Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches: Surprising Mimics to Watch Out For

Cockroaches can be a cause for concern when spotted in homes or other spaces, but not every bug that resembles a cockroach is the real deal. In fact, there are numerous bugs that look similar to cockroaches, often causing confusion and panic for those who come across them. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of critters that may be mistaken for cockroaches, arming you with the knowledge to accurately identify them.

Some of these bugs imitate the appearance of cockroaches due to their similar color, size, and shape. Knowing the distinctions between these insects and cockroaches can save homeowners unnecessary stress as well as time and effort spent on extermination efforts. Keep reading to learn more about the bugs that look like cockroaches and how to tell them apart.

Common Bugs that Look Like Cockroaches

Water Bugs and Giant Water Bugs

Water bugs and giant water bugs, often mistaken for cockroaches due to their similar appearance, can be differentiated by their habitat and size. Water bugs, prefer moist and dark environments, while giant water bugs are aquatic insects found in ponds or slow-moving waters.

Features:

  • Water bugs: dark brown color, oval body shape, about 1 inch long, a pair of strong forelimbs for catching prey
  • Giant water bugs: up to 4 inches long, elongated body, light brown color, powerful jaw for catching prey

Crickets and Palo Verde Beetles

Crickets and Palo Verde beetles are often confused with cockroaches, but can be distinguished by size and habits. Crickets are smaller, nocturnal insects, typically found outdoors, while Palo Verde beetles can grow up to 3 inches long, feed on tree roots, and are attracted to lights at night.

Characteristics:

  • Crickets: brown, black, or green color, large back legs for jumping, long antennae, chirping sounds
  • Palo Verde beetles: dark brown or black, strong jaws, spiked antennae, large size

Oriental and German Cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches and German cockroaches are two common cockroach species. Oriental cockroaches are darker and larger, while German cockroaches are smaller and have dark stripes on their heads.

Comparison:

Feature Oriental Cockroach German Cockroach
Size 1 to 1.25 inches 0.5 to 0.625 inches
Color Dark brown to black Tan to light brown
Stripes None Dark stripes on head

Termites and Ants

Termites and ants, both resembling cockroaches, have different body structures and habitats. Termites feed on wood, while ants prefer sweet foods and nesting in various environments.

Identifiable Features:

  • Termites: broad waist, straight antennae, wings equal in length
  • Ants: narrow waist, bent antennae, different sized front and hind wings

Bed Bugs and Earwigs

Bed bugs and earwigs, though similar to cockroaches, are much smaller and exhibit unique features. For example, bed bugs are small, flat, and reddish-brown, while earwigs have elongated bodies and noticeable pincers.

Characteristics:

June Bugs and Click Beetles

June bugs and click beetles, often mistaken for cockroaches, can be differentiated by their hardened wing-covers or flattened bodies. June bugs are nocturnal beetles attracted to lights, while click beetles get their name from the clicking sound they make when flipping over.

Features:

  • June bugs: green or brown metallic color, stout rounded body, nocturnal habits
  • Click beetles: elongated, flattened bodies, brown or black, clicking mechanism

Carpet Beetles and Wood-Boring Beetles

Carpet beetles and wood-boring beetles, although similar in appearance, have distinct habits and habitats. Carpet beetles are primarily indoor pests, feeding on fabric and other materials, while wood-boring beetles are known to damage wooden structures.

Characteristics:

  • Carpet beetles: oval bodies, small size, varied colors and patterns, feed on fibers
  • Wood-boring beetles: cylindrical body shape, range of sizes, long antennae, tunnel through wood

Identifying Features of Bugs and Cockroaches

Size and Color

  • Cockroaches: Typically 0.7 to 3 inches, dark brown or reddish-brown.
  • Bugs: Vary in size and color, depending on the type of bug.

Both cockroaches and other bugs have diverse size and color ranges. For example, German cockroaches are usually 0.5 to 0.6 inches long and light brown.

