How to Identify Different Types of Cockroaches

With over 4,500 different types of cockroach, they can be very difficult to identify. Luckily only about 1.5% of cockroach species are found in the United States. PestManagement Professional narrowed it down even further in their list of the top 5 cockroach species spotted here in the States. We’re going to take a look at some of the key differences between these species and how to tell them apart, a task that is essential for cockroach control. This pictorial key from the Center for Disease Control helps make sense of the minute differences.

If you have an problem with cockroaches around your home or property, call on the cockroach specialists at Western Exterminator.

German Cockroach

The German cockroach is the most common cockroach found in the United States, but it doesn’t stop at our borders. This pest can be found all over the world. Unfortunately, many people are allergic to them, not because of bites, as German cockroaches usually do not bite humans. Instead, these cockroaches leave behind saliva, feces, and body parts that can trigger concerning allergic reactions.

You might find these pests in kitchens and bathrooms, as they prefer warmth and humidity. In fact, in these types of environments, German cockroaches develop even faster, speeding the growth of an infestation. Each female produces an average of five egg sacks of 30-40 eggs in her lifetime. Even without expedited development with the help of a warm, humid environment, that makes for quite a few cockroaches!

German cockroaches are traditionally light brown in color, lighter than the others on this list, with two darker stripes down their backs. They do have wings, but rarely fly.

Getting rid of German cockroaches is best left to the experts. If at least 95% of the population is not wiped out in the initial treatment, later maintenance will likely be unsuccessful.

Brownbanded Cockroach

Brownbanded cockroaches entered the United States in the early 1900s, and have since made their way across the country, gravitating toward warmer areas (preferably 80℉+). As you might guess from the name, Brownbanded cockroaches have brown “bands” that span across the wings. Another distinctive characteristic of this species is the “liberty bell” shape on the pronotal shield (near the head). The Brownbanded cockroach itself can be anywhere from light to medium brown in color, with females being darker than the male. Both males and females have wings, but only the males fly. The females’ wings are much shorter and do not cover the entire abdomen, leaving them unequipped for flight.

Brownbanded cockroaches will not likely bite, but they can still be dangerous. They are known to carry disease-causing bacteria on their legs and bodies, depositing it throughout your home or business as they travel.

American Cockroach

Despite what its name suggests, the American cockroach is not native to North America. They are suspected to have been brought over in the early 1600s by African ships. These days, you can find American cockroaches worldwide.

Reddish brown in color with a yellow band near the head, American cockroaches have full sets of wings that they sometimes use to fly short distances. However, flight is not their preferred mode of transportation.

Like many of us, American cockroaches can get a little “hangry.” When food is not readily available, they may bite, hoping to get food particles off of the face and hands of unsuspecting human victims. The American cockroach has a particular affinity for fermented food, so they are commonly found in large commercial buildings that store food. From restaurants to food processing plants to hospitals, this pest goes where the food is. Not only do the adult cockroaches like to hang out near food sources, females often glue their egg sacs in cracks and crevices around food as well.

Smokybrown Cockroach

The Smokybrown cockroach is commonly found outdoors in the southern United States. The humid environment is ideal for this type of cockroach because it loses moisture much more easily than other species, so the humidity helps prevent it from drying up. Because they lose moisture so easily, the Smokybrown cockroach is also relatively lazy. To prevent further moisture loss, they try to keep movement to a minimum. This lackadaisical pest is not much of a threat as far as bites go. Unless it is desperate for food, it will rarely bite.

Though Smokybrown cockroach bites aren’t a concern, this species does pose other dangers. Like the German cockroach, body parts and feces left behind by the Smokybrown cockroach can be significant allergens. But unlike many of its other cockroach counterparts, the Smokybrown is a good flier. Its wings extend beyond the dark brownish black abdomen, allowing for frequent light, especially toward light.

Oriental Cockroach

Last and smelliest of all is the Oriental cockroach. Feeding on filth (their favorite is starchy food), a repugnant odor emanates from their tiny bodies. To make it worse, these cockroaches spend a great deal of time outdoors among garbage and debris. Oriental cockroaches are dark reddish brown to black and rarely grow larger than an inch. The wings of the males only cover 75% of the abdomen, and the females barely have wings at all, but tiny wing pads instead. Because of this, adult Oriental cockroaches do not fly.

The Oriental cockroach is incredibly hardy, able to survive through long periods of freezing weather. In contrast to other species, they actually prefer cool, damp environments. Extreme cold temperatures may drive them into basements, crawl spaces, and similar locations. If you spot one in your home or business, take immediate action. Because they feed on filth, they are even more likely to transmit bacteria than other species, and are known to carry organisms that cause gastroenteritis.  

Contact Western Exterminator for help identifying cockroaches

Identifying cockroach species can be a difficult task. Trust the pest specialists at Western Exterminator to pinpoint your cockroach problem and determine the best possible course of action for roach control. If you think you have a cockroach problem, give us a call today at 888-444-6138.

Ashley Smith

Ashley is a Digital Content Manager with Rentokil. She loves drinking coffee and spending time with her dogs.

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