When a cockroach scurries across your kitchen floor, you probably don’t ask, “What type of roach was that?” But knowing the eight most common types of cockroaches can help you determine what control method to use. Identifying the type of cockroach can also help you address health risks and figure out where roaches are hiding in your home.
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 the eight types of cockroaches commonly found in the home. Match the pictures to the type of roach to determine the health risk to your family and what steps to take to get rid of them.
1. German cockroach
German cockroaches are about 1/2-inch long, light brown, and have two vertical black stripes behind their heads. The adults have wings but rarely fly. German cockroach nymphs look like adults but are darker, smaller, and have no wings
Where they hide: These cockroaches thrive in moist, warm areas in the kitchen or bathroom. They hide in cracks and crevices near cabinets, 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, such as hydramethylnon (Combat, Maxforce) and setting traps.
2. American cockroach
The American cockroach, sometimes called a palmetto bug, is about 1-1/2 to 2 inches long with antennae just as long. They’re shiny, reddish-brown with a yellow band directly behind the head. 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 in 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.
3. Oriental cockroach
The Oriental cockroach is dark brown to black, and often has wings. It feeds on garbage and decaying material, and has a pungent odor.
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 cockroach populations. Caulk any cracks and crevices and install door sweeps.
4. Brown-banded cockroach
Adult male brown-banded cockroaches are about 1/2-inch long, light brown, and have fully developed wings. When disturbed, adult males will take flight. The adult females are shorter and rounder than the males, with wings that don’t cover their abdomen.
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. They prefer to stay far away from water sources.
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.
5. Wood cockroach
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.
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.
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 woodpiles far from your home and off the ground. Seal cracks and openings, ensure your door and window screens are in good condition.
6. Asian cockroach
The Asian cockroach entered the United States in 1986, likely from the port of Tampa. It’s an outdoor cockroach that resembles the German cockroach, its closest relative.
These two cockroach types are practically identical, both in size and color. They are both light brown and have bold dark stripes behind the head. The big difference? The female Asian cockroach’s wings extend and cover the entire length of her egg case. Her German cousin’s wings only cover half of the egg casing’s length. 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. When their leaf litter is disturbed, they will take flight. 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.
7. Cuban cockroach
Adult Cuban cockroaches are about 1-inch long and range from pale to lime green. The nymphs are dark brown. It’s an outdoor tropical cockroach that lives in many areas of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and Texas.
Where they hide: These roaches live in shrubs, trees, plant leaves, and under logs. They’re most active at night, and the females may fly to your porch lights.
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.
8. Pale-bordered field cockroach
Pale-bordered field cockroaches are about 1/2-inch long with a reddish head and yellow markings around the wings. Their antennae have an orange band at the tip. These scavengers eat meats, grease, and sweets, and sometimes each other.
Where they live: 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.
Health Risks from Cockroaches
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.
When to Call a Pest Control Expert
Call a pest control expert near you if you believe you have an infestation. The pro will treat the cockroaches with commercial products that aren’t available online or at your neighborhood home supply store.