Antennae and Wings

Feature Cockroaches Bugs
Antennae Long, thread-like Vary in length & shape
Wings Membranous or absent Some have, some don’t

Cockroaches have long, thread-like antennae while other bugs may have varying antennae shapes. For instance, beetles have shorter, clubbed antennae.

Behavior and Habitat

Cockroaches:

  • Nocturnal: prefer dark places.
  • Moisture-loving: often found in damp environments.

For example, American cockroaches are commonly found in sewers. Bugs, on the other hand, can differ in behavior and habitat.

Health Concerns and Prevention

Diseases and Allergens

Cockroaches are known to carry various diseases and allergens. For example, they can potentially spread food-borne pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. Additionally, their feces, saliva, and shed skin can trigger asthma and allergic reactions.

Some ways to reduce allergens from cockroaches include:

  • Regular cleaning
  • Vacuuming with a HEPA filter
  • Sealing food in airtight containers

Cockroach Infestations

Cockroach infestations are common, especially in schools and other public spaces. There are various types of cockroaches, such as the German cockroach, which is the most prevalent in the United States. Preventing infestations is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment.

Some prevention methods include:

  • Regular inspections
  • Proper sanitation
  • Sealing cracks and gaps

Pros and cons of common prevention methods:

Method Pros Cons
Chemical pesticides Effective Health hazards
Traps Non-toxic Less effective
Natural repellents Eco-friendly Limited scope

Remember, a combination of these practices can help keep cockroach populations under control and maintain public health.

Control and Detection Methods

Sticky Traps and Insecticides

Sticky traps are an effective method for detecting and capturing pests that resemble cockroaches, such as waterbugs, and actual cockroaches. To use, simply place the traps in areas where these insects may be present, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

Insecticides can also be utilized to address infestations, but it’s essential to select a product specifically made for the targeted pest. Always follow the directions on the insecticide label for the best results.

Features of sticky traps:

  • Easy to use
  • Non-toxic
  • Requires occasional replacement

Features of insecticides:

  • Effective for eliminating pests
  • Chemical composition
  • Requires caution during application

Pros and Cons of Sticky Traps vs. Insecticides

Method Pros Cons
Sticky Traps Non-toxic, easy to use Need replacement, less effective for large infestations
Insecticides More effective for treating large infestations Can be toxic, requires specific selection and careful usage

Tips for Keeping Bugs Out of the Home

Here are some quick tips to help prevent pests like cockroaches from entering your home:

  • Keep your living space clean and tidy
  • Seal all cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and foundations
  • Eliminate food sources by storing food in airtight containers and removing any leftover food debris
  • Fix any water leaks in pipes and appliances, as pests are attracted to moisture

By taking these measures, you can minimize the chances of attracting bugs that resemble cockroaches and actual cockroaches to your home.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Cockroaches from the Philippines

 

cave invertebrates

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #1

Location: Lanao del Norte, Philippines
November 15, 2010 1:12 am
i would like to ask a help to identify these specimen. i collected these invertebrates from the cave in the Philippines. i find it hard to identify them because i have no standard taxonomic keys and other references. Please kindly help me because they are needed to be identify for my thesis. I hope for your help, as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration.
Signature: immediately

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #2

These invertebrates are needed to be identify for my thesis. Please, kindly help me. I hope i could have the answers as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your cooperation.
Signature: immediately

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #3

Dear immediately,
While we sympathize with your thesis dilemma, we have an ethical issue with doing your homework.  We know that researching and writing is very labor intense, but this thesis is your research project and you need to do the research.  You have submitted 9 images that you want us to identify and you have indicated that this is critical information for your project, yet you will get credit for the thesis without doing the necessary research work.  Six of nine images you submitted are Cockroaches and they represent several different species, though it appears some may be nymphs and adults of the same species.

