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Cockroach Identification

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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.

Conclusion

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

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources

  1. Jacobs, Steve (2017) Brownbanded Cockroaches. PennState Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/brown-banded-cockroaches
  2. Cockroaches. University of Maryland Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cockroaches
  3. Jiang, Shiyao and Andrea Lucky (2016) Brownbanded Cockroach. Featured Creatures. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/URBAN/roaches/brown-banded_cockroach.htm
  4. Facts About Brownbanded Roaches. Hulett Environmental Services. Retrieved from https://www.bugs.com/bug-database/roaches/brown-banded-roach/
  5. Cockroaches. Got Pests? Retrieved from https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/bugs/cockroaches.htm
  6. Potter, Michael F. and G. Mark Beavers. (2018) Cockroach Control. Kentucky Pesticide Safety Education Program. Retrieved from http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/PSEP/cat8cockroaches.html

If you’ve ever seen a cockroach in your home, apartment or office, chances are it was a German cockroach. These roaches are the most common species found in buildings across the U.S. They’re unable to survive in locations away from humans or human activity, making them annoying pests and the typical culprits for home infestations.

German cockroaches are serious pests that can put you and your family at risk. They spread disease and ruin food. These resilient insects are experts at scavenging for crumbs and leftovers. They’ll quickly build colonies in apartment buildings and houses if the resources are there.

Read on to learn more about their behavior, what attracts German roaches, and how to prevent them from invading your home.

A Simple 5-Step Guide For Getting Rid of Roaches

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What Are German Roaches and What Does a German Cockroach Look Like?

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size

The German cockroach is an aggressive cockroach species that infests homes in the United States, Canada, and across the world. It’s a very small cockroach, growing to around a half inch long (about the diameter of a penny). German cockroaches have wings but don’t use them to fly.

Unlike other common species like the smoky brown cockroach or Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches are a light tan, light brown, or golden color. They also have a distinctive pair of dark, roughly parallel streaks that stretch along their back from its head to its wings.

The German roach isn’t the only small golden cockroach to skitter across your kitchen floor however. The less common but equally tiny Asian cockroach has nearly identical coloring and markings, and side-by-side you’ll have difficulty distinguishing the two.

German cockroach nymphs (the babies) look like smaller versions of their parents but don’t yet have wings. Nymphs also appear slightly darker in color, ranging from dark brown to black.

Where Do German Cockroaches Come From?

Originally thought to have been a European cockroach, the German cockroach is now believed to have come from Southeast Asia. And it likely spread here and elsewhere the same way it gets into homes now – by hitchhiking inside of things.

If you’ve found German roaches in your home, you probably brought them in inside bags or boxes, inside a suitcase, or inside used furniture or appliances. In warmer weather however, they may just make their way in from nearby apartments or homes.

Where Do German Cockroaches Usually Live?

German cockroach range United States
The range of the German cockroach across the United States (see orange-colored states) is extensive. Data courtesy of BugGuide.

German cockroaches live in close proximity to people worldwide. They thrive in locations where humans live and work; in fact, they need to live near people to access food and water.

They’re pickier than other roach species about their habitats, too. German cockroaches prefer areas that are warm and humid. These roaches tend to struggle in cooler temperatures but can spread quickly in structures with central heating.

Apartment buildings and hotels are prime locations for a German cockroach infestation because the pests can live in walls and move from room to room in search of food.

Life Cycle of a German Cockroach?

German cockroach illustration- adult, nymph,and egg sac

A German cockroach’s life cycle only lasts about 100 days from egg to adulthood. These roaches don’t breed in cycles like some other species; instead, they breed continuously, causing populations to increase extremely quickly. At any time, there could be numerous adults, nymphs and egg cases present in a home.

German cockroaches produce a large number of eggs each time they reproduce. Their egg capsules, called oothecae, contain 18-50 eggs, with an average of about 32. One female roach can produce as many as 400 cockroaches in its lifetime. These egg cases hatch in about a month.

The baby German cockroach or cockroach nymph that emerges goes through several stages as it grows to adulthood (most frequently about 6), molting each time and leaving old skin behind.

Adult German cockroaches live for 20 to 30 weeks, on average. They reproduce and spread rapidly–faster than any other residential cockroach. In only a year, a German roach infestation can grow exponentially.

Where Do German Cockroaches Hide in Homes?

German cockroaches live anywhere there is easy access to food and water. Their search for food most frequently leads them into kitchens, where they hide around appliances and cabinets. They can move through pipes and enter a room through drains or small holes in a wall. Their flat bodies let them squeeze through even the tiniest cracks in your home.

Bathrooms are another favorite location because they’re often dark and humid. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon to spot a German cockroach in your apartment’s bathtub at some point.

German cockroaches are omnivorous. Since they eat a huge variety of things, their food sources range from crumbs and scraps to pet food, oil splatter and household objects–even book bindings and soap.

You’ll rarely see them during the daytime unless the population has grown so large that they’re being pushed out of their hiding spots. Usually, German cockroaches hide in crevices during the day and emerge at night to find food and water. These roaches are fast runners; although they don’t fly, they’ll quickly flee from humans.

Are German Cockroaches Dangerous?

Cockroach infestation with adults and cockroach nymphs

German cockroaches are particularly dangerous pests because of their ability to access food items in cabinets and pantries and their tendency to carry serious diseases. These cockroaches contaminate leftovers and stored food with bodily secretions and droppings. Their droppings might also create an unpleasant odor, signaling contamination.

German roaches spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are carried on their legs and abdomens by walking across cooking surfaces, countertops, sinks and bathtubs. They’re especially dangerous in stores and restaurants where food is everywhere; a German cockroach infestation there can ruin a business’s reputation.

German cockroaches have been found to carry Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. Their skins and droppings can also trigger an allergic reaction in people with asthma or other sensitivities. Bites from German cockroaches are extremely rare but not impossible. However, these and other roach species almost always flee from humans, so bites aren’t typically a concern.

Tips to Rid Your Home of German Cockroaches

The first step in any pest control effort is inspection. It’s important to identify the potential location and size of your cockroach problem. Roaches usually hide quite close to their food sources, so you can start your inspection by focusing on areas within about 10 feet of food.

German cockroach droppings look like dark brown or black specks or tiny cylinders, depending on the size of the cockroach. You’ll find roach droppings anywhere roaches were present, from counter tops and tables to sinks and cabinets.

You can also use cockroach traps to discover where the roaches are concentrated. Sticky traps are effective, though you might have to change them frequently… and using them will probably mean handling dead cockroaches, which is never fun.

Traps are best used as a way to identify the sources of a roach problem. Cockroach gel baits, on the other hand, are a method of control that uses a poison to attract and kill cockroaches. The roaches eat the bait and return to their hiding place, where they die. Though this method of control requires less effort, it could also result in a large number of dead cockroaches in certain areas of your home (depending on the size of the problem).

If you have more than a few German cockroaches in your home or apartment, you’ll probably want to enlist a professional to eliminate them.

Professional pest control companies can use insecticides in the form of dusts or sprays to safely target roaches at the source. A professional will also be able to point out cockroaches’ access points and treat your home to prevent future problems. They’ll have the knowledge and tools ready to handle a pest problem efficiently and effectively.

For a detailed plan read: “How to Get Rid of German Roaches Step-by-Step

How to Prevent Future Cockroach Infestations

German cockroaches are serious pests that you definitely don’t want to find in your home. It’s essential that you take pest management steps even before you’ve ever seen a cockroach to avoid attracting them and keep them out of your house or apartment.

Developing thorough, regular cleaning habits and rigorously eliminating sources of water is perhaps the best way to keep cockroaches away. Without food and water, they’ll quickly look for the next place that provides them crumbs, leftovers, and moisture.

Make sure you clean up food and wipe counters each night. It’s also important to sweep and vacuum frequently. Even old spills and splatter around your stove can feed and provide a drink to a cockroach, so take an extra minute and wipe these areas carefully.

It’s easy to let dirty dishes stack up in the sink if you don’t have a dishwasher. However, that’s like leaving a buffet with free drinks for pests. Clean dishes at least once per day and keep them organized in your cabinets to reduce potential hiding spots.

Small German roaches can get into a surprising number of pantry items, even if you think they’re closed. Cardboard boxes and plastic bags are often not enough to keep determined roaches out. Instead, store pantry goods, such as cereal, sugar and flour in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers. These precautionary measures can go a long way in deterring hungry roaches.

Your inspection probably revealed at least a few cracks or holes that could let roaches in. You should use caulk to fill these entry points and seal any other cracks or crevices you find. Look for gaps where pipes pass through the wall, focusing especially on the kitchen and bathrooms.

Conclusion

The German cockroach is one of the most pervasive and problematic pests worldwide. It’s found almost everywhere humans are and can cause serious problems for homeowners and business owners.

Take steps today to prevent German cockroaches and avoid a potentially costly problem in the future. If you’ve found one or more roaches in your home, it’s important to act quickly. The most effective solution is also the one that requires the least amount of work on your part: call a professional. They can best diagnose the problem and implement a cockroach control plan.

Don’t let cockroaches invade your personal space. Take preventative measures now to ensure a pest-free home in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can German Cockroaches Bite?

German cockroaches rarely bite humans. They can, but they’ll usually run away instead. Only in extreme circumstances (very large infestations) have German cockroaches been known to bite people.

Can German Cockroaches Fly?

German cockroaches can’t fly even though they have wings. They’re fast runners but mostly stick to their feet. While other roach species are known for flying or jumping, German cockroaches are known for running quickly and hiding–they spend up to 75% of their lives in hiding.

Do German Cockroaches Smell?

German cockroach droppings can collect and give off an unpleasant smell. If you notice a strange odor coming from a container of food, heed this warning! It might have been contaminated by cockroaches and you definitely don’t want to eat that.

How Can You Eliminate German Cockroaches Naturally?

You can use a jar trap to catch German cockroaches by placing some food in the bottom of the jar and coating the inside walls with vaseline. Once the roaches crawl inside, they won’t be able to climb out. You can also use a Borax mixture or mix equal parts baking soda and sugar. The baking soda will react with a cockroach’s stomach and kill it.

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

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources:

  1. Cockroaches. Illinois Department of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/cockroaches
  2. German Cockroach: Biology, Identification, Control. (2013) NC State Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/german-cockroach/
  3. Jacobs Sr., Steve. (2013) German Cockroaches. PennState Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/german-cockroaches
  4. Valles, Steven. (2008) German cockroach. University of Florida: Featured Creatures. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/german.htm

The smoky brown cockroach is an outdoor roach that lives in and around wooded areas. It’s a large species that’s sensitive to changes in the environment and looks for areas of high humidity. It’s also a problem for homes in warmer climates.

In addition to their more natural habitats, “smokybrowns” infest garbage and have been found in sewers, making them potential carriers of disease. They’re unpleasant pests to find around your house and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you’ve seen suspiciously roach-like insects in your garden, garage or home, read on to learn what smoky brown roaches look like, how to control an infestation, and how to prevent problems in the future.

How to Identify a Smoky Brown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach adult, nymph and egg beside a U.S. penny for scale

The smoky brown cockroach is aptly named after its color: a dark, glossy brown or uniformly mahogany color that’s consistent on both its back and underside. It looks a lot like the American cockroach, with a similar size and shape. However, the smoky brown roach lacks the yellow accents of the American species.

Smoky brown roaches grow 1¼ to 1½ inches in length.. Both male and female smoky brown cockroaches have long wings that extend past their abdomens. They use their wings to fly in search of food or to find a mate. A smoky brown roach also has antennae that are as long as or longer than its entire body.

Habitat and Distribution of Smoky Brown Cockroaches

Smokybrown cockroach range USA
Smokybrown cockroach distribution U.S.A. (in orange). Data courtesy of BugGuide

Smoky brown cockroaches are prevalent across the United States in places where humidity is high and temperatures are warm for at least some of the year. They’re found throughout the southeastern United States from central Texas to Florida, and have been reported in greenhouses in the Midwest.

