When a cockroach scurries across your kitchen floor, you probably don’t ask, “What type of roach was that?” But knowing these eight most common types of cockroaches found in the home can help you determine what control method to use.
A single roach doesn’t mean you have an infestation, as not all cockroaches can live long indoors. But if you spot an American or German cockroach, you may want to call a pest control company and request an inspection.
8 Types of Cockroaches
We’ve compiled a list of eight different types of cockroaches commonly found in the home. Each entry explains their appearances, if they can fly, and what steps to take to get rid of them.
Scientific name: Blattella germanica
Key Feature: German cockroaches are the most common cockroaches in apartments, homes, hotels, and restaurants.
Appearance: German cockroaches are about 1/2-inch long, light brown, and have two vertical black stripes behind their heads. German cockroach nymphs look like adults but are darker, smaller, and have no wings.
Do they fly? The adults have wings but rarely fly.
Where they hide: These cockroaches thrive in moist, warm areas in the kitchen or bathroom. They hide in cracks and crevices near cabinets and pantries, and under stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers.
Control tips: After dark, use a flashlight to find out where German cockroaches scatter and hide. Apply household insecticide sprays directly to the hiding place. The University of Illinois Extension and Outreach recommends baits and pesticides such as hydramethylnon (Combat, Maxforce).
Minor infestations of German cockroaches can be controlled with baits alone. However, for serious infestations, you (or a professional) should consider baits along with residual sprays for effective control. German cockroaches are notoriously hard to control, especially for a DIYer. The cost of a professional exterminator is well worth it if you notice these roaches around your home.
Scientific name: Periplaneta americana
Key Feature: The American cockroach is the second most common cockroach (behind the German cockroach) and is not common in homes except after heavy rains.
Appearance: The American cockroach, sometimes called a palmetto bug, is about 1.5 to 2 inches long with antennae just as long. They’re shiny, reddish-brown with a yellow band directly behind the head.
Do they fly? Adult American cockroaches have wings and will occasionally fly; however, they prefer to scurry.
Where they hide: American cockroaches typically live outdoors, but they can move inside. These roaches prefer warm, moist, humid environments, but they can tolerate drier areas if they have access to water.
They seek out areas where food is stored or prepared. These roaches are a nuisance and health concern in restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. American cockroaches often infest kitchens, sewers, basements, or crawl spaces.
Control tips: Caulk all cracks and crevices inside and outside your home. You may also want to install door sweeps to prevent these roaches from crawling under doorways. Outside, remove dead leaves and rake mulch away from your home.
Scientific name: Blatta orientalis
Key Feature: Oriental cockroaches eat almost anything, but prefer a diet high in starch.
Appearance: The Oriental cockroach is dark brown to black, and often has wings. It feeds on garbage and decaying material, and has a pungent odor.
Do they fly? Despite having wings, oriental cockroaches can’t fly.
Where they hide: These cockroaches are often called “water bugs” because they prefer cool, damp, and dark spaces. They thrive in sewer drains, crawl spaces, basements, and cellars. They also set up camp near leaky pipes and faucets and under refrigerators and sinks.
Control tips: Keep these water bugs from coming out of drains and remove their food supply. How to do this: Repair leaks or plumbing problems as soon as they arise, and store food in pest-proof containers. Monitor attractive areas, like under sinks or refrigerators, and use baits to control Oriental cockroach populations. Caulk any cracks and crevices and install door sweeps.
Scientific name: Supella longipalpa
Key Feature: Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warm (higher than 80 F), high places in the home and prefer to stay far away from water sources.
Appearance: Adult male brown-banded cockroaches are about half an inch long, light brown, and have fully developed wings. The adult females are shorter and rounder than the males, with wings that don’t cover their abdomen.
Do they fly? When disturbed, adult males will take flight. Females, however, can’t fly at all.
Where they hide: These roaches prefer warm, dry spaces, such as on the upper walls of cabinets and inside pantries, closets, and dressers. You’ll often find them behind picture frames, beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, door frames, radios, and light switches.
Control tips: Place sticky traps where you suspect these cockroaches are hiding, such as near a wall or in the corner of the floor, shelf, or drawer. You also can treat the areas with baits containing hydramethylnon, fipronil, sulfluramid, boric acid, or abamectin. Target areas where the traps have collected cockroaches.
Scientific name: Parcoblatta sp.
Key Feature: What’s key about this cockroach is that it’s drawn to lights. These roaches enter homes after coming to the porch light and crawling under the door.
Appearance: Wood cockroaches are about an inch long, chestnut brown, flat, oval-shaped, and have long antennae, tan wings, and spiny legs. Females have short wings and rarely come indoors.
Do they fly? Male wood roaches have wings and are skilled at flying, even long distances. Females have wings but do not fly.
Where they hide: Wood roaches live outdoors in moist, woody areas such as woodpiles and mulch, or under loose tree bark and decaying logs. They need consistent moisture to survive, so they don’t live long indoors.
Control tips: Since wood cockroaches struggle to live inside, you rarely need treatment within your home. Just remove these cockroaches with a vacuum or dustpan and discard them.
