What’s the Difference?
The table below lays out the differences in these roaches. The illustrations, while rudimentary, are simply meant to help with the size comparisons.
Summary of Differences
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Small and elusive, German cockroach adults are only about 1/2 to 5/8 inches (13 to 16 mm) long.
Color: German cockroaches range in color from light brown or honey brown to tan, with females appearing darker than males.
Characteristics: In addition to its small size, the German cockroach is characterized by a pair of dark stripes that run parallel to each other down the back of the insect. Members of the common cockroach species boast fully developed wings, which the insects use to glide through the air for short distances on rare occasions. Females possess a broader abdominal section than males and thus appear larger.
The most common species of pest cockroach in the world, German cockroaches are small enough to fit into the tiniest crevices and seemingly appear out of nowhere. They prefer to live in warm, moist environments and are often found in kitchen or bathroom areas indoors. The prevalence of German cockroaches largely stems from their ability to produce more eggs and develop more rapidly than other cockroach species.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: The largest pest cockroach species, American cockroaches measure about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (38 to 51 mm) in length as adults.
Color: Reddish-brown in color, the American cockroach features a distinctive yellow pattern that marks the back of the head and helps distinguish the insect from other species of cockroaches.
Characteristics: American cockroaches are flattened and oval in shape, with fully developed wings that differ in length according to sex. The veiny and leathery appendages are as long as the abdomen on females and slightly longer on males. Despite possessing wings, American cockroaches are poor to moderate fliers and prefer to run instead. Nymphs resemble smaller, wingless versions of adults.
Larger in size than other common cockroach species, American cockroaches are regarded as peridomestic insects that typically live outdoors. However, during colder months, they sometimes move indoors to seek out warmer environments. The insects are closely associated with bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, and other commercial facilities involved in the preparation or storage of food, particularly in northern regions like the Mid-Atlantic. Like other pest cockroaches, the American cockroach can be a nuisance and, in the most serious cases, a carrier of various diseases.
Brown Banded Cockroaches
The brown-banded cockroach is one of the smaller cockroach species, with adults measuring approximately ½ inch in length. It is light to dark brown in color, with two light colored lateral bands across the wings and abdomen. These light bands are present on all stages and both sexes of cockroach, including nymphs (the young stages without wings). Both males and females have wings, but the females’ wings are short. When disturbed, males will readily fly, and all life stages may jump before scurrying away.
Oriental cockroaches, also known as black beetle cockroaches, are easily recognizable by their glossy black exoskeleton. These cockroaches typically measure around one inch in length, ranking as the second-largest among the common cockroach species (with the American cockroach being larger). As with all cockroach species prevalent in the area, Oriental cockroaches possess six spiky legs and a pair of elongated, slender antennae. The presence of wings depends on the cockroach’s gender: males sport short wings that cover most of their abdomen, while females remain wingless. It’s worth noting that despite having wings, male Oriental cockroaches do not commonly utilize them for flight.