Native cockroach Click to enlarge image
Botany Bay cockroach. Lawson, Blue Mountains National Park, NSW Image: James Bevan
© James Bevan

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Order
    Blattodea
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    400
  • Size Range
    5mm to 80mm

Most people think of cockroaches as disease-carrying, urban pests. The reality in Australia is that none of the 400 or so native species is a serious pest.

Identification

Virtually all cockroaches found outside of domestic premises will be native species. One exception is the smokybrown cockroach Periplaneta fuliginosa which is sometimes found in gardens and bush areas near human habitation.


Calolampra sp.
Native Bush Cockroach Calolampra sp Image: CSIRO
© CSIRO

Habitat

Virtually all terrestrial habitats in Australia have native cockroaches present, including some caves which are host to specialised pale blind and wingless species of cockoaches. There are no aquatic species known.

Distribution

Australia including islands



Feeding and diet

Native cockroaches feed in trees on pollen, bark and leaf material. Some species in the genus Panesthia have adapted to eating decomposing wood, and have similar micro-organisms in their gut as those found in termites (Order Isoptera).

Other behaviours and adaptations

Many native species are diurnal (active during the day), and can be found basking on vegetation and stones, but even more are nocturnal.

Predators

Native cockroaches are an important part of the food web in many natural habitats, being eaten by invertebrates as well as mammals, frogs and reptiles. To repel predators, some species produce a pungent smell. Some of the wood eating cockroaches also play an important role as decomposers.