Among the oldest and most common insects in the world, roaches have successfully inhabited the planet for over 300 million years, and given that they can survive a nuclear attack, likely to continue inhabiting it for the next 300, too!
These adaptable pests can live just about anywhere—as a result, the types of roaches number around 3,500 species in the world today.
Here’s a roundup of some of the different types of roaches!
The most common species of cockroach around the world, German cockroach populations spring up in spaces occupied by humans, especially food processing plants, restaurants, nursing homes, and other such facilities.
Description and Identification
Also known as the croton bug, this small species is identifiable by its tan/light brown, oval body and two nearly parallel dark lines that run down its back. Females are darker, and though the species possesses wings, it prefers running. It also has antennae.
German cockroaches love moist, hot environments. They’re active at night when they scavenge and mate. During the day, they take shelter in dark spots and crevices that are also humid and warm.
The largest common cockroach species in the world, this pest is also known as the waterbug (though it isn’t aquatic), kakerlac, ship cockroach, and Bombay canary.
In their adult form, these cockroaches are between 1.5-2 inches in length, with oval, six-legged, reddish-brown bodies. They have a distinct eight-shaped pattern and yellow band on the back of their heads. Both genders have antennae and are winged, able to fly short distances.
American cockroaches dwell both indoors (though very rare) and outdoors. Indoors, they’re found in spots where food is prepared and stored, while outdoors, they’re found in shaded, humid spots, such as sewers, drainage systems, hollow trees, attics, and wood piles, feeding on organic waste.
They tend to mass migrate, especially after heavy rain as they hate extreme weather conditions. They wander indoors to seek shelter from such conditions and for food and water. They also dislike the light and are mostly nocturnal.
This species, also known simply as the Pennsylvanian cockroach, is commonly found across central and eastern North America.
This species has deep chestnut-brown bodies, with males featuring yellow margins on the front half of their wings.
Males grow up to an inch in length, while females are slightly smaller. Males have wings longer than their bodies and can fly for short periods, whereas females have functionless wing pads.
Outdoors, these roaches can be found in stumps, hollow trees, and wood piles. Indoors, they have no particular favored spot and tend to wander around. They are drawn to lights at night, which they use to guide their way into homes.
Pennsylvanian roaches feed on decaying organic matter. They mate and breed outdoors and prefer to dwell in garages and under shingles.
Also known as red runner cockroaches, rusty red cockroaches, and red runners, this species is native to central Asia and northern Africa.
Females are rusty red while males are closer to tan and orange. Both genders grow up to an inch or slightly more, with males tending to be smaller. On females, you’ll find cream-colored markings behind the head and along the body’s edges, as well as rounded, short, striped wings, though they can’t fly.
Males have the same markings and yellowish wings that let them fly.
These roaches live outdoors, around debris piles, outdoor drainage pipes, stormwater drains, sewers, crevices, and other moist, dark spots, and quickly multiply. They feed at night, and though they may wander indoors, drawn by light or food and water, they cannot survive there.
Though people refer to cockroaches found in Spain as Spanish cockroaches, Spanish cockroaches are not a separate species or subspecies of cockroaches. This umbrella term includes various other species of roaches found in the country, such as German, American, Australian, and Oriental roaches.
Depending on which species we’re talking about, the identifiers vary.
Again, the habitat and behavior vary depending on the species. However, most cockroach species love damp, warm areas and are nocturnal. You’ll typically find them in areas where they can easily scavenge for organic matter and water.
White/albino cockroaches are not a species. All cockroaches, regardless of their species, turn white when they molt, shedding their old exoskeleton for a new, softer, and more flexible one. That exoskeleton will eventually harden and change to black or brown (usually within a few hours).
Albino cockroaches, as they are commonly known, are oval and sized similarly to brown and black cockroaches. Their exoskeletons are creamy or white. Depending on their age and species, they may be winged or wingless.
White cockroaches find deep, dark spots to hide in to protect themselves in this vulnerable stage. You’ll find them in cabinets and wall crevices, where they stay up to a few hours post-molting.
Quite the beauty for a cockroach species, Cuban cockroaches are native to the Caribbean and Cuba and are also known as green bananas.
These bright green roaches are typically an inch or a little shorter in length, though some individuals may grow up to a couple of inches. They also feature yellow margins on the outside of the front parts of their wings. The underbellies are also yellowish.
