Maybe identifying the different types of cockroaches is not your lifelong dream or ambition. But since you’ve seen a few of them scuttling around your house lately you’ve been thinking you had better find out what kind they are. Well you’ve come to the right place, because this article will give you an overview of seven different types of cockroach so you are sure to be able to identify one or more of them!

American Cockroach

In spite of the name, American cockroaches are not actually native to America. It is believed that they immigrated on ships coming from Africa in the 1600’s.

What do they look like?

American cockroaches are the largest type of roach found in houses, with adults measuring up to about 50mm or 3 inches in length. Their bodies are oval in shape and reddish brown or mahogany in color with a yellowish figure 8 pattern outlined on the back of their heads.

How do they behave?

Both male and female adult American cockroaches have wings which enable them to fly at times, but they can also run very fast. They normally live outside, but will enter buildings in search of food and water. Besides being found in homes, they can also frequent places like restaurants, grocery stores and hospitals, as well as sewer systems and drains. They prefer to live in moist and warm environments.

What do they eat?

American cockroaches will eat just about anything, including other dead cockroaches! Outdoors they can eat leaves, fungi, algae and insects, while indoors they forage for crumbs and any food particles they can find. Food which is left out will attract them, such as spillages or the pet’s bowl. They tend to enjoy sweet foods, but decaying material is their favourite.

What are the signs of an infestation?

If you suspect that you may have American Cockroaches in your home and you haven’t actually seen any of them, then lookout for these telltale signs: Droppings may be found in dark, hidden areas. They are small with ridges on the sides and blunt ends, somewhat similar to mouse droppings. Egg cases can sometimes be found in basements or garages. They are dark in color and measure about 38mm. An Odor which can be described as ‘musty’ is often present when there are American cockroaches around, due to the pheromones which they emit.

German Cockroach

German cockroaches can be found all over the world and are in fact the most common type of roach found in the United States. There are a few different types of cockroaches you can potentially be dealing with, but there’s a good chance that what you’re dealing with is actually a german roach.

What do they look like?

German cockroaches are much smaller than the American ones, with the adults measuring in at between 13 to 16mm in length. They are light brown or tan colored and have two distinctive black horizontal stripes behind the head.

How do they behave?

The German roach lives mainly indoors and although the adults do have wings, they generally do not fly but prefer to run. They can often be found in warmer areas of buildings, such as the kitchen and bathroom. They travel easily through plumbing pipes and are sometimes inadvertently carried into homes in bags or boxes.

What do they eat?

Like most types of cockroaches, German cockroaches are scavengers who will feed on any food available. However, they are also known to devour non-organic substances such as toothpaste, soap and books, and especially the glue used to bind the books.

What are the signs of an infestation?

You may be able to detect the presence of German cockroaches by observing their droppings which are small and dark, almost like black pepper. These dark spots or smears may be sprinkled in drawers or on counter tops. If you do find any egg cases they would probably be empty as the female carries them with her until just before they hatch. If there is a large population you may be able to detect a musty odor.

Brown Banded Cockroach

Brown banded cockroaches are found throughout the United States and they can live up to about six months.

What do they look like?

As their name suggests, these roaches have two light brown bands across their dark brown body and wings. They are one of the smallest types of cockroaches, reaching about 11 to 14 mm in length.

How do they behave?

Both males and females have wings; the male’s wings are larger than the female’s and only the males are able to fly but they prefer to jump. Brown banded cockroaches tend to avoid water and can live in higher temperatures with less humidity. They are often found in ceilings and around electrical appliances. They like to hide their eggs in or under furniture.

What do they eat?

Brown banded cockroaches will forage whatever they can find to eat, but given a choice they prefer starchy foods. Some of their favourites include wall paper glue, book bindings and even nylon stockings.

What are the signs of an infestation?

These roaches normally come out at night, however you may be able to spot them during the day if they are looking for food. Otherwise you could notice their droppings which are like dark specks or smears. These may be high up on the walls, behind picture frames, or on the ceiling moulding or around light fixtures.

