Guide to the Different Types of Cockroaches
By : Rita Stadler
Cockroaches are pretty incredible insects! They’ve been around for millions of years and are even older than dinosaurs according to fossil records. There are more than 4,500 different types of known cockroaches in the world, and experts suspect there are even more waiting to be discovered. Of the many types of roaches, there are only a few common cockroaches likely to require pest control in your home.
Like nearly all insects, roaches have six legs, two antennae, and three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They vary in size from less than an inch to a little over 2 inches in length and have wings but are not necessarily fliers. Their color varies slightly depending on species but ranges between reddish-brown to black. Cockroaches are sometimes mistaken for beetles, and vice versa. Check out our blog: Cockroach or Beetle – Which One is in Your Home?
For pest control to be effective, you need to know what kind of infestation you’re dealing with. Different types of roaches need to be treated differently. Below we’ll explore the common cockroaches you’re most likely to encounter and what you need to do to get rid of them.
Common Cockroach Species in Homes
Your house is more than just your home; it is its own little ecosystem filled with biodiversity.
This may sound a little alarming, but the average home has around 100 different species of arthropods inside. Insects, spiders, centipedes, and mites have found ways to coexist with people. They survive and thrive alongside us, usually escaping our notice.
Cockroaches, however, are hard to ignore! While there are thousands of cockroach species in the world, only about 70 species are typically found in the United States. An even smaller number make up the different types of house roaches. These are the cockroach species you are most likely to encounter:
- American Cockroach
- Asian Cockroach
- Brown-banded Cockroach
- German Cockroach
- Oriental Cockroach
- Smokybrown Cockroach
Below, we’ll go into detail about each type, arming you with what you need to know to prevent or get rid of an infestation.
The American Cockroach has also been referred to as the “Bombay canary,” “water bug,” and “palmetto bug,” and is the largest type of house cockroach, reaching over 2 inches in length! It has fully developed reddish-brown wings but is not a strong flier, although it can glide. These pests prefer warmer climates, often living in sewers, and frequently enter homes through basements or drains. They prefer temperatures over 70 degrees and cannot survive extended periods below freezing.
Females only need to mate once to produce multiple oothecae, or egg cases. They need to constantly forage and feed to nourish and sustain their eggs, stopping only to deposit the egg case. Oothecae contain 16 eggs and are typically glued to a rough surface in an inconspicuous area, then covered with scraps of material to help it blend into its surroundings. Eggs take 30-40 days to develop before hatching.
The Asian Cockroach was first detected in America in the 1980s; it has since spread from Florida throughout the Southeast, and as far west as Texas, along the Mexico border. It closely resembles the German Cockroach in appearance but behaves very differently. The Asian cockroach prefers to live outdoors in leaf litter or grassy areas and is an excellent flier. It rarely enters homes except during dark or dusky periods when it may be attracted to interior lighting.
As the name implies, the Brownbanded Cockroach is brown in color with 2 lighter colored brown or yellowish bands across the body and wings. It is only about ½ an inch in length and is completely dependent on human habitat for survival. In homes, this cockroach can be found throughout the residence, including bedrooms, behind items hung on walls, and underneath furniture, earning it the nickname “furniture roach.” This cockroach is adapted to higher temperatures and pest populations have been reduced as air-conditioning in homes has become more widespread.
The German Cockroach is found all over the world and is most commonly found in and around homes, apartments, supermarkets, restaurants, and food processing facilities. They tend to gather in kitchens and bathrooms, preferring areas with daily access to water. It is about ½ an inch in length, brown in color, and has 2 stripes that run lengthwise along the top of the thorax. This cockroach is not known to exist in the wild and only lives alongside human habitat or man-made livestock structures.
Also known as the “black beetle,” the Oriental Cockroach is typically dark reddish-brown to black and about an inch long. They are attracted to shady, wet areas, preferring damp and dark spaces like basements, cellars, and crawlspaces. Although they are slow-moving on smooth surfaces such as vinyl floors, they have been known to climb up water pipes, air ducts, and garbage chutes to reach the upper levels of apartment buildings. These cockroaches can tolerate cooler temperatures, even surviving outdoors in temperate winters, but their choice climate is between 68 – 84 degrees. This is evidenced by their seasonality as local populations tend to decrease in the winter months, then rapidly swell throughout the summer.
Although smaller than the American Cockroach, the Smokybrown Cockroach is still quite large measuring 1 – 1.5 inches long. These roaches have shiny, dark brown, or mahogany coloring and are strong fliers. It prefers warm, humid climates and can be found throughout the Southern states; it is notably the most common species caught in north-central Florida homes. Recent studies indicate that even when large amounts of insecticides are used, the bioavailability is relatively low for these cockroaches. An integrated pest management approach is essential when it comes to these types of roaches and how to get rid of them.