As an outdoor cockroach species, they typically live in fallen leaves, woodpiles, planter boxes and similar habitats. You might also find them near your home, hiding in your water meter box, garage, shed, roof shingles or rain gutters.

Smoky brown cockroaches and other outdoor species sometimes struggle to survive indoors. They don’t usually come inside intentionally; instead, they might be carried in on firewood or in boxes that were stored in a garage or shed.

They’re also attracted to light and sometimes fly through open windows toward a light source. If they do come inside, they usually move into a crawl space, attic, or other upper-floor area where the temperature and humidity levels are higher.

Do Smoky Brown Cockroaches Come Into Contact with People?

To many people, seeing a big brown cockroach scurry quickly under a cabinet when they flick on a light is frightening and causes anxiety. Now imagine one suddenly flying across the room–not a pleasant surprise in the middle of the night!

Though their preferred habitat is outdoors, smokybrown cockroaches can still cause problems for homeowners. They’re an obvious aesthetic pest: no one wants to see large cockroaches crawling around their garden or flying around their patio lights.

Indoors, they search for food and water in kitchens and bathrooms. They’ll live and reproduce in poorly-ventilated areas that are warm and humid, like your attic. There, they can become a problem, hiding among cluttered boxes and laying egg cases. As detritivores and scavengers, their diets range from dead insects and dead leaves to starches–like those important documents filed away in the attic.6

Life Cycle of Smoky Brown Roaches

Illustration smokybrown nymphs beside ootheca
Two smokybrown nymphs beside egg cases

From the time it hatches, a smoky brown cockroach takes about 320 days to become an adult. The female cockroach carries its egg capsule—called an ootheca—for about a day before hiding it somewhere secluded and moist to hatch. Each tiny egg case (only about 1/2″ long) can produce as many as 30 nymphs.

Since one female can lay dozens of egg cases throughout its life, just a few adult cockroaches can create a large infestation in a relatively short amount of time and without much warning.

Nymphs (baby roaches) begin life with a much darker color than adults that also features two strips of white. The tips of their antennae are white, too. As they grow, they take on a more reddish color. You probably won’t spot nymphs, though: cockroaches are very careful about staying hidden (not to mention they’re quite small) at this vulnerable stage.

An adult smoky brown roach lives 2 to 6 months, on average.

Are Smoky Brown Cockroaches Dangerous?

Despite being categorized as an outdoor species, smokybrown cockroaches are still dangerous pests. They’re less likely than some other roach species to invade homes but can still come inside accidentally and cause problems.

Smoky brown cockroaches live in a variety of disgusting places, from piles of dead leaves and wet mulch to storm drains and sewers. They’re opportunistic feeders and have been found on roofs and in rain gutters feeding on bird droppings.

If they fly into your home, they’re going to bring lots of dangerous bacteria to your attic and, probably, your kitchen. They’ll contaminate cooking and eating surfaces as they search for food. They’ve also been found to worsen some people’s asthma.

Tips for Controlling Smoky Brown Cockroaches

Cockroaches are extremely resilient insects and can be difficult to control without professional help. Smoky brown cockroaches are a common pest that should be treated seriously. Though they’re not immediately dangerous outdoors, seeing them near your house is a sign that they’ve found habitable conditions and will probably stick around.

Be careful when watering plants, as over-watering can help the smoky brown cockroach thrive. Dispose of leaf litter. Clear gutters and drains to remove standing water and the decaying organic material that roaches eat. You should also keep your trash cans closed tightly to prevent roaches from accessing food scraps.

Don’t risk bringing them indoors accidentally.

If you store firewood, stack it neatly away from your house. This will help keep it dry and ventilated–two conditions in which smokybrown cockroaches can’t survive. Trimming shrubs and raking mulch so that it’s dry and separated from the walls of your house removes more potential habitats.

Eliminating sources of food and water is often enough to control outdoor populations. Indoors, more aggressive steps might be necessary. You can use cockroach baits, traps, and insecticide dusts in your home to combat smokybrown cockroaches. To use them effectively, focus on areas closest to suspected hiding places. Cockroaches typically live within a few feet of their food source.

If you’re worried about a large infestation putting your home in danger, contact a pest control professional. They can better identify the roaches’ entry points and target specific areas with insecticides or other treatments.

Steps to Prevent Smoky Brown Cockroaches from Invading Your Home

Illustration: Smokybrown cockroach entering home through crack in foundation

Preventing smoky brown cockroaches is a multi-step, ongoing project. It requires good cleaning habits and a plan for eliminating potential habitats. Start with the most important target for roaches: food.

Don’t make it easy for cockroaches to find food or water. Wash dishes and wipe kitchen counters every night to clean up crumbs and spills. Empty pet food containers at the end of the day. Sweeping and vacuuming frequently are also important.

Eliminating habitats indoors means organizing cluttered areas, such as your attic. Storing things neatly can go a long way toward eliminating places where cockroaches can lay egg cases. If conditions become very humid in your attic, it might be necessary to use a ventilation fan.

You should also take time to inspect your home or structure for cracks or holes that could let cockroaches in from outside. This includes your roof, where smoky brown roaches sometimes fly from trees to shingles. Sealing walls and using tight-fitting screens in every window will help prevent them from flying inside.

Always check firewood or items that were stored outside before you bring them in. You can deter roaches by avoiding or minimizing the use of mulch, and keeping your landscaping clear of debris.

You can also apply cockroach control products around the outside of your home. Always read the warnings carefully, especially if you have pets or children who play outside.

Conclusion

If you live in an area that stays warm and humid for at least part of the year, there’s a chance smoky brown cockroaches will move into your garage, garden or even your attic. Don’t risk letting these pests spread bacteria around your home; start taking steps to prevent them today.

If you’ve seen smoky brown cockroaches around your home–inside or outside–it’s time to use the control tips above before they can reproduce and spread. Or, call a professional to begin targeted treatments and keep your home free from cockroaches and other pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do smoky brown cockroaches bite?

Bites from cockroaches are rare. They don’t bite to defend themselves like other insects. Cockroaches can bite but, while it’s possible, they’re much more likely to stick to their hiding places and any sources of food they’ve found. Smokybrown cockroaches will almost always run or fly away from a person.

Can smoky brown cockroaches fly?

Yes, smokybrown cockroaches can fly. They have long wings that they use to fly to food sources and habitats, including tree holes and roof shingles. They can fly away quickly from humans. Since they’re attracted to light, they’ll also fly into homes toward ceiling lights and lamps.

Do smoky brown cockroaches smell?

Smokybrown cockroaches don’t naturally give off a noticeable odor. However, smokybrown nymphs molt as they grow and their old skins can trigger allergies in some people. Additionally, smokybrown cockroaches move through dead leaves, drains, sewers and other unpleasant places, so they might carry odors with them.

How can I control smoky brown cockroaches naturally?

Smoky brown cockroaches are more sensitive to the environment than some other species. They need warm, humid conditions to survive. If the air is too dry, they’re likely to become dehydrated. Some of the most effective natural methods of controlling smoky brown cockroaches include reducing humidity, improving ventilation and removing food sources.
Decluttering storage areas and reducing humidity in your attic can deter smoky brown roaches from breeding there. Piling firewood neatly and using only a thin layer of mulch also reduces moisture.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources:

  1. Smokybrown Cockroach, Periplaneta fuliginosa. Oklahoma State University: Entomology & Plant Pathology. Retrieved from http://entoplp.okstate.edu/ddd/insects/smokybrownroach.htm
  2. Brown, Wizzie, et al. Cockroach Biology and Management. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Retrieved from https://citybugs.tamu.edu/files/2016/07/E-359-Cockroach-biology-and-management-2012.pdf
  3. Koehler, P.G., et al. (2011) Cockroaches and Their Management. University of Florida IFAS Extension. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IG/IG08200.pdf
  4. Sutherland, Andrew M., et al. (2019) Cockroaches. Pest Notes: Cockroaches. Retrieved from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html
  5. 5. Hopkins, John D. Cockroach Identification and Management for the Homeowner. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/pest-management/docs/Cockroach%20ID%20and%20Management%20for%20the%20Homeowner.pdf

Cockroaches are resilient, problematic pests. The Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, is an outdoor species that’s no stranger to venturing indoors for food. These insects are also commonly called “water bugs” and thrive in cool, humid locations.

Unfortunately, Oriental cockroaches are a dangerous, disgusting pest that you definitely don’t want around your home and family. They commonly carry diseases that they pick up from their unpleasant diet of garbage and decaying material. And it only takes a few roaches to spread bacteria all over your home.

The information below will help you to identify an Oriental cockroach problem, eliminate the roaches, and prevent infestations in the future.

Read on to learn about these unwelcome pests. And what you can do to keep them out.

A Simple 5-Step Guide For Getting Rid of Roaches

“Print or Follow on Your Phone. It’s FREE!”

How to Identify an Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroach identification: adult, nymph and egg capsule beside penny for scale
Oriental cockroach adult, egg sac, and nymph. Oriental roaches are brown when young, but grow darker as they mature.

Oriental cockroaches have several distinguishing characteristics. They grow to about an inch in length and are dark brown or black in color. They’re smaller than American cockroaches but larger than German cockroaches. Their bodies appear glossy and their legs feature tiny hairs.

Cockroaches have a reputation for being quick, agile insects, but Oriental cockroaches are noticeably slower than other species. Male Oriental cockroaches have wings that cover about 3/4 the length of their bodies, while females have much shorter wings. Despite their wings, neither gender of Oriental cockroach can fly.

Where Do Oriental Cockroaches Live?

Oriental cockroach range: cockroach illustration superimposed over U.S. map
Oriental cockroach known distribution (in orange) across the United States. Original data via BugGuide.

Oriental roaches are found around the world and are especially problematic in the Northwest, Midwest and Southern U.S. These cockroaches live primarily outdoors. They will enter homes looking for food but prefer to hide in woodpiles, clutter and debris.

Like many other cockroach species, the Oriental cockroach likes to live in humid places. Cockroaches need easy access to water to survive, so they’re attracted to areas that are humid or wet. However, Oriental cockroaches can live in cooler habitats than those of other roach species. This leads them into sewers, piping and any other damp, cool area in the house.

Oriental cockroaches thrive on a diet high in starch but they’ll scavenge for almost anything edible. This includes trash and sewage, making their presence in or around your home extremely unpleasant.

Places You Might Come into Contact with Oriental Cockroaches

Since these cockroaches look for warm, moist areas to live, you might find them in your garage, basement or crawl space. They also congregate in water meter boxes, around floor drains, and in other damp, shady areas near the ground, particularly those that contain organic debris.

Though they mostly live outdoors, Oriental cockroaches sometimes enter homes through drain pipes or spaces in window frames and vents. Once inside, they can move from room to room on piping in the walls, emerging in bathrooms or kitchens. They can’t climb smooth, steep surfaces, so you might find them trapped in a bathtub or deep sink.2

Signs of an Oriental cockroach infestation include egg cases, dead roaches, and droppings.

If you see a living cockroach, there are probably more hiding somewhere nearby. If the population becomes large enough, you might notice a strange odor near the area they’ve infested. Contaminated food might also give off this odor, signaling that Oriental roaches have touched it.

Life Cycle of Oriental Cockroaches

Illustration of an oriental cockroach and egg case superimposed over basement floor
The female Oriental cockroach deposits a single egg capsule that can hold as many as 16 eggs.

Female Oriental cockroaches carry egg capsules anywhere between 12 hours to five days before hiding them. The average female produces 8 egg capsules during her lifetime, called oothecae, that contain as many as 16 eggs each. The egg cases are a little less than 1/2 inch long and dark red or brown.

