Often regarded as mere pests, roaches are far more than uninvited intruders in our pantries. Their presence can signal underlying issues like gaps in home cleanliness and maintenance, leaving us grappling with potential health risks.
But there’s a flip side to the coin: understanding the various types of cockroaches enriches our knowledge about these resilient creatures and aids in effective pest control strategies.
In this article, you’ll learn about their diverse habitats and behaviors—crucial insights for keeping your environment roach-free and safeguarding your living space against these hardy survivors.
List Of 18 Types Of Cockroaches
1. German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)
When discussing the diversity of cockroaches, one species frequently encountered in urban environments is the German Cockroach (Blattella germanica). This pest stands out due to its adaptability and resilience, making it a common challenge for homeowners and pest management professionals alike.
Renowned for their rapid reproduction rate, German cockroaches can swiftly colonize an area. The adult insects are identifiable by their light brown or tan coloration with two distinctive dark stripes on their pronotum, the shield-like structure behind their head. Measuring roughly 13 to 16 millimeters in length, they possess wings but are not adept flyers.
These critters thrive indoors, favoring warm, humid habitats like kitchens and bathrooms where food and moisture are plentiful—they’re notorious for invading residential spaces as well as commercial establishments such as restaurants.
2. American Cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
Within the spectrum of cockroach species, the American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is noteworthy for its significant size and widespread distribution. Often referred to as the ‘palmetto bug,’ it is considered one of the largest species that invade homes and businesses.
Adult American cockroaches can reach an impressive length of up to 4 centimeters. Their reddish-brown exoskeletons are equipped with wings, rendering them capable flyers over short distances which often takes observers by surprise. A key identifier is their light-yellow figure-eight pattern on the back of their heads.
Preferring warm and moist environments, these pests typically infiltrate dwellings through pipes or under doors in search of sustenance—decaying organic matter being a staple in their diet. Their presence isn’t just unnerving; it’s associated with sanitation concerns due to their potential role as vectors for various pathogens.
3. Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)
Among the diverse array of cockroach species, the Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis), often dubbed the ‘water bug,’ is noteworthy for its distinctive habitat preferences. This insect favors cooler and damp environments, starkly contrasting with other common household pests that seek warmth.
Characterized by a dark brown to almost black glossy body, Oriental cockroaches can reach up to 2.5 centimeters in length. Both males and females are distinguishable from their counterparts: males sport short wings covering three-quarters of their abdomen while females have vestigial wing pads without functional wings.
Due to their affinity for wet conditions, they are frequently found in basements, crawl spaces, and near drains or leaky pipes – making vigilant maintenance key in deterring an infestation. Not only do these insects pose a nuisance but also raise health concerns since they traverse unsanitary areas before entering homes, potentially spreading bacteria and allergens.
4. Brown-Banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
Within the realm of cockroach taxonomy, the Brown-Banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa) distinguishes itself with unique behavioral and physical traits. Unlike its counterparts that prefer moisture-rich environments, this species can often be found in drier locations throughout a home.
The adults are relatively small, typically not exceeding 1.5 centimeters in length, and exhibit light brown coloration with pronounced banding across their wings — hence “brown-banded.” Males are more slender and have full wings reaching beyond their abdomens which enable them to fly; females have underdeveloped wings and broader bodies.
An interesting fact about Brown-Banded Cockroaches is their preference for higher elevations within indoor spaces. They tend to establish themselves in upper cabinets or even behind picture frames—areas often overlooked during routine cleaning.
5. Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa)
Exploring the diversity of cockroaches brings us to the Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa), a species that’s both distinct and less common in cooler climates. Recognizable by its uniform mahogany brown color, this insect prefers warmer regions and is often found in southeastern states.
Adult Smokybrown cockroaches can grow up to 3 centimeters long. Their elongated bodies are shiny, which helps distinguish them from other species. These cockroaches have fully developed wings and are strong fliers, traits that contribute to their ability to spread quickly through residential areas.
