What do cockroaches look like? If you’re searching on the Internet for pictures of roaches, we know you’re not checking off an item on on your bucket list.
Yup, looking at photos of cockroaches is no one’s idea of a fun night in. But you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
Tons of people have or have had cockroach problems. After all, not many bugs are famous enough to have songs written about them. But cockroaches are part of this exclusive group.
Cockroaches have been a significant pest for humans ever since we started farming thousands of years ago. Thanks to us, cockroaches have become one of the most widespread insects on the planet.
So it’s no wonder that there are a lot of them. In fact, entomologists estimate that there are around 4,600 types of cockroach species currently living on earth. The only good news in all this is that only about 30 roach species like to live among humans.
Still, that’s a lot of different types of cockroaches, all with slightly different looks, sizes and behaviors. Which is why it’s important to have pictures handy.
As disgusting as this article is going to be, it is necessary. Let’s dive in.
What Do Cockroaches Look Like?
All cockroaches have six legs and have heads that are relatively small compared to their broad, oval-shaped and slightly flattened bodies. Most species are reddish-brown to almost-black in color.
They have large eyes and two long, flexible antenna. Cockroaches have a waxy exoskeleton that lends them that creepy slick and oily appearance.
That’s a general description of roaches but there are a few defining characteristics depending on the cockroach type in question. Here are a few of the most popular types of roaches…
What does a German cockroach look like?
Worldwide, this is the most common species of cockroach found in people’s homes. Don’t expect these cockroaches to be wearing lederhosen and brandishing mugs of beer.
German cockroaches don’t actually come from Germany at all. Sensitive to cold, it is most likely that this insect originates from Southeast Asia.
Wherever it may have originally come from, this roach species has pretty much scattered world-wide. Wherever humans live, German roaches can live as well.
German cockroaches are quite small by cockroach standards, generally around 0.4 to 0.6 inches in length. Their color varies from a light brown to a darker tan.
Their most distinguishing feature is that they sport two black, parallel stripes running from its head to the base of its wings.
They are nocturnal, but can be seen during the day once an infestation reaches a significant size. Although these roaches have wings, they cannot fly.
What does an American cockroach look like?
USA! USA! In true American style, this is the largest species of cockroach commonly encountered by people.
Despite the name, these cockroaches are not especially patriotic, and it is believed that they only came to the New World in the 17th century from Africa and the Middle East.
American cockroaches generally measure around 1.6 inches in length. They are reddish-brown, practically mahogany, with a yellow margin around the pronotum, the shield-like appendage that covers the back of the head.
Despite their large size, these cockroaches are good at hiding in small spaces and can move as quickly as their smaller cousins. In fact, these cockroaches can move at 50 body lengths per second. That’s the equivalent of a human running at 210 mph.
Like their German cousins, American cockroaches have wings. But unlike the German variety, American cockroaches can use these wings to fly. They prefer not to if they can avoid it, though. The juveniles are wingless.
What does a brown-banded cockroach look like?
Found throughout the US, these cockroaches get their name from the noticeable brown bands across their wings. At 0.4 to 0.6 inches in length, they are close in size to the German cockroach, for which they are often mistaken.
While the wings of the male cover the abdomen completely, the wings of the female are shorter. As a result, only the males of the species are capable of flight.
Brown-banded cockroaches prefer to aggregate in drier areas than German cockroaches, and as a result, can be more widespread in a home.
While the Germans will usually stay close to kitchens and bathrooms for the high humidity, brown-banded cockroaches are just as likely to be found in living rooms and bedrooms.
What does an oriental cockroach look like?
Oriental cockroaches are large, around 0.7 to 1.1 inches in length, and almost black in color. Not as widespread as other species, they can be found in the Northwest, Midwest and southern parts of the United States.
They require high humidity and heat, so are more likely to be found in sewers, basements, commercial greenhouses, and other areas.
They can also live outside in warm climates. Although they have wings, this species is not capable of flight.
What Does the Roach Life Cycle Look Like?
