The brown banded cockroach is frankly, a weird little pest…

It lives and lays its eggs in “high-up” places like the upper sections of walls and ceilings. The males are fast flyers but the females can’t fly. And while many other roaches live in wet or humid places, the brown banded roach is different – it prefers things dry.

Despite these unique characteristics, it’s often mistaken for the German cockroach – and not entirely without reason. Because both can be harmful household pests.

Brown banded roaches don’t live outdoors like the American cockroach or the Oriental cockroach, so if they take up a habitat in your home they’ll be determined to stay. Their diet and behavior make them tricky to control, too.

Keep reading to learn more about these tiny pests and discover important tips for controlling them and protecting your home from cockroach infestations.

Identifying Brown Banded Cockroaches

Brown banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg case size comparison

The brown banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa, is a species of small roach named for the distinctive brown bands that stretch across the lower and middle parts of its abdomen. On another animal, they might look like a cute belt. But in a safe and healthy home, there’s nothing cute about finding a roach with stripes.

The insects grow to about 1/2 an inch in length–about the size of a German cockroach. Their bodies are narrow and fairly flat. Males have wings that extend past the tip of their abdomens, while females have shorter wings. If you see a flying brown banded cockroach, you’ll know it’s a male.

Where Do Brown Banded Cockroaches Live?

Brown banded cockroach range USA: Map illustration
The U.S. range of the brownbanded cockroach (in orange). Data courtesy of BugGuide.

The brownbanded cockroach probably originated in Africa. It might have been brought to the U.S. from Cuba and eventually spread to Europe. Today, the brown banded roach can be found in most U.S. states as well as Canada.

Knowing where brown banded cockroaches live will help you identify them. Unlike many other cockroach species that live primarily in rooms with plentiful food and water, brown banded roaches like to live in bedrooms, closets and other areas of a building. You might spot their tiny, light brown egg cases stuck to the ceiling or upper portions of walls.

Because of their preference for higher elevations, you might find them behind picture frames, on shelves, and within crawls spaces and cabinets. They’ve even been known to live inside clocks and radios. German cockroaches rarely live in these types of locations, so you can be fairly sure that the small roach you’ve found on a high shelf is a brown banded cockroach.

Exploring the Life Cycle of Brown Banded Cockroaches

Brown banded cockroach illustration: Egg and adult on picture frame
Females attach tiny egg capsules to walls, ceilings, shelves, and other objects.

Brownbanded cockroaches go through 3 growth phases, starting with an egg. A female deposits 18 eggs into a tiny, purse-shaped egg capsule called an oothecae, then carries it on her back for 24 to 36 hours before attaching it to furniture, shelves, ceilings and other objects that have been invaded.

Depending on temperature (which affects their life cycles significantly), it can take 80 to 124 days for a brown banded cockroach nymph (a baby) to become mature, after which it may live for another 60 days.

With a single adult female capable of producing hundreds of offspring per year, even light signs of cockroach activity should be concerning. You could be facing a serious infestation in no time.

Will I Notice Brown Banded Cockroaches in My Home?

Cockroaches certainly aren’t known for being picky eaters. Brownbanded roaches feed on everything from leftover food and organic material to paper, draperies, wallpaper and even glue. Their feeding habits can be destructive to many parts of your home, including important documents, cherished photos and your favorite furniture.

If brownbanded roaches infest your pantry, they can get into thin boxes or loose bags and contaminate lots of good food. As domestic roaches, they live their entire lives indoors. So once they find an easy food source in your house or apartment, you can count on them sticking around.

Before you know it, you might have a few hundred cockroaches sharing your leftovers and living in cracks in the walls or out-of-reach cabinets.

Brown Banded Cockroaches Can be Harmful Pests

Should you be concerned about brown banded roaches in your home? You should be.

They’re bad house guests at the very least. They’ll ruin your leftovers, invade your closets and take over your cabinets. They’re known to eat fabric, paper and nylon stockings, so your furniture and clothes aren’t even safe.

They’re a known vector for food-borne diseases and drug-resistant bacteria. They can be intermediate hosts for parasitic worms, and like several other roaches, their molted skins and droppings can trigger or worsen allergies.

How to Get Rid of Brown Banded Cockroaches

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Brown banded cockroaches respond best to a multi-pronged, integrated approach that combines sanitation with indoor insecticides.

You already know to pay special attention to areas that are high up, warm, and dry (cabinets, walls, shelves and the spaces around refrigerators are common points of infestation). Your plan will be to focus on these areas, while not neglecting other spaces.

You’ll begin by carefully inspecting your home, then cleaning thoroughly. Sticky cockroach traps laid down at this point can help identify hot spots, which you can begin to treat with cockroach gel bait, cockroach bait stations, insecticidal dust, or an insect growth regulator (click links to learn more about each treatment).

Because brown banded roaches tend to be more widely disbursed throughout a home than other types of roaches, they can present a special challenge to treat. As you begin your work, be diligent in your inspection to be sure you’re treating enough space.

Cockroach bombs are also available in many stores. These products attempt to poison roaches across wide areas. However, they aren’t very effective against cockroaches, including the brown banded.

