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Smoky Brown Cockroach: How to Get Rid of This Pest

No one likes cockroaches. They have negative associations with filthy conditions and bacterial spread. Just seeing one of them can send chills down your spine and make you wonder if there are more. Unfortunately, you don’t have to wonder: if you see one, more are nearby.

smoky brown cockroach

The smoky brown cockroach can be found in the Southeastern United States as far north as North Carolina. If you’ve ever seen a fairly large, reddish-brown cockroach walking around your woodpile or among the mulch in your yard, chances are you’ve got smoky brown cockroaches. Read on to find out what they are and how to get rid of them.


As its name implies, the smoky brown cockroach has a uniform reddish-brown color and a shiny coat. Their color gives them good camouflage in woodpiles, mulch, and other brown-colored environments where they are normally found. They measure about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, similar in size and shape to the American cockroach. However, they don’t have the yellow accents that are typical of the American cockroach.

Smoky brown cockroaches have long wings, which they happily use to fly, especially on hot and humid summer evenings. They are strong fliers and tend to fly toward bright lights, and they may even wind up flying through an open window if the light is bright enough. Their antennae are as long as or longer than their bodies. 
Because these cockroaches like high temperatures and high humidity, they’re typically found in the Southeastern United States from central Texas to Florida. They may also be found as far west as California and as far north as New York.

Usually, smoky brown cockroaches can be found in leaf litter, woodpiles, mulch, compost piles, and planter boxes. While they prefer the outdoors, it’s entirely possible to find them in your home, usually brought in with a pile of firewood or inside a box that was stored in your shed. They might also take refuge in your attic, preferring upper areas of buildings where the humidity is higher.


Smoky brown female cockroaches carry an egg case about 3/8 of an inch long, which may be dark brown or black. After one day, the female drops the egg case. The smoky brown cockroach babies then gestate in the egg case for anywhere from 24 to 70 days, depending on the temperature, before hatching. 

smoky brown roach life cycle

About 20 to 40 smoky brown cockroach nymphs or babies may hatch from a single egg case. The nymphs start out with a darker brown color than adults, and they have two white stripes across their backs and at the end of their antennae. Because the nymphs are small and vulnerable at this stage, they will most likely stay hidden, and you probably won’t see them. 

Adult smoky brown cockroaches lose the white stripes on their backs and antennae, and their color lightens from dark brown to reddish-brown. Their average life span is two to six months, and they like to infest wood piles, mulch, compost heaps, and any other moist and humid environment. They have even been found in water meter boxes. Smoky brown cockroaches spend their time searching for food, and if they find a food source near your home, they may wind up there too. 


Although smoky brown cockroaches are similar in shape to American cockroaches, they’re slightly smaller. Smoky browns may get as large as 1-1/2 inches, while American cockroaches can top out at 2 inches. Their color is also different, with smoky brown cockroaches looking shiny and smoky brown, while American cockroaches are a lighter brown with a yellowish color directly behind the head.

As far as behaviors, while smoky brown cockroaches are not as fast as American roaches, they can fly longer distances and use their long wings to do so. Smoky brown cockroaches are also attracted to light more than American cockroaches and tend to fly toward well-lit areas on hot, humid nights.

Smoky brown cockroaches appear primarily in the Southeastern United States, while American cockroaches can be found in the Southeast, Southwest, and Northeastern states. Smoky brown cockroaches prefer wood piles, compost heaps, and leaf litter, but American cockroaches prefer sewers, steam pipes, and utility tunnels. 


Though smoky brown cockroaches do not build nests like some other insects, an infestation of them in a small area is possible. Just like all cockroaches, if there’s an available food source, they’ll want to stick around. Chances are that you have plenty of available food sources in your backyard. 

Considering that one egg case can hatch up to 40 baby cockroaches, you need to be vigilant about keeping them in check. Any time you see a smoky brown cockroach outside your house, you have to assume there are more. Because of this, you need to take precautions, or they will eventually find their way inside your house. 


Unlike other insects that use their bite for protection against predators, smoky brown cockroaches are not likely to bite. Yes, they can bite just like most other insects, but they’re much more likely to stay out of sight, run or fly away, rather than confronting a human. 

Instead of worrying about bites from a smoky brown cockroach, it’s more sensible to worry about the bacteria they can bring into your home. Remember that these insects typically hang out in woodpiles, mulch, leaf litter, and other decaying matter that tends to be dirty and bacteria-filled. They have even been found in rain gutters feeding on bird droppings.

If the cockroaches find their way into your home, they’ll bring all of those dirty, bacteria-filled particles with them. Once inside, they can spread the bacteria wherever they walk, including your kitchen counter. They could contaminate your living space, and in some cases, negatively affect people’s asthma. 


Smoky brown cockroaches are found in North Carolina since their habitable range is primarily the Southeast of the United States. You probably don’t want these rather large, flying insects inhabiting your backyard or garden and possibly finding their way into your home, so now is the time to do something about it. Keep leaf litter, woodpiles, and compost heaps away from your house, and eliminate any unnecessary moist and humid environments in your yard.

While all of these actions will help prevent an infestation of smoky brown cockroaches, the only sure way to eliminate them is to call in a professional. Contact Clegg’s Pest Control today to get rid of smoky brown cockroaches and keep your living spaces pest-free. If you would like to learn more about the habits of cockroaches and how to exterminate this pest, visit our cockroach control page.

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