The vast majority of cockroach pictures are of adult cockroaches. But when you’ve got a roach infestation on your hands, you can’t ignore the young.
That’s because it’s estimated that about 75% of any cockroach infestation is made up of juveniles – yup, we’re talking cockroach eggs and baby cockroaches.
To have any chance of ridding yourself of the cockroach plague, you’re going to need to know how to kill roaches when they’re young. And that, my dear, begins with learning a little more about the cockroach life cycle.
In short, the roach life cycle has three distinct stages: the egg, the nymph, and the adult.
Let’s take a look into each one.
What Does a Pregnant Roach Look Like?
This is definitely one of the more disgusting facts about cockroaches – and that’s saying a lot. So do you really want to know? Really? Okay, suit yourself.
Cockroaches display sexual dimorphism, meaning that they have two distinct sexes. They reproduce sexually. When a male and female cockroach love each other very much, they get together for a special night of passion.
That is the full extent of a male cockroach’s involvement in the life of his offspring.
After mating, a female will develop an egg sac inside her abdomen. As the eggs grow, the egg sac begins to protrude from the rear of the female cockroach.
The egg sac will be visible. That’s because most roaches are oviparous, meaning that the eggs are laid outside of the mother’s body. In the case of roaches, the egg sacs are attached to the pregnant roach’s abdomen.
You’ll know that it’s a pregnant roach if there is what appears to be a fat, pill-shaped sac sticking out like a tail.
When the eggs are ready to hatch, the female will deposit the egg sac somewhere out of sight. Twenty-four hours later, the eggs hatch.
Yup, just twenty-four hours is all it takes.
What Do Roach Eggs Look Like?
Cockroach eggs don’t look like the sorts of eggs we’re used to seeing. That’s because they carry their eggs in a little pouch, called an ootheca, which resembles a fat, ribbed sack.
It sort of looks like a short earthworm in texture although it is much, much smaller.
The German cockroach’s ootheca, for example, is at most only 6 to 9 mm in length. So roach eggs are visible to the human eye but still very small and as such, easy to miss.
They can also be white-ish when they’re first formed but they soon darken into various shades of tan to dark brown.
As you can see above, cockroach eggs look slightly different depending on the roach species. There’s quite a size variation as well, depending on the adult roach’s size.
For example, the small brown-banded cockroach has an ootheca that’s about 6 mm long while the wood cockroach’s ootheca can reach 12 mm.
Found a roach egg? It’s never too early to start killing off roaches and the babies are fair game. Here’s a handy guide to help you along.
>>>Cockroach Eggs 101: How to Kill Roach Eggs and Wipe Out the Infestation
What do small cockroaches look like?
Small cockroaches, aka baby cockroaches or cockroach nymphs, look a lot like their adult counterparts.
But they are much smaller – around an eight of an inch long – and they can be much paler at first, especially right after molting.
Roach nymphs do darken with each progressive molt.
And that is why they are very easy to confuse for bed bugs at this stage because at this stage, roach nymphs are about the small reddish-brown color as bed bugs and more roundish than elongated.
But all cockroach nymphs do have certain things in common: for one, they’ll all have two long, thin antennae and six spiny little legs.
You’ll also find that they have a hard-shelled, flattened body with a head that’s bent downward.
The tiny, newborn cockroaches, or nymphs, are every bit as fast as their parents. Cockroaches are not social animals in the way that ants are, but they do tend to hang out together in what are called aggregations.
Cockroaches will tend to hide in the same areas where the adults aggregate and will feed on the droppings that the adults produce. I warned you this was going to be gross.
Once the nymphs have completed their first couple of molts, they are ready to feed on the same broad range of food as adult cockroaches.
German cockroaches are not only the most common species found in homes, but also the fastest to reproduce.
From an egg, they can become a reproductive adult in as little as 50 to 60 days. It’s this rapid reproductive rate, combined with their broad range of dietary preferences, that makes roaches so difficult to get rid of.
That’s why if you’re finding baby roaches in your home, you can’t waste time to stop the infestation in its tracks. Here’s a helpful article that shows you exactly how to obliterate roach nymphs.