You can keep them outside by bringing in firewood only when you’re ready to burn it and keeping wood piles far from your home and off the ground. Seal cracks and openings, ensure your door and window screens are in good condition.
Scientific name: Blattella asahinai
Key Feature: The Asian cockroach is an outdoor cockroach that entered the United States in 1986, likely from the port of Tampa. Adult females live twice as long as males, 104 days on average (adult males live 49 days on average).
Appearance: The Asian cockroach resembles the German cockroach, its closest relative.
They are both light brown and have bold dark stripes behind the head. However, the female Asian cockroach’s wings extend and cover the entire length of her egg case, while her German cousin’s wings only cover half of the egg casing’s length.
Do they fly? When their leaf litter is disturbed, they will take flight. Asian cockroaches are strong fliers and can fly as far as 120 feet.
Where they hide: Asian cockroaches prefer to live outdoors in moist, shady areas such as leaf piles, mulch, compost, and grass. These roaches are attracted to light and may enter the home through openings in doors and windows. Inside the house, these roaches will fly to bright lights like TV screens and lamps.
Control tips: Reduce the amount of mulch or plant debris in your landscape. Outdoor pesticides may help to reduce the population. Replacing mulch with inorganic materials like gravel or pebbles also helps.
Scientific name: Panchlora nivea
Key Feature: Cuban cockroaches aren’t considered pests because they live outdoors.
Appearance: Adult Cuban cockroaches are about 1-inch long and range from pale to lime green. The nymphs are dark brown. They are outdoor tropical cockroaches that live in many areas of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and Texas.
Do they fly? Cuban cockroaches are some of the strongest flyers of any cockroach species. They buzz around banana trees and fly into the tall branches to get the fruit. They’re most active at night, and the females may fly to your porch lights.
Where they hide: These roaches live in shrubs, trees, plant leaves, and under logs.
Control tips: To keep these roaches outside, turn off outdoor lights and repair any openings in windows, doors, or crawl spaces. Ensure all foundation and attic vents have tight-fitting screens. Remove leaves and woodpiles.
Pale-Bordered Field Cockroach
Scientific name: Pseudomonas septentrionalis
Key Feature: Pale-bordered field cockroach and German cockroach adults are similar in size. However, unlike German cockroaches, pale-bordered field cockroaches aren’t considered pests.
Appearance: Pale-bordered field cockroaches, aka September cockroaches, are about half an inch long with a reddish head and yellow markings around the wings. Their antennae have an orange band at the tip. These scavengers eat meat, grease, and sweets, and sometimes each other.
Do they fly? Both males and females have functional wings and can fly.
Where they hide: These cockroaches live in open or wooded areas where they can rest on foliage at night. They prefer low-growing plants with lots of ground cover, such as ivy.
Control tips: To keep these roaches out of your home, seal or caulk any entry points that they may use to get in, such as under doors or through screen holes.
Most types of cockroaches feast on garbage and decaying matter, so they carry food-borne pathogens including E.coli and salmonella. German and American cockroaches carry bacteria and viruses, including salmonella, dysentery, and gastroenteritis.
Cockroach droppings and molted skins may cause allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, watery eyes and sneezing, congestion, and asthma. Some produce odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of food.
Wood cockroaches, Cuban, and pale-bordered field roaches are more of a nuisance than a health concern because they typically feed on organic matter like rotting logs or leaves rather than garbage or waste. As a result, they aren’t known to carry diseases like other cockroaches.
There are several factors that attract cockroaches to clean houses:
• Landscaping: Features like wood piles and palm trees provide shelter and water for cockroaches. Once they get close to your home, they’ll be more likely to barge in.
• Access points: Roaches can enter your house in many ways, such as loose window seals and holes around dryer vents.
• Sources of water: Because roaches need water, they search for easy sources of moisture. Some examples include leaking sinks and appliances.
• Nourishment: Cockroaches aren’t picky about what food you put in front of them. They are omnivores like humans and will eat anything, including meat, sweets, and starches. Thus, they enter homes hoping to find food.
There are several simple tips to keep roaches out of your home:
• Keep it clean: Did you know that your Saturday morning cleaning routine discourages roaches in addition to maintaining a fresh, clean living space? If your kitchen sink sparkles, your floors are free from dust and debris, and food is put away in sealed, airtight containers, roaches won’t give your place the time of day.
• Keep it sealed: Roaches don’t need a red door to feel welcome, cracks and crevices will do just fine. Do an inspection to check for openings around the outside of your home. Caulk around dryer vents, windows, foundation vents, and pipes; replace old weather stripping around doors; and ensure window and door screens are in perfect condition.
• Maintain the yard: A tidy yard, like a tidy home, is less welcoming for roaches. Keep woodpiles, leaves, mulch, and plants away from your home’s foundation. Ensure that water drains away from the home, and trim tree limbs so they are far from your home’s exterior walls.
When to Call a Pest Control Expert
If you believe you have a cockroach infestation, call a pest control expert near you. The pro will treat the cockroaches with commercial products that aren’t available online or at your neighborhood home supply store.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational use only. Consider consulting a local exterminator for professional advice.
LawnStarter participates in Get Sunday’s affiliate advertising program. LawnStarter may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.
Main Photo Credit: Junkyardsparkle / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0