You are in the right place if you are wondering about some types of bugs that look like cockroaches. We will take you on a photo journey of eight kinds of bugs that look like roaches but aren’t.
First, it’s essential to understand that there are many different types of roaches, and they come in all sizes. There are even albino roaches when you catch one in the middle of a molt. We are here to help you learn how to identify bugs that look like cockroaches.
The German cockroach is the smallest, and the American cockroach is the largest of the semi-domestic roaches. So with such a wide range in size, it’s no wonder some bugs look like cockroaches to an untrained eye.
First, let’s answer the question, “what do cockroaches look like?”
What Do Cockroaches Look Like?
American Cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
An American roach is much larger than a German roach, reddish brown, has six legs, two antennae, and a yellow band that looks like a figure 8 on the back of its head.
The size of an adult American cockroach is over 32 mm. Sometimes the American roach is misidentified as a water bug.
Brown Banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
The brown-banded cockroach is 12.7 mm, light to dark brown, and has wings and two light-colored bands that run across its body. You can find these roaches in high areas such as cabinets, shelves, and even behind picture frames.
Furthermore, since they are nocturnal, hide in dark corners, and are smaller than the American roach, they are hard to notice.
German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)
The small German roach is between 11 and 16 mm; these pests will infest kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. A German cockroach is light brown and has six legs, two antennas, and two parallel black stripes on its back.
They can infest an apartment or home quickly as the female can produce up to 4,000 offspring in her lifetime. If you find German roaches in your kitchen, you must use cockroach proof containers for all of your food storage needs.
You’ll find German cockroaches near food and water sources. If you have these awful pests in your home, it’s essential to clean up any spills or crumbs immediately, as that is what attracts them. Learn what roaches like to eat here.
Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis Linnaeus)
An Oriental cockroach is a roach that can spread a lot of diseases. They are over 22 mm, and their size is between a German roach and an American roach.
Sometimes people call the Oriental cockroach a water bug. They are dark brown or almost black and have glossy bodies. They love feces and sewers, so their feet can transmit bacteria.
Smoky Brown (Periplaneta fuliginosa)
Although they are related to American cockroaches, some key differences exist. The thorax of the smoky brown is dark and shiny, whereas the American roach has a lighter thorax.
However, their size is over 31 mm, which is close in size to the American roaches. Keep in mind that sometimes people call the smokey brown a “water bug,” but an actual water bug is a different insect order.
Wood Roach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica)
A wood roach looks a lot like an American roach, and its size is between 12-30 mm in length. The wood roach is a light brown with a pale yellow color around the wing margin.
Wood roaches prefer the outdoors, although if you have a lot of clutter, especially boxes, they can infest your basement.
Furthermore, there are 12 different species of wood roaches; watch out because the males will fly towards the light. So if you are in their path, you may have one land on you.
What Is the Water Bug That Looks Like a Cockroach?
Many people mistake the American cockroach, Oriental roach, or Smokybrown for a water bug. These bugs can look like the actual water bug (Lethocerus americanus), a member of the order Hemiptera (the same order as bed bugs).
These water bugs are much more giant than cockroaches, usually 2 inches or 50 mm long. These giant water bugs can fly, live in water, and eat tons of mosquito larvae.
Since these are typical flying bugs that look like roaches, people often mistake them for cockroaches. Be aware that it can be pretty unsettling if one happens to fly at your head.
8 Types of Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches
Now let’s get started with our list of eight types of bugs that look like cockroaches but aren’t:
These insects are usually found near water sources and are attracted to lights at night. They vary in size from about ½ an inch to 2 inches long. (12.7 mm to 50 mm) Due to their size, people mistake them for all roaches except for German cockroaches.
Crickets have long antennae and hind legs that are adapted for jumping. Their long hind legs and lengthy antennas are why some people confuse them for a roach.
Critical Differences Between Crickets and Roaches
- Crickets jump, and roaches do not.
- A male cricket will make a chirping noise, whereas a male cockroach will not.
- A cockroach’s six legs are uniform in size, while a cricket has longer back legs that have a different angle.
- Cricket won’t infest a home like roaches. If you see cricket in your house, it’s probably just one that is lost.
Earwigs (Forficula auricularia)
These creepy crawlies get their name from the myth that they enter people’s ears while they sleep! They are fairly harmless to humans but can be a nuisance if they find their way into your home.
Their size and nocturnal nature are why they are one of the bugs that look like cockroaches, especially in the dark.
Earwigs are typically brown or black and have pincers on their rear end. They range from about ¼ of an inch to 1 inch long. (12 mm – 25 mm)
Keep in mind that earwigs, like roaches, are primarily nocturnal. The nocturnal nature is part of the reason why people confuse them with cockroaches.
While seeing something scurrying in the dark can be unsettling, it’s best to turn the lights on. Then you can determine if it’s a roach or earwig.
Critical Differences Between Earwigs and Roaches
- Earwigs have pincers on their abdomen, whereas roaches do not.
- The antenna of P. americana (American cockroach) has 140 segments; in contrast, an earwig’s antenna has ten segments.
- The lifespan of each insect differs; a roach will live for about four months to 2 years, while an earwig will live for about a year.
- A cockroach will encapsulate their eggs before laying them, but an earwig will lay the eggs directly into the soil.
Bed Bugs (Commonly Mistaken for one of the bugs that look like cockroaches)
Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and animals, and we find them in mattresses, bedding, or furniture. Bed bugs range in size from the just-born baby bed bugs, which are 1.5 mm, to the adults, which are 6 mm. They are small and flat in shape when they are unfed, allowing them to hide easily.
Many of our clients often confuse a roach nymph for a bed bug. Roaches are just one of the many bugs that look like bed bugs. If you find a bug that looks like a roach but is not sure, sends a photo to your local pest company. Often they can help you with an ID.
