What kinds of cockroaches live in the United States?
Well, you may be surprised at how many different types there actually are! These nocturnal insects are common but can be hard to find.
Cockroaches prefer to stay hidden during the day and can sense our vibrations at night. So they quickly dash away before they are even discovered. Cockroaches can run really fast, up to 11 inches per second! That would be like a human running 93 miles an hour!
One tip to know, if you see a cockroach during the day, there may be more that you don’t see and you may have an infestation. So please call an exterminator for help.
This article will be looking at 10 COMMON cockroaches in the United States.
#1. German Cockroach
- Blattella germanica
- Males are tan or pale brown, with two dark streaks on their heads.
- The abdomen is slender and tapers down, with a yellowish underside.
- Females are darker brown, and their abdomens are broader.
These cockroaches are significant year-round pests in the United States.
You would think from its name that the German Cockroach is from Germany; however, it actually came here from Southeast China. These cockroaches are sensitive to the cold, which is probably from their origin in warm climates.
German Cockroach Range Map
The German Cockroach comes out at night to search for food and water and will quickly dash away if you turn on a light or disturb them. They are plant and meat scavengers. This cockroach is attracted to meats, starches, sugars, and fatty foods. Unfortunately, if they can’t find food, they may eat household items such as soap, glue, and toothpaste.
They will invade houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other institutions. During the day, this cockroach hides out and occupies tight spaces around refrigerators, stoves, sinks, and in the walls. So it is difficult to know if you have a cockroach problem.
If you EVER see a German Cockroach during the day, this may indicate that you have a severe infestation.
Check out this video of the German Cockroach and learn more about them below:
#2. American Cockroach
- Periplaneta americana
- Shiny, reddish-brown wings, paler neck with two darker reddish-brown blotches in the center.
- Short wings, males’ wings extend beyond their abdomen.
- Also known as the Ship Cockroach, Kakerlac, and Bombay Canary.
The American Cockroach has one of the largest body sizes of ANY cockroach in the United States. It is also considered one of the fastest running insects. Surprisingly, they are weak fliers.
Believe it or not, American Cockroaches are native to Africa and the Middle East. These cockroaches were brought over hundreds of years ago on ships.
Adults are active all year-round in moist and warm locations, like inside your house! These cockroaches are mostly commercial pests, infesting restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, warehouses, and shipyards.
American Cockroach Range Map
Unfortunately, they don’t stop there. These cockroaches are frequently found in homes and apartments because they come up through the sewage and plumbing systems or air ducts. You can find them in basements, crawl spaces, and cracks in foundations.
These cockroaches are not picky eaters. This species will eat beer, leather, hair, flakes of dry skin, fermenting foods, starch from book bindings, and dead animals, including other cockroaches. They eat almost anything they walk on!
The American Cockroach has odorous secretions that can alter the flavor of food, and if there is a high population of them, you will be able to smell it.
This cockroach can also pick up disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella on their legs and deposit it on other food that they walk on. This can cause food poisoning or infections. In addition, house dust that contains cockroach parts or feces can trigger an allergic reaction and asthma in certain people.
Check out this video of the American Cockroach and see how they move their antennae to get around.
#3. Oriental Cockroach
- Blatta orientalis
- Shiny dark reddish-brown to blackish-brown.
- Males’ wings cover three-fourths of their abdomen while females have short, almost non-existent wings.
- Also known as the Waterbug or Black Beetle.
Oriental Cockroaches are also called Waterbugs because they prefer dark, moist places. They are sluggish, flightless, and are poor climbers.
Oriental Cockroach Range Map
This species is often found in sewers, drains, damp basements, porches, or other damp locations. Outside they are typically located under mulch, bushes, leaf litter, and woodpiles. Look for them eating decaying plants, starchy human scraps, and animal matter.
The Oriental Cockroach is a major household pest. This species creates a strong smell and is considered one of the dirtiest cockroaches in the United States.
The Oriental Cockroach can transfer bacteria and viruses from their legs to food, dishes, utensils, and countertops. This species spreads Salmonella, E. Coli, Dysentery, and food poisoning. So if you see them in your house, call an exterminator right away!
#4. Brown-Banded Cockroach
- Supella longipalpa
- Tan to light brown and has two light-colored bands across the wings and abdomen (which makes them look broken.)
- Males’ wings cover the abdomen and are more slender.
- Females are darker with shorter wings, and they have broader abdomens.
The Brown-banded Cockroach is the smallest in the United States.
Interestingly, this species doesn’t need as much moisture as the other cockroaches. This fact is important because it means that they can inhabit places in your house that other cockroaches don’t dare enter. Typically, you can find them hiding in appliances and cabinets, but they can be anywhere in your home, such as the living room or the bedroom.
These cockroaches tend not to be found in the daytime because they avoid the light. So think of them as little gremlins!
Brown-banded Cockroach Range Map
The Brown-banded Cockroach will eat anything and everything, including any foods, sewage, boxes, drapes, books, and wallpapers. So basically, they have a seafood diet; if they see it, they eat it. : )
Unfortunately, this insect can cause many challenges for humans because they carry microorganisms and spread pathogens.
Check out this video about the Brown-banded Cockroach.
#5. Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach
- Parcoblatta pensylvanica
- Males are dark brown, sides of the thorax (between head and abdomen) and front half of wings are yellowish. Wings are fully developed and longer than the abdomen.
- Females are dark brown, with short and useless wings.
