Cockroaches can be a great nuisance to homeowners and have serious health consequences for humans. When you consider the types of cockroaches in the world, you will be quite surprised to know that there are over 4,500 types; however, there are only around 70 species that are found in the U.S.
In general, there are 2 main roach groups – domestic and peridomestic. Domestic roaches are types of cockroaches that existed even during the times of cavemen and over time, they have evolved to live in human environments alone. The peridomestic variety lives around humans, but not necessarily within our homes.
The bad news is that some of the roach species prefer to live in our homes, thrive, multiply and become a complete nightmare. Pest control is the best way to prevent and control this pest population from taking over your home and creating problems and keeping your home and family safe.
It can be very helpful to identify and determine the type of cockroach that has entered your home so that you can choose the best method of pest control to stop the infestation effectively.
To enable you to do that, here is our in-depth guide, where we have discussed some of the characteristics and features of eight types of cockroaches that are most commonly found in homes.
Types of Cockroaches Most Commonly Found in Homes
Also known as the palmetto bug, water roach or sewer roach, the American cockroach or Periplaneta americana is one of the largest species of household cockroaches. Native to the Middle East and Africa, the American cockroach is found all over the U.S.
American cockroaches are large, around 1.5 to 3 inches long, oval shaped and have long antennae. They are shiny reddish-brown or light brown with a yellow band just behind the head. American roaches usually have wings and can fly; however, they mostly run around. These roaches reproduce very quickly and have a lifespan of around two years.
Typically, American cockroaches live outdoors and thrive in humid, moist and warm environments like gardens, under piles of leaves, mulch, etc. But can live in dry areas as long as they have water.
American roaches usually prefer places where there is an abundance of food such as bakeries, restaurants, stores, kitchens and infest the basements, drains or crawl spaces.
American cockroaches feed on all types of organic materials such as fungi, leaves, human food leftovers and crumbs. American roaches can be controlled by caulking all the crevices, cracks and holes in your home.
Place door sweeps to prevent these pests from entering your home via the space under the doors. And, remove all the mulch and leaves from your garden.
The German cockroach or Blattella germanica is the most common type of roach in the world. These roaches are much smaller than the American cockroach and are around ¾-inch long. Their small size makes it easy for these pests to get into small, tight spaces.
These roaches have a torpedo-shaped body and are tan or light brown with two stripes on the back. They typically run around from one place to another and while they have wings, these roaches rarely fly.
German cockroaches usually thrive indoors and need water to survive and are usually found in the bathroom and kitchens in homes, hotels, restaurants and nursing homes.
They also hide in crevices and cracks near refrigerators, dishwashers, under stoves and cabinets. They are found outdoors in warm, tropical places and don’t do very well in colder climates.
Scavengers in the truest sense, German cockroaches eat practically anything including glue, soap, book bindings, pet foods, toothpaste, human foods and crumbs.
German cockroaches breed very quickly and are among the most difficult and stubborn pests to get rid of. The best way to get rid of these resilient roaches is by applying insecticide sprays to the hiding places directly and setting traps using baits like hydramethylnon.
Among the smallest type of cockroaches that you can find in homes, brown-banded cockroaches or Supella longipalpa grow to around ½ an inch long and have brownish-colored bands along the back of the abdomen and wings, which gives them their name.
The males of these species have oval-shaped bodies and are a little longer than the females, which are shorter and plumper.
The adult male roaches have fully developed wings and can fly, while the female roaches have shorter wings that do not cover the abdomen. These cockroaches can live much longer without water compared to the other species and so they survive in warmer and drier places.
So, you can find brown-banded roaches commonly in your living room, bedroom, under the furniture, in your closets, dresser, pantry, behind light switches, door frames, inside clocks, radios, and higher places like attics, cabinets, etc., away from any water source.
Brown-banded cockroaches are typically nocturnal scavengers and don’t like light. They are omnivores and eat anything that they can find around your home. These roaches are not resistant to anything and can be easily killed by using sticky traps or baits containing boric acid, sulfluramid, fipronil, hydramethylnon or abamectin.
If you notice a cockroach flying outside or inside your home, then it is probably an Asian cockroach or Blattella asahinai. A recent entrant into the U.S., the Asian cockroach is mostly found in the southern and southeastern states of the country.
Predominantly an outdoor species, the Asian cockroach looks quite similar to the German cockroach with minor variations.
Asian cockroaches are light brown and around 0.5 inches in length. The roach has two distinct dark bands on the top of the head. The female Asian cockroach typically has wings that cover the abdomen that enables it to fly when provoked.
Since the Asian cockroach is a strong flyer, flying to distances of up to 120 feet, you can find these roaches commonly in high places such as on the top of fixtures, furniture, etc.
As mentioned earlier, Asian cockroaches prefer the outdoors and can be found in shady and moist areas like grass, leaf piles, compost and mulch. When disturbed, they will start flying.
Asian cockroaches are attracted to light and can enter your home through the doors and windows when attracted by bright lights such as lamps and television screens.