For serious brown banded cockroach infestations, you may want to consider a pest control professional (see How to Hire a Roach Exterminator). They may use the same treatments you would use, but combine them with certain other methods.

Tips for Protecting Your Home from Brown Banded Cockroaches

Always start planning your pest management plan by thoroughly inspecting your home for weaknesses. Holes and crevices in walls and ceilings provide easy entry points for roaches. If you live in an apartment, these small openings in shared walls and ceilings allow roaches to move from unit to unit and spread throughout the building.

Unlike other cockroach species, you won’t have to focus too intently on the bathroom. However, keeping a clean kitchen is an important part of preventing any type of pest infestation–especially cockroaches.

Always wash your dishes or load them into the dishwasher before you go to bed. Wipe your counters and stovetop to remove cooking residue and crumbs. And don’t forget to sweep or vacuum regularly–carpets might hide crumbs from guests but they won’t hide them from pests.

You can also call a professional to do regular inspections and spray for cockroaches and other pests.


Brown banded cockroaches do things a bit differently from other species. Nonetheless, they’re a dangerous and disgusting pest that’s best kept out of your home.

Follow the above tips to control cockroaches and keep them out: brush up on your cleaning habits, seal holes and crevices and use baits to fight back if you see signs of roach activity. Now that you have the information, it’s time to get started. You can do this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do brown banded cockroaches fly?

Both males and females have wings but only the males can fly. This is because the male roach’s wings are longer, extending past the tip of its abdomen and giving it the ability to fly away quickly. You won’t see swarms of them flying around, but even one cockroach taking off toward the ceiling can be a scary sight in the middle of the night.

Can brown banded cockroaches trigger allergies?

They can trigger reactions, including itchy eyes and sneezing, in people who are sensitive to allergens. As they grow, brown banded nymphs molt their skin. These discarded skins, along with the droppings they leave behind are what cause allergic reactions.

Do brown banded cockroaches live in drains?

Unlike other cockroach species, the brown banded cockroach has less need for moisture. Instead of living in drains and sewers, it lives high off the ground, in ceilings, cabinets and furniture.

Will brown banded cockroaches eat my clothes?

They have a wide-ranging diet that includes items like book bindings, wallpaper and glue. They’ve also been known to eat nylon stockings. However, clothing is not typically part of a brown banded cockroach’s diet.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Science Editor

Dr. Rae Osborn holds Honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Entomology, and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Natal in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington, where her research was in Entomology. You can learn more about our contributors here.


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  1. The map provided on this webpage indicates that brown banded roaches only reside in 8 US states. I did notice that most states are colored a medium gray while a handful are darker and lighter gray. I’m assuming that’s meant to indicate that brown banded roaches have been found in every state to some degree. However, the description below the chart says they’re in the states that are colored orange. I live in nebraska and brown banded roaches are listed as a household pest found in my state. What I’m trying to say is, the chart included in this article should really have a more detailed information key to accurately represent the presence of brown banded roaches per state. I feel that it’s negligent not to do so considering correctly identifying the type of roaches infecting a person’s home is so vital when attempting to eliminate the infestation. I’m fairly certain that I have brown banded roaches in my home at this time. I live in a duplex and first saw one on a kitchen cabinet a within the first two months of getting new neighbors. That was about 5/6 months ago now and I’ve just seen two more roaches in my garage over the past two days. One on a desk I use to keep crafting items and another just last night while going through items sitting on a couch I have stored in my garage. Previously, I’d set up sugar bait traps in various places throughout my home so I could start a treatment regimen right away if necessary. I’ve just found out today that the habits of brown banded roaches are quite different than most other species and has made me aware that my sugar bait traps were absolutely useless. Now that so much time has gone by these brown banded roaches have had all summer to breed within my walls and in my attic where temperatures were considerably warmer and more than suitable for them. While my garage is considerably cooler than temps outdoors it is still a lot warmer than my air conditioned home so it’s no surprise that that’s where I’ve now been noticing more. So, this is why I’m stressing that the information in this article be updated. That way, people such as myself can identify the species of roaches present in their homes and begin to manage them immediately to avoid full on infestations like that of which I may be facing now. I’m remaining hopeful that methods of intervention are still possible since reportedly it takes 160 days for these roaches to reach maturity. Also, of course, if that information is in fact correct. Hard to know for sure these days with how much misinformation is floating around on the internet. I plan to research the matter further. Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Katie,
      Thanks so much for your comment. The difficulty in providing more detailed information comes from the fact that there just isn’t a lot of data available. Right now, we’re using third-party data from sites like, Wikipedia, and entomology department data from state universities that provide it. We could survey entomologists and pest control companies, but those folks are very busy and aren’t likely to respond in reliable numbers, and we could survey regular folks who use the site, but they’re busy, too. So right now the best we can do is review the data that’s out there and provide as clear a picture as we can. With the exception of certain states like Florida and Texas which have extensive data about their cockroach populations, it means that the information is accurate as far as possible, but has to be somewhat general. Thank you so much for your time as well.

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