- Also known as the Pennsylvanian Cockroach.
After dark, you can usually find this cockroach in timbered-covered areas, on tree trunks, and lower branches of oaks and elms. They are also found in piles of wood, tree stumps, and hollow trees.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach Range Map
The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach gets inside your house typically from hitching a ride inside the firewood you brought into your home.
Fortunately, this species does not like to live with other cockroaches. Therefore, they are not contaminated and usually will not make you sick.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches like cooler temperatures!
In addition, this species can only survive indoors for a few weeks because it is too dry and they prefer to eat decaying organic matter such as compost, dead plants, or manure. A cockroach that has to stay outside is the best cockroach in my opinion!
However, check out this video where these cockroaches can be pets if you want to provide food and water for them.
#6. Australian Cockroach
- Periplaneta australasiae
- Brown overall, with a pale or yellowish head shield with a black spot. Wings are larger.
- A pale stripe on both sides of the head shield and yellow streaks on the sides of its wings.
Despite their name, the Australian Cockroach is not from Australia, and it is believed they originated in Africa. You will find this species in the southern United States. They like to travel all over the world by shipping or commerce.
Australian Cockroach Range Map
The Australian Cockroach is one of the few cockroaches in the United States where both sexes can fly.
This species prefers warmer climates, and it hates the cold. So if there is freezing weather, they may come on into your home and be your new roommate!
However, the Australian Cockroach can only tolerate dry conditions if there is water available. So, this cockroach is more likely not to come inside and will choose to live around the perimeter of homes and buildings.
This cockroach is a scavenger but eats a wide array of plant matter from your garden. They like to stay close to a water source and your home if the weather gets colder.
#7. Surinam Cockroach
- Pycnoscelus surinamensis
- Dark brown or black body with a shield-shaped shiny head.
- Olive green or dark brown wings.
- Also known as the Greenhouse Cockroach.
You will typically find the Surinam Cockroach in loose, moist soil in the southern United States.
They are burrowing roaches that can cause damage and even destroy plants by eating them. Surinam Cockroaches can burrow in loose soil, mold, compost piles, hiding beneath rocks, trash, and other debris.
Surinam Cockroach Range Map
They’re often found inside greenhouses because they were inadvertently shipped in the soil of plants, which is how they got the name Greenhouse Cockroach. Unfortunately, they can destroy many plants in a greenhouse overnight.
This species also ends up inside homes because of hitching a ride in potted plants.
The Surinam Cockroach is known to carry parasitic roundworms (Oxyspirura mansoni and Oxyspirura pavorum), which infect the eyes of poultry.
Check out this video of information on the Surinam Roach below.
#8. Smoky Brown Cockroach
- Periplaneta fuliginosa
- Shiny and dark brown mahogany all over.
- In both sexes, their wings extend past their abdomens.
The Smoky Brown Cockroach prefers to live outdoors in piles of leaves and by drains or sewers. They eat a wide variety of organic or decaying matter, but like other cockroaches, they are scavengers. So that means they will eat whatever they can find to survive.
Smoky Brown Cockroach Range Map
This species tends to lose moisture faster than other cockroaches in the United States.
As a result, they require water every two to three days.
The Smoky Brown Cockroach prefers warmer climates and can’t tolerate the cold. Unfortunately, they may come indoors to look for food during cooler weather.
#9. Asian Cockroach
- Blattella asahinai
- Smaller in size, tan to dark brown with two dark stripes on the back of the head.
- Wings are longer.
This species is usually found outdoors in shaded mulch, composted areas with leaf litter, and other damp places.
If these cockroaches find a place they really like, they will form hordes (large groups) up to 250,000 per acre. It’s like their own rave party! Asian Cockroaches will do this until late August, but will typically disperse when the weather gets cooler.
Asian Cockroach Range Map
The Asian Cockroach differs from all the other cockroaches in the United States because it is attracted to light and can fly like a moth. They are drawn to houses and restaurants because of their attraction to light sources.
Using specific measures to keep out these pests, such as sealing up cracks or crevices, doesn’t work because these cockroaches can fly through open doors and windows.
This cockroach’s diet is similar to other cockroaches as they are omnivores and will eat anything they find. They are often found in crops such as soybeans and cotton, feeding on prey. They also have been sighted feeding on lettuce, cabbage, and strawberries.
#10. Florida Woods Cockroach
- Eurycotis floridana
- Dark to blackish brown or reddish-brown. Short wings.
- Also known as the Palmetto Bug, Florida Skunk Roach, Florida Stinkroach, Skunk Cockroach, Skunk Roach, Stinking Cockroach, and Stinkroach.
The Florida Woods Cockroach is the slowest moving cockroach in the United States.
You typically find this species in holes in dead trees, under bark, under leaf litter, stumps, and woodpiles. Often it can be seen on Palmetto trees, hence their nickname the Palmetto Bug.
Florida Woods Cockroach Range Map
If this cockroach should make it inside your home, they like the unused areas. But it’s not uncommon to find them in your bathroom.
The Florida Woods Cockroach doesn’t like to be disturbed. So, be careful if you find one! When alarmed, they can spray an extremely foul-smelling glandular secretion up to 3 feet away as a deterrent.
Unfortunately, this spray can irritate human eyes and be toxic to the cockroach itself if it is in a container.
Do you need additional help identifying cockroaches in the United States?
Try this field guide!
Which of these cockroaches have you seen in the United States?
Leave a comment below!