What Does A Cockroach Look Like?

August 18, 2021

Cockroaches are one of the most common pests in homes. They have been around for millions of years in almost every part of the world except Antarctica. Roaches are hardcore, adaptable creatures that can survive in most environments and conditions. In this guide, we present you with more understanding about cockroaches with a better focus on their looks. By knowing how roaches look, it becomes easy for you to identify and control them.

What Is A Cockroach?

Roaches belong to an order of insects known as Blattodea that also contains termites. Cockroaches are social creatures that live together in groups. Therefore, when you spot one cockroach, know that there are many others in close vicinity. The central part of a cockroach’s life involves seeking shelter and scavenging for food. That is why roaches are common in indoor environments where they invade searching for food, moist areas, and safe hiding places. Another thing about cockroaches is that they are nocturnal, meaning they mostly come out at night.

What Do Roaches Look Like?

It can be challenging to recognise a cockroach, mainly due to its close resemblance to water bugs and beetles. So, what distinguishes roaches from other look-alike bugs?

  1. Flat Body

Cockroaches have flat bodies that they use to their advantage. The flat body enables them to wiggle through the smallest of spaces, eventually accessing your house. That also means they can comfortably hide in hard-to-reach areas and get the food they need wherever it is kept, becoming a nuisance inside your residence.

  1. Brown Colour

Most roaches feature a brown pigment but with some distinction depending on the species. For instance, oriental cockroaches are more of little black roaches due to their dark hue. Other cockroach species are brown, featuring either black stripes behind the head like the German cockroach or a brown mark at the back of the head like the American cockroach.

  1. How Many Legs Does A Cockroach Have?

Cockroaches are insects, so they have six legs. Their legs are spiny, slender, and jointed. The three pairs of legs are attached to the thorax. The first pair is made up of prothoracic legs, which are the shortest and used to brake. Mesothoracic legs are found in the middle and help the cockroach adjust speed by slowing down or speeding up. At the back are metathoracic legs that are the strongest and assist in moving forward at high speed. Now you know what enables cockroaches to run that fast.

  1. Tough Body

Roaches have a hard-shelled body for ample protection. Their head faces upwards as they are always looking for food. An armoured shell, therefore, protects their head from knocks. Some cockroach species have wings, an added layer of protection, which fold down over their back.

  1. How Large Are Cockroaches?

Cockroaches differ in size depending on species and stage of development. All have an oval shape, but weight and length vary. For example, a German cockroach is one centimetre long, while the Madagascar hissing roach can measure up to three inches in length. The giant burrowing cockroach weighs up to 35 grams, making it the heaviest roach.

  1. Baby Roach Appearance

Baby cockroaches are distinct from adults. Therefore, it is wise to recognise them as well since they also pose a significant threat. They are small in size and do not have wings. Compared to the adults, they are lighter in colour. The light colour is more prominent after going through a moult. Baby roaches that have just moulted are cream to white, but their exoskeleton turns darker and harder with time.

What Do Cockroaches Eat?

Roaches are omnivores, meaning they feed on both animal and plant matter. They are not picky eaters and can eat anything from bread and fruits to meat and veggies. Additionally, they have a massive appetite for rotting stuff, soap, makeup, dead skin, and eyelashes.

Where Are You Likely To See Cockroaches?

A roach can survive in nearly all types of environments. You will typically find cockroaches living in areas where food and water are available, like the fridge, pantry, sink, and underdrain. Their flat body makes them fit in the tiniest of spaces.

Features Shared By All Species Of Roaches

  • All roaches have oval-shaped bodies.
  • Most are brownish but look whitish during moulting.
  • Cockroaches move quickly, making it hard to catch them.

For more insight into the appearance of cockroaches, let us look at each of the most common species:

  1. German Cockroach

On average, German cockroaches measure around 0.5 inches, making them the smallest of all types of roaches. Their body is caramel-like in colour and marked by two dark parallel lines between the head and wings. With their small size, German roaches can be challenging to deal with due to their ability to hide in tight spaces. Though they have wings, they rarely use them to fly.


  1. Oriental Cockroach

Oriental roaches are also called water bugs as they prefer to live in damp areas. They can grow as much as 1.25 inches long. Black in colour, oriental cockroaches have wings but never fly. You will find them hiding near drains, in basements, or under woodpiles. They are predominantly outdoor creatures and usually invade homes looking for food.


  1. American Cockroach

Found worldwide, American cockroaches can grow up to 1.5 inches long. They are reddish-brown or dark brown. One ability of theirs is flying but for short distances. And they feed on everything from trash to plants.


How To Differentiate A Roach From Beetles

There are beetles that look like roaches bearing similar features, such as spiny legs. However, beetles have shorter legs than cockroaches, with the ground beetle having a mouth with pincers that roaches lack. Another notable difference between these two insects is their wing structure. Flying cockroaches have one pair of thin, long, leathery wings. On the other hand, beetles have two pairs of rigid wings. Therefore, when you see a bug flying around your house, the chances are high that it is a beetle. The thing is, not all kinds of roaches fly, and even those that do either do not like flying or are not good flyers like beetles.

How To Control Cockroaches

Now that you know how cockroaches look like, it is essential to know how to eliminate them. A roach infestation can cause many problems in your home, from spreading foodborne diseases to damaging household items.

  1. Do It Yourself Methods

You can make use of homemade insecticides to ward off roaches. Some effective DIY remedies include baking soda, catnip, boric acid, and essential oils. All you have to do is place these products near entry points or around areas of heavy cockroach infestation. As for boric acid and baking soda, you will need to mix them into a bait – something roaches love eating. Most of these products are safe for use. But keep your pets from coming into contact with them because their health may be adversely affected.

  1. Hire A Pest Control Company

Professional cockroach control does away with the current infestation and significantly reduces the chances of future reinfestation. Pest management companies always take the right approach towards eliminating all manner of pests, including roaches. They are also keen to conduct follow-up inspections to determine any sign of new infestation well in advance and manage it promptly before things turn ugly.


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