Populations can increase rapidly–a single female cockroach typically lays enough eggs to produce 115 roaches in a year. After hatching, the nymphs (baby cockroaches) mature slowly for cockroaches (around 185 days for males and 216 days for females), with 89% surviving to adulthood.

Adult Oriental cockroaches typically live between 1 to 6 months, mating at any time during that period. However, Oriental cockroach populations are seasonal, usually peaking in the spring and early summer. The largest number of nymphs tend to hatch later in the year.

These cockroaches depend on accessible water for survival but they can live up to a month without eating.

Are Oriental Cockroaches Dangerous?

Oriental cockroaches are problematic pests to find in your home. Their diet of garbage, sewage, and decaying matter makes them prime carriers of bacteria.

Once cockroaches have found a way into your home, they can quickly contaminate cooking surfaces and any food that’s left unsealed. They feed on crumbs, spills, and tiny scraps of food, and sometimes hide their eggs in unsealed food or pantry products.

In the process, they can contaminate utensils, cooking supplies, countertops, bathroom supplies and other household items. Floor drains and under-sink spaces are particularly attractive to cockroaches, as they frequently contain food waste.

Some of the most common illnesses that result from Oriental cockroach infestations are food poisoning and diarrhea from the Salmonella and E. coli they can carry and transmit. Dead roaches, old egg cases and droppings can also trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in people sensitive to allergens.

How to Get Rid of Oriental Cockroaches

Controlling an Oriental cockroach infestation begins with discovering how they made their way in. It’s important to carefully inspect your home, inside and outside, to find their entry points. Look for gaps in siding, cracks leading into your basement, spaces where pipes enter the walls, and any other holes near the ground.

Oriental cockroaches are most active at night, so it’s difficult to spot them in action. You’ll do better looking for signs (such as droppings), and noting areas they’re likely to gather (for example, holes in walls and cracks along the floor).

Sometimes, it’s necessary to place sticky traps in areas you suspect cockroaches are hiding to better pinpoint their habitats. Insect “bombs” or foggers are not usually effective because Oriental cockroaches tend to hide in crevices and holes that are difficult to reach.

Professional treatment might be the only option for a large infestation. Professional pest controllers might use a perimeter spray to deter them from your house.

Tips for Preventing Future Cockroach Infestations

Oriental cockroaches are resilient pests that are dangerous to your home and can be difficult to control on your own. It’s much easier to take measures to prevent an infestation than it is to control one.

Here are some tips to help you protect your home from Oriental cockroaches:

  1. Prevent clutter in storage areas
  2. Seal holes and cracks around your home
  3. Clean up landscaping, stack woodpiles, and clear leaves and debris around windows and doors
  4. Sweep for crumbs and wipe counters frequently

1. Prevent clutter in storage areas

Oriental cockroaches’ favorite locations are cluttered, humid, dark spaces. Unfortunately, basements and crawl spaces are often exactly that: poorly ventilated and full of boxes and clutter. This makes them ideal habitats for cockroaches and other insects.

Tidy up these and other storage areas–your garage or shed, for example–to make them less attractive to pests. If you live in a particularly humid environment, it might be necessary to repair or install better ventilation.

2. Seal holes and cracks around your home

Over time, holes and crevices develop around the outside of your home. Weathering can create spaces around piping and utility boxes, making it easy for pests to come inside. Taking time to properly seal the exterior and interior walls of your home can make a big difference in your fight against pests. Use caulking in and around high-risk areas, such as closets, cabinets, doors, windows, and walls, to prevent cockroaches entering.

3. Clean up landscaping and woodpiles

As primarily outdoor creatures that tend to gather in warm, moist, shady areas that provide them food, hydration and protection, your goal is to deprive Oriental roaches of the spaces and material they find attractive around your home.

If the plants around your home have become overgrown or cluttered, spend some time clearing out the debris to remove potential cockroach habitats. In addition, you should stack woodpiles neatly (and away from your home, if possible) to keep them dry and organized.

4. Sweep for crumbs and wipe counters frequently

The primary reason an Oriental cockroach (or just about any other pest) enters your home is to find food. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink or crumbs on the carpet makes it easy for insects to thrive on your leftovers. To prevent dangerous pests from making your home their home, turn cleaning into a nightly habit.

Always sweep and vacuum floors for crumbs. Clean dishes after you’ve used them and wipe counters every night. We know that nobody wants more chores, but you’ll thank yourself every day that you don’t find roaches or other bugs scurrying across your floor.

Conclusion

You can’t cut corners when it comes to defending your home against pests. Oriental cockroaches are an especially resilient and dangerous pest. It’s important to do everything you can to keep them out.

If you’ve already seen a cockroach or found evidence that they might be present, don’t take any risks. Start planning your cockroach control solution today.

If you’re worried you won’t be able to stop them on your own, call a professional pest control service. Cockroaches can spread disease and multiply quickly. Implementing effective pest control as quickly as possible is key to eliminating the problem.

You can do this! Take action today to live pest-free tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Oriental cockroaches fly?

No. Oriental roaches have wings, but their wings are too small and underdeveloped to be used for flight.

Can Oriental cockroaches climb walls?

No. Unlike many other roaches, their legs aren’t equipped for climbing.

Can Oriental cockroaches bite?

Oriental cockroaches have the ability to bite humans, but rarely do.

Can Oriental cockroaches come out of toilets?

It does happen, but usually only under certain circumstances: Your toilet has a u-bend that creates a water barrier between the sewer and your home. Should the toilet and u-bend dry out, roaches have an unobstructed path from the sewer into your house.

Can Oriental cockroaches jump?

No. Oriental cockroaches do not jump, and don’t even move very fast. Their legs are made for crawling.

Can Oriental cockroaches swim?

Oriental roaches don’t swim, but they do float. They can also remain totally submerged in water for as long as 40 minutes.

Can you flush an Oriental cockroach?

You can try, but it may not be very helpful. Since a cockroach can live for 40 minutes submerged, there’s a good chance it will end up alive in a nearby sewer – and possibly return to your house.

Do Oriental cockroaches smell?

Yes. Groups of Oriental cockroaches give off a pungent, unpleasant odor.

What kills Oriental cockroaches?

Oriental roaches can be killed with special dusts, baits, and sprays. The dusts are applied to areas where they travel. Sprays kill them on contact. And baits kill them after they’ve found and eaten them.

How to get rid of Oriental cockroaches naturally?

Begin by eliminating their access to food, water, and shelter – by cleaning up food sources, eliminating water drips, and plugging or patching holes around your house. To kill them, boric acid is a natural product that is often used to good effect.

Can exterminators get rid of Oriental cockroaches?

Oriental cockroaches are one of the more difficult roaches to eliminate, but the answer is yes – an exterminator can get rid of Oriental cockroaches.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources:

  1. McCanless, Kim (2014) Oriental Cockroach. Featured Creatures. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/oriental_cockroach.htm
  2. Sutherland, Andrew M. (2019) Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets. How to Manage Pests. Retrieved from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html
  3. Jacobs, Steve (2017) Oriental Cockroaches. PennState Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/oriental-cockroaches

Cockroach Facts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Introduction

Listen closely on an early summer evening and you may hear a tiny thud of impact that continues well into the night. It’s a familiar sound across much of the United States and Canada – the sound of the Pennsylvania wood cockroach hurling itself against your window screens in attraction to the light.

And sometimes, though you may not even notice it at first, those tiny impacts begin to grow in number. Until to your amusement (or horror), you realize that a whole horde of flying roaches is trying to bash its way inside.

Sound like an exaggeration? Not for many homeowners in wooded areas. And not for the Pennsylvania wood roach, for whom this assault is serious business.

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Let’s take a look at this unrelenting little bug, find out if we should be afraid of it, and see what we can do to keep the flying hordes at bay.

Identification

Pennsylvania wood roach male and female, plus egg sac beside a penny for scale
Pennsylvania wood roach female, male, and egg capsule beside a U.S. penny for scale

The Pennsylvania wood roach looks like a lot of other cockroaches.

It’s similar in shape to the American cockroach (but smaller), similar in color and markings to the German cockroach (but much bigger), and nearly identical in every way to the Southern wood cockroach (you have to poke around its body to be absolutely sure).

Catch one and you’ll discover a flat body, long antennae, and six spiny legs used to climb and otherwise scramble around. It will be dark brown to tan in color, have mottled markings on the cowl behind its head, and creamy white edging along the front portion of its wings.

The sexes are strikingly easy to tell apart, as well as strikingly different in behavior. Males are larger, about an inch long or so in length with fully developed wings. While females are slightly smaller, with shorter, less-developed wings.

The wings not only help you tell what sex you’re looking at, but which one is to blame for banging at your screens: The female’s shorter wings render her flightless, leaving all the airborne acrobatics to the males.

Where and How They Live

Range & Habitat

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach Range: Cockroach illustration superimposed over U.S. Map with known distribution
Pennsylvania wood cockroach known distribution (in orange) across the United States.

The Pennsylvania wood cockroach is an abundant, widely dispersed insect with a range that extends from the East Coast to the Midwest, and into southeastern Canada.

It’s found in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. As well as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

You’re unlikely to find this roach in cities, but in rural timbered areas where it lives and feeds on decaying plant material, especially inside woodpiles, bark, stumps, and hollow trees.

Reproduction

Illustration of Pennsylvania wood cockroach egg sacs on a tree stump
Pennsylvania wood cockroach egg capsules.

If you were to go out searching for them in the wooded or semi-wooded areas around your house, you’d find Pennsylvania wood roaches in three distinct stages of development: Egg sacs (known as oothecae), immature roaches (known as nymphs), and the adults you’re most familiar with.

The egg sacs are deceptive in that they hold not just a single egg, but up to 32 eggs, which take about a month to hatch. Females are prolific in their egg-laying, and can produce nearly a thousand eggs a year.

The nymphal stage typically lasts 10 to 12 months, after which the life of a Pennsylvania wood cockroach is short, lasting only several months. The insects mate from late spring to early summer, their eggs hatch in the summertime, and they reach adulthood in the following spring.

How You’re Likely to Come into Contact with Them

Illustration of 2 wood cockroaches on window screen attracted to the light
Wood cockroaches attracted to the light inside a home.

Though you’re most likely to encounter them late spring to early summer (their mating season), Pennsylvania wood roaches are active all year and can find their way inside your home at any time.

Mating Season

Mating season is when the insects become most obvious, with groups of determined male wood roaches flying in search of females throughout the night. Though it’s not known why exactly, they’re attracted to artificial lights at night, and so begin to swarm the attractive glow around your home.

They’ll head toward your well-lit windows, to windowed doors, to porch and patio lights, lighted pools, landscape lighting, and car headlights. And every chance they get, they’ll try to fly, crawl, or squeeze their way closer toward whatever source of light they find.

For many folks, this is a ritual of summer. For others, something closer to an onslaught.

If you’re of the onslaught opinion, it doesn’t help matters that a sex-crazed Pennsylvania wood cockroach doesn’t care much about the surface on which it lands – for instance, right on you. Or that you live a little horror story every time you grab a flashlight for a simple nighttime stroll.

Other Times of Year

Other times of year, your encounters are likely to include as many nymphs and adult females as with the now less-aggressive males.

You’ll find them in your gutters and potted plants. Under your wood siding, your wooden porch, inside tree stumps, and beneath your cedar shake. And if they’re anywhere around your house at all, you’ll find them in your wood piles, sometimes living in high numbers.

One of their favorite spots, due to the moisture and its delicious decaying bark, is your firewood. They’ll feed and breed underneath the bark and in the decaying organic matter between the wood. Then when you bring the wood inside, you’ll bring in some roaches, too. This is such a common occurrence, it’s the reason most people get them in their homes.

Those roaches that do make their way in on purpose have probably mistaken your house for a fallen tree and an opportunity to nest. To their loss however, the inside of your house is much too dry for them and they rarely breed there, or even live for very long.