This species has an aversion to light and is nocturnal, making it a surreptitious intruder. They’re typically drawn towards outdoor vegetation but will venture indoors in search of food and moisture — particularly during drought conditions or extreme heat.
6. Asian Cockroach (Blattella asahinai)
The Asian Cockroach (Blattella asahinai) is a species often mistaken for the German cockroach due to their similar appearance, but they possess distinct behaviors that set them apart. This species was first identified in Japan and has since spread to various other regions.
What’s particularly interesting about Asian Cockroaches is their strong attraction to light, which contrasts with the photophobic nature of most cockroaches. This inclination makes them more noticeable as they are often drawn towards windows or lit screens at night.
Adults measure approximately 1.3 centimeters in length and have a light brown coloration with two parallel dark streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Unlike many other roach species, Asian cockroaches are adept fliers and can travel significant distances, which aids in their dispersal across areas.
7. Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)
The Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae) is an imposing figure in the cockroach community, often misidentified due to its close resemblance to the American cockroach. Originating from Asia, despite its name, this species has become established in warm regions globally.
A striking feature of the Australian Cockroach is its size and coloration. Adults can grow to be about 3-4 centimeters long, with a pronounced yellow margin on the thorax and yellow streaks at the base of their wings which distinguish them from similar species.
These insects are tropical by nature and often inhabit greenhouses or garden areas where they feed on decaying organic matter and plant material. In colder climates, they may invade homes seeking warmth but typically reside outdoors among foliage.
8. Florida Woods Cockroach (Eurycotis floridana)
The Florida Woods Cockroach (Eurycotis floridana), often known as the ‘Palmetto Bug’, offers a unique profile in the cockroach catalog. This species prefers the damp and wooded environments of Florida and other southeastern states, distinguishing it from its household-inhabiting relatives.
Characteristically robust, these cockroaches can grow to be upwards of 5 centimeters in length, making them one of the larger breeds. Their bodies are predominantly dark brown or black with a coarse texture.
One notable aspect is that they emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed, serving as a defensive mechanism — this has earned them less affectionate nicknames such as ‘stinkroach’.
Typically found outdoors under leaf litter or within tree bark crevices, they have limited interaction with humans compared to other roach types. Yet when encountered, their sheer size and pungent defense frequently leave a lasting impression.
9. Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica)
In the vast world of cockroach species, the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica) stands out for its woodland habitat preferences. This insect is commonly found in the deciduous forests of eastern North America, particularly within Pennsylvania, which lends to its name.
Remarkable for their outdoor living habits, these roaches seldom venture into human dwellings. Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism: males are typically longer at about 2.5 centimeters with well-developed wings that facilitate flight; females are shorter with vestigial wings and do not fly.
Their coloration tends towards a chestnut brown hue, allowing them to blend seamlessly into their wooded surroundings where they feed on decaying organic matter. Unlike many other species that seek moisture-rich environments indoors, Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches contribute to nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems and rarely encroach upon residential areas unless attracted by light during mating seasons.
10. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), often simply referred to as the ‘hissing cockroach,’ is a fascinating species native to the island of Madagascar. Unlike common household roaches, this species has carved out a niche in popular culture and education due to its unique ability to produce a hissing sound.
These sizable insects can reach up to 7-8 centimeters in length, with a heavy exoskeleton that ranges from brown to black. Their most striking behavior—emitting loud hisses—is used for communication during mating rituals and when they feel threatened.
Mainly residing on forest floors, these cockroaches are detritivores, playing an important ecological role by recycling decaying plant material. They lack wings entirely, relying on their climbing skills and quick reflexes for mobility among the leaf litter.
Due to their docile nature and intriguing characteristics, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have become exotic pets and educational tools—showcasing the more amiable side of the cockroach family.
