Like most people, seeing a cockroach in your house warrants immediate extermination, regardless of what type of roach it is. There are thousands of species of cockroaches throughout the world with the United States home to quite a few of them. There are four common species found in our area: the German cockroach, the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, and the Oriental cockroach. While there are similar traits between all cockroach species (flat, oval-shaped bodies, quick speed, etc), there are significant differences between them that affect where they are found and how they are treated. Check out the differences between them, along with some tips for prevention:

American Cockroach

  • One of the larger species
  • Up to 1-1/2″ in length
  • Reddish-brown or brown in color
  • Light yellow bands around shield
  • Have wings and can fly
  • Prefer warm, dark environments
  • Frequently found in basements, crawlspaces, sewers, and drains
  • Eat anything
  • Contaminate anything they walk across

German Cockroach

  • Smaller species
  • About 5/8″ in length
  • Pale brown to caramel colored
  • Two dark stripes behind heads
  • Have wings, cannot fly
  • Prefer warm, moist habitats
  • Frequently found near dishwashers, stoves, and sinks
  • Widely varied diet but prefer meat, grease, and starch
  • Extremely difficult to get rid of

Oriental Cockroach

  • Also known as “water bug” or “black beetle”
  • Glossy brown or black in color
  • Up to 1-1/4″ in length
  • Cannot fly
  • Slower than other species
  • Prefer cool, dark, damp environments
  • Frequently found in basements, sewers, drains
  • Mostly feed on decaying organic matter

 Brown-Banded Cockroach

  • Smaller species
  • 2 light brown or yellow bands across bodies
  • Males and females have wings
  • Only males can fly
  • Prefer warm, dry, elevated environments
  • Frequently found in upper cabinets, behind pictures, or in hollows of furniture
  • Also gather near large appliances for heat
  • Eat starchy foods like envelope and stamp glue and paper
  • Jump when disturbed


Roaches can be extremely difficult to control. Practicing good sanitation habits in your home is a good first step to preventing a roach infestation. Here are some other prevention tips for cockroach control:

  • Keep pet food stored in sealed containers and don’t leave it out overnight.
  • Keep food sealed and stored properly, as well.
  • Keep kitchen surfaces free from food debris and crumbs.
  • Wipe down countertops often.
  • Sweep often.
  • Take out the trash frequently.
  • Clean in, around, and under appliances.
  • Check under sinks for leaks and drops.
  • Vacuum carpets and mop floors on a regular basis.
  • Keep basements and crawlspaces dry. Consider crawlspace enclosure to help prevent moisture buildup.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior.

As always, if you suspect you have a roach problem, contact a professional pest control company who can not only identify the species of cockroach you have, but also provide you with thorough extermination techniques and ongoing prevention measures.