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What Are The Different Types Of Cockroaches?

Identifying The Most Common Types of Cockroaches Which Invade Homes

Cockroaches have been one of the banes of human existence since the beginning of civilization when we started living in indoor dwellings. Cockroaches are more than just an unpleasant presence in a home, it’s also the fact that they reproduce at an alarmingly fast rate, spread germs and contaminate food which makes them such a despised pest. What’s even more frustrating about cockroaches is that there are so many of them. It has been estimated that cockroaches outnumber humans at a ratio of 7 roaches for every person, and that number is only growing. Cockroaches were made to survive and adapt to their environment; they were around long before humans ever came into existence (over 320 million years) and they will be here long after we are gone. It’s no joke when it is said that if a radioactive explosion destroyed the world, cockroaches will perhaps be the only living surviving creature. There are over 4,000 different species of cockroach living in the world but only around 70 cockroaches are found in the United States. The most common cockroaches that invade homes are also a much smaller number because the majority prefer to live outdoors. The cockroach species that do happen to select our homes to breed and feed and annoy should be identified so you can then take the necessary steps to rid them from your home before their population grows out of control. Here we will identify the most common types of cockroaches you may encounter to help you in choosing the best method of eliminating the invasion.

General Cockroach Life Cycle

roach life cycle

How Cockroaches Generally Look

Despite the fact that there are so many species and variations of cockroach types found in the world, they do have common traits which signify that the insect you are seeing is a cockroach and not, say, a grasshopper, beetle or some other insect type. Cockroaches have wide, flattened bodies with long legs and a pair of antennae. Every one of their six legs has little hairs that are used to sense their surroundings. Mature cockroaches have wings that fold over on their backs, yet only a few species of cockroach actually use those wings to fly. Most roaches are brown or black in color and can be as small as half an inch to 3 inches long, depending on the species. One of the more unique characteristics of a cockroach is the pronotum found behind the head that looks like a shield. 

The German Cockroach

Close up blattella germanica german cockroach isolated on white

The most common of all cockroach types in America is ironically called the German Cockroach. Despite its name, the German Cockroach actually originated from southeast China. They have adapted to only be able to survive around humans or where there is human activity. While the German Cockroach can be found in all parts of the world, they have become a domesticated species that primarily lives inside human dwellings or in controlled temperatures.


German cockroaches are a smaller sized cockroach at about 0.6 inches long at the adult stage. They are light brown in color with two darker-toned parallel stripes that go down the entire backside of its body from the head to their wings.The nymph stages of the German cockroach are much smaller but largely look the same but are black colored.


What makes the German Cockroach so prolific is their uncanny ability to rapidly breed and reproduce. Just one female cockroach coming into your home is enough to eventually form an entire population of cockroaches since a single roach can produce over 30,000 roaches in the span of a year. It’s easy to tell a female cockroach from a male because the female often is carrying oothecae or cockroach egg case which can contain 20 to 40 baby cockroaches just waiting to pop out when the egg hatches.

Habitat and Behavior

German Cockroaches are found in homes, supermarkets, restaurants and other places where there is plenty of food available to eat. They mainly concentrate in kitchens and bathrooms and other humid areas where there is easy access to water as well. Another distinctive trait of the German Cockroach are their droppings. The musty black pepper-like feces they leave behind contain a pheromone that attracts other cockroaches to the area. You may see these around the kitchen, under appliances, around electrical outlets and other dark, secluded areas where there is a lot of warmth.

Recommended Read: How to Get Rid of German Cockroaches

What Does Roach Poop Look Like? How to Clean Up Roach Droppings? German Cockroaches are nocturnal, foraging for food at night and then resting in hidden areas during the day. Because of their tendency to be around food and garbage, German Cockroaches can be a health hazard because of bacteria cross-contamination. The diseases they carry on their legs and feet and in their excrement can contaminate foods and trigger asthma in children and other health issues.

The Brown Banded Cockroach

While the brown-banded cockroach can be often confused with the German cockroach because of their similar size and general appearance, they have habits and tendencies that set them apart. Believed to have originated in Cuba and brought to the US in Miami via transport, the brown-banded cockroach is found throughout the United States and often make their ways into homes via used furniture or packages.


