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What Does a Cockroach Look Like?


The appearance of a cockroach depends on the species. The German cockroach is pale brown, about a half-inch long and has two dark brown stripes on the shield behind its head.  The American cockroach is larger, growing up to an inch and a half. The hue of this insect is more of a reddish brown, and the stripes on the shield behind its head are of a yellow or tan color. Both German and American adult cockroaches have wings, but only the latter tend to use them to fly.

Brownbanded Cockroach

The brownbanded cockroach is slightly larger than the German cockroach, but only the male gender of the species can fly. This breed also features male and female members that have a number of differentiating characteristics such as wingspan. The male’s wings cover the abdomen completely, while the female’s abdomen is only partly covered by its wings.

Oriental Cockroach

The Oriental cockroach grows up to an inch and a quarter, but in this case, the female has even shorter wings than the male, almost to the point of appearing under-developed.  The coloration of this species is of such a dark brown that they almost appear black to the naked eye.

North American Species

The German, American, brownbanded, and Oriental cockroaches are the four most common species of the insect in North America. There are many strains of cockroach in other parts of the world that are more colorful, predatory, and foreboding. But when it comes to North American homes and businesses, these insects are grubby looking and rather unremarkable as a whole. Overall, there are about 3,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, but only 55 of these can be found in the United States.



Washington State University – Cockroaches, Retrieved September 19, 2010 from

University of Minnesota – Cockroaches, Retrieved September 19, 2010 from

Texas Agricultural Extension Services – Cockroaches, Retrieved September 19, 2010 from


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