A Guide to Identifying 8 Common Cockroach Species in Your Home

When a cockroach scuttles across your kitchen floor, identifying its species might not be your first thought. However, recognizing the eight most prevalent types of household cockroaches can guide your approach to control methods.

The presence of a lone roach doesn’t necessarily indicate an infestation, as not all roaches thrive indoors for extended periods. But encountering an American or German cockroach might signal the need to contact a pest control company for an inspection.

Facing a roach infestation can feel isolating, yet it's a common issue. Contrary to popular belief, infestations aren't always linked to cleanliness, as illustrated in a firsthand account shared by one of our writers.

8 Types of Cockroaches

Discovering 8 Common Household Cockroach Varieties: Unveiling Their Appearances, Flight Abilities, and Effective Elimination Methods

1. German Cockroach

Scientific Name: Blattella germanica

Key Features: German cockroaches, prevalent in apartments, homes, hotels, and restaurants, are among the most frequently encountered roaches.

Appearance: These roaches measure approximately 1/2-inch in length, sporting a light brown hue with two distinctive black stripes running vertically behind their heads. While the nymphs resemble adults, they're darker, smaller, and lack wings.

Flight Capability: Adults possess wings but seldom take flight.

Preferred Hideouts: Flourishing in warm, damp environments, German cockroaches typically inhabit kitchens or bathrooms. They seek refuge in cracks and gaps near cabinets, pantries, beneath stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers.

Control Strategies: Using a flashlight after dark, locate where these roaches scuttle and hide. Apply household insecticide sprays directly to these hiding spots. The University of Illinois Extension and Outreach suggests employing baits and specific pesticides like hydramethylnon (such as Combat or Maxforce).

Minor infestations might be managed solely with baits. However, severe infestations call for considering baits alongside residual sprays for effective control. Given their resilient nature, tackling a German cockroach problem, particularly as a DIY endeavor, can be challenging. The investment in a professional exterminator proves worthwhile upon spotting these roaches in your home.

2. American Cockroach

Scientific Name: Periplaneta americana

Notable Traits: The American cockroach ranks second among common cockroach species, often appearing in homes after heavy rainfall.

Appearance: Measuring between 1.5 to 2 inches, this cockroach, also known as a palmetto bug, boasts lengthy antennae. Its shiny reddish-brown hue is accented by a distinct yellow band just behind its head.

Flight Capability: While adult American cockroaches possess wings and sporadically take flight, they primarily prefer scuttling.

Preferred Habitat: Typically dwelling outdoors, these roaches occasionally migrate indoors, favoring warm, damp environments. However, they can adapt to drier conditions with access to water.

Hiding Spots: American cockroaches gravitate towards areas linked to food storage and preparation. They pose a nuisance and health hazard in locales like restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. Indoors, they infest spaces such as kitchens, sewers, basements, and crawl spaces.

Control Measures: Seal all indoor and outdoor cracks and crevices, and consider installing door sweeps to prevent their entry. Outdoors, clear dead leaves and keep mulch away from your house to deter infestation.

3. Oriental Cockroach

Scientific Name: Blatta orientalis

Key Features:

  • Diet high in starch, eats almost anything.
  • Dark brown to black with wings, emits a pungent odor.
  • Flight: Despite having wings, unable to fly.
  • Habitat: Prefers cool, damp, dark spaces like sewers, basements, and under sinks.

Control Tips:

  • Repair leaks promptly, store food in sealed containers.
  • Use baits and seal entry points.

4. Brown-Banded Cockroach

Scientific Name: Supella longipalpa

Key Features:

  • Prefers warm, dry areas away from water sources.
  • Light brown, wings on males, shorter wings on females.
  • Flight: Adult males can fly when disturbed.
  • Habitat: Upper walls of cabinets, pantries, behind furniture.

Control Tips:

  • Place sticky traps, use baits targeting these areas.

5. Wood Cockroach

Scientific Name: Parcoblatta sp.

Key Features:

  • Attracted to lights, often enter homes through doors.
  • Chestnut brown, long antennae, wings on males.
  • Flight: Male wood roaches fly well, females don't.
  • Habitat: Outdoor, in moist, woody areas.
  • Control Tips: Remove with a vacuum, keep firewood away from the house.

6. Asian Cockroach

Scientific Name: Blattella asahinai

Key Features:

  • Similar to the German cockroach but with distinct wing differences.
  • Strong fliers attracted to light sources.
  • Flight: Can fly up to 120 feet when disturbed.
  • Habitat: Outdoor in moist areas, enter homes attracted to lights.
  • Control Tips: Reduce outdoor debris, use outdoor pesticides.

7. Cuban Cockroach

Scientific Name: Panchlora nivea

Key Features:

  • Outdoor dwellers, not considered indoor pests.
  • Ranges from pale to lime green, active flyers.
  • Flight: Strong flyers, active around nighttime lights.
  • Habitat: Shrubs, trees, plant leaves, and under logs.
  • Control Tips: Turn off outdoor lights, repair openings in windows/doors.

Pale-Bordered Field Cockroach

Scientific Name: Pseudomonas septentrionalis

Key Features:

  • Non-pest species, similar in size to the German cockroach.
  • Half an inch long, reddish head, yellow wing markings.
  • Flight: Both males and females can fly.
  • Habitat: Open or wooded areas, prefer low-growing plants.
  • Control Tips: Seal or caulk entry points into the home.

Expert Insights:

  • Identifying Cockroaches: Consult with pest control experts or use online resources for identification.
  • Prevention Tip: Seal entry points and maintain cleanliness, eliminating food sources.
  • Common Mistake: Neglecting small cracks or openings where roaches can enter.
  • Misconception: Assuming all cockroaches are harmful pests; some are harmless outdoor species