Cockroaches (order Blattodea) are often thought of as pests of human dwellings, but only perhaps thirty of about 4,500 species can be found in our close proximity. Of those thirty or so, only four are considered actual pests. The vast majority of cockroach species are content to keep to themselves in nature, inhabiting a wide variety of environments and eating a wide variety of foods. Although most are tropical and prefer warm conditions, some can be found at higher latitudes. The few pest species that live in colder climates find refuge inside homes, where they often survive on garbage.
I came across these individuals on a rocky outcrop west of Leota, Indiana back in January. They appeared to be basking in the warm winter sun and were slow to scurry to shade when I disturbed them. While pest species feed on human refuse, those in nature also feed on similar decaying plant and animal matter. Some also feed on wood and harbor microorganisms in their guts to help break down the tough cellulose. The insects shown here appear to be from one such genus known as wood cockroaches (Blattodea: Ectobiidae: Parcoblatta sp.).