Cockroaches are ancient creatures that have been around since the age of dinosaurs. They are extremely hardy and can live in nearly any environment on Earth. Since there are over 4500 cockroach species, it may seem impossible to be able to identify one. Luckily, there are only a handful of species that are considered pests in the United States. By understanding the characteristics common in all cockroach species, as well as the ones specific to the most common pests, you can feel confident that you will be able to identify one if you stumble across it in your home.
What Do Cockroaches Look Like?
While the size and color of species may vary, all cockroaches have a few things in common. These can be helpful to know when trying to identify an unknown insect. Here are some things to look for:
- Flat, oval-shaped body
- 6 long, spiny legs with small claws at the end
- Small head
- 3 main body parts, including the shield-like pronotum just behind the head
- 2 large compound eyes
- 2 long antennae
- Some species have wings, though not all use them for flying
- Sizes range from about .25-3 inches
- Most are brown to black in color
What Kind of Cockroach is in My House?
There are four main species of cockroaches that cause the majority of problems in homes across the U.S: the German cockroach, American cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, and Oriental Cockroach.
The German cockroach is one of the most common pests. They are tan or brown in color with two dark parallel line running from their head, across their pronotum, to their wings. German cockroaches are small, with an average length of 13-16 mm. They have wings, but they rarely use them to fly. Instead they run very fast. German cockroaches like to live in homes, apartments, office buildings, food processing plants, and many other locations. They scavenge for all kinds of food, but prefer meat, grease, and starches.
The American cockroach is one of the largest domestic cockroaches, reaching a length of over 40 mm (up to 2 inches). American cockroaches are reddish-brown in color with yellowish markings on the edges of the pronotum. Like most cockroaches, they prefer warm, dark places like basements, crawl spaces, kitchens, and bathrooms. They will eat nearly any thing, but are especially fond of plant materials and garbage.
Brown-banded cockroaches are one of the smallest pest cockroaches at only 11-14.5 mm long. They are light brown or tan with pronounced brown bands across the wings. Although brown-banded cockroaches are found throughout the United States, the prefer warm temperatures of over 80 degrees. Brown-banded cockroaches are also unique because they tend to live in higher locations than other species. Because of this tendency, you might even find them in upper cupboards or high closet shelves.
The Oriental cockroach is often called a “water bug” or “black beetle” because of its dark, smooth appearance and proclivity for moist environments. Oriental cockroaches are particularly filthy creatures because they spend a lot of time in sewers and drains. They are approximately 18-29 mm long and dark brown or black. When they enter homes, oriental cockroaches tend to live in humid, moist areas like basements or crawl spaces.
Oriental cockroach by gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If you have an infestation of cockroaches in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to treat the problem. The friendly technicians at Midwest Pest Control will come to your home, perform an inspection, identify entry points, and then create a customized plan to get rid of the roaches. Our excellent customer service and 100 percent satisfaction guarantee means that you can feel confident choosing us. For pest control in Tulsa, contact Midwest Pest Control today.