How to Identify Cockroaches

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Cockroaches can be a menace in homes, hospitals, warehouses and restaurants. Almost all species of cockroach can transmit illness-causing bacteria. Follow these steps to identify cockroaches.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Size up the insect. Cockroaches are medium to large insects with broad, flat bodies and long antennae.

  2. 2

    Look for wings. Once cockroaches have matured, they develop thin, membrane-like wings. Not seeing wings? It might be a nymph, which is a younger, less mature cockroach that has not yet developed wings.

  3. 3

    Identify the species. The insect might be a German cockroach if you found it inside. The German cockroach likes warm, moist areas like kitchens and bathrooms and frequently shows up in multi-family dwellings like apartment buildings. Find it in the basement or near water drains? It might be an oriental cockroach, a species that likes cooler, wetter places. Find your cockroach in the attic or in your garage? It might be the smoky brown cockroach; nymphs of this species sometimes have white segments on their antennae and on their backs which makes them a bit more recognizable. Or, if you found your cockroach outside, it may be an American cockroach, especially if you live in a warm, humid area and you found your cockroach near a sewer grate.

Tips and warnings

  • You need to correctly identify the species of cockroach that you are dealing with in order to figure out how to eliminate your cockroach problem.
  • If you have a cockroach issue, store food in airtight containers and keep your trash in a sealed container.
  • Many people confuse cockroaches and beetles; one of the main differences is seen in the wings.
  • A wide variety of options are available for eliminating (or, at the very least, controlling) cockroaches.
  • You will need to be quick if you think you have German cockroaches; they reproduce more rapidly than most other species.
  • In order to get rid of cockroaches, you need to find all of the locations where they are living.

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