Different Types of Cockroaches | Identification Chart with Pictures

Written by George Climer

There are around 4000 different species of cockroaches on our planet. The most common types that might sneak into your house are the German cockroach, American Cockroach, Brown-banded cockroach, and Oriental Cockroach. In most cases, if you have an infestation of cockroaches, you are dealing with German cockroaches as they are the most common type.

What types of cockroaches can be found in your house? What is the worst one to have? Are there cockroaches that can fly? Stay with us till the end and you will become a real roach expert. We will teach you how to identify every type of cockroach. Let’s begin!

General Characteristics of Cockroaches: Information

It is relatively easy to identify a cockroach. These insects have flat bodies. Their colors can range from green, and brown to nearly black. The two long antennae are used to smell and find food. Cockroaches have six legs and the overall size of their bodies usually ranges between half an inch and two inches. A lot of these insects have visible wings, but (thankfully) not all of them can fly.

Roaches have a few “superpowers”. For example, some of them can withstand extreme cold, hold their breath for around 45 minutes, and even live for a week without their head! By the way, cockroaches are very fast insects. They can run up to 3 miles per hour (and their babies run almost nearly as fast as their parents).

These insects can live for 2 weeks without water and for approximately a month without food. Another unpleasant thing is that cockroaches are known for rapid breeding. One single female and her offspring can give life to 30000 new roaches in only a year!

Domestic and Peridomestic Cockroaches

Cockroaches can be divided into two main groups: domestic and peridomestic. Domestic cockroaches can survive only when people are around. These lads have lived with us for millions of years and they are simply used to living close to humans. You won’t find these types running “in the wild”. The German and the brown-banded cockroach, for example, are domestic types.

Peridomestic roaches don’t necessarily need to live around humans. They can survive without us. However, if it gets too hot or too cold outside, they can move into your building. The American and oriental cockroaches are peridomestic types.

Cockroaches can be dangerous to your health. And that is certainly the main reason why you should get rid of these pests. Roaches can spread salmonella bacteria and E. coli. People that have asthma or allergies can also suffer from the presence of cockroaches.

Types of House Cockroaches – Identification Chart

Both domestic and peridomestic cockroaches can be found in households. Here are the most common types:

TypeDescriptionWhere Do They Hide?
German CockroachAbout a half of an inch long; light brown; 2 vertical stripes behind the head; they have wings.In warm and moist areas. Under dishwashers, near cabinets, etc. Can be also found in your kitchen and bathroom.
Brown-Banded CockroachAbout half of an inch long; reddish-brown; have wings; pronounced banding across the wings. One of the smallest roaches, together with the German type.In warm and dry places. Can be found in dressers, closets, even inside clocks, and behind picture frames.
American CockroachAbout 1.5 to around 2 inches long; long antennae; reddish-brown with a yellow band right behind the head; shiny; have wings.Typically live outdoors, but can become a problem, if they infest basements, kitchens, or sewers.
Oriental CockroachLarge in size; have a pungent odor; the color ranges from dark brown to black; females don’t have wings, males have short wings.Often referred to as “water bugs”; they prefer dark, damp, and cool places. Can be found under refrigerators, near leaky pipes, and so on.
Smoky Brown CockroachThey grow up to 2 inches; almost black; shiny (however, not as shiny as the American cockroach).Typically they live outdoors, but can be brought inside with firewood.
Asian CockroachLooks a lot like the German cockroach; light brown with bold dark stripes behind the head.Typically live outdoors, but are attracted to light. Will fly to lamps and TV screens.

Pictures of the Most Common Types of Cockroaches | Picture Identification

German cockroach
Brown-Banded Cockroaches
The American cockroaches
Oriental cockroach
Smoky Brown Cockroaches
Asian Cockroaches

Types of American Cockroaches: How to Identify Them?

The American cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroaches. They are sometimes referred to as the “water bug”. However, this species is not aquatic. The American cockroach is native to the Middle East and Africa and was brought to America in the 17th century. Today, these insects can be found throughout the States and worldwide. These roaches are active only when the temperatures are above 70 degrees.