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #4

It would probably take us many hours to properly identify all of your Cockroaches, and even then we may not be able to provide conclusive identifications.  We did find this comment posted on a Cockroaches of the Philippines web page:  “Oh and by the way there are several species of roaches found in the philippines and some of them are worth a fortune abroad but most of these species do not dwell ion human homes”.

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #5

Dear whatsthatbug.com,
First, I would like to say thank you for at least looking at the pictures of my specimen but i would like to inform you that i’m doing my research work regarding the identification of the specimens that is why i surfed the net to look for information and pictures of invertebrates that might help me. As i said in my letter to the bugman, i have no standard taxonomic keys and other references about invertebrates that could help me identify the specimens. I surfed the net to research about the topic and find references and then I saw your site – thats when i thought that this site could be my reference and could help me identify the specimens. I even thought that it’s okay to send the pictures though they were considered critical information for my thesis. I still hope that i can identify the specimens with the help of internet.
But i still would like to extend my thanks for giving it a try and also for your time. Thank you.

Dear immediately,
We have posted several of your photos and you are free to post a comment to our readership requesting additional assistance.  Your other creatures are a Huntsman Spider and a Camel Cricket and Snails, but we have no idea of the species, nor did we have any luck, as you yourself have seen, with any information on cave dwellers from the Philippines.  Perhaps some experts will write in with identifications.  Again, you are advised to post a comment to the postings we have made with your photos as that will ensure that whenever someone writes in with information, you will be informed.

Ed. Note: Caves are habitats that may provide the isolation needed for the evolutionary production of unique species.  Perhaps we were a bit harsh in our original response to immediately who might be doing important research on what might turn out to be new species that are currently unclassified.  Since we are not scientists, we would prefer that professionals take the reins from here.  If you are able to provide any information on these Cockroaches or on the other specimens posted from Lanao del Norte, Philippines, please post a comment.

Letter 2 – Female Turkestan Cockroach

 

Subject: Big Bug
Location: Las Vegas NV
July 29, 2012 7:11 pm
Found this thing by my back door. Its 1 1/2 inch.
Signature: VegasSmitty

Female Turkestan Cockroach

Dear VegasSmitty,
This is a female Turkestan Cockroach, and we first posted images of this introduced species last year.  Males have wings and look more like typical Cockroaches.  According to BugGuide, the Turkestan Cockroaches were:  “introduced to the US in the late 1970s, presumably by military personnel returning from the Middle East” and they are found in “semi-arid to arid desert areas, in water meter boxes, cracks between blocks of poured concrete, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, and sewer systems.”

Letter 3 – Dusky Cockroach, we believe

 

Subject: Found on my shower curtain
Location: Maryland
May 27, 2017 5:23 pm
Help! I found this bug scattering around my shower curtain. It is spring/summer and I live in Maryland outside of D.C.
Signature: Michelle

Dusky Cockroach

Dear Michelle,
This is a Cockroach, but it does not look like one of the species that typically infests homes.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a Dusky Cockroach,
Ectobius lapponicus, a species that according to BugGuide is:  “native to Europe (widespread), adventive in NA” and “earliest record in our area: NH 1984 (Chandler 1985).” iNaturalist has images of it crawling on leaves, so we suspect this individual just found its way into your home and it will not cause an indoor infestation.  According to ResearchGate:  “Adult and nymph males are typically found on low-lying vegetation, while females are more often found in leaf litter and decaying wood (Roth and Willis 1960).  That does not seem like behavior of a home infesting Cockroach.  Of the entire genus, BugGuide notes:  “Abundant in European forests, moorlands, scrubby woodland margins, and rough grasslands, mostly on the ground under dead leaves, among bracken ferns, in grass and moss, on lower branches of small trees and shrubs, and also in coastal habitats (sea cliffs, sand dunes, beaches).”

 

Letter 4 – Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Bathroom and kitchen floors
January 12, 2016 8:06 pm
I called the landlord and told them we had bugs… The exterminator said there was no sign of. Bugs, so I am leaving them this Baggie witht the ones I caught after 3 minutes of being home today…
Signature: Please Help!

Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca
Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca

These are hatchling Cockroaches and they have emerged from the Ootheca or egg case that is also pictured.  The female Cockroach carries around the ootheca until she finds an appropriate place to leave it where the hatchlings will have a good chance of surviving.  We believe based on this BugGuide image that you have German Cockroaches, one of the most prevalent species that infest homes.

Letter 5 – Egyptian Desert Roach

 

what’s this insect?
Location: alexandria, Egypt
August 6, 2011 5:49 pm
can you please help me identify this insect i found on the kitchen groud walking quikly yesterday.
Signature: MiGo

Egyptian Desert Roach

Hi MiGo,
This is a female Egyptian Desert Roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca.  This is not a species that will infest your home.  You can read all the previous research we did on the Egyptian Desert Roach in this posting from our archives.

Letter 6 – Cockroach with Ootheca

 

Is this bug a cochroach?
November 6, 2009
Hi. I live in Westfield, NJ and over the passed month we’ve been finding these little bugs that move pretty fast around the house. Usually in the living room or kitchen. We’re not sure if they are cochroaches or not but we’ve laid a couple of bait traps around the house. So far we’ve spoted/killed around 8 this month.
What do you think? Thanks!
Michael
Union County, NJ

Cockroach with Ootheca
Cockroach with Ootheca

Hi Michael,
Your photo shows a female Cockroach with her ootheca or egg case.  She is lacking the two parallel longitudinal dark streaks on the pronotum that identify a German Cockroach, so we are uncertain what species of Cockroach you have.  Your letter indicates that you have a species that infests homes, and the German Cockroach would be a likely candidate except for the markings.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify the species of Cockroach for you.

Suggestion from Eric Eaton
Daniel:
Wow, I have no idea.  I’d suggest contacting Dr. (?) Betty Faber at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.  She knows roaches very well and will surely recognize this one.  I’ll be interested to know myself!
Eric

Letter 7 – Cockroach: Family Cryptocercidae

 

Beetles, I think…
Hi!
All 61 pages of beetles on your amazing site have been viewed to no avail. Thought I had one of these beetles (they are beetles, right?) identified on BugGuide but, alas, no. The first, the long solid black one with the chunky hind legs, was moving very quickly on the front porch wall one day last summer. … Any ideas? I’d love to be able to name them properly.
Thank you,
R.G. Marion
East Tennessee

Cockroach
Cockroach

Hi Again R.G.
We thought your other insect looked like a Cockroach, more specifically, a Cockroach in the Family Cryptocercidae as pictured on BugGuide. We wrote to Eric Eaton to get his opinion, and here is what he wrote back: “Daniel: Your ID of Cryptocercidae is right on! This must be from somewhere in the Appalachians, as the species has a disjunct distribution: Pacific Northwest and Appalachia. Then it picks up again in Japan or something. LOL! I’m serious. Eric”

Letter 8 – Cockroach Ootheca

 

eww-theca
greetings bugman! here for you i have a picture of an ootheca which you i thought you might like to put on your ‘eggs’ page. when i first found it i had no idea what it was, and was touching it way more than i would’ve had i known what creature it came from! gross. after searching ‘brown egg case’ a picture came up that sent shivers down my spine, for it was of the ootheca still attached to its mother roach. i understand roaches are important for the environment, but that didnt stop me from throwing it over my neighbors fence. they’ll probably find their way back to me anyway, they always seem to. thanks!
ps- sorry about the cat hair!

Thank you so much for adding to our archive with your awesome Cockroach Ootheca.

Letter 9 – Cockroach Sculpture by Cesar Crash

 

Bug Art
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
January 26, 2012 7:35 am
Here is my last creation. I let it hangin’ on my bed. Isn’t it adorable?
Signature: Cesar Crash

Cockroach Sculpture by Cesar Crash

Hi Cesar,
Thanks for reminding us that you have submitted other insect sculptures.  We will need to search the archive and categorize them as Bug Art.  Does this Cockroach Sculpture scare away the real roaches which we are guessing are much smaller than this in Brazil?