This species is winged and capable of flying fast and well.
Cuban roaches prefer hot, humid outdoor conditions. In their tropical and subtropical native lands, they usually dwell in coconut and palm trees, and feast on decaying organic matter that they scavenge. Cuban roaches can also be found along the Gulf Coast and as far north as South Carolina.
They’re attracted to lights in the dark, which leads to them occasionally wandering indoors.
8. Smokybrown Cockroach
Smokybrown cockroaches are named for their color and are a large species of invasive pests.
Smokybrown roaches have glossy, consistently dark brown/mahogany-colored bodies that are oval and about an inch and a half to two inches in length, like the American cockroach.
Both genders have long, functional wings that grow beyond the abdomen, and antennae that are as long or longer than the body.
Smokybrown cockroaches are outside dwellers that prefer garbage piles, sewers, and wooded areas.
They’re highly sensitive to dry conditions and tend to dry out very fast and die, which is why they’re always looking for high-humidity areas. This is also why they’re predominantly active in the evening hours.
While they may wander indoors during the day for food, they won’t live there unless it’s sufficiently humid.
Also known as the Palmetto cockroach.
Baby cockroaches, like white cockroaches, are at a stage in all cockroaches’ lives. Called nymphs, these roaches hatch about a month after the egg is laid and take up to a year to reach maturity.
Depending on the species, baby roaches have different identification marks. Some species carry the characteristic markings of adults when born.
However, all baby roaches are typically a few millimeters in size when they’re born. They’re born in the color of their species, turn white when they molt, and revert to their original color.
Baby cockroaches prefer staying in hard-to-access areas close to where they hatched. They also scavenge for food and water in the same radius.
Moisture is extremely important to baby roaches. Because of this, their preferred spots are bathrooms and kitchens, when indoors, and any moist, damp spot outdoors.
10. Baby German Cockroach
Baby German roaches are the young of the German cockroach species, typically just hatched to less than a year old.
German nymphs are oval-shaped, with black/dark brown bodies. They carry the signature black bands running down the back that distinguish the adults, even if this isn’t obviously visible. The lines darken and the body color lightens as the nymphs age.
Their antennae are longer than their bodies, which are about an eighth of an inch long.
German cockroaches live in humid or damp spots, such as closets, attics, basements, and bedrooms. They prefer bathrooms and kitchens, hiding during the day in crevices, appliances, and cupboards, and emerging at night to scavenge.
11. Flying Cockroach
This is a collective term that refers to the species of cockroaches that can fly, such as Asian, smokybrown, Pennsylvanian wood, brown, and Australian cockroaches.
Though some species may have wings, they may be functionless or good only for gliding lightly, as is the case with the American cockroach.
The description and identifiers vary depending on the species of cockroach and can be found on this list.
Flying cockroaches prefer the outdoors, where they infest boxes, frameworks, and pipes. They’re attracted to light but are nocturnal, flying only when it’s dark outside. Lights may draw them indoors occasionally. Though they don’t bite, they’re disease-carrying agents, picking these up from the decaying material they scavenge.
12. Cockroach Nymphs
Baby cockroaches, as mentioned earlier, are referred to as cockroach nymphs.
13. Asian Cockroach
First discovered in 1981 in Okinawa, this small species made its way to the United States only by 1986 and is now commonly found across the country.
Asian cockroaches are almost identical to German roaches, making it hard to tell the difference. Both are small, typically about half an inch long, with brown bodies. Both species also have dark stripes that run down their backs and are winged.
Very slight differences set the two apart, such as the presence of a white border on the Asian cockroach’s abdomen, or its slightly narrower and longer wings.
Asian cockroaches inhabit composted and mulched spots with plenty of shade, such as gardens and freshly landscaped areas.
They’re adept fliers and may wander indoors, but infestations indoors are uncommon. They are attracted to well-lit areas and light-colored surfaces and are active during dusk.
14. Brown Banded Cockroach
This invasive species of roaches get its name from the brown bands that cross the body. The species, having made its way from Cuba to Florida in the early 20th century, is now commonly found across the United States.
Adult males are about half an inch long and females are slightly smaller, though more robust. When the wings are closed, the dual dark bands running horizontally can be clearly seen.
Though both genders have wings, only males can fly. The wings of the females are much shorter than the males’ wings.
