Most people are repulsed by cockroaches inside the home, and not without due cause, as they are disease carriers of the highest order.
Outside the home, gardeners also often come across cockroaches under rocks, logs and in the mulch. Unfortunately, these roaches are undeservedly tarred with the same brush as their indoors cousins and usually end up under a well-placed boot.
Australia has in excess of 400 native roaches and very few could ever be considered pests. Most pest species are imported, the Australian Cockroach and couple of others being the exception.
Most roaches are wood roaches and carry no known diseases that will harm humans.
It is believed that cockroaches have been roaming the earth for almost half a million years. During those millions of years, their primary function has been to break down dead and decaying trees, bark, leaves and other vegetation. Few other animals or insects have this ability, although it is something they share in common with termites, and with whom it is believed they are distantly related. Wood roaches and some species of termites contain simple celled protozoa that reside in their gut. The protozoa assists in breaking down plant cellulose.
Australia is home to the heaviest cockroach, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach that weighs in at around 50 grams. They are wingless and often mistaken for beetles.
Unusual for cockroaches, the female gives birth to live babies that she will raise in a burrow.
More common, and easily discovered is the Australian Wood Roach Panesthia australis. Usually found in at least pairs and more often aggregations of at least a half dozen, these fellows are totally harmless and make for unusual pets. They are usually around 25mm in length and dark glossy brown in color.
Some wood roaches are born with wings and a few are born totally wingless. Those that are born with wings will have their brethren chew their wings completely off.
Generally, the disease-carrying cockroaches have long spindly legs and are excellent runners. Wood roaches have much shorter, stocky legs and are slow-moving.
In recent times, breeders have been raising these roaches for sale to reptile keepers, especially those with lizards.
We don’t offer any quick kill solutions for these insects.
If you come across wood roaches in your garden don’t kill them, welcome them for their role in the environment. If you unearth them in the bush, be sure to replace the rock or stone so that they may continue to flourish as nature intended.