Are They Dangerous?

You may know about the many health hazards surrounding certain cockroach species. Cockroaches are capable of carrying infectious diseases, triggering allergies, and even causing asthma.

But the Pennsylvania wood cockroach is more of an occasional nuisance than a threat. Since they feed on decaying plant material, and not the trash, rot, and bacteria-infested remains that roaches like the German or American cockroach do, casual contact with them is not likely to make you ill.

And though their diet includes among other things, decaying wood- they’re not a threat to your wooden structures, siding, or furniture the way that termites are.

Pennsylvania wood roaches are more like unwanted house guests. Who came in without an invitation. And have no idea how to leave.

How to Get Rid of Them

Before heading for the pest control chemicals, keep in mind that the Pennsylvania wood roach is actually a beneficial insect. It breaks down dead and decaying plants and turns them into fertilizer, which is good for the environment—including the one around your home.

Cockroaches are also a source of food for other animals.

So when you find a loner that’s somehow made its way inside, you may want to simply catch it and usher it into the woods where it belongs. Likewise, if the ones outside aren’t a major problem, there are some simple preventative steps that can reduce the nuisance that they pose.

If you find them ruining your summer however, or terrifying your kids, there are more aggressive ways to get rid of them.

Suggested Products


To Kill Wood Roaches Quickly When They Come Inside

BASF PT P.I. Contact Insecticide

P.I. is a pyrethrin-based spray insecticide that kills roaches fast. Best when used as a supplement to other treatments, it’s not inexpensive, but far more effective than off-the-shelf sprays.

To Kill Them Outdoors

Bayer Polyzone Suspend Insecticide

When used on exterior foundations, entries, and walls, Suspend insecticidal liquid stops outdoor roaches before they get in. It requires a separate sprayer (see below), and works best alongside a granular outdoor bait like Intice and an outdoor crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust.

Chapin 1 Gallon Multi-Purpose Sprayer

Liquid pesticides require a separate sprayer. This inexpensive pump sprayer works fine for smaller jobs.

InTice Perimeter Insect Control Bait Granules

InTice is a granular bait that kills roaches outdoors and in spaces like your garage or attic. Used alongside a spray treatment like Bayer Suspend and a crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust, it can protect the entire perimeter of your home.

Delta Dust Insecticide Dust

Waterproof and long-lasting, Delta Dust is a crack and crevice treatment effective in high-moisture areas such as attics, exterior walls, and plumbing lines. Delta Dust is regulated and unavailable in some areas.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Powder Duster

Insecticidal dusts like CimeXa work best when applied with a duster tool. This inexpensive diatomaceous earth duster works fine with CimeXa, Delta Dust, and other recommended dusts.

A typical strategy begins with the use of liquid pesticides in what’s known as a perimeter or barrier treatment. In this type of treatment, chemicals are applied outside – beneath siding, along foundations and moldings, under eaves and soffits, and sometimes along roof lines. Chemicals may also be applied to areas of your porch or patio that fall under the glow of outdoor lights, the spots insects collect and cause the most trouble.

Granular baits are also effective, especially in combination with sprays. Baits are left in areas like mulch piles where roaches gather, then kill them after being ingested.

The third solution is insecticidal dust, which works best in combination with the two methods above. Applied to cracks and crevices around your home’s foundation and potential entry points, it damages the insects’ exoskeletons, eventually killing them through dehydration. The product Delta Dust is the one you’ll need (it’s the only insecticidal dust that’s waterproof), and you’ll need a duster tool to apply it properly.

When indoor treatments become necessary (far less common since indoor infestations are rare), the same baits and dusts are useful, especially when applied at indoor points of entry like attached garages, and areas that can actually harbor infestations, such as sheds. Areas such as crawl spaces and attics can be “fogged” with an aerosol insecticide when necessary.

If you plan to spray yourself, don’t apply pesticides anywhere near firewood, which can give off toxic fumes when burned. Don’t spray sensitive vegetation, don’t use chemicals in areas where pets and children may come into contact with them, and only use products approved for the purpose at hand.

How to Prevent a Future Infestation

Since it doesn’t really want to infest your home, the Pennsylvania wood cockroach is easier to prevent than the much more dangerous roaches that do. You can usually keep them out and away with some simple precautions:

  • Seal Your Home. Seal cracks and crevices in exterior walls with a weather-resistant silicone caulk. For large gaps, holes and exposed voids in walls or siding, use wads of steel or (preferably) copper mesh, then seal them with a layer of caulk. Repair or replace damaged window screens, place screens over exposed vents, replace worn weatherstripping, and fit doors with thresholds or sweeps.
  • Make Your Home Less Hospitable to Roaches. Store firewood piles away from the house and avoid carrying firewood over from season to season, which reduces the opportunity for annual breeding. Remove decaying leaves from window wells, from underneath porches, from around bulkheads, and from other areas they collect. If you store garbage cans outside, move them to a dry location, or place a dry barrier like gravel underneath them. Look for outdoor water leaks that create artificially moist environments, and repair them. Cap drain traps, and direct overflow water away from your home. Also keep in mind the next time you build or landscape that a wide lawn presents a barrier to roaches that might crawl in from nearby woods.
  • Make Your Home Less Attractive to Mating Males. Dim or reduce the number of outdoor lights, especially around points of entry like windows and doors. Pull shades and curtains at night if you can, and consider replacing white bulbs with yellow ones or LED’s that reduce light’s visibility to insects.
  • Stop Carrying Roaches In. Avoid storing firewood indoors, including the garage. Examine the firewood you bring in. And if practical, bring in only enough for a day or two, limiting the numbers of roaches that can make their way in at once.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Pennsylvania Wood Roaches Bite?

They probably could bite if threatened, but are not aggressive insects and certainly don’t see humans as food. You have little to fear from a Pennsylvania wood cockroach bite.

Can Pennsylvania Wood Roaches Fly?

Females and immature roaches (cockroach nymphs) do not fly. But the males do, especially during mating season when you can see them flying toward light sources such as lighted windows and headlights.

Do Pennsylvania Wood Roaches Carry Disease?

Unlike certain indoor cockroach species, the Pennsylvania wood cockroach doesn’t live or feed in bacteria-infested environments. It’s unlikely that encountering one outside or in your home is going to make you sick.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources:

  1. McLeod, Robin. (2005) Genus Parcoblatta – Wood Cockroaches. BugGuide. Retrieved from https://bugguide.net/node/view/31624.
  2. Jacobs, Steve. (2013) Insect Advice from Extension – Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches. Retrieved from https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/pennsylvania-wood-cockroaches
  3. Larson, Jonathan. Wood Roach. Retrieved from https://communityenvironment.unl.edu/wood-roach-0
  4. Layton, Blake Jr.. Control of Insect Pests In and Around the Home Lawn. Retrieved from http://extension.msstate.edu/publications/publications/control-insect-pests-and-around-the-home-lawn

Cockroach Facts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Finding even a single cockroach in your home can mean a serious situation. If you’ve discovered one, you’ll want to move fast, beginning with the crucial first step: Identification.

In this short guide, you’ll learn about the 6 types of roaches (with pictures for easy identification) likely to have invaded your home – step #1 in your cockroach battle plan.

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Ready? Let’s get to work.

The Different Types of Cockroaches

German Cockroaches

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size
German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg sac, beside a U.S. penny for scale

German cockroach pictures

About:

The German cockroach, Blattella germanica, is the most common nuisance cockroach that people find in their homes. It prefers houses and buildings to any other habitat and reproduces faster than other cockroach species. It’s especially problematic in apartments and other types of shared living spaces.

Though they have wings, they don’t fly; instead, they use their wings to glide. German cockroaches are dangerous in homes because they can spread disease by contaminating food and cooking surfaces. Furthermore, they shed periodically and leave behind egg casings that can cause asthma attacks and trigger allergies.

Appearance:

German roaches are relatively small—approximately 0.5 inches long. An adult German cockroach is light brown and has two dark stripes running down its thorax (the middle section of its body). A juvenile  (called a nymph), on the other hand, is smaller, darker colored, and has a tan stripe running down its back.

Geographic Range

German cockroaches live in many environments worldwide. They can live outdoors in the tropics but prefer to find shelter in people’s homes in cooler climates.

Mode of Entry

Often, German cockroaches are accidentally brought into homes on furniture or in grocery bags, shipping boxes, and drink cartons. In apartment buildings, they can crawl through shared pipes and ducts to infest additional units and quickly become a widespread problem.

Preferred Locations

You’ll most likely find German cockroaches hanging out in your kitchen, bathroom, or any place where food is stored or prepared. They are especially fond of humid areas with temperatures between 70 and 75oF.

These roaches can squeeze into cracks and crevices to hide near food, water, and sources of heat. If their populations become too large, you might begin to find them in other parts of your home, including bedrooms and closets.

Habits and Reproduction

German cockroaches eat a variety of household items, including book bindings, crumbs, soap, toothpaste, and other scavenged items.

Female German cockroaches lay egg cases, called oothecae, that can contain 30 to 40 eggs each. They produce these egg cases every few weeks (more often during warm weather). On average, a German cockroach lays between 4 and 8 oothecae in its lifetime.

Don’t expect to find these egg cases easily, though: females carry them around until 1 to 2 days before they hatch. Sometimes, a female estimates incorrectly and the eggs hatch while she’s still carrying the ootheca.

A single German cockroach can be responsible for the births of more than 30,000 babies in one year. Typically, nymphs mature in 40 and 125 days. Though not all will survive to adulthood, these cockroaches’ rapid cycles of growth and reproduction can cause infestations to grow and spread quickly. Making proper roach control extremely important.

American Cockroaches

American cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale

American cockroach pictures

About

The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, (also known as the palmetto bug or sewer roach) is also quite common in homes and apartments. However, this roach species prefers the outdoors and is less likely to infest living spaces than German cockroaches. Like German cockroaches, the American roach can spread disease and trigger allergies and asthma. They move rapidly but don’t often use their wings to fly.

Appearance

At up to 2 inches in length, American cockroaches are the largest of the common roaches. Their color is reddish-brown, with a light yellow band outlining their thorax. It’s easy to tell the difference between adults and nymphs because the adults are larger and have wings, while nymphs don’t have wings.

Geographic Range

Despite their name, American cockroaches are native to the African tropics. Today, however, they’re located throughout the United States.

Mode of Entry

American cockroaches typically enter homes through piping from sewers or similar locations. They can crawl through small gaps around windows, doors, or vents to find shelter. They can also enter homes as stowaways in piles of firewood.

Preferred Locations

American cockroaches often live in sewers, storm drains, steam tunnels, water meter boxes, gardens, trash bins, and facilities that raise animals. They like warmth and humidity, especially temperatures above 82 F. Indoors, they hide in laundry rooms, boiler rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. Though they sometimes infiltrate homes, it’s more common to find infestations in grocery stores and restaurants.

Habits and Reproduction

Female American cockroaches carry their oothecae for around 6 days before attaching them to the inner surface of a crack or crevice. Each ootheca contains about 12 to 16 eggs, which might not hatch for 2 months or longer. In a single year, a female can be responsible for more than 800 individuals.

The nymphs mature more slowly than those of other roach species, taking between 65 and 400 days.

American cockroaches prefer a diet of decaying organic matter, but will also eat just about anything, including crumbs and household scraps. Outdoors, they feed on leaves, wood, fungi, algae, and smaller insects.

Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale

Oriental cockroach pictures

About

The Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis is a dangerous pest that mostly lives outdoors. They are most common in homes that have a lot of vegetation around them. They don’t move as fast as other kinds of roaches and don’t fly. Unable to climb smooth vertical surfaces, they often become trapped in sinks and bathtubs.

Oriental cockroaches are even more unpleasant than other cockroach species because of their diet: garbage, feces, and decaying plant and animal matter.

