A Guide to Cockroaches in South Carolina

Several types of cockroaches can plague South Carolina homes. Here’s how to recognize and prevent them.
Written by David Ghanizadeh-Khoob
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Cockroaches can be a common problem in warm, humid states like
South Carolina
. Maintaining a clean home is the best way to prevent roaches, and there are a number of natural and chemical remedies for eliminating an infestation on your own.
Cockroaches can be a nightmare for homeowners. Not only can they make your skin crawl, but they also spread waste and harmful bacteria, potentially leading to allergic reactions or illness. Knowing how to identify, prevent, and get rid of cockroaches is a necessity for homeowners.
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Types of cockroaches in South Carolina and how to identify them

Cockroaches are a fact of life around the globe. It’s estimated that about 12% of US homes have seen roaches within the last 12 months
Unfortunately, the warm and humid weather in South Carolina makes homeowners here more prone to encountering these pests than in other areas.
There are 15 species of roaches found in South Carolina, but some of them are relatively uncommon. Here is a guide to identifying the five most common cockroaches in South Carolina.

German cockroaches

The most common species of roach in South Carolina, the German cockroach typically grows to about a half-inch, can fly short distances, and can run quite fast.
They are pale or dark brown and their main identifier is two black streaks found just behind their head. They are food scavengers that will eat anything, including soap and glue, and typically come out at night. 
German cockroaches spread very quickly, so if you see one (especially during the day) you should act immediately.

Smoky Brown cockroaches

These roaches are usually around 1.5 inches long and have a shiny, dark brown/mahogany shell. This species is often seen flying. 
They require lots of moisture and are most commonly found outdoors in piles of leaves or in drains, but they will make their way inside homes in search of warmth.

American cockroaches (aka Palmetto bugs)

The American cockroach is probably the species that best fits your mental image of a roach. They have shiny reddish-brown wings and pale necks with two dark red-brown spots that look kind of like a number 8. 
They are large, growing from 1.25 to 2.5 inches long, and can fly short distances, but they’re much more commonly seen running around. They will eat pretty much anything and like to enter homes through drains in search of warm, damp places.

Oriental cockroaches 

Oriental roaches are commonly mistaken for water bugs because they love very damp, dark environments. They are usually about 1.25 inches long and have a shiny dark brown or black shell. 
This species cannot fly and are poor climbers. You will usually see them in especially damp places like drains, damp basements, or piles of mulch. 

Brown Banded cockroaches 

These roaches can be easily distinguished by their preference for drier locations and by their two light-colored bands across their wings and abdomen that make them look broken when contrasted with their dark or reddish-brown bodies. 
You will often find them in higher locations or in appliances and cabinets, usually at night. They typically grow to about a half-inch to an inch long, and the males can often be seen flying.

A guide to cockroach identification

Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
German cockroach
0.5 inches
Light brown with black stripes behind their head
Kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages
Smoky brown cockroach
1.5 inches
Dark brown
Attics, gutters, piles of leaves
American cockroach
1.5 to 2.5 inches
Reddish-brown with a pale 8 on their neck
Basements, drains, crawl spaces
Oriental cockroach
1.25 inches
Dark brown/black
Drain, damp basements, mulch
Brown banded cockroach
0.5 inches
Dark brown with light brown bands
Males yes, females no
Cabinets, in appliances, bedrooms, living rooms
Australian cockroach
1 to 1.5 inches
Dark reddish-brown with a pale neck with a black spot
Greenhouses, woodpiles, bathrooms
Asian cockroach
0.5 inches
Tan or dark brown with two black stripes behind head
Shady mulch or compost areas
Suriname cockroach
1 inch
Dark brown body, olive green or dark brown wings, shiny black shield-like head
Males yes, females no
Underground in soil or compost
Beware of these critters that resemble roaches but don’t pose the same type of threat:
  • Crickets are similar in size, shape, and color, but they jump and chirp.
  • June bugs are smaller than most cockroaches, and they’ve got a distinct round shape.
  • Giant water bugs have a similar color to cockroaches, but their bodies are wider, they have big pinchers, and they tend to stick to bodies of water.

How to get rid of roaches in South Carolina

If you’ve found a cockroach in your home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a full-blown infestation. However, roach colonies can grow fast, and if you see a roach there are a few steps you can take before calling up an exterminator. 
Start by doing a deep cleaning of your home. Wash dishes, clean up any food debris, empty trash bins, and clean the floors. Roaches are scavengers, so the first step is to take away anything for them to scavenge.
The next step is to seal off as many possible entrances as you can, either by physically sealing them or by adding some roach killing/deterring methods to the possible access point. 
If cleaning up and sealing entrances doesn’t stop the roaches from appearing, try some of the following natural roach killers next.

Natural roach killing options

There are several options for getting rid of roaches that won’t introduce toxic chemicals into your home. Put some of these around high-traffic roach areas and see if you start finding roach corpses.
  • Boric acid: this is toxic to insects but non-toxic to humans in small quantities.
  • Baking soda: Mix baking soda with some sugar to tempt the pests into eating it. The baking soda produces gasses inside the roach and explodes its innards.
  • Borax: Mix some borax with sugar or some other bait and it will dry out the roaches when they consume it.
  • Diatomaceous earth: Sprinkling some of this in cockroach hot spots will damage their exoskeletons and hopefully keep them out of your home.
  • Glue traps: While some roaches eat glue, this method can work. Line a box or jar with glue and lure them in with something tasty. Hopefully, they’ll get stuck. 
These natural methods are cheap and relatively safe, but they can be slower to take effect than chemical options, which are described next. 

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

If you don’t have small children and are comfortable introducing some more toxic chemicals around your home, then these common chemical roach killing methods offer more intensive extermination potential.
  • Bait stations: Bait stations are especially effective for getting rid of roach colonies because the bait has a delayed effect on the roach that eats it. This roach has time to return to its colony and when it dies, the colony will eat its body and also consume the toxin.
  • Insecticide gel: Add some gel to the access points and nooks that roaches love and the gel will kill roaches that come into contact with it.
  • Roach spray: If you spray this specialized compound around common roach areas, any passers-by carry the toxin to their colony and spread it among their comrades.
Of course, the concern with these methods is that they could end up in the wrong mouths, but some of the options have pet-safe alternatives
If you aren’t comfortable leaving toxins around your home or if you have tried several approaches without any success, it is time to call the exterminator
Though exterminators are considerably more expensive (with prices averaging between $120 and $300), they are professionals that can help you choose the best method for getting rid of the pests in your home. 

How to keep cockroaches away

Once you’ve gotten rid of your pests or if you just want to prevent them from coming in the first place, there are a few habits that you can maintain to reduce the risk of roaches invading your home.
  • Reduce moisture by using a dehumidifier
  • Limit eating to one room or easy-to-clean places to reduce the number of crumbs around
  • Seal any cracks or leaky plumbing that might allow roaches to enter
  • Create a nightly anti-roach routine by making sure everything is clean before the roaches are active. Wash dishes, take out the trash, keep the floors clean, and seal your food as best as possible.

How to save money on home and car insurance 

Cockroaches are just one of the many perils that a homeowner can face, but unfortunately, pest infestations aren’t covered by your home insurance
Even so, you’ll want the right homeowners policy to make sure you’re protected against unforeseen events like
fires, vandalism, and theft
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Roaches are scavengers that love moist places. Dirty dishes in the sink, accessible garbage, and crumbs on the floor are examples of things that attract roaches to a home.
Roaches love warmer weather and thus are more active in the summer, but they will also try to enter your home in winter.
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