You’re probably thinking, “If it’s a roach, and it’s in my house, why should I care what type it is?”
The unfortunate answer is that different types of roaches have different preferences and habits – and may respond differently to control methods.
For example, not all roaches are attracted to moisture, and some don’t even care if your house is messy or clean. Other types will invade your home only in the winter and migrate back outside when the weather warms up (but you should still get rid of them if you see one).
Common Roach Types and Species in the US
We could write a novel-length description of every species present in the US, but for now, here are some cliff notes on the ones you’re most likely to run into:
#1 – American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)
There’s an ongoing pattern among cockroaches where they’re given names that have little to nothing in common with where they come from. The American cockroach is native to Africa and was spread to both the Middle East and Americas by the African slave trade.
These guys are the largest of all roaches at up to 2.1 inches long. They can live up to 700 days, lay up to 150 eggs, and traverse 3.4 miles in an hour. In other words, they’re the pinnacle of roach evolution.
American roaches are mostly brown with a yellow marking above the wings and have been found to carry at least 22 pathogens and 5 species of helminthic worms. As one of the Big Three, there’s a very good chance a cockroach infestation in an apartment building or your home is this species.
While the terms American cockroach and palmetto bug are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.
Read Also: Are Shrimp and Cockroaches Related?
#2 – German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)
One of the Big Three, the German cockroach only measures around 1/2-inch long. It’s nearly identical to the Asian Cockroach with the exception of being flightless.
In a strange twist of poor name choices, German cockroach populations didn’t originate in Germany, but actually migrated from the Orient. Unlike the Oriental cockroach, however, we can blame the misnaming on a lack of migratory data, instead of a lack of geographical knowledge.
They’re known to release a foul odor when startled and are the most common cockroach found in restaurants. However, they’ll gladly take up residence in your kitchen, especially if cold weather is approaching. They’ve been known to make themselves at home in a dishwasher, refrigerator, or even microwave.
These are some o the toughest species to get rid of because the adults carry their ootheca (egg sacs) and a single female can produce up to 300 eggs in her lifetime.
See Also: Do Roaches Bite People?
#3 – Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)
Sometimes referred to as water bugs or black roaches, the Oriental cockroach is the last of the Big Three species. Despite the name, the Oriental roach actually originated around the Crimean Peninsula and can now be found worldwide.
Males and females can be a little over an inch long, with males being slightly longer and with a somewhat different appearance. They tend to be a glossy brown to black color. You’re most likely to find them nesting in drain pipes or under sinks where it’s dark and damp.
See Also: Does Borax Kill Roaches?
#4 – Wood Roach (Parcoblatta spp.)
There are actually 12 species of roaches known by this moniker. They all have one thing in common, though: They prefer wooded areas.
You’ll usually find wood cockroaches in woodlands, but they also commonly infest wood piles, the latter of which is usually how one ends up indoors. They’re attracted to light and will try to leave your home on their own. However, while they’re not nearly as destructive as other species, they are still known disease vectors.
For more information on wood roaches, please refer to our in-depth guide.
#5 – Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa)
This cosmopolitan relative of the American roach has a uniform light to dark brownish-mahogany coloration and can be found in the southern US where it’s nice and warm.
Smoky brown cockroaches are most likely to infest homes in the winter, but will often migrate back outside in the warmer summer months.
Related: 15 Bugs That Look Like Roaches
#6 – Asian Cockroach (Blattella asahinai)
The Asian cockroach is native to Southeast Asia. It’s thought to have been introduced to the United States in the 1980s, and has since become established in many parts of the country.
Asian roaches are similar in appearance to German cockroaches, but they are slightly smaller and have darker markings. They are also more active during the day than other types of cockroaches, which makes them more visible.
#7 – Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)
Believed to have originated in Africa (NOT Australia, where it was more recently introduced), this insect looks like a shorter version of the American roach with additional markings.
It likes warmer climates and can be found throughout the southern states.
#8 – Brown-Banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
These dark brown insects are only about 1/2 inches long and have light yellow bands on the wings and abdomens. Unlike most other species, they prefer dry conditions and will often take up residence in walls or appliances.
The brown-banded roach is often nicknamed the furniture roach because your furnishings are a favored hiding spot.
#9 – Field Cockroach (Blattella vaga)
Easily mistaken for both the German and Asian cockroaches, field cockroaches have a distinctive dark stripe between their eyes. They’re also smaller than their look-alike cousins.
They prefer the great outdoors where they feed on rotting vegetation and dead insects. However, this means they can often infest garbage cans.
#10 – Florida Woods Roach (Eurycotis floridana)
Better known as palmetto bugs, this species would much rather spend its days feeding on palmetto trees or hanging out in leaf litter than hanging out in buildings. However, they will often invade in cooler temperatures or they discover easy sources of food or moisture.
They’re commonly mistaken for American roaches and water bugs. However, their behavior is very different from the Big Three. This means control methods that work for this critter often won’t work on other species.
#11 – Papa Roach
This rare type of migratory roach is almost always found in a pack of five and is not known to be dangerous. The Papa Roach tends to invade commercial buildings for only a few hours at a time. They’re only considered a nuisance or pest to people with poor musical tastes.