Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches: A Definite Guide

Cockroaches are some of the most common house pests. They invade homes looking for food and they often mate in high numbers to the point they easily spread diseases.

Not all bugs inside the house are cockroaches and some aren’t even known for spreading diseases. It’s best to know which the most common bugs that look like roaches are so that you can eliminate the foods or habitat preferences to get them out of the house quickly.

Water bugs are often confused with cockroaches. Crickets, termites, palmetto bugs, and even carpet beetles are all species that look like cockroaches. A flattened body or a brown color in a bug instantly makes it resemble cockroaches.

Since there are many species of cockroaches it’s important to know what these bugs look like, their size, and their food preferences.

What do cockroaches look like?

Cockroaches are mostly brown bugs that grow to a size between 0.5 and 1.5 inches. They are characterized by a brown (or black) flattened body.

These bugs have 3 pairs of legs and they crawl quickly on the floors or walls. Some cockroaches can fly even if most have wings. However, roaches generally have poor flying skills.

Cockroaches are nocturnal which means they mostly come out at night. However, seeing a few of them as exceptions during the day can confuse me.

10 Bugs that look like cockroaches

Here are the most common bugs that look like roaches. These species are often confused with adult or young cockroaches around the house.

1 – Water bugs

Water bugs are very similar to cockroaches in coloring, shape, and size. These bugs have a flattened body and they’re common in shiny brown. They have 6 legs and long antennae which makes them further resemble cockroaches.

As their name suggests, water bugs are found in water. This includes streams, marshes, and swimming pools next to homes.

There are multiple species of water bugs that encompass types of bugs that live in water. Cockroaches cannot swim and they drown in water.

The Giant Water Bug is one of the most common species that resembles American and Oriental cockroaches. Larger than the average cockroach, this brown bug is a very good swimmer.

Giant water bugs are often found in pools around the house. This is a clear indication you’re not dealing with a cockroach invasion as the Giant Water Bug lives and breeds in water and not on dry land as cockroaches.

Giant Water Bug

2 – Crickets

Crickets are one of the species that’s commonly mistaken for cockroaches. However, differences between these species are vast and they include habitat and diet differentiations.

Crickets have a similar size to cockroaches but they have different shapes and colors. They come in yellow to brown coloring and they are known for having longer legs.

Crickets never invade homes. They can enter homes by accident but they don’t infest homes and they don’t feed on rotting meats and fruits like cockroaches.

The way these bugs move tells the difference quickly. Cockroaches crawls and crickets jump. Roaches crawl quickly running away from people. Crickets jump a few times their body size moving away from you quickly.

While both crickets and cockroaches live outdoors in the same place, only roaches keep on looking for food indoors.


3 – Palmetto bug

Palmetto bugs are a series of bugs across North America which include the American cockroach and the Florida Wood cockroach. They get their name from nesting under palmetto.

The most common difference between these bugs is their habitat and diet. However, Palmetto bugs are often inclusive of the American cockroach species.

Whenever you identify a bug as a Palmetto bug there’s always the chance of it being an actual cockroach. However, there are high chances of that bug being a Florida Wood cockroach that feeds on decaying plants.

4 – Asian longhorn beetles

Asian longhorn beetles have an elongated flattened body just like roaches. They can grow to a larger size compared to cockroaches and they have a different colors and a different diet.

Asian longhorn beetles have been introduced to North America from Korea and other Asian countries. These bugs have a black body with white marks which makes them look different from brown cockroaches.

Asian longhorn beetles also have 6 legs but they don’t infest homes and they don’t spread diseases such as salmonella.

These beetles are found in gardens, parks, grassland, and prairies where they invade various plants. They feed on the plants themselves as well as on plant roots.

Asian longhorn beetles are sometimes confused with cockroaches since they can make their way in garages, barns, or warehouses looking for wood. They like to nest on wood, particularly on fresh wood. However, these beetles don’t invade homes.

Asian longhorn beetles

5 – June bugs

Both June bugs and cockroaches have similar brown coloring. These bugs can even share the same body size.

The biggest body difference between June bugs and cockroaches is the shape of the body. June bugs have a dome-shaped body while cockroaches have a flattened body.

June bugs are very good at flying compared to cockroaches that fly poorly or that cannot fly at all.

Cockroaches and June bugs invade different areas of the garden because they eat differently. Cockroaches are scavengers which means they constantly look for dirt, decaying food, and other types of food they can find on the ground or in the house. June bugs like to eat plants.

june bug

6 – Crab spiders

Crab spiders are sometimes confused with cockroaches as they’re found indoors or outside, next to homes. These types of spiders also resemble crabs as they move sideways similar to how their legs are positioned.

Similar in color and size, crab spiders are arachnids and not opportunistic feeders such as cockroaches. Crab spiders are predators and they seek out live insects to feed on while cockroaches have no problem eating rotting food and dead insects.

