Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches

A bug infestation is a serious problem that you should tackle quickly to limit the amount of time they have to lay eggs and reproduce. But, before formulating a plan of attack, you must identify the kind of bug you’re dealing with because there have been several cases of mistaken pest identity.

Confusing cockroaches for other pests and setting up bug bombs that are cockroach-specific will not help the situation. The pesticides in these cockroach-specific bombs are usually not applicable to other pests. Bug bombs are also not a particularly reliable means of eliminating most pest problems.

Common bugs that look like cockroaches, and, therefore, are often mistaken for roaches, are crickets and water bugs as well as beetles such as the ground beetle, wood-boring beetle, Palto Verde beetle, and Asian Long-Horned beetle.

So, below we divided these cockroach lookalikes into two categories: crawlers and fliers. And then described each of these pests into more detail as well as mentioned just how to tell if what you are looking at really is a cockroach or if it simply is one of these roach-looking insects.

Crawling Cockroach Lookalikes

Crickets

Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterctocl.com

People are often very familiar with the chirping sound that crickets make. But visually, they are often mistaken for cockroaches.

With their brown to black exterior, they are similar in color to cockroaches but are smaller and faster. Unfortunately, it is precisely this speed and coloring that makes us assume that crickets are cockroaches. They are so fast that you do not really have time to examine them closely before they make their escape!

Luckily, there are many ways to tell crickets and roaches apart. The most distinctive feature is the long hind legs that crickets have and use for hopping.

Crickets are not harmful but can be a nuisance due to the noise they make. You can get rid of crickets by using bug sprays that are available in most stores or by setting up traps.

Ground Beetles

Henrik Larsson/Shutterstock.com

Ground beetles are also often mistaken for cockroaches due to their similarities. They have the same deep red or brownish exterior and a wide, winged frame. For this reason, differentiating ground beetles from cockroaches can be a challenge. It is a good idea to trap one and examine it closely to determine if it is a roach or a beetle you are dealing with.

Keep in mind that there are over 2,000 species of ground beetles known to man, each varying in color and size. There are also more than 4,500 species of roaches which vary in size, color, and other characteristics. So, if you really want to tell the two apart, you will have to do some serious research or consult a professional. Generally, however, if the insect in question has hard front wings, it’s a ground beetle. Not all cockroaches have wings. If they do, they are softer and leathery.

Fortunately, ground beetles are not dangerous pests. They do not destroy materials or fabrics and do not spread diseases as cockroaches can do. But, since the beetles need to come in direct contact with most commercial insect sprays for the product to function, setting up an outdoor barrier (or starting a toad colony) is your best bet at keeping them away.

Water Bugs

Mr. SUTTIPON YAKHAM/Shutterstock.com

Water bugs, specifically giant water bugs, are another crawling bug which can trick you into thinking they are cockroaches. While the exterior of these bugs resemble a cockroach, each of these pests comes with its own distinct characteristics.

They are usually found near standing water while cockroaches infest areas that are humid but not wet. When compared to cockroaches, water bugs are usually larger and more aggressive. Their bites are quite painful.

They can be fairly easily distinguished from cockroaches by the large pincers at the front of their bodies.

The best way to prevent water bug infestations is to keep your home and its surrounding area clean and free of standing water.

Asian Long-Horned Beetles

manseok/Pixabay.com

The shape and size of the Asian long-horned beetle can sometimes make them resemble cockroaches. Yet, they do have some distinctive features that differentiate them from cockroaches.

For example, Asian long-horned beetles are usually jet black instead of brown with prominent white spots. 

To get rid of Asian long-horned beetles, report them to the local forestry service. They are an invasive species that causes damage to trees.

Flying Cockroach Lookalikes

The only thing more terrifying then spotting a cockroach is if they suddenly take flight! Luckily, most roach species don’t fly. Yet, during the humid summer, you might spot some flying pests that look a lot like cockroaches.

So, here are some flying insects that look like cockroaches but are entirely different species of pest.

Palo Verde Beetles

Jody Ann/Shutterstock.com

These are most commonly found in the American Southwest. These beetles resemble cockroaches due to their size and color, but palo verde beetles are an entirely different species altogether.

They are darker in color, have harder shells and longer bodies, and, of course, can fly! Palo verde beetles lay eggs under palo verde trees (hence their name), rose bushes or olive trees. Once hatched, the baby beetles then live on the tree’s roots until they mature.

Wood-boring Beetles

Wood Boring Beetle

Henrik Larsson/Shutterstock.com

Wood-boring beetles can also resemble cockroaches at first glance. They have similar antennae and a similar shape with six legs and reddish-brown translucent wings covering most of their body.

Luckily, there are also things that distinguish them from cockroaches.