Asian cockroaches are omnivores and feed on all sorts of things including flowers, plants, pet food, human food, toothpaste and garbage. These roaches breed very quickly and once they enter your home, they can completely take over the place.
Getting rid of Asian cockroaches is quite difficult because they are extremely agile and quick and it may be difficult to kill them.
Since these pests are fliers, it may make getting rid of them using regular preventative measures and repellents difficult. You may be able to reduce the population of these roaches by using outdoor pesticides and reducing the plant debris, mulch, leaf piles, etc. in your outdoor space.
Also called the black beetle, the oriental cockroach or Blatta orientalis is a large-sized roach but much smaller compared to the American cockroach. Quite a distinct-looking species, the oriental cockroach has a shiny, smooth dark brown or black-colored exterior and has wings.
The males are usually shorter, around an inch long having short wings, while the female roaches are slimmer and longer, around 1.25 inches but don’t have wings. Oriental cockroaches move very slowly and are usually active in the dark.
These roaches are mostly found outdoors and you can find them mostly in dark, warm and moist places under rocks, wood, leaves or mulch, along flowerbeds and where there is a buildup of debris.
You can also find them in sinks, sewers drains, crawl space, near leaky faucets and pipes under sinks, refrigerators, etc. You are likely to find oriental cockroaches in your basement, especially after the rainy season as during the downpours, these roaches are likely to get inside.
Oriental cockroaches are omnivores and feed on any kind of food, right from decomposing garbage and decaying plants to human foods, crumbs and leftovers.
Oriental cockroaches are extremely difficult to get rid of in case of an infestation because these pests lay their eggs in small, tight crevices and cracks that are very hard to reach and may require aggressive remediation to get rid of.
To control oriental cockroaches, prevent the roaches from coming out of the drains by repairing any plumbing problems or leaks as soon as they occur. Remove all sources of food. Caulk all the cracks and crevices, install door sweeps and use baits under areas like your refrigerator, sinks, etc. to control the roaches.
Very similar to the American cockroach, the Australian cockroach or Periplaneta australasiae is a large-sized roach. These tropical, warm climate roaches are originally natives of Australia but can be found now in all parts of the world.
Australian cockroaches are around 1 to 1.5 inches in length are brownish-red in color but are slightly smaller than the American cockroach.
They can be distinguished from the American roach counterpart by the pale-yellow stripes, which run along with the wings and the head shield with a contrasting yellow line.
Mainly found outdoors and around shipping areas and seaports, these flying roaches can fly and enter your home when the weather is not conducive, looking for food and shelter.
Their small size allows them to easily squeeze into tight spaces like holes and cracks in the crawl spaces and attics in homes. Since these roaches love warm, moist and humid areas, you can often find them around greenhouses, heated fish tanks, etc.
While these roaches mainly feed on plants and rotting organic material, they also eat human foods, crumbs and leftovers.
Since Australian cockroaches are small in size and can fly, they can be quite difficult to get rid of, especially if you have an infestation in your home. So, the best option is to seal any holes, cracks and other openings including broken windows, screens, etc. are repaired to prevent them from entering your home.
Around one inch long, wood cockroaches are flat, oval-shaped dark brown-colored roaches with tan-colored wings, spiny legs and long antennae. While both the male and female wood cockroaches have wings, male roaches are larger and have longer wings than the females and are stronger fliers.
Adult roaches and large nymphs have a transparent or off-white stripe on the edge of their thorax, which extends into some portion of the wings in the adult.
Mostly found outdoors, there are 12 species of wood cockroach or Parcoblatta, a few of which include the Virginia wood cockroach, Pennsylvania wood cockroach, Broad wood cockroach and Boll’s wood cockroach. The Pennsylvania wood cockroach is the most common type that is mainly found in Canada.
Wood cockroaches are mainly found in warm and moist places outdoors under rotting logs, woodpiles, tree barks, etc. However, these roaches may find their way into your home along with the firewood.
Also, these roaches are attracted to lights and are usually drawn by the porch lights and then enter your home by crawling under the door space and occupying the narrow crevices and spaces in the lower parts of your home.
These roaches need moisture and so they cannot survive indoors for very long.
Wood cockroaches can eat anything at all; however, they mostly prefer dead and decaying plant matter and starchy foods.
Since wood cockroaches mainly live outdoors and don’t come indoors often, there is no risk of damage to your home; however, if they invade your home in large numbers, then they can become a nuisance pest that you need to get rid of.
And, because wood cockroaches don’t survive for long indoors, there is no need for any treatment. You can simply remove them and throw them away.
Make sure that all the cracks and openings in the doors, windows and foundations of your home are sealed to prevent the entry of wood cockroaches. Also make sure that humid spaces such as drains, open pipes and vents are covered to prevent the entry of these pests.
Also known as the green banana cockroach, the Cuban cockroach or Panchlora nivea is a small-sized cockroach that is native to places having tropical or sub-tropical climates like Cuba, the Caribbean and Gulf Coast.
