This Is Why You See Cockroaches Outside Your Home

Are You Seeing Cockroaches In Your Yard, Especially At Night?

You might not take much notice as they’re outside your house after all and not in your home, but this is still cause for concern.

Why? Because these outdoor roaches will soon become indoor roaches if you’re not careful.

Therefore, we have to make sure our gardens and outside areas do not supply these pests with what they need, and that is food, water, and shelter. But first, we’ll look at which species of roaches might be invading your garden.

Do German Cockroaches Live Outside?

The most common roach that plagues our homes is the “domestic” German cockroach. The other domestic roach is the brown-banded roach, but this is a lot less common than the German species.

The German roach is “domestic” as it needs to live indoors because it cannot survive outside, especially during the winter. It can survive in the warm summer months, but this is uncommon.

The German roach has a long association with people and is a common household pest that lives indoors, such as in our homes and restaurants, and anywhere else that attracts German roaches and provides them with what they need to survive, which is food, water, harborage, and warmth.

Peridomestic Cockroaches That Live Outside and Inside

Now you know which species live exclusively inside, let’s look at the peridomestic roaches that can live in your yard as well as in your home, and these include:

AMERICAN COCKROACH (Periplaneta americana)

American cockroach in garden debris
American cockroach in garden debris
Credit: Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia,

American roaches are mainly found infesting commercial buildings like restaurants and grocery stores. But they can also be a pest in our homes when they enter looking for food and water, or to escape a heavy downpour of rain.

It is the largest type of roach you will get in your home.

You’ll find these pests in dark and moist areas, such as the basement, in crawl spaces, around pipes and floor drains, sewers, and even your bathtub.

In your yard, American cockroaches like to hide in dark and damp areas. Such hiding places are woodpiles, hollow trees, mulch, compost piles, decaying plants and wood, sewer drains, and garbage bins. All these provide them with the food, water, and shelter they need.

ORIENTAL COCKROACH (Blatta orientalis)

Oriental roaches prefer cooler temperatures. When they get into your home, they are usually found on the lower levels (as they cannot fly). Dark, damp, and cool areas such as the basement, cellar, and garage are ideal for them.

You might also find oriental cockroaches in your water meter box, near drains and leaky water pipes, and under sinks, the refrigerator, and the washing machine.

In your garden, you will find them in dark and damp areas where they can stay undisturbed.

These areas can be inside planters, leaf litter, under mulch, and woodchips. Other hiding places include compost piles, woodpiles, window wells. Also take a look between the soil and the foundation of the house, in rock walls, and where you feed any pets.

SMOKYBROWN COCKROACH (Periplaneta fuliginosa)

These roaches prefer the outdoors and live in warm areas with high humidity.

The smokybrown cockroach is nocturnal and attracted to lights, but does not typically infest our homes.

If they get in, they will look for warm and humid areas, such as your garage, attic, crawlspaces, and sewer. But their most likely hiding place will be in the attic.

The smokybrown is prone to dehydration more than other types of roaches, so it has to live in moist environments.

In your garden, you can find them in tree holes, under mulch and ground covers, in gutters, around soffits, and eaves. Look under shingles, inside water meter boxes, and in any other areas of moist vegetation.

AUSTRALIAN COCKROACH (Periplaneta australasiae)

This is a common outdoor cockroach in Florida and in sub-tropical to tropical locations.

It is often confused with the American cockroach because it looks similar. But it has light yellow bands which make it easier to identify.

Australian roaches love heat and humidity and prefer the outdoors. Yet, they can find their way into your home or greenhouse when the temperature drops. They like to live in dark, warm areas, including the attic, crawlspaces, water pipes, and sinks.

Outdoors, these roaches live in colonies under tree bark and woodpiles. Other areas are in and around shrubs, under leaf litter, and anywhere else in your yard that has moisture.

FLORIDA WOODS COCKROACH (Eurycotis floridana)

The Florida woods cockroach is native to Florida and is also found in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  It is known by several other names, such as a palmetto bug, Florida roach, Florida stinkroach, and skunk cockroach because it can release a foul-smelling defensive spray to warn off predators and alarm others of the same species.

Any large peridomestic cockroach, including the American cockroach and the smokybrown roach, is commonly called a palmetto bug.

This peridomestic roach looks similar to the oriental cockroach and can be found outside of your home around firewood, greenhouses, and other outside structures.

As with other types of roaches, Florida woods roaches prefer living in tree holes and leaf litter, and other damp and dark areas outside of your home rather than in it. However, they can accidentally enter your home with firewood, or gain entry through poorly ventilated attics and crawl spaces, or through plumbing voids. 

