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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


  • 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,


  • 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.

German cockroach

German Cockroach


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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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