How to Identify Cockroaches

There are several different types of cockroaches and each has their own unique habitat and habits. Identifying the species of cockroach is essential to determining the proper treatment plan.

American cockroach


Considered as one of the larger cockroach species an adult American cockroach can measure anywhere from 1-3 inches in length. They are typically a reddish brown in color with a distinctive yellowish marking/band behind their head. Both male and female American cockroaches’ have fully developed wings and are able to fly. Female wings typically span the length to their abdomen while the males are slightly longer.


American cockroaches generally live outdoors in flower beds and under logs but will enter homes and commercial spaces in search of water and food. They can easily enter under doors, basement windows, heating vents, and around piping. They prefer warm, dark, and moist areas and will often be found in bathrooms, kitchens, boiler rooms, and basements. A good indicator they’ve entered your home/office are their small dark droppings they leave in areas they’re hiding in. Often mistaken for mouse droppings (which have pointed ends) American cockroach droppings are blunt with ridged markings under magnification.

Brownbanded cockroach


One of the smaller invasive cockroaches the Brownbanded cockroach spans up to 0.5 inches in length. They are light brown in color with signature light colored bands on their wings which are more noticeable on adults while younger Brownbanded cockroaches have bands across their body.


Unlike some of the other common invasive cockroaches Brownbanded cockroaches don’t require very moist environments. They inhabit environments that are less humid but much warmer than other cockroaches. Active mostly at night you’ll frequently find Brownbanded cockroaches in areas like the ceiling, in the attic and other high locations, and in heat generating appliances. Their feces appear like pepper-specks and are usually found smeared on walls or around nest sites. Brownbanded cockroaches use their feces to communicate a safe gathering area for other brownbanded cockroaches so it’s a good indicator they’re residing in your home/office.

German cockroach


German cockroaches are by far the most common cockroaches you’ll see in NYC. They span up to 0.5 inches in length and are light tan to brown in color. They’re easily distinguished by two dark bands that run horizontally behind their heads. Both males and females have fully developed wings but they rarely fly.


Mostly indoors, German cockroaches prefer warmer and more humid conditions. Although capable of living outdoors you’ll typically find that German cockroaches prefer living close to human resources. They are often introduced into homes and offices through objects carried in by humans like bags, boxes, containers, and even appliances. You’ll usually find them in kitchens, bathrooms, and pipe/vent areas. German cockroaches like to hide out during the daytime, especially in tight cracks and crevices, and often come out during the night looking for food and water. They’re highly skilled in scavenging and feeding off of even the smallest amount of food. Their droppings appear like pepper-specks and are usually found on countertops, cabinets, drawers, and appliances.

Oriental cockroach


Commonly called ’water bugs’ Oriental cockroaches span anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches. They are dark in color and can appear shiny black to reddish-brown. Adult Oriental cockroaches differ in size between the males and females - adults females are bigger with traces of wings while adult males are smaller with wings reaching ¾ their body length. Both male and female Oriental cockroaches cannot fly.


Primarily outdoors Oriental cockroaches prefer dark moist areas and are usually found in natural environments like landscaping. However they will enter residences and businesses in search of dark moist areas during the day time and more so during the summer when it’s hot and dry. Highly dependant on water Oriental cockroaches are usually found in moist environments like damp crawl spaces, basements, storms drains, and sewers. Their droppings are similar to mouse droppings, under magnification one end is rounded while the other is tapered.


Cockroach Facts:

  • Several different types of cockroaches including American, Brownbanded, German, and Oriental.
  • Depending on species, size can range from 0.5" to 3" or more.
  • Typically brown, reddish-brown, or black in color.

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