It have only scared humans till now! Thank God I have no problems with cockroaches at home. The only ones that appear are those burrowing crusty ones. And some wild roaches that have no fear for humans.
Perhaps it will attract a giant Ampulex compressa!

Letter 10 – Cockroach with Ootheca

 

Subject:  Please identify this insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Conroe, TX
Date: 06/11/2018
Time: 03:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please tell me what this is?  Thank you for your time and assistance.
How you want your letter signed:  Mary Luc

Female Cockroach with Ootheca

Dear Mary Luc,
This is a female Cockroach (sorry we can’t determine the species from this camera angle) and she is expelling an ootheca or egg case.

Letter 11 – Cockroaches

 

Mr. Bugman,
I have consulted your website and now know that my home is harboringAmerican Cockroaches. These bugs absolutely disgust my daughter and I. Welive in northeast Oklahoma and we’ve occupied our home for two years. Wejust started noticing them at the beginning of summer (around the end ofMay). I haven’t seen an abundance of them but what I have seen isdisturbing. I’ve spotted one coming from under the washer, one in mydaughter’s bathroom (not that I’ll ever tell her) and two coming out fromunder the kitchen sink. I’ve also noticed them prowling around outside myhouse in larger numbers (around screens and such). Will these things dieoff when winter really kicks in or should I consider extermination? I usedabout half a can of RAID trying to kill one of them and that is verydiscouraging. Will it actually be worth my money to get an exterminatorfor these things? I will have to move out and leave all my belongingsbehind if I can’t get rid of them any other way! Where did theabominations come from to begin with and how did they get in my house?They fly for crying out loud! Please give me some much needed advise.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Grossed out in Tulsa

Dear Grossed Out,
Regarding the origin of the "abominations", I think it is best to quote Sutherland who writes "If the test of nobility is antiquity of family, then the cockroach that hides behind the kitchen sink is the true aristocrat. He does not date back merely to the three brothers that came over is 1640 or to William the Conquerer. Wherever there have been great epoch-making movements of people he has been with them heart and soul, without possessing any particular religious convictions or political ambitions. It is not so much that he approves of their motives as that he likes what they have to eat. Since ever a ship turned a foamy furrow in the sea he has been a passenger, not a paying one certainly, but still a passenger. But man himself is but a creature of the last twenty minutes or so compared with the cockroach, for, from its crevice by the citchen sink, it can point its antennae to the coal in the hod and say: ‘When that was being made my family was already well-established’."
I’m sure that is no consolation, but roaches are well evolved and will most surely outlive man on this planet. I think extermination is overkill, not to mention that it just produces stronger more resistant bugs. Their numbers will decrease in the winter, but you can be assured that somewhere they will survive the cold and return the following summer. For now, squash the ones you see.

Letter 12 – Cockroaches

 

Dear WTB,
I found myself in a debate over the Labor Day weekend as to whether or not Los Angeles’ famous creepy crawlers are in fact cockroaches. My friend who grew up in New York kept referring to them as water bugs. As a life-long Southern Californian, I say la cucaracha! What do you say? Oh, and I’m refering to both the small brown ones and the big black ones. I tried to search online for a photo but I got too ooged out to continue. Oh, and is it true that the cockroackes will rule the earth long after we’re gone?
signed,
curiously strong in silver lake

Dear Curiously Strong.
Cockroaches never gave up the earth. If you want to really be creeped out, just try watching the film Mimic (soon to be posted as a review on this site). Yes, those waterbugs are roaches, in fact the Oriental Cockroach, Blatta orientalis. We have a roach comparison photo on our roach page.

hi again
thanks a whole bunch for taking your time to research that bug for me. the picture and description of the bug you sent fit perfect. anyway you guys are
great and thanks again