They stink, too. They spend a lot of time crawling over fecal matter, rotting things, and other bacteria-laden material as they search for food (making them potentially more dangerous than other types of cockroaches). They’ll contaminate food, food preparation areas, and utensils simply by walking over them. Luckily, their odor is strong enough to warn you that your food has been contaminated.

Appearance

Oriental cockroaches are larger than German cockroaches but smaller than American cockroaches, measuring about an inch in length. They’re shiny, and dark brown to black in color. While both males and females possess wings, the wings of female Oriental cockroaches are rudimentary. Males’ wings, meanwhile, are about 25% shorter than their bodies. Nymphs look like small, wingless females.

Geographic Range

The Oriental roach lives in coastal areas worldwide. In the United States, it’s predominantly found in southern, northwestern, and Midwestern states.

Mode of Entry

Oriental cockroaches typically enter homes through gaps around windows, doors, and vents. Some come in through sewer pipes or drains that run through walls to the outside. They might also ride along on firewood from a woodpile they’ve been living in.

Preferred Locations

Oriental cockroaches are often found in cool (below 84 F), damp, dark locations, including woodpiles, trash bins, garages, and basements. They also live among ivy and ground cover, inside meter boxes, and in sewers and drains. These roaches are resilient, and can survive quite well in cooler temperatures.

Indoors, you might find Oriental cockroaches in sink cabinets (especially if pipes are leaking), beneath appliances, and within floors5.

Habits and Reproduction

During the day, they tend to remain outside, sometimes entering homes at night to forage.

Oriental cockroaches mature slowly—sometimes, it takes over two years for a nymph to reach adulthood. However, they only live around 180 days. Females carry their ootheca for about a day before depositing it in debris or food. An Oriental cockroach ootheca contains about 16 eggs. Altogether, one female can produce up to eight egg cases, and up to 200 new roaches in a year.

Wood cockroaches

Pennsylvania wood roach male and female, plus egg sac beside a penny for scale
Pennsylvania wood cockroach female, male, and egg sac, beside a U.S. penny for scale.

Wood cockroach pictures

About

There are 12 species of wood cockroach (Parcoblatta), including the Pennsylvania wood cockroach, the Virginia wood cockroach, the Boll’s wood cockroach, and the Broad wood cockroach. All thrive in moist woodlands but can also be found in homes occasionally. Houses situated near forests are especially at risk during the spring and summer. Since they feed on dead wood and other materials, these cockroaches are sometimes brought inside with firewood. However, they can’t survive for long indoors.

Wood cockroaches are different from other cockroach breeds in their attraction to light. Only the males can fly short distances. Like other types of roaches, wood cockroaches can contaminate food and trigger allergies and asthma.

Appearance

Wood cockroaches are about 1 inch long and brown. The edges of some wood cockroaches’ wings are white. Females’ wings are shorter than males’—only about 0.5 inch long. Nymphs, which are smaller than adults, completely lack wings.

Geographic Range

Native to North America, the wood cockroach is found across much of the United States, though it’s less likely to be found in the central part of the country. It also lives in Canada and Mexico.

Mode of Entry

Wood cockroaches infiltrate homes through gaps around windows, doors, and vents during the spring and summer. In the cooler months, they hitch rides on firewood. It’s important to always check your firewood for roach eggs before bringing it into your home.

Preferred Locations

Wood cockroaches are most often found in woodpiles and under the bark of fallen logs and dead trees. Sometimes they congregate near homes in gutters and crawl spaces.

Habits and Reproduction

The diet of wood cockroaches primarily consists of decaying organic matter.

Females deposit their oothecae under the bark of dead trees and fallen logs. The eggs hatch about a month later. Wood cockroaches typically only live for a few months.

Smokybrown Cockroaches

Smokybrown cockroach adult, nymph and egg beside a U.S. penny for scale

Smokybrown Cockroach Pictures

About

The smoky brown cockroach, Periplaneta fulginosa, is very sensitive to dehydration and must live near a reliable source of water. It’s a nocturnal creature and will fly away if disturbed. Like the wood cockroach, smoky brown cockroaches are attracted to light.

Appearance

Smokybrown cockroaches are relatively large—approximately 1.5 inches long. They are dark brown to mahogany-colored with a thorax that looks almost black. You can distinguish them from some other types of roaches by looking at their wings, which are longer than their bodies.

Geographic Range

Smokybrown cockroaches are found in the southeastern United States.

Mode of Entry

Smokybrown cockroaches typically climb into homes through vents and plumbing, especially where vegetation touches the home.

Preferred Locations

An outdoor type of roach, they prefer to hang out in gutters, planter boxes, and woodpiles. They also live beneath shingles and siding, inside water meter boxes, in garages, and amongst trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. Sometimes, they even live in sewers. It’s rare but these cockroaches do occasionally enter homes. Then, they’re typically found in attics.

Habits and Reproduction

Females carry their oothecae for a day before depositing them. It takes about 45 days for the 20 or so nymphs to hatch.

Brownbanded Cockroaches

Brown Banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale

Brownbanded cockroach pictures

About

The brown banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa, prefers indoor spaces, but is less common than the German cockroach. While females can’t fly, males sometimes flying away from disturbances (though they’re more likely to jump).

Brownbanded cockroaches have a wide-ranging diet, consuming garbage as well as human food. They’re a dangerous pest inside homes because they’re likely to spread bacteria and other contaminants to food and food preparation areas. They also leave behind old skin and egg cases that can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

Appearance

Brown banded cockroaches have narrow bodies. They’re about 0.5 inches in length (the adult males longer than the females) and have light brown or yellow bands on their abdomens, wings, and the sides of the thorax. Males and females are different colors: males appear to be golden-tan while females are a darker brown.

Males’ wings are longer than their bodies, while females’ wings cover only part of the abdomen. The nymphs are smaller and have two light horizontal bands on their bodies5.

Geographic Range

Brown banded cockroaches live across most of the United States.

Mode of Entry

Like German cockroaches, brown banded cockroaches typically get into homes through furniture, grocery bags, food containers, and electronics. They can move between apartment units via shared duct work and piping and can quickly become a serious problem in apartment complexes.

Preferred Locations

You’re most likely to encounter brown banded cockroaches in locations that are warm (around 80oF), dry, sheltered and higher up, often out of reach. You should inspect around electrical appliances (often in kitchens), beneath clutter, behind wall decorations, and within hollow furniture legs.

Brown banded cockroaches live most commonly in homes that lack air conditioning. They’re also frequently a nuisance in offices or places where lots of paper is stored.

Habits and Reproduction

Brown banded cockroaches and German cockroaches don’t get along; they typically don’t share habitats. Brown banded roaches are nocturnal and don’t seem to care about what they eat, consuming a wide variety of materials, from human food and garbage to fabric (including clothing and curtains), to glue, and even wallpaper.

Brown banded cockroach oothecae contain between 13 and 18 eggs each. Females carry them for about a day to a day and a half, then attach them to ceilings (often in closets) or the undersides of furniture. The oothecae then remain for around 50 days until the eggs hatch.

Brown banded cockroaches have an average lifespan of 13 to 45 weeks. A single female will produce about 14 oothecae in her lifetime, each containing about 13 eggs.

Australian cockroach

Australian cockroach, adult and egg case compared to a penny

Australian cockroach pictures

About

The Australian cockroach, Periplaneta australasiae, is a species of cockroaches that typically lives outdoors but does occasionally invade people’s homes. It’s large and has long wings that let it fly short distances. Due to its appetite for dead and decaying things, it can pick up bacteria and contaminate your counter tops and pantry foods if it gets inside.

Appearance

Australian cockroaches are similar in size to American cockroaches. You can tell them apart by looking for the distinctive tan ring-like pattern on an Australian roach’s back, just below its head.

These cockroaches grow to about 1 ¼ inches long. They’re one of the biggest bugs you’re likely to find crawling around your house. Don’t be scared—they’re not out to hurt you! They spend almost all of their time hiding.

Geographic Range

The Australian cockroach is distributed globally. In the U.S., the largest populations are located in southern states. They’ll build colonies in tree trunks, piles of wood, water pipes and other damp areas.

Mode of Entry

Australian cockroaches come into homes and other buildings through tiny holes in exterior walls and spaces where a pipe or wiring enters. They hang out in garden mulch and piles of leaves, so they’re already close to your house. As soon as temperatures drop, they’ll look for ways inside.

Preferred Locations

Australian cockroaches mostly live outdoors in warm climates. Their favorite habitats have lots of humidity and high temperatures. Sometimes, they infest greenhouses but don’t pose much of a threat to crops.

They’ll come indoors when temperatures drop too low outside. You might find them in sinks and bathtubs or hiding in cabinets and drains.

Habits and Reproduction

Females hide their egg cases in wet woodpiles and crevices near food and water. Nymphs grow over a period of 6 months to a year. As they grow larger, they molt their old exoskeleton and grow a new one.

They go through several molting stages before reaching adulthood. Adult Australian cockroaches live up six months. A single roach can lay over 20 egg cases and produce hundreds of nymphs in its short lifespan.

Asian cockroach

Asian cockroach adult, nymph,and egg case relative in size to a penny

Asian cockroach pictures

About

The Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, is kind of like the secret twin of the German cockroach. They’re so similar in appearance that even professionals mistook them for German roaches when they were first discovered. Sometimes, they still do!

Appearance

The Australian cockroach is a tiny bug (a little over 1/2 inch long) whose color is mostly light brown. It also has a noticeable pair of dark (almost black) stripes running down its back from its head to the tip of its abdomen. Around these dark strips, it’s body looks like it’s bordered in white.

Geographic Range

The Asian cockroach is a southern species in the U.S. Its biggest populations are in Florida and the surrounding states. Like many people who move to those states, it lives there because of the warmth and humidity.

Mode of Entry

Asian cockroaches are crazy about lights and use their powerful wings to fly toward any nearby light sources. This is the most common reason they enter homes. Otherwise, they’re generally pretty happy staying outside.

You might also run into these cockroaches in your garage or shed since they can easily fit through the gap beneath a garage door or a hole in a shed wall.

Preferred Locations

Asian cockroaches mostly live outdoors in mulch and the shaded areas of people’s lawns. Like other roaches, they feed on decomposing material and garbage, among other things. This leads them to compost piles and landscaping cluttered with leaves or damp mulch.

If they come indoors, they’ll fly toward lights and TV screens. They’ll usually hide close to food sources or in areas with the highest humidity.

Habits and Reproduction

The Asian cockroach feeds on just about anything, from food and garbage to decomposing leaves and other dead insects. Once Asian cockroaches infest an area, they quickly push out any other cockroach species.

Female Asian cockroaches lay about 37 eggs in each egg case they produce. Despite an average lifespan of under 6 months, these roaches still manage to reproduce and spread quickly.

Adult populations are largest during the late summer. In some parts of Florida, hundreds of thousands of Asian cockroaches have been found in a single acre.

Suggested Products If You Have a Roach Problem


To Find Cockroach Hiding Spots and Kill Them Quickly When You Have Just a Few

Recommended for all cockroaches

Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Glue Traps

Used to measure and monitor a cockroach infestation and provide some supplemental control.

BASF PT P.I. Contact Insecticide

P.I. is a pyrethrin-based spray insecticide that kills roaches fast. Best when used as a supplement to other treatments, it’s not inexpensive, but far more effective than off-the-shelf sprays.

To Kill Cockroaches Inside Your Home When You Have a Serious Problem

Recommended for German cockroaches and Brown banded cockroaches, as well as American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), and Oriental cockroaches when they enter in large numbers.

Rockwell Labs CimeXa Dust Insecticide

CimeXa is an effective indoor crack and crevice treatment. For best results, use alongside Advion Gel Bait and Gentrol IGR.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Powder Duster

Insecticidal dusts like CimeXa work best when applied with a duster tool. This inexpensive diatomaceous earth duster works fine with CimeXa, Delta Dust, and other recommended dusts.