For one, they don’t do the same type of damage. Wood-boring beetles bore into wood so if you spot a cockroach-looking bug crawling out of a new hole in your wall, it’s probably a wood-boring beetle. Many types of wood-boring beetles are also smaller than cockroaches. More specifically, the Locust borer has distinctive yellow, black, and red markings that roaches do not have. In fact, Locust borers look more like a wasp than a cockroach. Emerald ash borers are metallic green in color and very small.

Cockroach Characteristics

As mentioned before, there are many different species of cockroaches. While they do all differ in some regards, they also have some similar features which make them easily identifiable. This allows you to distinguish them from other pests and bugs, after close examination.

Typically, roaches range from 0.5–2 inches (1.3–5.1 cm) in length. Their antennae are very different from those of any other pest. The outer shell of cockroaches ranges in color from tan through reddish-brown to black. This can change when they molt or shed their exoskeletons for growth. When that happens, they can appear white. All cockroaches have an oval-shaped body and appear flattened if you look at them from the top.

Despite having wings, some cockroaches don’t fly. But they move fairly quickly, sometimes at speeds of 3.4 mph (5.5 km/h).

The most common cockroaches are brown-banded, German, American, and oriental roaches. If you do notice a cockroach infestation, you should address it as soon as possible, no matter which of the cockroach species you encounter. You can do so either by using store-bought products or by calling a professional exterminator.

31 Comments

Susan Gail Attianese

I have woods behind my home. I found on my kitchen floor what looks like a cockroach.i life in a very humid home.it was fast but I killed it.2 days later there was one In my son’s room.we had recently installed a window a/c and there are gaps. My son was able to catch it and kill it.he said it was easy to mush. I had first noticed this when I was walking my dog,2 (EW) WERE ON MY HALF TO THE KNEE PJ BOTTOMS.IS IT NORMAL FOR THEM TO JUMP ON YOU? Please tell me if this sounds like a cockroach? I’m a wreck

    InsectCop

    To be completely honest, I don’t think I can help you with the info you’ve provided. It’s not that easy to identify an insect without actually seeing it. Usually, I’d say that cockroaches aren’t that easy to squash, however, I don’t know how much force was used by your son, as well as what he used to squash it. As for the jumping, did you mean an actual jump while you were walking the dog? Or was it already there as you were about to walk the dog? Is there a chance it could have just crawled up there? Cockroaches can’t exactly jump, however, some of them (for example, ‘’leaproaches’’) are able to use their wings to leap.

    Josephine S

    I know what you are seeing you sound like me! They are wood roaches no they don’t infest your house like a regular cockroach but still to this day every time I see one usually from may-June till September-October(if it’s still oddly warm) I still flip out! Reason I found your post lol! Found one last night outside on patio! HATE IT!!!! If you have lots of pine trees mulch etc no worries I live on long Island In New York

    Barbara H

    Wow! Apri 28th, I received a recliner which came in a box. A few days later, My husband saw a what looks like a roach (Brownbanded cockroach) in the bathroom. This roach wasp looking insect had yellow and brown stripes, about two inches long. I didn’t see it fly but, while sitting in the bed This morning around 3am, I was watching TV and it came scurrying towards me. I tossed the cover towards it to try and trap it, but it scurried away so fast…it was like it disappeared. The second time I saw it an hour later it was crawling across the wall. The only thing I could do was to spray wasp spray. I don’t think that worked because, I could find it the later.

    InsectCop

    If you’re dealing with roaches, you should get a product intended for the use of those. For example, you can give roach powders a try or look up some multipurpose spray that would help you with different types of bugs. If you prefer using the latter, we suggest Eco Defense Home Pest Control Spray.

    Nan Vollbracht

    I just moved into my home and have seen cockroaches five times within one month. Mostly in the kitchen and bathroom. They were very slow moving – easy to kill. They don’t look like the typical red roaches I used to see in NY – I’m in Maine surrounded by the river and trees. But they do look similar. Any thoughts?

    InsectCop

    I think you might be dealing with Oriental Cockroaches (also known as Water Bugs).

    Mayme Lee McElrath

    I recently moved and have seen what looks like a roach with a red head and brown body, is this possibly a roach?

    InsectCop

    Try out BugFinder. It’s a great tool to identify insects.

Tiffany

Found a bug that resembles a cockroach. I took a picure of it.. is there a way for me to send it and get a second opinion.

    InsectCop

    Unfortunately, there is no option of adding pictures at the moment. You can check out this source to try to identify the creature.

Tina pout

Opened a box of breakfast cereal and a cockroach like insect came out. Same size and shape as a large cockroach but black with a white stripes down either size. Any ideas???

