Cockroaches usually get a bad reputation. People see them as ugly and bad smelling insects that spread disease. 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 and scurries around the city eating dirt. They live across the world, in forests and fields as well as urban areas.

They have also been in existence for a lot longer than humans; over 320 million years. Bearing this in mind, it’s surprising that cockroaches are primitive insects with no special adaptions. This does not stop them from being tough and great survivors. You can find cockroaches living in all sorts of climates, from the Arctic to the tropics. Different species prefer different climates. So, what are some of the most common types of cockroach, and where can they be found?

German cockroach

The German cockroach is one of the bad guys of the bunch. It has a close association with humans and cannot survive away from areas where there is human habitation. German cockroaches are the most common and they live in countries across the world, but they do not like cold climates.

These cockroaches are not all the same color; they vary in shade from tan to virtually black. They also have two dark streaks that run from the head to the base of the wings. German cockroaches cause trouble wherever they go, spreading bacteria and causing allergic reactions. They have also been known to bite humans where the infestation is high. The only good news is that they cannot fly.

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 in color, with a yellow/brown band. They can grow to be as long as four centimeters and the male is longer than the female.

This type of cockroach is the second most common, after the German cockroach, and it likes to spend most of its time in damp outdoor areas which are shaded, such as in woodpiles or mounds of organic debris. It also spends time in sewers, around human waste, which leads to it being regarded as a public health issue.

Florida woods cockroach

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

This insect is large in size; around three to four centimeters. It’s deep red-brown in color and often has yellow markings. Florida woods cockroaches are also broader than most other species. They have wings but they cannot fly.

The good news is that these cockroaches may stray indoors at times but they are unlikely to stay. They much prefer to be outside and they are not considered to be major pests.

Oriental cockroach

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

It’s a large species of cockroach, measuring up to 2.9 centimeters 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 and are glossy in 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 and they can cause gastroenteritis in humans which is not a pleasant experience. They can also cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, wheezing and watery eyes.

Madagascar hissing cockroach

This is one of the most fascinating cockroaches around; it’s also one of the biggest and can grow up to around seven centimeters in length. As the name suggests, these insects are native to Madagascar where they have some popularity as pets.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches do not have wings but they are great climbers; they can even scale a smooth window pane. They have a shiny brown color and the males have horns which they use when aggression is needed. Far from being creepy like some cockroaches, these guys are actually quite impressive to look at. The hissing comes into play when the cockroaches are mating and the noise is made as they exhale air through breathing holes.

Those hissing cockroaches that are not pets live on the forest floor and are not regarded as pests.

Brown Banded Cockroach

These small cockroaches measure only around 1.4 centimeters in length and they live all of their life indoors. The female is broader than the male. The male brown-banded cockroach has the ability to fly but the female does not. 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 and that they originally arrived in the US from Cuba before being introduced to Europe by US soldiers during World War II. Wherever it lives across the globe, the brown-banded cockroach can cause allergic reactions in humans as it exists where human habitation is present.

Smokybrown cockroach

Smokybrown cockroaches are large in size; around 3 centimeters in length. They are dark brown in color and have a shiny appearance. These cockroaches are common in Japan and the southern United States. They can also be found in Australia where the warm climate suits them.

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

Cockroaches exist throughout the world and they are here to stay. As you can see from these common types of cockroach, this is not 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.