Cockroaches (Order Blattodea). Cockroaches often have a small head and a broad, flattened body. If wings are present, they are folded over the backside of the body. All species are wingless as immatures though some never develop wings as adults. The term Blattodea, loosely translates to “insect that shuns the light” which is very appropriate considering cockroaches are mostly active at night.
Though SOME species of cockroaches can be considered pests inside our homes, in the garden they are most likely neutral inhabitants. There is very little literature showing extensive damage done by these insects on tomatoes.
Cockroaches are around all year long!
These creatures are found on all continents except Antarctica. While most species prefer temperate and tropical conditions, they can withstand extreme temperatures. Some species are known to survive temperatures as cold as -188 F (-122C).
Cockroaches generally prefer warm and moist environments, just like your garden! Hidey spots created by soil and debris give them plenty of protection while they are resting during the day.
If you see one, two, or ten cockroaches in your garden I would not worry too much. However, if you feel you have an extreme infestation and/or your garden is close to your home steps may need to be taken. Cockroach specific bait stations are one way to go. IGR’s (Insect Growth Regulators) can also be added to your arsenal. Please be mindful of where you are placing ANY pest control and place them where you see the most pest activity. Whatever you do, DO NOT use glue traps. Though these may be semi-effective at trapping cockroaches, they are also very good at trapping good bugs and even small vertebrates.
Y’all, cockroaches get a bad rap. Though they may often be depicted as germ encrusted pests, they are VERY important to our environment! As scavengers, they play a very important role in decomposition. There are about 4,600 species of cockroaches of which only 30-ish are known to regularly habitat human habitats. Out of those thirty, even fewer species are considered actual pests. Cockroaches are also not always brown in color. Many tropical species are green, iridescent, or even blue! In case you didn’t notice, I have a huge admiration for cockroaches. In fact, I have handled them so much while doing outreach that I developed an allergy to them—which is not uncommon—and must love them from a distance now.