The order Blattodea historically included only cockroaches, but recently the close evolutionary link to termites (formerly classified under the order Isoptera) has been confirmed and lead to their inclusion in the family Termitidae. The cockroaches live under debris or stones on the ground, or in the foliage of plants. Some species are nocturnal and others will be active during the day. The diet varies from species to species but is based on living and dead plant material including wood, fruit pollen and nectar, and fungi (Fearn, 2017). Fortunately Tasmania does not currently have the unpleasant tropical species that invade homes, but some European species have established in the state and these have the potential to become pests. Most cockroaches lay eggs in cases are called oötheca that can be carried around by the female for varying durations before they are dropped, glued to a substrate or covered (Roth, 1991). Some species develop the eggs within their body (Rentz, 2014). Eggs hatch into nymphs, which then grow through a varied series of stages called instars until they reach the fertile adult form.
Most termites live in tropical or sub-tropical regions of Australia, but Tasmania still has a small number of species. They live in colonies with three main castes (Watson and Gay, 1991. The Reproductives (kings and queens) which initially have wings that later drop off, mate and dig the first chamber where the queen lays eggs which hatch into workers. Soldiers which are sterile males and females that have large heads and mouthparts, can shoot a sticky substance from their rostrums to defend the colony. Workers which are also sterile males and females, build chambers and collect food. Unlike species on the mainland, Tasmanian termite species such as Porotermes live in dampwood, consuming the central core of Eucalyptus trees and leaving “mudguts” behind (Elliott & deLittle, 1985). Other species are found in rotting logs and the base of dead branches.
Composed of three Australian Superfamilies.
Found in hot, arid climates.
Elliott, H. J & deLittle, D. W & Forestry Commission of Tasmania (1985). Insect pests of trees and timber in Tasmania. Forestry Commission, Tasmania, Hobart
Fearn, Simon. (2017). The good roach.. QV Magazine 3. 30-34.
Rentz, David (2014) A Guide to the Cockroaches of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria
Roth, L.M (1991) Chapter 19 Blattodea in Insects of Australia, Volume 1: A Textbook for Students and Research Workers. 2nd Edition. Melbourne University Publishing pp 320-325
Watson J.A.L. & Gay F.J. (1991) Chapter 20 Isoptera in Insects of Australia, Volume 1: A Textbook for Students and Research Workers. 2nd Edition. Melbourne University Publishing pp 330-335