It’s bad enough that roaches exist so why do there also have to be so many other bugs that look like cockroaches? Life is just not fair sometimes.
Especially considering that the mere thought of having cockroaches in your house can make your skin crawl. It’s a common response to roaches. Even people without any specific phobia of bugs start to feel queasy once cockroaches are mentioned.
And there are good reasons for this. As well as being incredibly ugly, these bugs can spread disease wherever they go.
Cockroaches are also good at avoiding detection. They usually come out only at night, at least until the population passes a certain size. They have a fear of open spaces and like to stay concealed in dark areas wherever possible.
Also, they are extremely fast. If a cockroach was the size of a cheetah, it would be three times faster than the cat. So if you see a bug, you may not be sure whether it was a cockroach you saw or not.
To make things even more confusing, not all roaches look or behave the same. For example, cockroaches vary in size and even their ability to fly.
The German cockroach is the species that most commonly infests homes. These bugs are about half an inch to 5/8 of an inch long when fully grown. Their color varies, but they are usually tan or light brown with two dark stripes behind their heads. The adults have wings but are incapable of flying.
American cockroaches look similar, but are much larger, and can be 1/2 inch or even more in length. Just like the German variety, they have six legs, visible wings, and are generally brown. However, American cockroaches can fly, or at least glide.
5 Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches
If you’ve seen a bug in your home but you aren’t sure whether it’s a cockroach, there are some other possibilities. Maybe what you saw was actually just a bug that looks an awful lot like a roach.
Here are the 5 most common types of bugs that look like cockroaches and how to tell them apart.
Cricket vs Cockroach
With their brown color, long antennae, and well-developed hind legs, crickets do resemble cockroaches in many ways. Several different species of cricket can occasionally invade homes, but it’s unlikely that they will infest and breed in your property.
The key to telling crickets and cockroaches apart is in their body shape. Crickets are much thinner than cockroaches, with a more elongated body. Also, the famous chirping of crickets sets them apart from cockroaches, which don’t make any noise that we can hear. Finally, crickets jump, whereas cockroaches don’t.
Be aware especially of some of the more exotic species of cricket, such as the Jerusalem cricket. At 2 inches long, these bugs are often mistaken for cockroaches. They usually stay outside and burrow in the soil, but may occasionally find their way indoors when seeking shelter from the weather.
Mole crickets are another bizarre looking species that can be mistaken for cockroaches. However, these can be identified by their very distinctive hooked forelegs, which they use to tunnel in soil, giving them their name.
June Bug vs Cockroach
The name sounds quite pleasant, doesn’t it? Junebug is a colloquial name for several different species of large beetle. At around half an inch long with rounded bodies, these bugs look similar to scarab beetles. They come in a wide range of colors, with some of them being quite vibrant shades of red or green, whereas others are brown or black.
It’s rare for these bugs to come inside your home, and if they do, it’s almost certain that they are lost. There’s nothing inside a human home that would attract these creatures.
However, they are attracted to light, and they can fly, so they will often swarm around lights on a summer evening and find their way inside. Of course, this is completely different from cockroaches, who are afraid of the light.
Also, a cockroach’s body is flatter than the rounded shape of a June bug. And cockroaches don’t have the hard shell-like wing cases that a June bug does.
Ground Beetle vs Cockroach
Again, this is a common name for a large group of species. Like cockroaches, ground beetles have six legs and long antenna. They are often dark in color, usually black. At around 1 1/2 inches long, they are roughly the same size as an American cockroach.
The way to tell them apart is by their wing cases. Ground beetles, like June bugs, have hard protective covers on top of their wings. Cockroaches, on the other hand, have their wings uncovered at all times.
Ground beetles are predatory on other insects, so they are actually beneficial. If you find one inside your home, don’t worry; they have no intention of moving in with you. Seeing a ground beetle inside your home is not a cause for concern. You can’t say the same for a cockroach.
Palmetto Bug vs Cockroach
When it comes to bugs that look like cockroaches, none are more confusing than this bug.
Down in Florida and some other southern states, you may encounter a creature known as the Palmetto bug. This insect is often mistaken for a cockroach, which is not hard to understand. In fact, technically speaking, the Palmetto bug is a cockroach.
Found throughout Florida as well as in coastal Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, this bug gets its name from its habit of hiding under Palmetto leaves. It is also sometimes known as the Florida woods cockroach, or even, charmingly, as the Florida stink roach.
It gets this name because it emits a disgusting-smelling liquid when it feels threatened. So there’s one more reason to dislike cockroaches, in case you needed one.
Fortunately, Palmetto bugs live outdoors. They can’t last for long inside, so even if you accidentally bring one in, it’s not going to establish a breeding population. If you see one of these creatures inside your home, you have every right to be upset. But don’t worry that it’s a harbinger of infestation, because it’s not.
As cockroaches, Palmetto bugs have the same general body shape as other species, and are similar in size to the American cockroach. However, they are more darkly colored, usually almost black. Also, they lack the wings of an American cockroach. They are much bigger than the German cockroach.
Water Bug vs Cockroach
Water bugs and cockroaches are often mistaken for each other. So much so, in fact, that some people use their names interchangeably. But water bugs are quite different from cockroaches.
While both are big, ugly bugs that you don’t want in your home, water bugs are usually only an occasional invader. Meanwhile, cockroaches live their best life in our kitchens and bathrooms.
Water bugs can be identified by their specially adapted front legs, which they use for seizing prey. These legs reach forward like pincers and have given the water bug one of its nicknames, the toe biter. They are also venomous, and a bite from these bugs can be extremely painful, though it is not dangerous. While they ordinarily live in water, as the name implies, water bugs can fly and are attracted to light, so are often drawn to human homes at night.
American cockroaches are big units, but water bugs are some of the biggest insects on the planet. A whopping 1 1/2 inches is a typical size, and some species can get as big as four inches.
So besides the distinctive front claws of the species, their size should set them apart from even the largest cockroaches. In fact, a water bug would probably happily eat an American cockroach if it got the chance.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to attract these monsters into your home intentionally. But it does mean you don’t need to worry about a water bug infestation. If one of these giants gets inside your home, it’s not going to establish a breeding population.
If you see a bug in your home, it can be hard not to panic. And many bugs move quickly, allowing you only to catch a glimpse before they disappear. But not all giant, brown-colored bugs are cockroaches. If you’ve seen a big bug in your home, before you freak out, make sure it’s not one of these cases of mistaken identity.
And if it does turn out to be a cockroach, you have our permission to freak out then.