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Cockroach species

There are over 4,000 different types of cockroaches, 55 of which are found in the United States. Some are considered pests while others are beneficial in their natural environment. The five main types of cockroaches commonly found in homes in the U.S. are as follows:

Find more detailed information below about the appearance and habits of each species below.

Not sure what type of cockroach you're seeing? Contact us now.

How to identify different types of cockroaches

With over 4,500 different types of cockroaches, 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. The Center for Disease Control created a pictorial key that highlights some of the key differences between these species and how to tell them apart, a task that is essential for cockroach control. See it, here.

American cockroach

American cockroach

Characteristics

  • Size: 35-40mm
  • Color: Shiny red-brown with a yellow band near the head
  • Flight: Wings are longer than the body in males and just overlap abdomen in females, may fly at very high temperatures

American cockroaches are found worldwide. The American cockroach is one of the largest pest cockroaches to invade homes and commercial properties. American cockroaches have a full set of wings that they sometimes use to fly short distances. However, flight is not their preferred mode of transportation. The American cockroach has a particular affinity for fermented food, so they are commonly found in large commercial buildings that store food. 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. From restaurants to food processing plants to hospitals, this pest goes where the food is.

Brown-banded cockroach

Clemson University USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

Characteristics

  • Size: 10-15mm
  • Color: Light to medium brown, females darker
  • Flight: Males can fly, but wings are underdeveloped in females, preventing them from flying

Brown-banded cockroaches entered the United States in the early 1900s, and have since made their way across the country, gravitating toward warmer areas (preferably 80℉+). These cockroaches have brown “bands” that span across their wings and a “liberty bell” shape on their pronotal shield (near the head). The Brown-banded cockroach 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.

The name “brown-banded” cockroach comes from the pronounced bands of color across the wings of adults and bodies of nymphs. In North America, the brown-banded cockroach is thought to be present in most states and lives in buildings that maintain relatively high temperatures. This cockroach is similar to the German cockroach with its small size and body shape but can be distinguished by its lack of two dark stripes.

The brown-banded roach is a domestic species, which means they do not live outside and rely solely on conditions created in our homes and buildings for survival. Brown-banded cockroaches feed on a variety of materials including human food, starches, dyes, glue, books, stamps, and clothing.

Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warmth and tend to be found up and away from the floor in closets or in heat-generating appliances. Brown-banded cockroaches are good climbers and can be active at night and during the day. Females seek out warm, dark places where they can attach their yellowish-brown egg capsules, and prefer walls, ceilings, tables, bedding, or furniture. In fact, the brown-banded cockroach is sometimes referred to as the “furniture cockroach” because it is distributed evenly throughout households, including non-food locations, such as bedrooms, under chairs and tables, and behind pictures and other objects on walls.

Brown-banded cockroaches are not aggressive and do not bite. That said, they can be a threat because of their rapid rate of reproduction: One female can produce up to 600 young in her lifetime! Brown-banded cockroaches are known to spread at least 33 different kinds of bacteria, making them a concern for any homeowner. Like other types of roaches, brown-banded cockroaches can spread germs or bacteria in areas they inhabit. Their skin and feces also cause asthma attacks in some people that are sensitive to cockroach allergens. E. coli and Salmonella are both commonly spread by brown-banded cockroaches and can cause gastroenteritis and diarrhea.

Field cockroach

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Characteristics

  • Size: 1/2 inch
  • Color: Olive-brown coloration, two blackish-brown stripes on face
  • Flight: Can fly

The field cockroach or vaga cockroach is a small cockroach and likely introduced from southwest Asia into the United States. Field cockroaches are very similar in appearance to German cockroaches but can be distinguished by the blackish-brown area on the face from the mouthparts to between the eyes. Females may live for more than 200 days, producing between 200 to 300 offspring or 6 generations a year. The field cockroach can fly, is not repelled by light, and can often be seen during the day.

Field cockroaches feed largely on decomposing vegetation, including fruits, such as dates, and occur under stones, clumps of earth, and debris. Unlike German cockroaches, field cockroaches prefer to live outside in leaf litter and plant debris and rarely enter buildings.

During drier parts of the year, field cockroaches may enter structures in search of moisture. Since field cockroaches so closely resemble German cockroaches, some homeowners will think they have German roaches invading their home, when they actually have field cockroaches.

While they are not as widespread as other species, field cockroaches cause similar concerns. Field cockroaches are primarily an outdoor cockroach species, and when found indoors, it may be treated as an occasional invader that will not take up residence indoors. Field roaches hide in cracks, crevices, and corners of homes. They can also spread bacteria if they gain access to kitchens and pantries. Populations of these fast-breeding cockroaches can increase rapidly if left unchecked. For this reason, always contact your local cockroach exterminator for help with infestations.

German cockroach

German Cockroach

Characteristics

  • Size: Approximately 12-15mm
  • Color: Light brown to tan
  • Flight: Have wings, but rarely fly

The German cockroach is found worldwide and is the most common cockroach found in the United States. They like to hide in kitchens and bathrooms, as they prefer warmth and humidity. 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. German cockroaches do have wings, but they would prefer to run instead of fly. If you have German cockroaches, you may find droppings or fecal staining in the areas they are hiding. If there’s a lot of them, you may smell a mild, musty odor.

Oriental cockroach

Oriental cockroach

Characteristics

  • Size: 20-25mm
  • Color: Dark brown or black
  • Flight: Have wings, but 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, and extreme cold temperatures may drive them into basements and crawl spaces. These cockroaches spend a great deal of time outdoors among garbage and debris. Since they feed on filth, they are even more likely to transmit bacteria than other species, and are known to carry organisms that cause gastroenteritis.

Not sure what type of cockroach you're seeing? Contact us now.

Smokybrown cockroach

Characteristics

  • Size: 25-38mm 
  • Color: Shiny dark brown
  • Flight: Strong fliers

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. To prevent further moisture loss, they try to keep movement to a minimum. Unless it is desperate for food, the Smokybrown cockroach will rarely bite. Like the German cockroach, body parts and feces left behind by this cockroach can be significant allergens. But unlike many of its other cockroach counterparts, the Smokybrown is a good flier. Its wings extend beyond the abdomen, allowing for frequent flight, especially toward light.

Contact Western Exterminator fo 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 800-937-8398.


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