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroaches often have a strong smell and are considered one of the dirtiest types of roaches. They can also be known as black beetles, water bugs or shade roaches.

What do they look like?

Oriental roaches are glossy black or dark brown in appearance. They can measure between 25mm to 32mm in length. Males are smaller than females, and although the males have wings they are not able to fly. The females have only short wing pads and they too are flightless.

How do they behave?

The Oriental cockroach prefers to live in cool and dirty places such as sewers and drains, toilets and bathtubs, and they are known to proliferate in port cities worldwide. They can survive for up to a month without food and two weeks without water.

What do they eat?

Oriental cockroaches survive on all types of garbage, filth and decaying material.

What are the signs of an infestation?

Oriental cockroaches can often be seen outdoors, in flower beds or gutters, storm drains or sewer grates. They are mostly nocturnal, and like to stay in moist and dark areas. You may be able to spot some oothecae or egg cases which are dark reddish brown and about 10mm in length. Oriental cockroaches also give off a distinctive musty odor from the chemicals which they secrete.

Smoky Brown Cockroach

These types of roaches are found mainly in the southern United States, particularly from Texas to Florida where their presence is common in cities such as New Orleans and Houston. Their life span can be about a year or even up to two years or more in good conditions.

What do they look like?

The Smoky Brown cockroach, as its name suggests, has a brownish black color. It is slightly smaller than the American cockroach and can reach up to 38mm in length. It has wings which are bigger than its body.

How do they behave?

Both male and female Smoky Brown cockroaches are good at flying and they are attracted to light. They are nocturnal and usually hideaway in concealed areas during the daytime. Sometimes they can be found in tree holes or gutters as well as wood-shingled roofs. Attics can be choice breeding areas for Smoky Brown cockroaches.

What do they eat?

Smoky Brown cockroaches prefer decaying plant matter but they will eat anything they can find including food scraps, dead insects and fecal matter.

What are the signs of an infestation?

Although Smoky Brown cockroaches usually stay outdoors and can often be seen in the garden at night, they tend to fly indoors when they are attracted by the light. If windows and doors are left open they can enter easily. If you find some eggs sacs you can recognize them by their dark brown color and length of 11mm to 14mm.

Florida Woods Cockroach

The Florida woods cockroach is also known as the stinking cockroach because it gives off a horrible smelling liquid when it is threatened. It also has another name: the palmetto bug. This is due to the fact that it often hides under palmetto leaves.

What do they look like?

This type of cockroach is black in color and can look similar to the oriental cockroach. Adults measure from 30 to 40mm in length. They do have small underdeveloped wings which are hardly noticeable.

How do they behave?

The Florida woods cockroach lives mainly outdoors in trees, woodpiles or leaf litters. They like hot humid climates such as Florida and other coastal states as well as the West Indies.

What are the signs of an infestation?

An infestation of Florida wood cockroaches is unlikely, although they may sometimes enter homes to find warmth or they may be inadvertently brought inside on pieces of firewood.

Pennsylvania Wood Roach

The Pennsylvania wood roach is commonly found in eastern and central North America, as well as Midwestern states up to Canada.

What do they look like?

Adult males are bigger than the females, measuring between an inch and ¾ inch respectively. They are dark brown in color with yellow margins on the sides of the thorax and the front half of the wings. Males have wings which are longer than their bodies, while the females have only short wing pads.

How do they behave?

Adult male Pennsylvania wood roaches are able to fly for short spurts, but females do not fly at all. They live mainly outdoors on tree bark, in woodpiles and tree stumps. They are most conspicuous during mating season (around May and June) when they can become aggressive.

What do they eat?

These types of roaches eat mostly decaying organic matter such as dead leaves and wood.

What are the signs of an infestation?

Pennsylvania wood roaches can sometimes be found indoors, especially if they have been carried inside on firewood, or if firewood is stored indoors. At times they are in outhouses or garages but they do not generally breed indoors, so an infestation is unlikely.

Well, now that you have been introduced to the characteristics and habits of these seven different types of cockroaches you will no doubt be able to identify any roach that dares to come your way!