Cockroaches. Just the word can send shivers down the spine of even the most hardened homeowner. These resilient creatures have been around for millions of years, surviving through drastic changes in climate and environment. But did you know that there are over 4,500 species of cockroaches worldwide? In this article, we’ll explore 20 of the most common types of cockroaches you might encounter, both in the US and around the globe.
The German Cockroach: A Ubiquitous Invader
The German Cockroach, despite its name, is found worldwide and is one of the most common household pests. These roaches are small, typically about half an inch in length, and are recognized by the two dark stripes running down their back. They are notorious for their rapid reproduction and adaptability, making them a significant challenge to eliminate once they’ve infested a home.
If you’re dealing with these unwelcome guests, check out our guide on how to get rid of German cockroaches.
The American Cockroach: A Misnamed Immigrant
The American Cockroach is another misnomer. These roaches are native to Africa and the Middle East but have spread worldwide. They are one of the largest species of pest cockroaches, reaching up to 1.6 inches in length. They prefer warm, damp environments, which is why you might find them in your toilet or dishwasher.
For tips on dealing with these pests, read our guide on how to get rid of American cockroaches.
The Oriental Cockroach: The Ancient Traveler
The Oriental Cockroach is a large species, reaching up to an inch in length. They are dark brown to black and prefer cool, damp environments. You might find them in basements, drains, and other damp areas. They are less common in homes than German or American cockroaches but can still be a significant problem when they infest a building.
The Smokybrown Cockroach: The Southern Flier
The Smokybrown Cockroach is a large, strong flier that is common in the southern United States. They are a uniform brown color and prefer to live outdoors in moist, protected areas. However, they will move indoors in search of food and water, especially during dry weather.
The Brown-Banded Cockroach: The Furniture Lover
The Brown-Banded Cockroach is a small species that, unlike many other roaches, prefers dry environments. They are often found in furniture, behind wallpaper, and in other dry, warm areas of a home. They are named for the two light bands they have across their dark brownish bodies.
For more information on dealing with these pests, check out our guide on how to get rid of brown-banded cockroaches.
The Australian Cockroach: The Down Under Dweller
The Australian Cockroach is a large species that, despite its name, is found worldwide. They are similar in appearance to the American cockroach but can be distinguished by the yellow stripes on their thorax and the yellow edges of their wings. They prefer warm, damp environments and are often found in greenhouses and gardens.
The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach: The Gentle Giant
The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching up to 3 inches in length. They are native to the island of Madagascar and are unique among roaches for their ability to hiss by expelling air through their breathing holes. Unlike many other roaches, they are wingless. They are often kept as pets or used in movies and television due to their large size and inability to fly or bite.
For more information on these fascinating creatures, check out our Madagascar Hissing Cockroach guide.
The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach: The Forest Roamer
The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach is native to North America and is often found in wooded areas. They are not typically home invaders, but males are attracted to lights and may fly into homes. They are smaller than many other species, with males reaching up to an inch in length and females being slightly smaller.
The Asian Cockroach: The Light Seeker
The Asian Cockroach is nearly identical in appearance to the German cockroach, but their behavior is quite different. Asian cockroaches are strong fliers and are attracted to light, unlike most other roaches. They were first identified in the United States in 1986 and have since spread throughout the Southeast.
The Surinam Cockroach: The Burrower
The Surinam Cockroach is a small species that prefers to live in moist soil and leaf litter. They are unique among roaches in that all individuals are females and reproduce by parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction. They are often found in potted plants and can become a pest in greenhouses and homes.
The Cuban Cockroach: The Green Invader
The Cuban Cockroach is a large, light green species native to the Caribbean. They are strong fliers and are attracted to lights. They prefer to live outdoors and are not typically found in homes. However, they can become a nuisance in outdoor living spaces.
The Florida Woods Cockroach: The Stinking Roach
The Florida Woods Cockroach, also known as the palmetto bug, is a large species native to the southern United States. They are often found in damp, outdoor environments such as under leaf litter or in tree bark. When disturbed, they can emit a foul-smelling substance, earning them the nickname “stinking roach”. For more information about this species, check out our Florida Cockroach guide.
The Death’s Head Cockroach: The Skull Bearer
The Death’s Head Cockroach is a large species native to Africa. They are named for the unique pattern on their thorax, which resembles a human skull. They are often kept as pets due to their large size and unique appearance.
The Field Cockroach: The Outdoor Dweller
The Field Cockroach is a small species that prefers to live outdoors in damp environments. They are often found in irrigated fields and gardens, and unlike many other species, they are not typically found in homes.
The Flying Cockroach: The Winged Wanderer
While many species of cockroaches have wings, not all are good flyers. The Flying Cockroach is an exception. These roaches are strong fliers and can often be found buzzing around lights at night. They are a common pest in many parts of the world. For more information on these airborne pests, check out our article on do roaches fly.
The Turkestan Cockroach: The Desert Survivor
The Turkestan Cockroach, also known as the Red Runner Cockroach, is a species native to the Middle East and Central Asia. They are well-adapted to arid environments and have become a common pest in the southwestern United States.
The Madeira Cockroach: The Island Inhabitant
The Madeira Cockroach is a large species native to Africa. They are often found in warm, damp environments and are known for their rapid reproduction. They are a common pest in many parts of the world.
The Brown Cockroach: The Common Pests
The Brown Cockroach is a small species that is often found in homes and other buildings. They prefer warm, damp environments and are known for their rapid reproduction. They are a common pest in many parts of the world.
The Sand Cockroach: The Dune Dancer
The Sand Cockroach is a small, wingless species that prefers to live in sandy environments. They are often found in desert regions and are well-adapted to their arid environment.
The Ship Cockroach: The Maritime Marauder
The Ship Cockroach, also known as the Wharf Roach, is a species that prefers to live in damp, coastal environments. They are often found in ports and on ships, earning them their name.
Cockroaches are a diverse group of insects with species adapted to a wide range of environments. While they are often seen as pests, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to break down organic matter. Understanding the different types of cockroaches can help us better manage them and appreciate their place in the world. For more information on these fascinating creatures, check out our cockroach facts page.