Syngenta Advion Cockroach Gel Bait

Advion first poisons the roaches that eat it, then others in a secondary kill. For the most effective indoor treatment, combine with CimeXa insecticidal dust and Gentrol IGR.

Gentrol Point Source IGR

Gentrol is an insect growth regulator (IGR) that interferes with roach reproduction. It’s most effective used alongside Advion Gel Bait and CimeXa insecticidal dust.

To Kill Cockroaches Outdoors Before They Have a Chance to Get Inside

Recommended for American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), Oriental cockroaches, and Smokybrown cockroaches.

Bayer Polyzone Suspend Insecticide

When used on exterior foundations, entries, and walls, Suspend insecticidal liquid stops outdoor roaches before they get in. It requires a separate sprayer (see below), and works best alongside a granular outdoor bait like Intice and an outdoor crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust.

Chapin 1 Gallon Multi-Purpose Sprayer

Liquid pesticides require a separate sprayer. This inexpensive pump sprayer works fine for smaller jobs.

InTice Perimeter Insect Control Bait Granules

InTice is a granular bait that kills roaches outdoors and in spaces like your garage or attic. Used alongside a spray treatment like Bayer Suspend and a crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust, it can protect the entire perimeter of your home.

Delta Dust Insecticide Dust

Waterproof and long-lasting, Delta Dust is a crack and crevice treatment effective in high-moisture areas such as attics, exterior walls, and plumbing lines. Delta Dust is regulated and unavailable in some areas.


Conclusion

The first step in any pest control strategy is to find out exactly what you’re up against. Here, we’ve covered important details about the six different types of cockroaches you’re most likely to run into in or around your home.

With this information, you’ll be able to identify the types of roaches you see and find where they’re hiding. You’ll also know how dangerous they might be and how serious the problem is. Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to tackle your cockroach problem head-on.

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many different types of roaches are there?

There are more than 4500 different types of roaches. Of those, only 69 species are found in the United States (10 in Canada), and only 30 are considered pests.

What type of roaches fly?

Some roaches fly. Others don’t. Of those that do, there’s a big difference in flying ability. Asian, Smokybrown, Australian, and wood roaches are pretty good fliers, while American cockroaches really just use their wings to glide.

What type of roaches go inside your house?

Only a handful of cockroach species wind up inside our homes, and an even smaller number actively try. While wood roaches typically get in by accident, and American and Oriental roaches typically enter when there’s a change in environment outdoors, German and Brownbanded roaches will actively try to infest your home.

What is the worst kind of roach?

Of the scores of cockroaches that inhabit North America, just a few are considered dangerous due to the filth they live in and the threat of contamination they pose. The roaches which pose the highest risk to human health are the German, American, Oriental, and Brownbanded species.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources:

  1. Rust, M.K. and Reierson, D.A. (2007) Cockroaches. Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets. Retrieved from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html.
  2. Potter, Michael F. (2018) Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. Entomology at the University of Kentucky. Retrieved from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614.
  3. Hahn, Jeffrey and Ascerno, Mark. (2018) Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/cockroaches.
  4. McLeod, Robin. (2005) Genus Parcoblatta – Wood Cockroaches. BugGuide. Retrieved from https://bugguide.net/node/view/31624.
  5. Wood Cockroach (n.d.) Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Retrieved from https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/wood-cockroach
  6. University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood Images collection).

Introduction

You first notice them in your garden, your compost, or your wood pile. A swarm of big brown bugs that aren’t in any hurry to run away – and seem to emit a pungent and peculiar smell.

Chances are – if you live in the southeastern United States – you’ve met the Florida woods cockroach. Or possibly a whole yardful of them.

You’re bound to have some questions. So let’s look at these unusual roaches. What they are. Whether to be concerned. And what you might (and might not) want to do about them.

Identification

Florida woods roaches (Eurycotis floridana) are built and move, a little like armored tanks- the kind not made for speed. They’re squat, oval-shaped, and relatively large for roaches, growing to an inch-and-a-half long and up to an inch wide.

Florida Woods Cockroach compared to the size of a penny

Reddish brown to black in color, with yellow markings sometimes at the edges, they have thin, hard shells, and lack developed wings. Adults have two small projections from the back of the body called cerci, which help them sense vibrations through the air or ground. The posterior segment of females has a v-shaped notch while that of males has small, thin, tendril-like filaments.

The Florida woods roach is actually part of the lore of Florida, and one of the few roaches known by a wide and colorful collection of nicknames.

So you might also know it as a “Florida Stink Roach,” a “Skunk Roach,” a “Stinking Roach,” or yes – the famous “Palmetto Bug.”

And while “Palmetto Bug” refers loosely to certain other roaches too (like the American cockroach and Oriental cockroach), the Florida woods cockroach is the original Palmetto Bug, named for its common habitation inside the protective fans of saw palmetto palms.

Where and How Florida Woods Cockroaches Live

Distribution

Florida Woods Cockroach distribution, southeastern U.S.A.
The Florida Woods cockroach can be found across Florida, as well as coastal areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Florida woods cockroaches are primarily distributed throughout Florida, with a range that extends into southern Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Habitat

Unlike your typical pest cockroach, Florida woods cockroaches primarily live outdoors where they inhabit dark, moist environments, feeding on the decaying plants, moss, molds, and other organic material they find there.

If you were to go out looking for them, you’d find them in sheltered places: under dead logs, in tree stump cavities, piles of leaf litter, compost, and underneath dense shrubs. As peridomestic roaches, you’ll also sometimes find them in structures near your home.

Reproduction

They are fairly prolific egg layers. And multiply quickly left unchecked. Females produce oothecae, or egg cases, each about 0.5 to 0.6 inches long and containing 21 to 23 eggs.

Florida Woods cockroach leaving ootheca behind

A female lays her first ootheca after about 55 days as an adult and using a strong, glue-like saliva, often attaches it to a surface in her habitat – such as a leaf, a rock, or a piece of wood.

About 48 days after they are laid, the eggs hatch into immature cockroaches, known as nymphs. The nymphs are the same reddish brown to black color as adults, but are smaller and have underdeveloped cerci.

When you expose a colony, you’ll likely see a mix of adults, eggs, and nymphs of various size.

But unlike the roaches that typically infest a home’s interior, the Florida woods cockroach is unlikely to race away. When it moves, it moves more slowly. And if you wanted to, you might even be able to pick one up.

How You’re Likely to Come into Contact with Them

You’re most likely to encounter these roaches outdoors, particularly if you disturb their habitat. Should you roll over a fallen log, or bag up a pile of yard waste when they’re anywhere around, you’ll probably find at least a few of them.

Do they ever come inside? Sometimes. But generally not on purpose.

Since their food is outside, they tend to remain outside, too. But they can be carried indoors on firewood. Or wander in from a wood pile stacked beside the house.

When that happens, as creatures that prefer a damp environment, they’ll probably end up in a room with a sink, either the bathroom or kitchen. Sometimes, though less often, they also make their way into attics, and even less frequently, breed there.

If you do spot egg sacs (see ootheca picture above) or droppings, it’s a good sign that they’ve moved in.

An actual infestation however, is unlikely. Because Florida wood roaches don’t infest a home the way that other roaches do. As outdoor cockroaches, they don’t survive well indoors, so probably won’t linger. And if they do, they’re unlikely to reproduce.

Are They Dangerous?

Unlike many other roaches, Florida woods cockroaches don’t eat feces or rotting flesh, and won’t track viruses and bacteria all over your pantry.

So they’re far less dangerous than many other pest roaches you might encounter. They do molt and defecate, however. So if a colony somehow found their way inside your home, they could potentially trigger an allergic reaction or asthma attack.

Though not in itself terribly dangerous, you may want to be aware of a fluid the Florida woods cockroach emits from its abdomen when threatened. Described as “foul smelling” or “amaretto-like” (depending on who you talk to), it’s slightly irritating to the skin and eyes, and the reason behind the insect’s “Stinking Cockroach” nickname.

If that’s a concern, you’ll want to take care when moving things it might be hiding under. And keep in mind it can direct the spray (somewhat) to a few feet away.

How to Get Rid of Florida Woods Cockroaches

Because Florida woods cockroaches aren’t likely to infest your home, you can just take them back outside whenever you spot them in the house. They probably won’t come back and it’s a good bet they haven’t deposited an egg case under your kitchen sink.

If they truly creep you out however, you can either use methods we discuss elsewhere – the careful use of pesticides and baits. Or you can hire a pest control professional (see How to Hire a Roach Exterminator) to get rid of them for you.

How to Prevent a Future Infestation

Florida woods cockroaches perform an important role in the ecosystem, including the one in your yard. They are detritivores, recycling decaying plant matter into fertilizer that helps plants grow.

But if you don’t want them hanging around outside your home, there are effective methods of pest control:

  • Don’t leave piles of wood, leaves, or yard waste laying around.
  • If you’re worried about them coming inside, be sure to stack firewood away from the house and inspect it before carrying it in.
  • Don’t plant dense shrubbery around your house.
  • And make sure that your doors and windows are properly weather sealed and have tightly fitting screens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Florida Woods Cockroach Eat?

Unlike other pest cockroaches that will eat almost anything, the Florida woods cockroach prefers decaying plant matter, including leaves, bark, moss, mulch, and the varied contents of compost piles.

What does a Florida Woods Cockroach look like?

They’re squat, brown, fairly large cockroaches with long antennae, and stubby, barely noticeable wings. They don’t race away when you find them the way that other roaches do, and you might even be able to pick one up.

Does a Florida Woods Cockroach bite?

They’re capable of biting, but seldom do. Like other bugs, it becomes more likely if they’re threatened.

Does a Florida Woods Cockroach fly?

No. Their short, leathery, pad-like wings are incapable of flight.

Does a Florida Woods Cockroach jump?

Their legs are made for crawling and climbing. So, no. They do not jump.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.


Sources

  1. Florida Woods Cockroach (AKA Palmetto Bug) Eurycotis floridana. University of Florida. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/in/in91500.pdf
  2. Featured Creatures: Florida woods cockroach. University of Florida. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/florida_woods_cockroach.htm
  3. Wikipedia. Florida Woods Cockroach. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_woods_cockroach

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There’s nothing cute about a baby cockroach. And no time to mess around. If you’ve discovered one, you’ll need to take action. Why?

Because even a single baby roach can signal a much bigger problem. One you’ll want to solve before the problem spreads. By taking certain steps now, you’ll protect not just your home, but possibly your family’s health.

Need Product Recommendations?

A handful of easy-to-use products can solve most cockroach problems.

Let’s look at what finding a baby cockroach means, where it came from, and if it might actually be some other kind of bug. If it is a cockroach and there are more tiny roaches about, we’ll look at how to deal with them, too. Ready? Let’s tackle this not-so-tiny problem head-on!

Remember, when using insecticides, the label is the law—read and follow the instructions carefully, not only for your own safety, but to make sure each treatment is as effective as possible.

This is the first of three resources to help you identify and deal with baby roaches. For more, also see “What Do Baby Roaches Look Like?” here. And “Baby Roach Pictures: An Easy Visual Guide,” here.

Step One: Understand What’s at Stake

Lots of cockroaches, adults and babies

Baby Roaches Can Be Harmful

Big or small, roaches are not creatures you want living in your house. Cockroaches are pretty disgusting bugs. And the babies carry the same risks as their adult counterparts. They spend their time crawling around revoltingly dirty places and eating rotten and awful things. As a result, they pick up all sorts of bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi, and worms, which they then deposit elsewhere.

If you guessed that cockroaches put your family at risk for food poisoning, you’d be right.