Letter 13 – Cockroaches

 

Are cockroaches known spreaders of disease? That is my only question, because they certainly look like they would be, truly gruesome characters what with their greasy demeanor and inquisitive antennae.
Having spent much time in South East Asia, you will be pleased to know I am sure, that I once was neighbor to a Thai girl who lived basically on a linolium floor. Thai’s eat on the floor. Lunch time, she would tap her foot, and one limping fellah, I guess it was a male I did not inqiure, would limp and dash across the floor from the vicinity of the bathroom, lodge itself next to her heal, and enjoy a lite meal, hand fed. She would then later tap her heel again, and the little fella (not so little) would limp and dash back to where he came from.
I personally am not particularly fond of cockroaches. However, I am beginning to respect the intelligence of insects, as I know you do, and whether or not you publish this is up to you.
But I knew you’d love to hear the story–and it is a true story. God bless you bug guys. New website for me thanx to Yahoo. See ya again soon. (Not the cockroach, you!)
Best regards,
frederick pavese

Dear Frederick,
Thank you for the sweet letter.
According to Hogue, "The importance of cockroaches in transmission of human diseases sems overrated, although most of the domiciliary species have been found capable of mechanically transmtting some disease organisms, especially dysentery bacteria." The key word here is mechanical transmission, meaning the roach must walk through a disease infested area before transmitting it to a person who puts dirty fingers into the mouth. Roaches are scavengers who help clean up dropped food, especially in the tropics where their large size prohibits huge numbers inside the home, unlike the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) which is the small, quick, light hating roach known to infest tenement slums and other high human population environments, including restaurants. I think that Thai girl’s pet sounds like a delightful companion.

Letter 14 – Cockroaches

 

It’s official.
There are flying cockroaches in New York City. One flew from the floor of my apartment to a table top before my eyes. If only it had been a hallucination. Once it was dead, I felt like I’d slayed a dragon.
What’s the best way to kill a flying cockroach? I’ve heard they have armor.
Becky

Dear Becky,
Squashing works fine since they do not have armor.
Thanks for the horrifying news.

Letter 15 – Cockroaches and Entomophobia

 

Why the ”ick” factor??
Location: NYC
March 9, 2011 8:39 pm
I am both fascinated and terrified of bugs. Your site has really increased my tolerance and awe of the insect world. I love reading about them, finding them but not touching them! I never fail to find myself ”itchy” whenever I am on your site- but I always come back to look and learn some more. All bugs are escorted out of my house now with the glass on magazine method. There is one exception to that rule and I must confess it to you- the nyc waterbug. My 6 foot, chiseled chinned husband is reduced to a squealing little girl at the sight of them and even the cat runs the other way. Why do these bugs send us into such hysteria? We don’t see them often in our home but they are regulars in the NYC underworld of the subway system. I have seen one of them part a crowd of hundreds of hardened, rush hour commuters. Will you speak to this atavistic, gut reaction to a creepy crawly water bug please?
Again, I hope to grow ever more tolerant of the beloved bug world.
Signature: The Lovely Mrs. Phillips

Cockroach

Dear The Lovely Mrs. Phillips,
We are happy to hear that your tolerance level for the lower beasts has increased because of your exposure to our website.  With regards to the “Ick” factor and entomophobia, we can only deduce that our collective unconsciousness has been affected by negative media coverage of Cockroaches.  The NYC Waterbug is a Cockroach.  The few species of Cockroaches that infest human homes can be very prolific and they are rarely found singly.  Pop culture shows like Fear Factor have also contributed to the entomophobia zeitgeist, and as a culture we have become conditioned to associate Cockroaches with filth.