11. Turkestan Cockroach (Blatta lateralis)
The Turkestan Cockroach (Blatta lateralis), also known as the ‘red runner cockroach’, is a relatively recent and increasingly common addition to the variety of roach species encountered in urban settings. Originally from Central Asia, it has established populations in various parts of the world including the southwestern United States.
Males exhibit light brown coloration with fully developed wings that extend beyond their abdomen, making them proficient fliers. Females are darker, almost black, with shorter wings that render them flightless. The sexual dimorphism in this species is quite pronounced due to these differences.
Typically found outdoors, they tend to congregate around pipes and drains or within crevices and cracks of buildings. They thrive in warm environments but have shown remarkable adaptability to different climates.
12. Cuban Cockroach (Panchlora nivea)
The Cuban Cockroach (Panchlora nivea), also known as the ‘green cockroach’, adds a dash of color to the cockroach family tree. Native to Cuba and the Caribbean, this species is now found in several states across the southern U.S., where it’s often spotted around outdoor lights at night.
Adults of this species are noted for their pale, lime-green hue which provides excellent camouflage among foliage. Their delicate body structure contrasts with that of more robust roach species; they grow up to 2 centimeters in length and feature long, translucent wings extending beyond their bodies.
Primarily an outdoor insect, the Cuban Cockroach rarely invades homes but may be drawn to lighted areas such as porches or patios. Their diet mainly consists of decayed plant material and nectar, underscoring their role in natural decomposition processes within ecosystems.
While not considered a pest due to its non-invasive habits, encountering a Cuban Cockroach can certainly catch one’s eye with its unusual tropical vibrancy.
13. Pale-Bordered Field Cockroach (Pseudomops septentrionalis)
The Pale-Bordered Field Cockroach (Pseudomops septentrionalis) stands out for its preference for outdoor habitats, particularly fields and grassy areas. Unlike many of its relatives that seek indoor refuge, this species thrives under the open sky across southern regions of North America.
Adults exhibit a distinctive appearance with their pale-brown to yellowish bodies complemented by striking pale borders on their wings, which grant them their name. Typically smaller than household cockroaches, they measure about 1 to 1.5 centimeters in length.
Due to their outdoor lifestyle and diet consisting mainly of decaying plant matter, Pale-Bordered Field Cockroaches are seldom considered pests within human dwellings. However, they play an essential role in natural decomposition processes—recycling nutrients back into the soil, thus enhancing environmental health and balance.
Encounters with these insects tend to occur during the warmer months when conditions are optimal for their activity levels outside homes or agricultural settings. Their presence underscores the diverse ecological niches roach species inhabit beyond our living spaces.
14. Flying Cockroaches
When categorizing cockroaches, the capability of flight plays a significant role in differentiating species. Flying Cockroaches are those within this diverse order that possess developed wings and the musculature necessary for airborne movement.
Several species fit into this category, including the previously mentioned American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and Asian Cockroach (Blattella asahinai). These adept fliers utilize their wings to swiftly navigate through their environment, which can be particularly unsettling when they make an unexpected appearance indoors.
The ability to fly is not just a means of transportation for these insects; it’s also crucial during mating displays and escape from predators. While not all cockroaches have strong flying abilities, those that do often have heightened opportunities for dispersal and access to food sources.
It’s worth noting that indoor infestations involving flying cockroaches may require more stringent control measures due to their mobility and potential range within a structure.
15. Death’s Head Cockroach (Blaberus craniifer)
The Death’s Head Cockroach (Blaberus craniifer) is a species that captures attention with its striking appearance and size. This cockroach, named for the peculiar pattern resembling a skull on its pronotum, is native to Central America but can also be found in various tropical environments.
These insects are quite large, with adults growing up to 8 centimeters long. They exhibit a deep brown coloration, providing excellent camouflage against the leaf litter of their natural habitat. Unlike some cockroach species, Death’s Head Cockroaches have reduced flight capabilities due to their heavy build and short wing span relative to their body size.