Critical Differences Between Bed Bugs and Roaches
- Roaches will scavenge and eat just about anything, whereas a bed bug only drinks blood.
- A bed bug is a parasite and needs another animal to survive, whereas a roach can survive without help.
- A bed bug has reduced forewings and does not fly, but many roach species can fly.
- Cockroaches bite and chewing mouthparts, whereas a bed bug has piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Learn the answer to “Do Bed Bugs Jump or Fly” here!
Stink Bugs (Brown Bug That Looks Like a Roach)
Stink bugs get their name from the fact that they secrete a foul-smelling liquid when they are threatened or disturbed. They are attracted to lights, and you’ll find them near windows.
If you find one of these brown bugs that look like a roach, do not panic. You can easily capture it and place it outside.
Stink bugs are typically Brown or black and have a shield-like shape. A brown marmorated stink bug in NY will range from about 17 mm to 19 mm long.
Critical Differences Between Stink Bugs and Roaches
- A stink bug can get into your home but won’t infest your kitchen like a roach.
- Adult stink bugs have five segments to their antenna, whereas a mature German cockroach will have around 94 components.
- A female cockroach will lay about 16 eggs simultaneously, but a stink bug can lay up to 28 eggs simultaneously.
- A stink bug is in the Hemiptera order (true bugs), but roaches are in the Blattodea order.
If you are finding stink bugs around your house, check out our other article, “Stink Bugs vs. Bed Bugs Bugs.”
Fleas (One of the Common Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches)
Recently one of my clients found a baby German roach nymph, but they were under the impression that it was a flea. I think they were confused because once they smashed the roach nymph, it was very slender, like a flea.
Since a flea is so tiny, the main roach it will be mistaken for is a German cockroach nymph. Roaches are just one of the many bugs that look like fleas.
Critical Differences Between Fleas and Roaches
- Fleas have powerful back legs which allow them to jump, but roaches do not.
- Like a bed bug, a flea is a parasite that feeds on blood, but roaches are opportunistic omnivores.
- Most roach species have wings. However, fleas do not.
- A flea has needlelike sucking mouthparts, whereas a cockroach has a biting and chewing mouth.
Keep in mind that flour beetles are tiny, but since they are a dark color, they can be mistaken for german roach nymphs. Grain beetles are attracted to flour, cereal, and other dry goods.
The flour beetle pests are red or brown in color and range in size from 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm long. Not only are they found in grains and stored food products, but sometimes you can find a flour beetle in your bed.
Furthermore the flour beetles are not typical bugs that look like roaches, but someone confuses them every once in a while.
Critical Differences Between Flour Beetles and Roaches
- A flour beetle is a lot smaller than most roach species.
- The red flour beetle can fly, whereas the confused flour beetle cannot. Most roach species fly except the german roaches, who prefer to run on all six legs.
- The lifespan of a flour beetle is up to three years, whereas insects will live up to two years at the most.
- Lastly the antenna of the flour beetle looks like a club, but a roaches does not.
People mistake a grasshopper for cockroaches because of their long legs and body shape. However, grasshoppers are usually green or brown and have a hard exoskeleton.
While we don’t think grasshoppers look anything like roaches, they are often one of the commonly mistaken bugs that look like roaches. They also have large eyes that sit on the sides of their head. Grasshoppers range from about 1 inch to 3 inches long (25 mm to 76 mm).
Critical Differences Between Grasshoppers and Roaches
- Grasshoppers are much more giant than roaches.
- A grasshopper has long hind legs for jumping, whereas cockroaches will have shorter legs for running.
- Likewise a grasshopper eats plants, including the leaves, stems, and seeds. On the other hand, roaches are omnivores and eat meat, plants, feces, and just about anything they encounter.
- Roaches can lay 200-300 eggs annually, whereas grasshoppers will lay around 100 eggs yearly.
Giant Water Bug
If you’ve seen a water bug (Lethocerus americanus) that looks like a cockroach, it’s probably the Giant water bug. These insects are not even in the same classification as roaches; they are in the order Hemiptera, which is the same as the bed bug order.
An actual water bug (Lethocerus americanus) is enormous (2 inches or 50 mm long) and much more significant than typical roaches.
Critical Differences Between Giant Water Bugs and Roaches
- The Giant water bug male will carry the eggs on his back. At the same time, roaches like the American cockroach will deposit the oothecae egg sac near a food source.
- Since the Giant water bugs can swim their back legs have flat paddles. The other land-dwelling roaches have back legs designed for running.
- While all roaches have the potential to bite, the Giant water bugs can give an excruciating bite due to the potent toxin they inject.
- There are about 30 cockroach species, but over 150 Giant water bug species.
What Are Some Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches in Michigan?
The actual water bug (Lethocerus americanus) is native to Canada; it is commonly seen in Michigan due to the lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers throughout the state. It is one of the flying bugs that look like roaches!
The Giant water bug is not the only bug that looks like a cockroach in Michigan; here are some other common pests:
Asian long-horned beetle
Termites (learn the differences between bed bugs vs termites)
As you can see, many types of bugs look like cockroaches in Michigan. While most of these insects are not cockroaches, someone can easily mistake for one with an untrained eye.
If you think you have found a cockroach or some other bug that looks like a roach in your home, it is always best to call a professional pest control company to have it correctly identified. Most roach treatments will involve an extensive cleanup and baiting.
Final Thoughts for “Bugs That Look Like Roaches”
As you can see, many types of bugs look like cockroaches but aren’t. So, before reaching for the insecticide, ensure you know what you’re dealing with. A little knowledge can save you time, money, and effort in the long run!