Possibly West African in origin, it is found in South America and the West Indies, in the Mediterranean area, and southern Africa. In the U.S. it is found in Hawaii and in areas of New York with heavy immigrant populations. It has been found in California, probably as a transient carried on vehicles, and is frequently intercepted on marine vessels at seaports.
This is a tropical species that requires high temperatures and high humidity, but it has adapted to similar conditions that it has found within buildings. Food preferences are fruit such as bananas, and as a long-lived roach species the Madeira roach is often reared in laboratories and used in animal studies.
The adults are slow in their walking movements, but are able to fly rapidly. When disturbed they immediately give off a foul odor.
The adults may be 2 inches long, and are larger than our largest common domestic species of roaches. They are a pale brown or dark tan color, and the wings are covered with darker spots or markings. There are also 2 dark brown lines near the base of the forewings. The nymphs also are a pale brown color, and they have sharp spines along the sides of their abdomen.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
These are uncommon insects in the U.S. and should be treated in a manner similar to American roaches when found. Reduction of food and moisture sources, reduction of harborage, and crack and crevice treatment with a residual insecticide are effective.