Different Types of Cockroaches
Cockroaches are a group of insects that belong to the order Blattodea, an order which also contains termites. They are particularly well distributed in tropical and temperate climates since they like warmth and humidity, but they have an almost global distribution. In fact, they are famous for being able to withstand otherwise inhospitable environments. You may be familiar with either of these types of insects since they are common pests in the home, but you may not be aware of the incredible diversity of roaches. Even seasoned entomologists are unlikely to be able to remember the around 4,600 individual species of cockroach.
At AnimalWised, we look at 18 different types of cockroaches just to achieve a little insight into their incredible diversity. We discover a little about each type of roach species by looking at sand cockroaches, giant cockroaches, wood cockroaches and American cockroaches. We also provide photos so you can compare them for yourself.
Sand roaches are those that belong to the cockroach family Corydiidae, although they were previously under the taxonomic group Polyphagidae. Within this family are around 40 genera. Their name is due to the fact individuals are generally associated with sandy soils. We can get better acquainted with this type of cockraoch by looking at some specific examples of sand roaches.
Desert cockroach (Arenivaga investigateta)
Believed to be the most common of type of sand roach, this cockroach is characterized by being flattened both dorsally and ventrally. It has wings and is usually light sand in color, as is the one depicted in the photos below. It is typical of North America, developing mainly in desert areas. Most of the time the females are buried under the sand, while the males are located on the surface and the two only meet for mating.
Usuobiruri cockroach (Eucorydia donanensis)
The males of this cockroach species varies between 12 to 14 mm in length, while the females measure 13 to 15 mm. Their main characteristic is their iridescence, something which is in addition to a color combination which varies between brown, purple and blue or metallic green. It is native to Japan. At first it was thought that it was restricted to a single region, but it has recently been identified in others parts of the country.
Learn more about iridescence with examples of glow in the dark animals in nature.
Seven-spotted cockroach (Therea petiveriana)
Confusingly, this is also sometimes known as the desert cockroach, but this roach species is native to India and Sri Lanka. It is black and slate gray in color with characteristic white dots from which its common name derives. They have a somewhat rounded shape visible in the photo. It has chemical defenses that it uses when threatened. It lives in scrub forest soils with the presence of leaf litter. Its body color pattern is thought to have evolved to mimic an aggressive beetle species, a type of Batesian mimicry.
These types of cockroaches are located in the Blaberidae family, a quite diverse taxonomic group. In terms of reproduction, these species are considered to be ovoviviparous. Females lay an ootheca, a type of egg mass where the eggs are protected and expelled from the body. Some maintain this outside the body, others keep it protected under leaf litter, rotten wood or caves. Some species of giant cockroach are kept as pets.
Death's head cockroach (Blaberus craniifer)
This is cockroach a species native to Mexico and Central America, although it has been introduced to other regions. The color of the wings is dark black, but turns amber towards the head. On the head is am amber marking which looks like the face of a human skull. It inhabits soils with leaf litter or rotten matter. In the wild it feeds on any type of organic material, but in captivity it is supplied with various types of food, including dog food.
Discover other giant cockroach species with our guide to the largest insects in the world.
Warty glowspot cockroach (Lucihormetica verrucosa)
It is a type of large cockroach at about 4 cm in length. Like many different types of cockroaches, they are sexually dimorphic animals with females being larger than males. As the photos below show, they have a combination of black and brown color with a whitish border around the body. Their color changes depending on their diet. For example, eating carrots accumulates carotenoids which produce orange-colored spots. It is a native species of Colombia and Venezuela.
Giant burrowing cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros)
It is also known as the rhinoceros cockroach or the Queensland giant cockroach, being native to Australia. It is characterized by its absence of wings, so it is not one of the types of flying cockroaches. It measures between 7 and 8 cm, and weighs around 30 grams. It builds burrows up to 1 meter deep, where it feeds on leaf litter from the ground, so that it participates in the recycling of plant matter. It is sometimes kept as a pet, making it a type of domestic cockroach.
Learn more about the diet of different roach species with our article on what cockroaches eat.
Classified within the Ectobiidae family, wood roaches are characterized by being generally small in size. Several of these cockroach species are considered pests and are associated with urban areas where they infest homes. Let's see some examples of this type of wood roach.
Asian cockroach (Blattella asahinai)
It is a species of winged cockroach, meaning it is a type of flying cockroach. It is native to Japan, although it has been introduced to America. It measures an average of about 1.45 cm. They have a brown coloration with darker stripes on the head. It lives on the ground with leaf litter and reproduces abundantly in the right conditions. It also has a preference for living inside homes, generally associated with well-lit spaces.
Small yellow cockroach (Cariblatta lutea)
It is a kind of cockroach that thrives in the United States and also on the island of Cuba. Its coloration is light yellow, with a pale brown head and some darker spots towards the head. It measures between 5 and 8.5 mm, with the females being larger than the males. It develops in various spaces such as forests, bushes, areas with leaf litter, rotten wood and also near houses.
Fulvous wood roach (Parcoblatta fulvescens)
It is native to North America, mainly distributed between the United States and Canada. It has a brown color, with black spots towards the end of the body. The males are longer than the females, measuring between 12.5 to 17 mm, while the females between 10 to 15.5 mm. It lives in dense forests, cold areas, edges of swamps, among others.
Within this type of cockroaches we find several species that are common domestic pests, at least common for insects. With a few exceptions, most species are flightless cockroaches. They are generally brown or black, although some are iridescent which means they have a colorful sheen to them. Despite their name, not all species originate in America.
American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)
It is estimated that it is native to Africa, but is now found throughout the world. In various countries it is considered a pest. They develop in various types of places, from humid natural areas to urbanized spaces, as long as the temperatures are not too cold. It measures between 30 to 55 mm and is a flying species. Its color is yellowish brown. It is one of the most common types of cockroaches.
Florida woods cockroach (Eurycotis floridana)
Commonly known as the palmetto bug, it is native to parts of the United States, Canada, and the West Indies. It has a size between 30 to 40 mm, dark brown or blackish. It inhabits natural areas with leaf litter, holes in rotten logs, and rarely enters buildings. It has a defense mechanism that involves spraying a smelly substance.
Turkestan cockroach (Shelfordella lateralis)
It is also known as the rusty red cockroach, native to central Asia and western Africa. The approximate size is about 30 cm, the males being reddish-brown in color and with yellowish wings. The females are black or dark brown. It lives outdoors, but it can also be associated with urban areas and eventually become a pest.
Learn more facts about this amazing insect with our article on whether cockroaches spread disease.
Other types of cockroaches
In addition to the above, there are other types of cockroaches, let's see what they are:
Brown-hooded cockroaches (Cryptocercidae)
- Brown-hooded cockroach (Cryptocercus punctulatus)
- Cryptocercus darwini
- Cryptocercus wrighti
Cave cockroaches (Nocticolidae)
- Gerlach's cockroach (Nocticola gerlachi)
- Nocticola phermosa
- Nocticola adebratti
If you want to read similar articles to Different Types of Cockroaches, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.
- Animal Diversity Web. (2020). Retrieved from: https://animaldiversity.org/
- Gerlach, J. (2012). Nocticola gerlachi. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T199508A2595807. Retrieved from: https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T199508A2595807.en
- Torres, F. (2015). Order Blattodea. Retrieved from: http://sea-entomologia.org/IDE@/revista_48.pdf