A type of common cockroach

Types of Cockroaches

There are approximately 4,000 species of cockroaches in the world, and only about four of them are found in North America: the American cockroach, the German cockroach, the Oriental cockroach, and the Brown-banded cockroach.



Common Types of Cockroaches

Cockroaches, also known as ‘roaches’, are among the most primitive of insects, dating back to the Carboniferous era 280 million years ago. These pests are omnivorous and will eat anything of nutritive value, including soap and glue to survive. There are only two domestic species of cockroaches, requiring the food water and indoor harborage provided by humans. These are the German and Brown-banded cockroaches, with the German being far more common in commercial establishments. 

Other pest species are peridomestic, meaning that they occur naturally outdoors and do not require the human habitat to survive. They will however take advantage and infest the surrounding perimeter of structures in urban environments. These include the American, Australian, Oriental, Brown, German and Garden cockroaches.

Following are just a few of the identifying characteristics of the 4 most common cockroaches:
a type of American Cockroach

American Cockroach

  • The largest of the common cockroaches, the American can be up to 2 inches (2.5 centimeters) in length.
  • It is distinguished by a yellow band running across the back edge of its head.
  • Capable of gliding, so it may appear to be in flight.
  • From nymph through adult, it can live almost three years.
  • The female can lay six to 14 egg cases in her lifetime, but there are only about 16 eggs per case.
A German cockroach

German Cockroach

  • At only about 0.5 inches (1,2 centimeters) in length, the German is the smallest but also the most common and the most successfully reproductive. 
  • It has two dark-colored parallel lines running from the top of the head to front of the wings.
  • Once hatched, nymphs can live up to about four months and adults another five.
  • The female can lay seven egg cases in her lifetime with up to 48 eggs in each.
a type of Oriental cockroach

Oriental Cockroach

  • At 1.25 inches (3.2 centimeters) in length, the female Oriental cockroach is slightly longer than the male (1 inch / 2.5 centimeters). The female also has very short wings.
  • They prefer cooler areas, whereas most prefer warmth.
  • It can take several years for a nymph to develop to adult, but the adult then lives only about 6 months.
  • The female can lay eight egg cases, with about 16 eggs in each.
a type of Brown-banded Cockroach

Brown-Banded Cockroach

  • Approximately 0.5 inches (1,3 centimeters long). The mail’s wings are larger than the female’s.
  • Named for the yellowish brown bands running across its forewing. 
  • Prefers starchy foods and requires less water than other cockroaches. 
  • Can be found in all parts of a facility and prefers hiding places up off the floor.

More Resources

Dangers of Cockroaches on Food

The Dangers of Cockroaches

Learn how cockroaches can affect food safety.

How cockroaches spread disease

Diseases Spread by Cockroaches

They are known transmitters of diseases and can easily contaminate food and food-handling surfaces.

Cleaning to prevent Cockroaches

Tips for Pest Prevention

Get proactive pest prevention tips for your commercial kitchen.