cockroaches. The use of pesticides may be necessary when infestation is heavy, in which case a combination of a liquid insecticide and an insect growth regulator (e.g., hydroprene or pyriproxyfen) can be placed in cracks and crevices. It is important to strictly following label instructions when insecticides are used. Additionally, a parasitic wasp, Comperia merceti (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), was shown to parasitize oothecae of the brown-banded cockroach and cause the collapse of the cockroach population (Coler et al. 1984).