The term palmetto bug is also used to describe any sizeable peridomestic cockroach, such as the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), and the smokybrown cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa).


There are a number of species of wood cockroaches in the USA and Canada. The most common of these is the Pennsylvania wood cockroach (Parcoblatta pennsylvania). [1]

Pennsylvania wood roaches live outdoors in damp wooded areas. They are often found under loose tree barks, in woodpiles, and in gutters.

If your home is near trees, or you live close to a forest, you may already see wood roaches feeding on decaying wood and other organic plant materials.

If you happen to find a wood roach in your home, then you’ve more than likely brought it in with some firewood. Sometimes the males will accidentally fly in because they are attracted to light.

Either way, they don’t breed indoors and will not survive for more than a few days in your home.

What Is Attracting Roaches To Your Garden?

Hopefully, you’re not too freaked out by the number of different roaches that can invade your yard.

By making a few changes, which we’ll look at next, you can limit those habitats and make your yard and home less desirable to them.

Roach harborage area with water and mulch under decking
Lots of water accumulated under decking – ideal for cockroaches

Even if you don’t have a cockroach problem in your yard or home, it’s always a good idea to try and stop one from happening.

If you can prevent them from infesting your yard, then you’ll have a good chance of preventing an infestation in your home (unless they get brought in with a delivery, for instance).

During the day, roaches will hide away in the garden and will come out when it gets dark to look for food.

As previously said, roaches go in search of food, water, and shelter, and there are many of these in your yard where they can get what they are looking for, which include:

  • standing water in flower pots and birdbaths
  • water in watering cans and buckets
  • mulch and flower beds
  • piles of leaves and other vegetation
  • compost
  • trash bins
  • piles of wood
  • decaying leaves in gutters

Once you’ve got an outdoor infestation, it won’t be long before you have a roach problem in your home. We’ll now look at the ways you can limit their hiding places and keep them away, which is an important part of roach control.

Outdoor Cockroach Prevention Tips

As you know, roaches thrive in cluttered, moist areas, so your yard is exactly what they’re after.

Groundcover providing roaches with water and hiding place
Leaves, water, and shelter – ideal garden area for cockroaches

Following the steps below will help keep your garden roach-free:

  • Seal all cracks and crevices around the exterior of your home using caulk, or a foam sealant for bigger gaps
  • Look under siding for entry points and seal
  • Seal around pipes and cables where they enter your home
  • seal all gaps around windows and doors and use a door sweep to stop them from crawling through any gaps under doors
  • remove any decaying logs, piles of decomposing leaves, and other garden debris
  • check planters and pots for standing water
  • Inspect under decks as these provide moist harborage areas due to rotting leaves
  • trim back any plants, trees, and shrubs that are close to your home
  • take away their access to water as much as possible by removing all items that have standing water in like ground covers
  • repair any leaking pipes or hoses
  • keep mulch at least 12 inches (30 cms) away from the house. Adult roaches will breed in it
  • don’t overwater plants
  • keep firewood stacked away from your home and inspect it before you take it inside
  • secure garbage lids so roaches cannot get access to any food inside
  • keep compost piles away from the home
  • keep gutters and roof overhangs clear of leaves and debris
  • Maintain the lawn so it’s not overgrown and free of decaying leaves and branches.

Keeping Your Yard Cockroach-free

Cockroaches are looking for the same things in your yard that they look for in your home.

So, by removing their access to food, water, and shelter, and keeping the area maintained, you are not only making your yard less habitable, but you’re also helping to keep these pests out of your home too.

I know not everyone is comfortable trying to deal with a roach problem though, so the best advice would be to contact a professional pest control company that has experience in dealing with roach infestations.

Ask around for recommendations, or click on this link to get FREE, NO OBLIGATION PEST EXTERMINATOR QUOTES from local exterminators in your area.

You might also be interested in:

What Are Cockroaches
What Attracts Cockroaches To Your Home

I’ve been in the pest control industry helping people get rid of their unwanted pests for over 20 years, both in the UK and Canada.

As a licensed pest management professional, I’ve seen and treated just about every common household pest, insect, or rodent, you can think of. I’ve seen the damage caused when an infestation has been left too long and has become hard to get rid of.

For this reason, was created. By having honest advice and the right guidance to hand, along with scientific evidence to back up claims, you are given information on the best eradication methods, as well as how to get rid of most pests yourself.