As the baby cockroach you spotted scuttles across your kitchen counter at night, it leaves behind a wealth of disease-causing bacteria. And when it breaks into your pantry to eat your food, it’s also… defecating. Defecating everywhere. On your shelves, on the walls, and in the food itself.

Adult and baby cockroaches feeding on a piece of bread

If you guessed that puts your family at risk for food poisoning, you’d be right. And frighteningly, there’s more. Its droppings and shed skin can become airborne, triggering asthma attacks and allergies. It may even cause asthma in your children.

That’s why you don’t want even a single baby cockroach in your home. But on that front there’s even more bad news. Because there’s never, ever just one baby cockroach. There are likely to be hundreds of them, along with lots of cockroach adults, hiding unseen.

And to understand why, and successfully combat them, you need to first know a little about adult cockroaches, their impressive reproductive capabilities, and how the baby roach you spotted (along with its horde of brothers and sisters) came to be.

There are Probably More Baby Roaches Than You Think

Like other insects, cockroaches are egg-laying creatures. The females lay their eggs in an egg sac called an ootheca, which contain multiple cockroach eggs – between 14 and 48, depending on the species. While some of the eggs don’t hatch, each egg produces a single baby cockroach (known as a cockroach nymph), creating a lot of tiny roaches each time the female lays.

Cockroach infestation with adults and cockroach nymphs

In fact, some cockroaches are so good at reproducing, females don’t even need a mate. 

In total, she produces between 6 and 30 egg cases over a life cycle that usually lasts less than a year, and that can mean hundreds of baby roaches from just a single female. But there’s seldom just one female. There are many. All reproducing at the same remarkable rate.

That’s what makes a cockroach infestation happen so quickly. In fact, some cockroaches are so good at reproducing, females don’t even need a mate. How do cockroaches spread? They do it fast.

Step Two: Identify the Bugs

You see a bug scamper across the counter.

Though roach-like in the way it looks and moves, it’s wingless and smaller than other cockroaches you’ve seen in the past. It might also be a different color. Perhaps even a slightly different shape. Is it a baby cockroach? A beetle? Or could it be something else?

To find out, put on a pair of gloves and try to catch or kill one if you can. Examine it closely, comparing it to the common cockroach nymphs below.

For more help with roach identification, along with a special collection of baby roach pictures, see What Do Baby Roaches Look Like? and Baby Roach Pictures: An Easy Visual Guide.

Step Three: Get Rid of Your Baby Roaches and Make Sure They Don’t Come Back

Bottom of a man's boot, about to squash a cockroach

Once you’ve determined that you actually do have a baby cockroach problem, you’re going to want to get rid of them quickly. Then take precautions to keep them from coming back.

Common Myths

Let’s begin by dispelling some common cockroach myths.

Myth #1: Size Matters

Some people mistakenly think that the larger the roach, the larger the problem. This is simply not true. Even the smallest baby cockroach can carry disease and shed allergens, and do it as well as the largest cockroach.

Myth #2: A Clean House Ensures That You Won’t Get Roaches

You’re also not necessarily safe just by keeping a clean home. While roaches prefer dirty homes because it’s easier to access food and hiding places, if they can get in and find food, water, and shelter, they’ll happily invade a clean home.

Myth #3: Roaches Are Invincible

No. Cockroaches aren’t invincible.

They can be killed and then controlled. They even have natural enemies like centipedes and wasps that may already be helping to keep their numbers down. And don’t believe anyone who tells you that roaches can live for decades. Even the longest-lived roaches barely reach two years.

The bottom line? You can be roach-free forever if you understand what you’re up against and take smart action now.

Action Step 1: Sanitation and Exclusion

Vacuum cleaner cleaning carpet
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

You’ll want to begin your action plan by making your home less attractive and hospitable to roaches, including the adults. Fewer bugs will enter, fewer will survive and breed, and some that do enter may simply leave. Don’t neglect this step or you may find yourself facing the same baby cockroach problem time and time again:

  • Thoroughly clean your home. Don’t leave food lying out. Clean up your kitchen every night after dinner. If your pet doesn’t finish their food, put it away somewhere instead of leaving it out. Clean up spills and crumbs. While you’re cleaning, you can even vacuum up some cockroaches and oothecae (the egg sacs female cockroaches lay) and seal them in your outdoor trash bin.
  • The same applies to water (which cockroaches need to drink). Empty standing water at night. Don’t let water pool in your sinks or on your counter tops. Fix leaky plumbing, and hunt out sources of condensation, which can otherwise provide plenty of water for cockroaches to drink.
  • Don’t give them places to hide: pick up any clutter both in and outside the house. If they’re living inside your small appliances (e.g., a toaster), bag them up and put them in the freezer for five days, then bring them back inside and clean them. Cockroaches can’t withstand extreme cold.
  • Don’t let them in. Seal holes or cracks where they could be getting in. Check baseboards, pipes, doors, and windows.
  • And though you may have used baits in the extermination process, don’t forget to keep some around, and check them periodically to be sure they’re still fully working.

Action Step 2: Extermination

Hand of a pest control technician spraying for cockroaches

Having laid the groundwork with sanitation and exclusion work, it’s time to hit the intruders hard.

You’ll do that in one, or possibly two ways: By killing them (absolutely), and by taking away their ability to reproduce (possibly). In both cases, you’ll want to act quickly, before the problem gets worse. And you’ll want to use roach control products in the form of insecticides and baits.

Optionally, you could also hire a professional cockroach exterminator with experience and skills in using those products.

If You’re Going to DIY

If you’re going to DIY, you’ll need to honestly assess how bad your roach problem is, then educate yourself in some chemicals and their use. We’ll give you some of the basics here, then go into greater details on other pages.

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.

So. Two general types of insecticides are considered best for cockroach infestations, and should be employed together:

  • For the nymphs, use insect growth regulators, known as IGRs. They inhibit insect growth, so if a baby cockroach eats some IGR, it won’t grow up.
  • For adults, use an insecticide formulated for cockroaches, or a natural product like boric acid or diatomaceous earth. Keep in mind that even natural cockroach treatments carry risks and you should educate yourself to every product before use.
  • Active ingredients to look for are abamectin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, dinotefuran, fipronil, hydramethylnon, imidacloprid, indoxycarb, and permethrin. They come in dusts, liquids, and gels and can be applied directly to surfaces (not counter tops, walls, or open floors) or placed in bait stations set along the baseboards or in cabinets or corners.

Suggested Products If You Have a Roach Problem


To Find Cockroach Hiding Spots and Kill Them Quickly When You Have Just a Few

Recommended for all cockroaches

Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Glue Traps

Used to measure and monitor a cockroach infestation and provide some supplemental control.

BASF PT P.I. Contact Insecticide

P.I. is a pyrethrin-based spray insecticide that kills roaches fast. Best when used as a supplement to other treatments, it’s not inexpensive, but far more effective than off-the-shelf sprays.

To Kill Cockroaches Inside Your Home When You Have a Serious Problem

Recommended for German cockroaches and Brown banded cockroaches, as well as American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), and Oriental cockroaches when they enter in large numbers.

Rockwell Labs CimeXa Dust Insecticide

CimeXa is an effective indoor crack and crevice treatment. For best results, use alongside Advion Gel Bait and Gentrol IGR.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Powder Duster

Insecticidal dusts like CimeXa work best when applied with a duster tool. This inexpensive diatomaceous earth duster works fine with CimeXa, Delta Dust, and other recommended dusts.

Syngenta Advion Cockroach Gel Bait

Advion first poisons the roaches that eat it, then others in a secondary kill. For the most effective indoor treatment, combine with CimeXa insecticidal dust and Gentrol IGR.

Gentrol Point Source IGR

Gentrol is an insect growth regulator (IGR) that interferes with roach reproduction. It’s most effective used alongside Advion Gel Bait and CimeXa insecticidal dust.

To Kill Cockroaches Outdoors Before They Have a Chance to Get Inside

Recommended for American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), Oriental cockroaches, and Smokybrown cockroaches.

Bayer Polyzone Suspend Insecticide

When used on exterior foundations, entries, and walls, Suspend insecticidal liquid stops outdoor roaches before they get in. It requires a separate sprayer (see below), and works best alongside a granular outdoor bait like Intice and an outdoor crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust.

Chapin 1 Gallon Multi-Purpose Sprayer

Liquid pesticides require a separate sprayer. This inexpensive pump sprayer works fine for smaller jobs.

InTice Perimeter Insect Control Bait Granules

InTice is a granular bait that kills roaches outdoors and in spaces like your garage or attic. Used alongside a spray treatment like Bayer Suspend and a crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust, it can protect the entire perimeter of your home.

Delta Dust Insecticide Dust

Waterproof and long-lasting, Delta Dust is a crack and crevice treatment effective in high-moisture areas such as attics, exterior walls, and plumbing lines. Delta Dust is regulated and unavailable in some areas.

If You’re Going to Call a Pro

If you have a severe roach infestation, or think that you might have one, we recommend that you call a pest control company. Professionals come armed with special knowledge and equipment as well as years of experience. Even if you think you might want to do it yourself, a pro can do an inspection for you and let you know what you’re really dealing with.

It’s Time to Take Action!

Now you’re armed with enough knowledge to identify that tiny bug scuttling through your home. If it turns out to be a baby cockroach, you’ll know what’s at stake and what you’ll need to do. Good luck, happy bug hunting, and enjoy your pest-free home!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many babies do roaches have at one time?

Cockroaches vary considerably in the number of eggs (and future hatchlings) a female can produce each time she lays an egg sac. For Brown-Banded roaches, it’s around 18. For Oriental and American cockroaches, around 16. For Pennsylvania Wood Roaches it can be as many as 32. And for German roaches as many as 50.
See the complete baby cockroach guide for more.

How many babies can a cockroach have over a lifetime?

Cockroaches can produce a lot of young. American cockroaches for example, may lay 1 egg sac on average per month, each holding 16 eggs. German roaches may lay a single egg sac per month, each holding up to 50 eggs. Over a lifetime, a single American cockroach female typically produces 150 cockroach babies, while a single German cockroach female can produce as many as 350.

How many baby roaches can one have in a home?

So long as they have access to food and water and their numbers aren’t controlled by you or natural predators, there’s no limit to the number of baby or adult roaches that can infest a home.

Can baby cockroaches fly?

No. Baby roaches are born without wings. And while some species are able to fly when they reach adulthood, as nymphs their wings are either nonexistent or too underdeveloped to make flying possible.

Do baby cockroaches jump?

No. Many species of baby roach can move quickly, but their legs are not made for jumping.

Do baby roaches bite?

They could bite you, but roaches for the most part try to avoid such close and dangerous contact with humans. Baby roach bites do happen, but not very often.

Are baby roaches white?

Sometimes. When newly hatched, a baby cockroach is briefly white, then briefly white again each time it molts.

What are baby roaches called?

Baby roaches from the time they hatch to their final stage of growth are known as cockroach nymphs.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, 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

Writer/Publisher

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

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.

Cockroach Facts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Introduction

Lots of bugs find their way into our homes. And many look a lot alike. So it’s not unusual to mistake harmless bugs for harmful ones, or to find a harmful bug and be unsure.

Baby roaches are bugs that fall into the harmful category. And if you find them, they need to be dealt with quickly. But to do that, you’ll want to know what you’re dealing with. What do baby roaches look like? Let’s see.

Need Product Recommendations?

A handful of easy-to-use products can solve most cockroach problems.

Also see: “Found a Baby Cockroach? Here’s What To Do,” and “Baby Roach Pictures: An Easy Visual Guide,” and “What Does a Cockroach Look Like?

How to Recognize a Baby Cockroach

Though most people are familiar with one or two cockroach species, there are about thirty that typically invade our homes. Of those, only a handful are considered harmful pests. All of them have common characteristics that can help you to identify them as cockroaches – and that goes for the babies as well the adults.

