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Urban parks in North America teem with sizable cockroaches at night. However, in the daytime they are nowhere to be seen. Where do they go?

I know that they tend to avoid light, but how do they go about finding a hiding spot? Do they just throw themselves into any superficial crack and stay still? Do they travel a substantial distance into storm drains, water pipes, tunnels and hollow walls until they are well out of reach of larger animals? Do they have a nest that they return to every night or do they just use whatever hiding spot is nearby?

And specifically for small urban parks, flowerbeds and lawns - do they dig tunnels in the soil? Do they nest in the trees? Or do they simply leave the park and hide in nearby buildings, sewers, and similar human-built structures?

I ask because while it is obvious they must hide somewhere, I have never actually "gotten the drop on" a sleeping or hiding cockroach in a park - or elsewhere - I've only encountered roaches that were scurrying out and about. Some nocturnal insects can be found by for instance flipping over wet rocks or digging up some soil, but cockroaches despite being large and numerous are nowhere to be seen. Are they just really, really good at hiding?

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Basically, yes, cockroaches are very good at avoiding detection. Since you linked to the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), I'll discuss that species in my answer. I've only twice, in my life, seen an actual cockroach. I don't know what parks you're referring to in your question or if it's that common.

By the time you start lifting up a rock or board to look for a cockroach during the day, it will have already sensed you coming and have left.

They spend most of their time in narrow, tight cracks and spaces where surfaces touch them on both sides. (Cockroaches from the University of Minnesota)

Cockroaches like to be touched. Roaches are thigmotropic, meaning they like feeling something solid in contact with their bodies, preferably on all sides. They seek out cracks and crevices, and will squeeze into spaces that offer them the comfort of a tight fit. And I do mean a tight fit. The small German cockroach can fit into a crack as thin as a dime, while the larger American cockroach will squeeze into a space no thicker than a quarter. (10 Fascinating Facts About Cockroaches)

When you understand how thin a crack can be for a cockroach to wedge itself into, you get a better idea how they hide during daylight hours in the outdoors. Many trees have rough bark with enough crevices for them to hide. They could fit in the thin spaces between the bottom of concrete sidewalk pavers and soil, under leaf mulch and many other spaces you may never have noticed before. It takes very little. Best places to look for them in parks would be around trash receptacles where people toss food they didn't finish eating.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Jun 15 '17 at 5:14
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    $\begingroup$ I bumped the submit button and quickly hit edit to finish.i wasn't sure if the beginning answer went through or not but I guess it has. ;P $\endgroup$ – Jude Jun 15 '17 at 5:30
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Because cockroaches dislike light, they disappear during the daytime to dark places, including the undersides of appliances like stoves and refrigerators, underneath sinks or other installations, near plumbing, inside light switches and behind wall paneling or doorjambs. They also hide in the insides of bookcases or furniture, the folds of drapes or other fabrics, in piles of detritus like old newspapers, paper bags or pet food bags, and in among brooms or mops. Their hiding places are nearly endless, provided they are dark and usually undisturbed.

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