Typically residing in rotting wood or within the forest underbrush, they contribute to nutrient recycling by feeding on decomposing vegetation and organic matter. While not common household pests, they are often kept as exotic pets or used in entomology displays because of their unique appearance and relatively docile nature.
16. Surinam Cockroach (Pycnoscelus surinamensis)
The Surinam Cockroach (Pycnoscelus surinamensis) is a less commonly known species, yet it plays an intriguing role in the cockroach lineage. Originating from Asia, this roach has since populated tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
This species is primarily nocturnal and dwells within moist soil or under debris, making gardens and potted plants their preferred habitats. The Surinam Cockroach grows to about 2-3 centimeters in length, with females showcasing a shiny brown to black carapace while males are slightly lighter with wings that can cover the entire abdomen.
An interesting aspect of this species is its reproductive strategy—females reproduce parthenogenetically; meaning they produce offspring without fertilization by males. This biological phenomenon allows for rapid population growth in suitable environments.
Although not typically considered a domestic pest due to its outdoor habitat preference, the Surinam Cockroach can become troublesome for gardeners as it feeds on root systems and young plants, potentially harming vegetation.
17. Brown Cockroach (Periplaneta brunnea)
The Brown Cockroach (Periplaneta brunnea), also known as the brown roach, contributes to the diverse Periplaneta genus. Often overshadowed by its relatives like the American and Australian cockroaches due to their invasive nature in human habitats, this species is still noteworthy.
Characterized by a uniform mahogany-brown coloration, Brown Cockroaches are slightly smaller than their American counterparts—typically reaching about 3.5 centimeters in length. They possess long wings that extend past their abdomen but are less commonly observed flying.
Preferring warm environments, they often reside in sewers, basements, and crawl spaces where humidity levels are high. Although not as prevalent indoors as other species, they can venture inside while foraging for food.
18. Lobster Cockroach (Nauphoeta cinerea)
The Lobster Cockroach (Nauphoeta cinerea) offers a unique twist in the cockroach catalogue with its intriguing name and behavior. Native to East Africa, this species has gained popularity worldwide, particularly within the pet trade due to its distinctive characteristics.
Adult Lobster Cockroaches reach about 3 centimeters in length and are known for their smooth brown exoskeletons with lighter margins and undersides that contrast against darker dorsal surfaces. Their name arises from their swift, backward movements, reminiscent of a lobster’s retreat.
Unlike many other roach species that prefer seclusion and darkness, these gregarious insects exhibit complex social behaviors and hierarchies within their colonies—making them a subject of interest among entomologists studying insect social structures.
Though not commonly associated with household infestations, Lobster Cockroaches require specific environmental conditions to thrive—mainly warm temperatures and low light—which need to be considered when kept as exotic pets or used for scientific observation.
As we’ve explored the astonishing diversity of cockroaches, it’s clear that these creatures are not just household nuisances but complex organisms with unique adaptations to their environments.
Their varied lifestyles and ecological roles remind us that even the most maligned species have a place in the natural order. From detritivores recycling organic matter to exotic pets sparking curiosity about the insect world, roaches hold our attention beyond mere revulsion.
Understanding their types is more than pest control; it’s gaining respect for nature’s resilience and adaptability. With this newfound knowledge, we can approach cockroach management with precision and perhaps a touch of admiration for these ancient survivors who share our planet.
I’m Shawn Gleason, a seasoned Entomologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Florida and the founder of Bugs Encyclopedia. With over 10 years of experience in Integrated Pest Management, I’m a certified Pesticide Applicator and a recognized authority in entomology. I’ve contributed to numerous prestigious journals, and I use Bugs Encyclopedia to share my deep knowledge, creating an accessible, trusted resource for bug enthusiasts and the general public. My mission is to demystify the complex world of bugs, ensuring that accurate, comprehensive information is accessible to all.