Crab spiders are mostly found in gardens. They place themselves on plants and flowers waiting for all types of flies to start drinking nectar and collecting pollen.

This is the time when crab spiders jump on insects to ambush them. Crab spiders also hide under tree bark during the day.

A nocturnal feeding plan sometimes makes people confuse crab spiders with cockroaches, which are also mainly nocturnal.

However, crab spiders don’t invade homes. While a spider can make its way indoors, it prefers to live outside where pollinating species are readily available.

crab spider

7 – Termites

Termites are often seen in homes and confused with cockroaches. They are the worst home invader since they can create structural damage to homes. Termites come in various colors such as white or black. However, brown termites are those most often confused with cockroaches.

These subterranean termites grow to about ¼ inches. They are known to chew through damp wood and they are often confused with brown or black cockroaches.

Multiple identification methods are recommended for these termites. One of them is looking at the wood itself.

Subterranean termites only eat wood, but not all types of wood. They prefer damp soft wood that’s easy to chew leaving hardwood behind.


Confirming the existence of these termites is the first step but eliminating them is even more difficult. Unlike cockroaches, termites don’t nest inside the house but next to it or under it. As a result, the nest of termites you may find in your home is outside of the house.

Another method of distinguishing between termites and cockroaches is assessing the climate in your area. These termites can be found in many US states but they are more frequent in warm Southern states.

The best way to deal with termites is to prevent them. This can be achieved by consulting professionals when building homes so that you don’t build in a high-risk area.

Once a termite infestation has been confirmed you need to replace damaged wood inside your house and kill all termites. Fixing all water leaks which are responsible for damp wood is recommended to keep termites out.

8 – Bed bugs

Bed bugs are commonly confused with brown cockroaches. These bugs have a shiny brown body with a flattened shape, similar to roaches. These bugs are considerably smaller than roaches.

Bed bugs are mostly feared because they feed on your blood. They also drink blood from animals as their only source of food.

As a result, you know your home has bed bugs when you find bitten marks on your body and the bugs in the bed.

Bed bugs may also bite pets such as dogs and cats. But most bed bugs spread out through the home also biting humans directly, especially at night.

bed bug

These bugs rarely make their way indoors on their own without some type of facilitation. They can get on a visitor that already has bed bugs, on luggage, or clothes, or from nearby animals. Bed bugs are normally found on wild birds and bats.

Common bed bug species found inside the house include Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. These common bed bugs multiply in the bed and they feed on your blood until you take action to eliminate them.

All bed bug infestations need to be taken seriously as these bugs multiply and don’t die as long as they have a host. You can see them crawling on the sheets or the mattress and this is an indication deep home cleaning is needed.

9 – Carpet beetles

Carpet beetles have a similar size to bed bugs but they don’t drink blood. They consume organic fibers in the house such as wool and cotton in rugs, pillows, blankets, and clothes.

Carpet beetles can also eat dry skin from animals and dry plants. Most carpet beetles are white, black, and yellow. Brown carpet beetles also exist and they can invade your home as well.

The Brown carpet beetle is a species that grows to 5mm. This species is known for very high reproduction rates as a single female can lay up to 50 eggs at once, which means you need to act fast when you see them.

Considerably smaller than cockroaches, carpet beetles might congregate next to windows not because they want to leave the house but because they’re attracted to light.

Carpet beetle

10 – Stink bugs

Stink bugs can also be similar to cockroaches. The Brown Marmorated stink bug looks similar to brown cockroaches. It grows to a size of around 0.7 inches resembling smaller roaches.

The shape of the body, the habitat, and the diet is the biggest differences between stink bugs and cockroaches. Stink bugs mostly live outdoors. They have a shield-like body shape and they suck on fruits and vegetables for food.

They prefer fresh fruits as opposed to decaying fruits such as cockroaches. Stink bugs are an invasive species in agriculture where that can destroy a large number of crops.

Bugs of this genus are known for their bad odor which is released when under threat. Stink bugs can enter homes attracted to light, seeking food, or looking for a warm shelter whenever the temperature drops quickly.

stink bug

Why it’s important to distinguish other bugs from cockroaches

Cockroaches are some of the most common pests around the house. They are identified by an oval-shaped body which is mostly brown, dark brown, or black. These bugs feed on all types of foods including garbage and decaying foods.

As a result, they invade homes that have plenty of food lying around and homes where garbage cans are left open for them to roam around.

Cockroaches are often confused with other species. This can be problematic. For example, they can be confused with water bugs which are only eliminated by cleaning water in pools and ponds from algae. Cockroaches are eliminated by clearing all rooting food and fixing sewage or water leaks around the house together with sealing possible entry points.

Correctly identifying all of these species is important when it comes to a pest-free home. Most bugs that look like cockroaches can be identified by what they eat, as not many are willing to eat any type of decaying organic matter as cockroaches do.

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