What Types of Cockroach Are the Most Common?

Cockroaches usually have a bad reputation. People see them as ugly, bad-smelling insects that spread diseases. This is true about some cockroaches. But of the 4,600 species out there, only 1% are considered to be pests. So, not every cockroach makes humans ill, scurrying around the city eating dirt.

They have also been in existence for a lot longer than humans, over 320 million years. Bearing this in mind, it might be surprising that cockroaches are primitive insects with no special adaptions. This doesn’t stop them from being tough and great survivors. You can find cockroaches living in all sorts of climates, from the Arctic to the tropics. They live around the world in forests and fields as well as urban areas. Different species prefer different climates.

So, what are some of the most common types of cockroaches? Where can you find them? Let’s find out.

The German Cockroach

The German cockroach is one of the bad guys in the bunch. This species has a close association with humans and can’t survive where there’s no human habitation. German cockroaches are the most common cockroaches. You’ll find them in countries across the world, but they don’t like cold climates.

These cockroaches aren’t all the same color, varying in shade from tan to virtually black.

They have two dark streaks that run from their heads to the base of their wings. German cockroaches cause trouble wherever they go, spreading bacteria and causing allergic reactions. They are reports of them biting humans in large infestations. The only good news here is that they can’t fly.

The American Cockroach

Although the name suggests otherwise, the American cockroach is native to Africa and the Middle East. It was only introduced to America in the 17th century. Adult American cockroaches are reddish-brown with a yellow or brown band. They can grow to be as long as 1.57 in. (4 cm), but the male is longer than the female.

This type of cockroach is the second most common after the German cockroach. It likes to spend most of its time in damp outdoor areas with shade, such as in woodpiles or mounds of organic debris. It also spends time in sewers, around human waste, which has led to its reputation as a public health issue.

The Florida Woods Cockroach

This cockroach is also known as the palmetto bug. It has other names, too, such as the skunk roach and the stinking cockroach. These names stem from the fact that the Florida woods cockroach ejects a horrific smelling spray when spooked.

This insect is large, averaging around 1.18–1.57 in. (3–4 cm). It’s a deep reddish-brown and often has yellow markings. Florida woods cockroaches are also broader than most other species. They have wings but can’t fly.

The good news is that these cockroaches may stray indoors at times, but they’re unlikely to stay. They prefer to be outside and aren’t considered major pests.

The Oriental Cockroach

Although the Oriental cockroach originated in the Crimean Peninsula, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea areas, it is now found all over the world.

This is a large species of cockroach, measuring up to 1.14 in. (2.9 cm) in length. The male is slightly longer than the female and has longer wings. The female is broader and looks a lot like the Florida woods cockroach. These insects are either dark brown or black with a glossy appearance. As with several other cockroaches, they have wings but are unable to fly. This is good news for anyone who is afraid of cockroaches.

The bad news is that Oriental cockroaches often live on filth. They can cause gastroenteritis in humans, which is definitely not a pleasant experience. They can also cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes.

The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

This is one of the most fascinating cockroaches around. It’s also one of the biggest, growing up to around 2.75 in. (7 cm) in length. As the name suggests, these insects are native to Madagascar, where they have some popularity as pets.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches don’t have wings but are great climbers. They can even scale smooth window panes. They are shiny brown. The males have horns, which they use when they need to be aggressive. Far from being creepy, like some cockroaches, these are actually quite impressive to look at.

The hissing comes into play when the cockroaches are mating. They make the noise by exhaling air through breathing holes.

Those hissing cockroaches that aren’t pets live on the forest floor and aren’t regarded as pests.

The Brown-Banded Cockroach

These small cockroaches measure only around 0.55 in. (1.4 cm) in length and live their entire lives indoors. The female is broader and flightless, while the male can fly. These insects are tan to light brown in color and have two brown bands, which give them their name.

It’s thought that these cockroaches originated in Africa. They may have originally come to the U.S. from Cuba before being introduced to Europe by U.S. soldiers during World War II. Wherever it lives across the globe, the brown-banded cockroach can cause allergic reactions in humans.

The Smokybrown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroaches are large, measuring around 1.18 in. (3 cm) in length. They are dark brown and shiny. These cockroaches are common in Japan and in the southern United States. You can also find them in Australia, where the warm climate suits them.

Although the smokybrown cockroach prefers to live outside in damp areas where wood or leaves are present, it can also live in sewers. This means that it’s a pest as far as humans are concerned.


Cockroaches exist throughout the world and are here to stay. As you can see from these common types of cockroaches, this isn’t always a bad thing. These insects can be pests, but this is not the case for 99% of them. You only have to look at the Madagascar hissing cockroach to know that some of them are fascinating creatures.

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