Brown-banded cockroaches are average about half an inch long and are one of the smaller species of cockroach. They can be sometimes mistaken for the German Cockroach with their brown bodies, but differ due to the two distinctive yellowish colored bands along their wings.


Brown-banded cockroaches multiply quickly, much like German Cockroaches and the females produce egg capsules that contain 14 to 18 eggs and often hide them in or under furniture. Once hatched, nymphs reach adulthood in about 160 days and live for about 206 days in total.

Habitat and Behavior

Unlike the German Cockroach which prefers to be close to areas that contain moisture, brown-banded cockroaches like to stay in areas that are warm and dry such as in electronics, in pantries and cabinets or high on walls and ceilings. Brown-Banded male cockroaches can fly but they are more adept to jumping when they are startled and want to escape.

The American Cockroach

American cockroach - Periplaneta Americana isolated on white

American Cockroaches aren’t as common indoors than German and Brown-Banded cockroaches since they prefer to live outdoors but when they do venture on inside a home, they can be startling to spot just because of how big they are. Also, much like how German Cockroaches did not originate in Germany, the American Cockroach isn’t actually native to America but is likely a native species to Africa that was introduced to the States via shipments.


Ranging between 1 to 3 inches in length, the American Cockroach is the biggest of the common types of Cockroaches you may encounter in the home. They are a reddish-brown color and oval-shaped. Both genders have wings while the males are longer, which makes the male American cockroach more likely to fly but only at short distances at a time.


American Cockroaches do not reproduce at the alarmingly high levels of the German cockroach with females only laying anywhere from 6 to 14 eggs in their lifespan. Each egg capsule can hold 16 eggs. Once hatched, nymphs start out light, grayish-brown color but then mature into reddish-brown, with the process taking 6 to 12 months. American Cockroaches can live anywhere from 168 days to a little over 2 years.

Two cockroach eggs next to a ruler
American cockroach oothecae by Fonkê Leif Selber und Carsten Selber , from Wikimedia Commons

Habitat and Behavior

American Cockroaches prefer to live outdoors but they do enjoy areas that are damp and warm such as sewers. American Cockroaches are active all year round and often find their way into a home while traveling through plumbing and stick around kitchens, basements, garages, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. You may notice an American cockroach in the home scurrying quickly when turning the light on in a dark area. American Cockroaches are also nocturnal and are active at nighttime which is when you are most likely to see them out of hiding.

The Oriental Cockroach

Known otherwise as water bugs, Oriental Cockroaches like dark areas where there is dampness and moisture and where humans are not around. While their name makes you believe they originated in Asia, they are actually native to Africa. This type of cockroach often infiltrates a home by crawling into gaps in the home or under doors or through plumbing and drains.


Oriental Cockroach differ from the other common types of cockroach via its shiny black or shiny reddish-brown color. At about 1 inch long as adults, Oriental Cockroaches are a larger-sized cockroach. Males have short wings while female wings are underdeveloped; neither are able to fly.


Female Oriental Cockroaches can produce eight egg cases in their 35 to 180 day life span which can carry about 16 eggs per case. The female drops the case in a secluded area and young nymphs will hatch from the egg. The period of development time can vary depending on the weather with warmer times of the year causing the cycle to go much faster and colder weather making the process of development take much longer.

Habitat and Behavior

Preferring to live outdoors, Oriental Cockroaches like to stay in areas where there are lots of leaf litter, under stones and debris. In cities, oriental cockroaches thrive around sewer systems and storm drains or anywhere there is coolness and moisture. They often make their way into homes through the plumbing and like to stay in basements, around toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and piping.


Regardless of the types of cockroaches you encounter in the home, they are not an insect you want sticking around for long because of how quickly they can make themselves comfortable and grow their population. Cockroaches can spread disease and sickness and make your home an unsanitary place by getting into your food and dishes and leaving droppings and filth wherever they crawl. Once you have identified the cockroach you are dealing with, you can then move forward with a treatment program to get rid of the entire population permanently.