What do baby roaches look like? In a general way (or a very specific way if you’re dealing with the baby German roach below) roach babies will look like this:

Basic baby cockroach diagram showing body parts
A baby cockroach with 1. Long thin antennae, 2. Six spiny legs, 3. Cerci, 4. A flattened hard-shelled body with no wings.

All baby roaches will have:

  1. Two long, thin antennae.
  2. A head bent downward, along with mouth parts that point backwards.
  3. Six spiny legs (with feet that allow them to climb walls and climb along the undersides of things).
  4. Two small appendages at the base of their body called cerci (which on tiny baby cockroaches, may be all but impossible to see).
  5. A flattened, hard-shelled body, without wings (Many cockroach species do have wings, but only develop them later, as they’re about to enter adulthood).

Identifying the Most Common Baby Roaches

The Baby German Cockroach

What do baby German roaches look like?

Baby German Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, top view
A baby German cockroach, top view.

Nearly oval in shape, the baby German cockroach will have a flat, hard-shelled body, six spiny legs, a distinctly separate head, and the appearance of horizontal bands or segments across its body (when you look very closely). Like adult German cockroaches, it has two long, thin antennae, but unlike the adult, doesn’t have wings.

Baby German Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, front view
A baby German cockroach, front view.

It’s usually dark brown in color, with a lighter brown color down the middle of its back. The brown you see is the darkest the German cockroach nymph will ever get. Over the next sixty days, it will molt several times, initially appearing white as it emerges from its old shell, and then darkening (to lighter shades of brown) as the new shell hardens.

Baby German Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, side view
A baby German cockroach, side view.

Baby German Roach Images:

The Baby American Cockroach

What do baby American roaches look like?

Baby American Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, side view
A baby American cockroach, side view.

Oblong in shape, the baby American cockroach will have six spiny legs, long thin antennae, and a flattened, hard-shelled body divided into three sections. Like American cockroach adults, they have appendages called cerci at the base of their bodies (similar to but smaller than those of earwigs), but unlike adults, have no wings.

They’re reddish brown in color and when examined closely, can be seen to have darker shaded edging on the segments across their backs.

How big is a baby American Cockroach? Nymphs will be as small or smaller than the diameter of a penny (under 2cm) and grow on average to 4cm long.

Baby American Roach Images:

The Baby Oriental Cockroach

What do baby Oriental roaches look like?

Baby Oriental Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, side view
A baby Oriental cockroach, side view.

Oblong in shape, the baby Oriental cockroach will have six spiny legs, medium-length antennae, and a shiny, flattened, hard-shelled body. They have cerci like adult Oriental cockroaches, but don’t have wings.

They’re reddish-brown in color and their bodies have a distinct pattern of light and somewhat darker colored bands.

How big is a baby Oriental Cockroach? Nymphs will be about 6mm before their first molt – about the size of a grain of rice.

Baby Oriental Roach Images:

The Baby Brown-Banded Cockroach

What do baby Brown-Banded roaches look like?

Baby Brown Banded Cockroach for Cockroach Identification, side view
A baby Brown Banded cockroach, side view.

Squatly oblong, the baby brown-banded cockroach will have six spiny legs, long slender antennae, and a shiny, hard-shelled body. They’re tan to dark brown in color and are distinctive in the cockroach world for two broad brownish bands that run across their abdomens.

How big is a baby brown-banded cockroach? Even the adult brown-banded cockroach is quite small. Nymphs will be about 3mm before their first molt – about the size of a small grain of rice.

Baby Brown-Banded Roach Images:

The Baby White Roach

What do baby white roaches look like?

Baby roach hatching

Though not a separate species, you may rarely come across a baby white cockroach. These are roaches that are either newly hatched, or are in the process of a molt, having just shed their old shell. Looking something like a worm, a larva, or even a strange, wingless albino cockroach, these temporarily pure white roaches are easy to identify when you understand what you’ve found.

Baby White Roach Images:

Suggested Products If You Have a Baby Roach Problem


To Find Cockroach Hiding Spots and Kill Adults and Nymphs Quickly When You Have Just a Few

Recommended for all cockroaches

Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Glue Traps

Used to measure and monitor a cockroach infestation and provide some supplemental control.

BASF PT P.I. Contact Insecticide

P.I. is a pyrethrin-based spray insecticide that kills roaches fast. Best when used as a supplement to other treatments, it’s not inexpensive, but far more effective than off-the-shelf sprays.

To Kill Baby and Adult Cockroaches When You Have a Serious Problem

Recommended for German cockroaches and Brown banded cockroaches, as well as American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), and Oriental cockroaches when they enter in large numbers.

Rockwell Labs CimeXa Dust Insecticide

CimeXa is an effective indoor crack and crevice treatment. For best results, use alongside Advion Gel Bait and Gentrol IGR.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Powder Duster

Insecticidal dusts like CimeXa work best when applied with a duster tool. This inexpensive diatomaceous earth duster works fine with CimeXa, Delta Dust, and other recommended dusts.

Syngenta Advion Cockroach Gel Bait

Advion first poisons the roaches that eat it, then others in a secondary kill. For the most effective indoor treatment, combine with CimeXa insecticidal dust and Gentrol IGR.

Gentrol Point Source IGR

Gentrol is an insect growth regulator (IGR) that interferes with roach reproduction. It’s most effective used alongside Advion Gel Bait and CimeXa insecticidal dust.

To Kill Cockroaches Outdoors Before They Have a Chance to Get Inside

Recommended for American cockroaches (Palmetto bugs, Water bugs, Tree roaches, Sewer roaches), Oriental cockroaches, and Smokybrown cockroaches.

Bayer Polyzone Suspend Insecticide

When used on exterior foundations, entries, and walls, Suspend insecticidal liquid stops outdoor roaches before they get in. It requires a separate sprayer (see below), and works best alongside a granular outdoor bait like Intice and an outdoor crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust.

Chapin 1 Gallon Multi-Purpose Sprayer

Liquid pesticides require a separate sprayer. This inexpensive pump sprayer works fine for smaller jobs.

InTice Perimeter Insect Control Bait Granules

InTice is a granular bait that kills roaches outdoors and in spaces like your garage or attic. Used alongside a spray treatment like Bayer Suspend and a crack and crevice treatment like Delta Dust, it can protect the entire perimeter of your home.

Delta Dust Insecticide Dust

Waterproof and long-lasting, Delta Dust is a crack and crevice treatment effective in high-moisture areas such as attics, exterior walls, and plumbing lines. Delta Dust is regulated and unavailable in some areas.

Baby Roaches vs. Other Bugs

Some bugs resemble baby roaches, and can easily be mistaken for them. Here, we’ll cover some bugs that look like baby roaches and point out the way they differ.

Crickets

What do baby roaches look like vs. Crickets?

Cricket
Francisco Corado via Pixabay

Crickets, because they are small, dark in color, and have spiny legs, can be confused for cockroaches. However, crickets have very large, strong back legs that extend above their bodies. They use these to jump to heights a cockroach never could. If the bug you’ve discovered has these large powerful back legs and jumps extraordinarily high, it’s a cricket, not a baby cockroach.

Crickets are also loud and are known for their high-pitched chirping. Cockroaches, by comparison, are very quiet.

Beetles

What do baby cockroaches look like vs. beetles?

Black beetle
Kurt Bouda via Pixabay

It’s also easy to mistake cockroaches for beetles. Both have a squat, oval frame. However, the over 350,000 species of beetles often have more colorful and varied markings than the few species of cockroaches you’re likely to encounter. Brown or black beetles pose an identification problem, though.

Fortunately, beetles share a few characteristics that distinguish them from cockroaches. With the exception of the longhorn beetle, their legs and antennae are shorter than those of the cockroach and their protective top wings are harder. They don’t have the filament-like rear appendages called cerci roaches do.

Beetles also move much more slowly than baby roaches, which can run at extraordinary speeds.

Bed Bugs

What do baby roaches look like vs. bed bugs?

Bed Bug
Dr. Gary Alpert via Wikimedia

Bed bugs also look a bit like a cockroach nymph. They are both often reddish brown, wingless, and rather oval-shaped. To distinguish a baby cockroach vs bed bug, take a closer look at the body shape and the antennae. Bed bugs tend to be shorter and rounder than cockroach babies. Bed bugs also have shorter antennae than cockroaches.

Tips for Identifying Baby Roaches

If you suspect there are baby roaches in your home, slip on a pair of gloves and try to catch or kill one if you can. Since German roaches and Brown-banded roaches are very small even as adults, size (as in being very tiny) is a good first clue that it may be one of those. Next look at color, along with some of the distinctive markings described above and elsewhere.

Finally, it’s important that you not only identify the bug you’ve found, but take steps to protect your home, if it does turn out to be a cockroach. Because when everything’s said and done, what do baby roaches look like?

Trouble.

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

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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.

Introduction

If you’ve discovered a bug you suspect to be a baby roach, you’ll want to identify it quickly, then make plans to deal with it – fast. To help you do that, we’ve assembled a collection of baby roach pictures to use as a handy DIY guide.

The images are arranged in sets to make identification easier, and include brief descriptions about the most common baby roaches (German, American, Oriental, Brown-Banded and Smoky Brown) that you’re likely to encounter.

A Simple 5-Step Guide For Getting Rid of Roaches

“Print or Follow on Your Phone. It’s FREE!”

Also see: “Found a Baby Cockroach? Here’s What To Do,” and ” What Do Baby Roaches Look Like?

Baby German Roach Pictures

Baby German roaches are among the smallest that invade our homes. Even when mature, German roaches are quite small. But at early stages of development the babies (known as nymphs) are absolutely tiny – as small as the head of a pin when they first hatch.

Like all cockroaches, baby German roaches are white at hatching, but quickly darken and turn brown, with a banded appearance and a light-colored splotch that runs partially up the center of their backs. Baby German roaches are mostly oval-shaped, and differ from adults in color (they’re darker), markings, and the fact that they don’t yet have wings.

Baby American Cockroach Pictures

Baby American roaches are much larger than their German cousins, measuring about 1/8″ long when hatched. The nymphs are white after hatching, then turn grayish-brown until their second growth phase (known as an instar), when their bodies become reddish-brown. Like the baby German cockroach, the bodies of American cockroach nymphs have a banded appearance, and they remain wingless until mature.

Baby Oriental Roach Pictures

Baby Oriental cockroaches are white when newly hatched, but soon turn a pale brown color, which eventually darkens as they mature. Their bodies have a banded appearance, which becomes less pronounced the darker they become. Newly hatched Oriental roaches can be up to 6mm long – about the size of a grain of rice. Click on the baby roach pictures above for an expanded view, and more detail.

Baby Brown-Banded Cockroach Pictures

Like baby German cockroaches, baby Brown-Banded roaches are quite small – just 1/8″ long at birth. They have dark-colored heads, light-colored bodies, and a banded appearance, with bodies that broaden at the base. Baby Brown-Banded roaches have two white bands between their head and midsection, that make them easy to identify.

Baby Smoky Brown Roach Pictures

While Smoky Brown roach adults are uniformly brown, baby Smoky Brown roaches start off white (right after hatching), turn black, then become brown-colored with a prominent white segment just before their midsection. As they grow older, they lose their pattern. Though Smoky Brown roach adults grow large, nymphs (as in the baby roach pictures above) can be as small as a single millimeter in length.

Baby Australian Roach Pictures

Similar in appearance to the baby American cockroach, the baby Australian roach is reddish-brown, and wingless until mature. Unlike the American baby roach however, the Australian baby roach has a pattern of distinctive light yellow spots. Australian cockroach nymphs can be as small as 1/8 inch in length.

Was this guide helpful? Not helpful enough? Want (or need) even more baby roach pictures? Write us!

For more help with insect identification when you need it, see:

BugGuide

Insect Images

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin

Writer/Publisher

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

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.