The common cockroaches found outside include the American and Smokybrown cockroaches.  American cockroaches are about 1 ½ – 2 inches long, reddish-brown with yellow markings above the head.  The adults have well-developed wings, but seldom fly; they do often glide.  American cockroaches are usually found outside near decayed trees and plants, in crawl spaces and sewers.  Smokybrown cockroaches are often mistaken with American cockroaches.  Smokybrowns are about 1 inch long and dark brown to black.  Adults have fully developed wings and are capable of flight.  This species often inhabits leaf litter, compost piles and ground cover.

If you find cockroaches in your compost pile, in leaf litter or other outdoor locations, it isn’t really necessary to kill them.  You may want to make sure that your house is excluded to avoid having the outdoor cockroaches move indoors when the temperatures cool down.  The following tips may help:

  • Prune back any vegetation touching or overhanging the home
  • If you have a brick or stone façade, stuff weep holes with steel wool or copper mesh. Steel wool will rust if it gets wet and may stain light colored facades
  • Make sure screens are in good repair
  • Replace weather stripping where doorways do not have a good seal
  • Repair any water leaks
  • Clean debris from gutters
  • Place stainless steel screening over vent access in the atticUse sealant around pipe penetrations or other cracks or crevices into the home

For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600.  Check out my blog at