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How to Identify Between German vs. American Cockroach

March 22, 2021
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Cockroaches are often associated with dirty places, which is why homeowners don’t want to see one crawling in their walls, kitchen, or bathroom. These pests contaminate food and spread diseases anywhere they go. But before grabbing a pesticide, it’s crucial to identify the cockroach in your home first.

So how is it possible to tell German and American cockroaches apart? Although they look similar at first glance, American cockroaches are bigger than German ones. They also prefer staying outdoors compared to German cockroaches who breed inside houses.

German vs. American Cockroach: What’s the Difference?

Cockroaches are a big problem to any home they invade because they carry different diseases and trigger allergies in some people. In a survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), around 63% of American households are also homes to cockroaches.

But getting rid of these pests is not easy. Aside from their ability to survive in the harshest conditions, cockroaches also breed rapidly. German and American cockroaches are the most common species of roaches to invade a home. Eliminating them effectively starts with determining which species is in the house. This allows the exterminator to decide which pest control method works best.

Here are some of the things to check to correctly identify which cockroach roams around the house:


Anyone unfamiliar with how different roaches look might think of American and German cockroaches as the same insect. However, these pests have subtle differences in their appearance, such as their color, that set them apart from each other.

American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) are the biggest cockroaches in the US. These pests grow around 1.5 to 2 inches long. They have a reddish-brown body and a yellowish thorax. American cockroaches have strong wings, so it’s possible to see them flying around from time to time.

German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) are much smaller at around 1/2 to 5/8 inch. Instead of the reddish-brown color, these pests are more tan and light brown. Another distinct feature that German cockroaches have is the dark parallel lines that run from the back of their head down to their wings. But unlike American cockroaches, German roaches don’t fly.


American cockroaches consume anything available to them. Some of them even eat paper, cloth, and hair. They’re particularly fond of decaying things, such as leaves, smaller insects, and fungi. When they get inside houses, they target the crumbs and sweets on the floor and under different appliances.

German cockroaches also eat just about anything, including garbage. These pests are fond of sweets, grease, and different meat products. They also eat book bindings, food crumbs, soap, and toothpaste.

Whether it’s a German or American cockroach, it’s nearly impossible to kill roaches by simply starving them. These cold-blooded creatures survive around up to one month even without food. However, they only live up to one week without water.


German cockroaches prefer staying indoors, which is why they’re commonly found inside houses. These pests are attracted to warm areas, such as under appliances. They also hide in the unchecked crevices in the walls around the house. Aside from the cracks on the walls and other common entry points around the house, German roaches also get inside when they manage to cling to bags, backpacks, boxes, and suitcases from infested sites.

On the other hand, American cockroaches are commonly found outside. They only start invading homes when they seek food, water, and warmth. These pests are usually found in the dark and damp parts of the house, like basements, utility rooms, crawlspaces, drains, bathrooms, sewer systems, and kitchens.


Another notable difference between these two species of cockroaches is their breeding habits. While they’re both capable of producing more offspring rapidly, American cockroaches only bear up to 800 offspring per year. Although this number is already too much to deal with, 800 nymphs pale compared to the 30,000 nymphs that German cockroaches produce yearly.

Female German cockroaches carry the egg capsule inside their bodies until they’re about to hatch. On the other hand, female American cockroaches glue the egg capsules onto suitable surfaces and cracks within the day they were formed.

Recommended Pest Control Approach

Different species of cockroaches require different pest control approaches. German cockroaches tend to be a bigger problem between the two because they frequently invade homes. Their population also increases rapidly in a short time. Some of the most effective pest control for this species of cockroaches are aerosols, baits, and perimeter sprays.

But when the temperature starts dropping outside, homeowners should be extra careful because American cockroaches might get inside their houses during cold months. They’re typically eliminated from a property using granular baits.

Cockroach Control by Positive Pest Management

Cockroach removal in a house is a challenging task that’s best left to the hands of a professional exterminator like Positive Pest Management. Our team of highly trained pest management professionals has the right tools and information needed to eliminate these pests and keep them from returning.

Positive Pest Management has the experience and expertise needed for different extermination situations. Call us at (800) 294 – 3130 to take care of your roach problems at home.

Read more: Why Do I Have Roaches in My Clean House?

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