Animal Species:Native Cockroaches

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.

Native Bush Cockroach Calolampra sp

Native Bush Cockroach Calolampra sp
Photographer:  © CSIRO

Standard Common Name


Number of species



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.

Size range

5mm to 80mm


Australia including islands


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.

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, Parasites and Diseases

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.



What does this mean?

Last Updated:

Tags cockroaches, insects, invertebrates, arthropods, identification, wildlife of sydney,


David Britton - 2.10 PM, 14 October 2010

Sorry, but I do not know which chemicals are responsible for this one - it may not have even been a cockroach which makes it more difficult to guess! Insects can have a complex cocktail of noxious compounds, including chemicals as nasty as cyanide, formic and other acids, terpenoids, quinones and many more, and can secrete, spray and regurgitate them as vapours, sprays, and sticky goop, so it is difficult for me to guess what you have. However, the usual home remedy of trying bicarb of soda may help!

Gruntmotors - 4.10 AM, 11 October 2010
I was camping out at Glenreagh, NSW and found an insect in my bedding which I suspect was a native cockroach. It was very quick and impossible to catch and every time it felt threatened it sprayed a substance. At the time the substance was a little smelly, but not overly offensive. Two weeks later, my tent and hike pack reek. For some reason the smell reminds me of freshly brewed coffee, but with a nasty edge to it. Do you have any idea how to get rid of the smell, or will it just go with time? Any idea what the chemical/s are making the smell.
wingrove - 12.07 PM, 13 July 2009
Thanks Dave. Nth suburbs of Sydney. just once a day from under the floor boards. Intriguing!
David Britton - 9.07 AM, 13 July 2009
The sound is almost certainly that of a cricket, not a cockroach, but I am not sure what sort of cricket. What is your general locality? I will try and refer your query onto someone who might have an answer.
wingrove - 7.07 AM, 13 July 2009
Do they make a noise?... well SOMETHING is, under my floor. Just once a day!..

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