Contrary to the belief that cockroaches are ugly creatures, Cuban roaches are quite pretty. Around 0.5 to 1 inches long, these yellowish-green to green-colored Cuban roaches have slim, long bodies and long, transparent wings.
The male Cuban cockroaches are smaller compared to the females. They are not considered pests and in fact, since they are not invasive or harmful and because they are pretty to look at, Cuban cockroaches are popularly kept as pets or used as food for other pets like reptiles and snakes.
Typically, an outdoor species, these roaches live in plants, shrubs, trees, leaf piles, wood chips, mulch, firewood, etc. and are not usually found indoors. You may even find Cuban cockroaches in greenhouses, feeding on growing plants.
These nocturnal insects are attracted by lights. As we mentioned earlier, Cuban cockroaches are very strong fliers and are often seen flying around banana trees and other tall trees.
Cuban cockroaches feed on sugary fruits like bananas and sap from the tree leaves. They also feed on organic rotting matter including dead leaves, trees, mulch, garbage and food. These roaches also love eating compost.
Cuban cockroaches are not considered pests because they don’t come near humans, sting or bite them; however, they may enter your home when attracted by the bright lights. But they don’t remain indoors too long and they cannot survive or reproduce.
However, these roaches can become a problem if there is an increase in their population as they can eat and damage the trees, shrubs and greenhouse plants. You can prevent these roaches from living and breeding near your home by keeping the firewood, leaf piles and garbage away from the house and removing them regularly.
Turn off the outdoor lights at night or use yellow lights, which are less attractive to the Cuban roaches. Also, ensure that your windows, screens, doors and crawl spaces don’t have any openings so the roaches cannot fly into your home at night. Make sure that all the attic and foundation bents have screens to keep the roaches out.
Risks of Cockroaches
Most of the types of cockroaches feed on decaying matter and garbage and when these pests move through decaying matter, they collect germs on their legs, which can then be transferred to humans via the food we eat.
Roaches can spread pathogens, parasitic worms and bacteria including salmonella and E. coli, which can cause various diseases and health problems.
American and German cockroaches, in particular, carry pathogens including the ones causing gastroenteritis, salmonella and dysentery.
Also, the saliva, dropping and skin moltings of the cockroach contain allergens that can trigger allergic reactions like itching in the eyes, sneezing, coughing, skin rashes and even asthma. Some roaches produce secretions that can alter the taste of food.
Other species of roaches such as Cuban cockroaches, wood cockroaches and pale-bordered field cockroaches are predominantly outdoor pests. They mainly feed on rotting organic matter such as dead and decaying organic matter such as plants, leaves, logs, etc. and are more of a nuisance rather than causing health problems.
Tips and Techniques to Keep Your Home Free of Cockroaches
As we have discussed cockroach infestation in your home is dangerous and can pose serious health problems. Cockroaches mainly enter the home in search of food, water and shelter and the first step to eliminating the cockroach menace is to keep your home clean and well maintained. Here are some tips and strategies that you can follow to keep your home cockroach-free.
- Always wipe your stovetop, countertops and tables down after all meal and snack preparation.
- Make sure that you keep all the food limited to certain areas of your home and if there are any spills, clean them immediately.
- Clean up all the dirty dishes on the counter, sink or dishwasher and avoid leaving them overnight.
- Avoid leaving any food open during the night. Store all the leftover food in airtight containers.
- Roaches are attracted to garbage and feed on it. So, throw all your garbage in a covered trashcan and empty the kitchen trash regularly.
- Avoid storing any newspapers, books, boxes or cardboard inside or around your home because cockroaches can eat and live in these materials.
- Clear all the clutter from inside and around your home to eliminate all hiding places for roaches.
- After taking a shower or bath, turn on the exhaust fan to ensure that the humidity in the bathroom is reduced.
- Ensure that all the wet areas in the bathroom and kitchen are dry.
- Fix any leaky toilets, faucets, pipes, leaky roofs and fix all plumbing problems.
- Seal and caulk all the openings, cracks and crevices around your home such as gas, plumbing and electrical lines, walls, cupboards, etc. to prevent the roaches from entering your home.
- Use a cockroach spray so that if you see a roach, you can kill it instantly. Sprinkle boric acid near holes, cracks and crevices. Using cockroach traps, baits and other products can help to eliminate hidden roaches.
As you can see, while there are more than 4,500 types of cockroaches in existence, there are only a few common types that are commonly found in our homes and are a cause for concern.
However, it is a good idea to know more about these common pests and be able to identify them so that you know how to prevent them from coming into your home, And in case of an infestation, you know what are the risks and how to eliminate these roaches and keep them away from returning.
While keeping your home and surroundings clean and sanitary is the key to preventing roach infestation; however, in the event that you do have a serious infestation that you’re unable to control with regular methods, then you may have to resort to pest control as a final option to resolve the problem.