It shouldn’t be too challenging to identify the American cockroach as it’s quite large (up to 2 inches long). They are reddish-brown with a yellow band (that sometimes looks like the number “8”).

Unfortunately, there are plenty of other types of cockroaches that can be found in the United States. For example, brown-banded roaches have been brought to America in 1903. The German cockroach is a household pest that can be found on every continent (except for Antarctica). The oriental cockroach lives in the Northwest, Midwest, and Southern United States.

Types of Bugs that Look Like Cockroaches

To successfully deal with insect infestation, you need to exactly know what creature is in front of you. Unfortunately, a cockroach can easily be mistaken for another insect. Here are a few tips that will help you make sure that you have encountered a roach.

Cockroaches vs. Beetles

Cockroaches vs. Beetles

Of course, there are thousands and thousands of different types of beetles. However, some of them look a lot like cockroaches, for example, the June bug. Still, the antennae and legs of roaches are longer. Moreover, their wings are always visible. June bugs, in their turn, are rounder than cockroaches. These beetles start life as grub and some of them can bite. Most beetles are attracted to light.

Cockroaches vs. Water Bugs

Cockroaches vs. Water Bugs

Even though people refer to some types of cockroaches as “water bugs”, the truth is that they are entirely different. True water bugs live in water. Some of these insects can grow up to 4 inches. Moreover, water bugs lack antennae and their front legs have pincers. These creatures are predators that are attracted to light.

Cockroaches vs. Bed Bugs

Cockroaches vs. Bed Bugs

Sometimes bed bugs are mistaken for baby roaches. The two might be similar in size (about a fourth of an inch), but bed bugs are rounder and shorter. They are also reddish-brown, while German cockroaches have a more tanned color.

Cockroaches vs. Crickets

Cockroaches vs. Crickets

The latter has a more cylindrical body. Crickets also have long legs that help them jump and produce their chirping sound. These insects are unlikely to enter your house. By the way, a cockroach will run or fly away from you, while a cricket will jump.

Cockroaches vs. Termites

Cockroaches vs. Termites

These two insects are actually closely related. However, termites have short antennae, a soft body, and are usually very small (between a fourth of an inch and half of an inch long). Termites are social insects that prefer to form colonies (a cockroach is a solitary creature). In a lot of cases, termites live inside walls and eat only wood and paper. A cockroach, on the other hand, can nibble on practically anything.

Types of Flying Cockroaches

Practically all types of cockroaches have wings. Thankfully, not all of them can fly. For example, American cockroaches prefer not to fly (they use their wings to glide from higher locations to lower ones), while German and oriental roaches are not capable of that at all.

Flying cockroaches (Asian and smoky brown) are attracted to light. However, you might not notice these insects flying around as cockroaches are nocturnal creatures. Only once the infestation gets severe, you may spot them flying. In most cases, cockroaches hide during the day and feed during the night on decaying organic matter.

Flying cockroaches can enter your house through open windows and doors, so make sure to keep them closed the late evening and at night (especially, if you have lights on). If you want to find out more about flying cockroaches and their types, click on the following link and read our complete guide about flying roaches.

What Are the Worst Types of Cockroaches to Have?

Encountering any type of cockroach is, certainly, an unpleasant experience. However, the German cockroach is, possibly, the worst one out there.

Firstly, these insects reproduce much faster than other types of cockroaches. Their babies reach adulthood in only 3 months (other cockroaches need around 12 months to do that). One female can lay up to 30 eggs at a time. German cockroaches can produce 5 batches of eggs in a cycle.

Secondly, German cockroaches prefer to live around people, unlike some types that stay outdoors. They are not picky and will eat practically anything. By the way, these creatures have sticky pads on their feet that help them climb on smooth surfaces.

The worst part is that German roaches might be carrying dysentery, salmonella, and gastroenteritis. Their decaying exoskeletons and fecal matter can trigger allergic reactions or worsen someone’s asthma. So you should definitely do everything you can to get rid of these annoying and dangerous creatures.

List of Sources

Hahn J., Ascerno M., Cockroaches, University of Minnesota

Cockroaches, San Diego County

Cockroaches, University of Maryland Extension