    InsectCop

    I suggest using this BugFinder to identify it. It’s hard to tell what the insect is, simply based on this much info.

    Jen

    Thanks for this info. I just saw an insect in my room last night and think that was a cocroach. But im so afraid when check the whole body there’s some difference between real cocroaches. Then i check out here and saw the pic. And read the info. Now i realized that was only a bug.. but i still afraid when i remember the texture of the body. Eeeee….

    Star Roman

    That’s probably a wheat bug. I forget the actual name but they look similar and tenticals are shorter i think. Look up whewt big vs roach and check out pictures. Wheat bugs can come in flour, cereal, pasta boxes,oatmeal etc but are easy to get rid of. Just find the source. Keeping cereal in plastic sealed containers and helped me from getting them again.

Nita

There is a bug that has been on my popcorn ceiling for about 4 days. It looks like a cockroach but I am not sure what it is. It does not fly but it has moved from one side to the other. Please tell me what it might be.

    InsectCop

    Can you be more specific describing the bug? As well as, why do you think it’s not a cockroach? From the info you’ve given, I don’t see a reason to discharge cockroaches as a possibility.

Sharon Elliott

I am getting big water bugs in my house every day. Can they be exterminated?

    InsectCop

    Hello! I assume you’re talking about the roach-like insect? You can try following the general tips for getting rid of roaches.

Sydal

I have an insect that could be a cockroach nymph. It is dark brown, wingless and with clear segmentation between abdomen and the thorax/head. There is a somewhat darker line in the center down the length of the abdomen. The body is not flattened and the abdomen is not tapered. The thorax/head a rounded triangle. The body is about 3 mm long and has antennae extending somewhat laterally and about 1/3 the length of the body.I first noticed a few on my the shear window curtain in the afternoon sun. This is near a potted plant. I have since seen some near a lighted lamp.

    InsectCop

    We can’t say for sure but it sounds like it could be cockroach nymphs, yes. In that case, we suggest thinking about exterminating them. It’s quite possible you might be dealing with a potentially serious infestation.

Anonymous

There’s a bug in my house it’s A tan color , but has no black markings. They have long antennas , but they are small as well

    InsectCop

    The info provided is not enough to say for sure but could those be actual cockroaches?

Mia

I woke up one night and saw this black bug crawling around (my room is in a basement apartment). I almost had a heart attack because I thought it was a roach. I was convinced it wasn’t because it’s antennas weren’t too long and it’s wings didn’t look like a roach’s wings and began to google. This bug resembled a black ground beetle. Since that night I saw what it seems to be a brown ground beetle in my garage. I killed it and threw it out. Now after a few weeks I saw another black ground beetle in my room!!! I went to try and kill it but by the time I went to grab my shoe it disappeared into the smallest crack between the floor and wall. Could they have a nest in there?! How do I get of them without spending a ton on money on an exterminator?

    InsectCop

    If those really are ground beetles, you should start by sealing all the cracks and crevices you could possibly find. You can also try eliminating their habitats outdoors, to make them look for shelter elsewhere. I doubt they’re nesting indoors, they’re most likely just entering from the outside. Fortunately, they won’t cause much trouble, as they don’t bite humans or cause damage to the building. That is, of course, if they truly are ground beetles. If they happen to be cockroaches, you should read this article to see what you can do about it.

Shannon

Crazy big bugs in the garage this morning. They were red-brown/black in color, could definitely fly, were immune to both wasp & ant killer, and were able to move quite fast. They were about 2 inches in length and about 3/4-1″ in width. Very long antennae (about 2 inches). I have never, EVER seen a cockroach of this size.. but nothing surprises me anymore.

I keep telling myself it’s a waterbug, as there are both woods and a creek less than 1/4 mi from my house, but I’m not convinced. I was under the impression antennae from waterbugs are not very long.

    InsectCop

    I have some bad news for you. American Cockroach could actually be the size you mentioned, so it’s a possibility.

Lisag

I have found two very light brown, winged with antenna and cricket like legs in my kitchen over the past two weeks. They aren’t moving much, just sitting still. I’m concerned that they’re German Roaches but my husband thinks water bugs.

    InsectCop

    Many people will refer to Oriental cockroaches as water bugs as well. Also, keep in mind the actual water bugs will be found near standing water while roaches will prefer humid environments, so it’s likely you are dealing with cockroaches. If that’s the case, you should read our article about getting rid of them.

Kacey

I have bugs in my kitchen and I cant identify them. I thought they were roaches, but they dont look like any of the pictures I see online. They dont have wings that I can determine. They are dark brown with a lighter stripe straight down its back. They move fast. Any idea what that could be?

    InsectCop

    Try looking it up in the BugFinder.

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