German Cockroaches vs. American Cockroaches – Which Is Which?

Cockroaches are probably one of the most reviled pests around: they look gross, they eat your food, and they can carry diseases. In extreme cases, they even bite! This is one bug you absolutely do not want taking up residence in your home.

Side note: You can learn more about how roaches spread diseases in How cockroaches spread disease and what you can do about it.

There are many types of cockroaches, including American, German, Asian, Oriental, brown-banded, Cuban, Australian, Florida woods, smoky brown, Surinam, and wood. Fortunately for Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky residents, only a few of these are common to the area: American, German, brown-banded, and Oriental.

Do you know how to tell which roach is which? The pest control approach you take will depend on which roach has invaded your home—making it important that you can tell the difference.

Below, we describe the four most common cockroaches, including what they look like and how to get rid of them.

American Cockroach

American cockroaches are typically up to three inches long and dark brown or reddish-brown in color, with a yellow band behind their head. They have wings and can fly. They have two antennae and six legs. This type lays eggs in a capsule that is about 1.5 inches long and brown in color.

Common signs of an American cockroach infestation are live bugs, egg capsules (often found under cabinets or behind appliances), and roach droppings (ridged, black, and blunt in appearance). Serious infestations can also produce a “musty” odor in the home.

The American cockroach is the most common culprit in home infestations across the country. It enters a house in search of food and water, flattening its body to fit through any crack or crevice. Once inside, it will typically reside in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or basement.

Getting rid of American cockroaches is an ongoing process, as they can reproduce quickly. To make your home less hospitable to roaches, never leave food out overnight—even pet food! The food in your pantry should be kept in re-sealable plastic or metal bins. All spills should be cleaned immediately, and dishes should be done as soon as possible. Possible points of entry, such as worn-out weather stripping on doors, should be sealed.

Learn more about the American cockroach in our pest library.

German Cockroach

German cockroaches are smaller than American cockroaches, usually reaching about half an inch in length. Adult roaches are light brown in color with two black stripes right behind their head. They have wings, though they rarely fly. Their egg capsules are light brown in color.

The most common signs of a German cockroach infestation are the pepper-like droppings that they leave on countertops and around cracks in walls. Because German cockroaches are small, live bugs are seen less often; however, you may see them in kitchens, bathrooms, and other moist areas of the house where they like to reside.

German cockroaches reproduce particularly quickly. This, in combination with their size, means that an infestation is almost always larger than it appears. For this reason, professional help and multiple treatments are often required. Like American cockroaches, they can be discouraged from taking up residence in your home by keeping food cleared away and sealing cracks and crevices.

Learn more about the German cockroach in our pest library.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches are small, usually a little less than half an inch long, with fully developed wings. They are light brown in color and get their name from the brown bands spanning the wings and abdomen. The egg capsule laid by this cockroach is very small and yellow-brown.

Brown-banded cockroaches, unlike other types, do not need as much moisture. Because of this, they are more often found in living areas and bedrooms. You may find them in closets, pantries, electronic equipment, and even picture frames. They are nocturnal, so they are less likely to be seen. The tell-tale sign of a brown-banded cockroach infestation is the presence of droppings, usually smeared along crown moldings or around ceiling light fixtures.

Extermination methods for the brown-banded cockroach will be like those of the German cockroach, as they are similar in size.

Learn more about the brown-banded cockroach in our pest library.

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroaches range from one to two inches in length and are dark-brown or reddish-brown in color (although they may appear black in low light). Unlike other cockroaches, they have wings that look too small for their body. The egg capsules laid by this type of cockroach are large (larger than the American cockroach) and dark brown.

Oriental cockroaches are sometimes called “water bugs” because of their affinity for moisture and damp locations. Live bugs and their droppings are seen in bathrooms, basements (especially around sump pumps), and crawl spaces.

This type of cockroach requires a different approach than others; sources of dampness and moisture must be eliminated in order to make the home inhospitable for Oriental cockroaches. This might mean fixing leaky plumbing and/or properly ventilating damp areas in addition to using baits, traps, or insecticide (contact a professional for help).

Learn more about the Oriental cockroach in our pest library.

Cockroaches are small, fast, and difficult to exterminate. Because cockroaches are such a danger to your home and health, it helps to have a professional on your side.

Concerned you might have a roach infestation on your hands? Contact ScherZinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.