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Blatta lateralis

Turkestan Cockroach

Synonym(s): Turkistan Cockroach (alternate spelling)
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattaria
Family: Blattidae

Photographer: Liz Baker-Bullock


Adult Description: The adult Turkestan Cockroach is 15-28 mm in length with color variations between the male and female. Males are red/brown with pale or white lateral stripes on the ventral side of the wing base. The male also has wings that cover the entire abdomen. Female B. lateralis are dark brown in color with short lateral white dashes at end of the wing. The female wings are very short in comparison to the male and do not cover the entire abdomen.

Larva Description: Egg capsules (ootehca) are about 3/8 in long, and dark brown in color. Each ootheca contains around 18 eggs. The nymphs are bi-colored with a light brown thorax and dark brown abdomen.

Host Plant: None

Ecological Threat: The Turkestan cockroach presents the ecological issues of water contamination and spread of disesase. One of the choice habitats for B. lateralis is household water meters and sewers. Because this species can live in sewers, it poses a risk for disease spread and has been known to carry disease. There is also risk of damage to common household plants and crops that B. lateralis feeds on once the cockroach reaches pest proportions.

Biology: The Turkestan Cockroach is a fast moving pest that lays all ootheca instead of giving live birth. This species can't climb, but the males can jump out of tanks in which they are kept to be used as feeders for many household reptiles. The B. lateralis is noted as the fastest breeding species of the cockroaches used for feeding household reptiles. Once a colony of the Turkestan Cockroach is established offspring are created at an alarming rapid rate.

History: The Turkestan Cockroach is believed to have spread to the US with returning military personnel from the Middle East in the 1970's to 1980's.

U.S. Habitat: The Turkestan Cockroach can be found in an eclectic variety of habitats such as: semi-arid deserts, arid deserts, water meter boxes, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, sewer systems, and cracks in concrete walkways.


Native Origin: Middle East and Europe

U.S. Present: Southwest region of the United States stretching from Southern California to Texas.

Distribution in Texas: El Paso


Male B. lateralis are similar to American cockroaches and female B. lateralis are similar to Oriental cockroaches.


Some management techniques upon infestation involve dessication dust and baits. A local exterminator can effectively remove a population from a home. The B. lateralis like many other cockroaches is nocturnal, so suspected infestations are best discovered after dark. A simple prevention is to monitor your home and make sure there are no ideal feeding spots or standing water.


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Text References

Kim, T., & Rust, M. K. 2013. Life history and biology of the invasive Turkestan cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 106(6): 2428-2432.

Rios, L. A., & Honda, J. Y. 2013. New records for Blatta lateralis (Walker 1868)(Blattaria: Blattidae) in California. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 89(2): 120-121.

Spencer, C. B., Jr., R. D. White and L. C. Stover. 1979. Discover and control of the Turkestan cockroach. Pest Control, December, 1979: 14. 45.

Data Source

Last Updated: 2011-08-25 by Amber Bartelt - Sam Houston State University