Australian Cockroach – Periplaneta australasiae


The Australian Cockroach is one of the largest pest cockroaches that invades our homes and is around 4cm long. This cockroach is not native to our country as the name suggests, but was introduced here from Africa several centuries ago. It has since been spread throughout much of the world through trade and human activity. In Australia, we also have the American Cockroach, which is almost identical to the Australian Cockroach. The Australian Cockroach can be found in any warm, moist areas and will often live outdoors in wood piles, compost bins, mulch and hollow logs. However, many will venture into our homes in search of food, water and to shelter from extreme weather. In our houses they prefer warm, dark places such as water pipes, sinks, toilets, inside cupboards, under fridges & stoves and even inside electrical appliances such as TV’s, microwaves and telephones!

Life Cycle:

Female Australian Cockroaches lay their eggs in a small purse-shaped case called an ootheca. Each one contains around 14-16 eggs. On average a female will lay one ootheca per month, but they have been known to produce several a week! The ootheca is either dropped onto the ground, or glued onto a flat surface.

Favourite foods:

The Australian Cockroach is omnivorous, which means they can eat pretty much anything! Outdoors, they will forage on decaying animal and vegetable matter, but they will often come into our houses to scavenge for food scraps. The Australian Cockroach has a bit of a sweet tooth, so loves fruit, honey or anything sugary. They have also been known to eat hair, leather shoes, animal hides, dead insects, nail clippings, book bindings and paper.

Defence tactics:

Australian cockroaches are one of the fastest insects on the planet. When threatened by a predator the cockroach runs and can cover a distance of one meter in a single second! That’s fast! The Australian cockroach also has a slippery wax called a cuticle covering its body. This helps it to wiggle into small cracks and cervices where it can hide from danger. This wax has a very distinctive scent and is the reason why large infestations of cockroaches often smell really bad!

The long spiny legs of the Australian Cockroach help it run very fast over just about any kind of surface.

Fascinating Facts:

  • The Australian Cockroach has excellent hearing. Their ears are located on each knee joint of their six legs and are so sensitive that they can detect earthquakes that measure a mere 0.07 on the Richter Scale.
  • Their antennae are comprised of 356 segments, with each one responsible for picking up certain messages from their environment.
  • The Australian Cockroach has excellent vision and can even see in infrared!