The bodies are oval and both genders have antennae. Their dark brown coloring helps them blend in with the furniture.
Brown-banded cockroaches are commonly found indoors, in bathrooms and kitchen cabinets, though they can distribute themselves across the house, taking shelter behind picture frames, under tables, and in your bedroom.
Because of this, these pests are also known as furniture cockroaches.
Brown-banded roaches favor elevated resting spots. They’re predominantly nocturnal but may move during the day.
15. Madagascar Cockroach
Also known as the Madagascar hissing cockroach because of the weird hissing sound it makes, this species is among the largest roach species in the world.
Madagascar cockroaches are oval-shaped, with a shiny brown body, a pair of antennae, and no wings. Males can be easily identified by their large horns, which they use to defend themselves. These roaches grow up to two or three inches long.
Additionally, males have prominent pro-natal humps on the upper body, while females have a much smoother thorax.
The hissing sound produced by these roaches is used for mating, scaring off intruders, and communicating with others. Males are territorial and defensive, unlike females. These roaches are not considered pests as they don’t inhabit indoor spaces, preferring to live among the logs and organic matter in forests.
The species is nocturnal, scavenging and feeding on plants and fruits after sundown.
16. Oriental Cockroach
Though they’re named oriental cockroaches, these roaches are believed to be native to Africa. They’re also known as water bugs because of their affinity to damp spots and as black beetle cockroaches for their dark, smooth bodies.
These roaches have shiny reddish-brown/black, oval bodies, with obvious differences between the genders. Males are smaller, growing up to only an inch, and have shorter wings, leaving their abdomens exposed. Females grow up to 1.2 inches and have wing pads. Both genders can’t fly.
This species loves damp, dark, cool, spots and can be found in washing machines, under sinks, and in basements when indoors, and in sewers and under rocks and mulch when outdoors. It feeds on the trash and decaying matter.
Oriental roaches are seasonal, most commonly appearing in spring and summer.
17. Surinam Cockroaches
Also known as greenhouse cockroaches, these roaches are a species that burrows and commonly inhabit tropical and subtropical regions.
Adult Surinam roaches grow up to about an inch long, with glossy, pale brown wings and black or dark brown bodies.
The head features a pale white band and both genders have wings, though they’re both poor flyers. Males are a rarity in this species as females are parthenogenetic (capable of reproducing asexually).
Surinam cockroaches burrow through humus, loose soil, compost piles, and mold, or take shelter beneath rotten branches, rocks, and trash. They’re commonly found in greenhouses due to the ideal conditions; hence, the name.
Primarily, outdoor dwellers, these roaches may make their way indoors through potted plants or unsealed entry points; however, they are incapable of surviving indoors due to their need for high humidity and warmth. Surinam roaches are nocturnal.
18. Australian Cockroaches
Southern Florida’s most common cockroach species is extremely similar to the American cockroach but is distinguished by the light yellow bands on its forewings.
Adults grow up to 1.2-1.5 inches long, with bodies ranging from dark brown to reddish brown. The wings are fully developed and functional, allowing the species to glide.
Males and females are very similar, and can be distinguished by the number of appendages at the abdomen’s tip—males have two pairs while females have one.
Australian cockroaches primarily live outdoors, under tree bark, wood piles, and in highly humid/damp spots. If the conditions indoors are subtropical, they can also thrive indoors.
Australian cockroaches can also be found in cupboards, sinks, water pipes, toilets, and other warm, dark spots that they migrate to when the conditions outdoors turn unfavorable.
19. Field Cockroach
Also known as vaga cockroaches, these small roaches are believed to have originated in southwest Asia. They resemble German cockroaches but can be set apart by the blackish-brown marking on the face.
Australian roaches grow up to a little over or under an inch, with brownish-red bodies. They have yellow markings on the sides of the wings and near the thorax.
These roaches love small holes and cracks in the outdoors or any area with tropical conditions and high humidity.
When conditions outside turn unfavorable, these roaches may invade homes for shelter and food. They can fly when necessary and are quite small and fast.
Though the natural reaction to roaches is one of disgust, these insects don’t need to be attacked until they turn into pests or invade your house in large numbers. Keeping your living space clean and free of scraps and spilled food can help keep away the roaches.
If not, your local exterminator will be able to handle the situation for you and help you get back to a roach-free space!