>>>How to Get Rid of Baby Roaches (And Why You Want to Get Them While They’re Young)
What Does Roach Poop Look Like?
If you thought it can’t get any more disgusting, you were wrong. We have yet to peer into the revolting world of cockroach feces.
Because everybody poops. Cockroaches are no exception. German cockroach droppings look a little like black pepper or ground coffee. They tend to stick to surfaces and can be challenging to clean off.
Cockroaches are not picky about where they will go to the bathroom, and areas where cockroaches like to hide out will quickly become covered in large amounts of these droppings.
Larger cockroaches, such as the American cockroach, take bigger poops. These dark, cylindrical droppings can look a little like mouse droppings to the untrained eye.
And in case you were wondering, cockroaches will most definitely poop in your food.
What Does a Roach Nest Look Like?
Finding one roach is bad enough but here’s the ugly truth: if you see one roach, it’s likely there are many, many more.
That’s because roaches prefer to live in groups and they have their own little roach version of Foursquare to reach out to their friends and let them know where they’ve been: when roaches poop, they leave chemicals that let other roaches know they were there.
Cockroaches like to go where other roaches are, form groups and organize little search parties for food together. When they find a particularly good food course, the discoverers will send a signal to the others to invite them for the feast.
That is what is typically referred to as a roach nest. Technically, cockroaches don’t build actual nests so the term ‘roach nest’ simply refers to these aggregations of roaches living together.
And don’t let the cute, cozy term fool you – roach nests can get huge. It is estimated that the average roach-infested household is home to more than 20,000 roaches. That’s a lot of roaches in each roast nest.
Want to go searching for a roach nest? It’s never a pretty sight coming across one but it will allow you to wipe out a huge percentage of the roach population in one go.
>>>7 Tips to Find and Destroy a Roach Nest
What Does a Cockroach Bite Look Like?
Cockroaches are omnivores and let’s just say that when it comes to food, they aren’t picky eaters. These critters have diets that are as nasty as their living habits and they’ll happily munch on anything from hair to sewage to fingernail clippings.
But thankfully, they don’t typically consider humans a food source.
Roaches aren’t after your blood like mosquitoes, fleas or bed bugs. And our flesh doesn’t hold much appeal for them. So the good news is that cockroach bites are very rare. Even in cases where they do bite, roaches won’t typically bite skin but rather the hair and nails.
If they do pierce skin, roach bites look like red, raised bumps that are very similar to mosquito and bed bug bites.
So trying to identify whether you have roaches based on bites is not a good idea. If you suspect you have a roach infestation, look for the other, more tell-tale signs we mentioned above like roach poop and roach eggs and nymphs.
The bad news? Cockroaches may not typically bite humans but that doesn’t mean they can’t. There have been recorded instances of cockroach bites.
And here is the worst news. Because humans aren’t a preferred food source of humans, if you’re getting cockroach bites, that means the roach infestation in your home is full-blown to the point the little pests have exhausted all other food sources.
If you’ve reached this unfortunate point, simple preventative measures like tidying up clutter and vacuuming isn’t going to cut it.
You need to declare full-on war. Here are the best roach killers to stock up on.
What Does Roach Rash Look Like?
If you thought things couldn’t get worse, here’s a sad truth: cockroaches don’t just spread bacteria and disease, they can even cause an allergic reaction in some people.
The most common cockroach allergy is simply referred to as roach rash. It occurs when an allergic person encounters enzymes in the proteins found in the saliva and feces of roaches, which can easily spread through the home.
Roach rash isn’t just confined to the skin – it can manifest as many other allergies, i.e. coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy sinuses as well as a skin rash.
So what does roach rash look like? Because it’s an allergic inflammation just like you’d have to anything else you’re allergic to, a roach rash will simply present as itchy, rashy skin.
If you or anyone in your family has cockroach allergies, you are at danger of developing acute asthma attacks simply from living in a home with a roach infestation. The attacks will occur after inhaling roach allergens and can last for hours.