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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.
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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:
All baby roaches will have:
- Two long, thin antennae.
- A head bent downward, along with mouth parts that point backwards.
- Six spiny legs (with feet that allow them to climb walls and climb along the undersides of things).
- Two small appendages at the base of their body called cerci (which on tiny baby cockroaches, may be all but impossible to see).
- 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?
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.
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 Roach Images:
The Baby American Cockroach
What do baby American roaches look like?
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:
Mohammed El Damir, Bugwood.org Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org
The Baby Oriental Cockroach
What do baby Oriental roaches look like?
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:
Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
The Baby Brown-Banded Cockroach
What do baby Brown-Banded roaches look like?
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:
Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org
The Baby White Roach
What do baby white roaches look like?
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
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.
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.
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.
What do baby roaches look like vs. Crickets?
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.
What do baby cockroaches look like vs. beetles?
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.
What do baby roaches look like vs. bed bugs?
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?
Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, PhD.
Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.
Rae Osborn, PhD.
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.