Letter 16 – Cockroaches served with Pretzels in Manhattan

 

”Mustard” Bug
Location: Manhattan, NY, NY
August 8, 2011 8:17 pm
I bought a pretzel off of a vendor in Manhattan. He put it in a brown paper bag because I was going to take it to go. He didn’t have mustard packets available, but did have a warehouse sized size of yellow mustard on his stand. It’s August and has been consistently humid and a minimum of 85 degrees a day for over a month now. The bottle looked as though it had seen better days, but I figured, once I got upstairs to my office I’d wash my hands after touching it and eat my pretzel. So I proceeded to squeeze some mustard onto the side of the bag and carefully went upstairs, where I tore the bag apart to make a plate and mindlessly ate some pretzel as I worked on my computer. Half way through the pretzel I looked at my mustard and thought, ”what are those green things? Oh no, I hope there’s no dirt in the bag”….ugh! if only it was that good. I moved the ”green things” around and it turns out they were black worms or bugs or larva of some sort. with orange/yellow stripes, legs and antennas! I’m disgusted! I don’t know if it came from the mustard that’s probably been sitting on his cart since the winter, or if they originated from the paper bag and the mustard killed them. Please help me identify these things and let me know that I won’t get a parasite of some sort. I’ve attached pictures.
Signature: grossed out

Cockroach Nymphs

Dear grossed out,
Your pretzel vendor is serving immature Cockroaches with his pretzels.  We will be tagging your submission as one of the Worst Bug Stories Ever.

Letter 17 – Countdown 16 More Postings to the 20,000 Mark: Metamorphosis of a Cockroach

 

Subject: insect identification
Location: Sindh, Pakistan.
March 29, 2015 10:32 pm
I encounterd this insect in a public bathroom. I suspect it might be a cockroach but I have never seen anything like this. I do not know if the brown shell is another insect or an egg. I am very eager to know what insect this is.
Signature: Zayd M

Metamorphosis of a Cockroach
Metamorphosis of a Cockroach

Dear Zayd,
You witnessed the metamorphosis of a Cockroach.  Unlike the literary Franz Kafka version where a man is transformed into a Cockroach, the metamorphosis process is a natural means for insects and other creatures to grow and mature.  Insects and other Arthropods have hard exoskeletons that do not grow.  When the insect outgrows its exoskeleton, it molts, shedding the old skin, and then the insect expands in size.  In your image, the old exoskeleton is dark and the new exoskeleton is white and soft.  It will soon darken and harden and the Cockroach will be larger than before the metamorphosis.

Letter 18 – Fake Cockroach in Philadelphia

 

Subject:  Sidewalk in Philadelphia
Geographic location of the bug:  Philadelphia
Date: 04/27/2019
Time: 04:19 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi – I saw this beetle/roach on the sidewalk near a big belly trash can. It was big enough to fit in the palm of my hand.  It has no antennas or fuzz/fur on its legs.  It was totally smooth.  I’ve never seen this before and can’t find anything online.  Maybe you can help?
How you want your letter signed:  Ryan

Fake Cockroach

Dear Ryan,
How quickly did it move?  This sure looks like a fake Cockroach to us, like something might find on Small Scale World.

It didn’t move at all.  This crossed my mind but I didn’t think much of it because I have seen other bugs not move right away either
I thought it was fake too but wasn’t about to test that theory.
Ok thanks for your input!

Letter 19 – Family of Cockroaches

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Greenwood indiana
March 25, 2014 6:05 pm
I recently noticed one of these bugs and now they are in out cabinets and crawling out at nite they have not let out kitchen probably because I have sets traps which you see in the picture and other traps that our poison. I thought it was a cockroach but I think those are wings on them? However I have not seen them fly. And they come out more a night. Please help!!
Signature: Kendra

German Cockroach Family
German Cockroach Family

Hi Kendra,
You have an infestation of German Cockroaches,
Blattella germanica, and based on the family photo you included, they are multiplying.  See this photo on BugGuide for comparison.  German Cockroaches are probably the most pestiferous of the Cockroaches, and according to BugGuide:  “Omnivorous, eats just about anything edible” and “Like most cockroaches, the German Cockroach is nocturnal. It is a major pest of residential and commercial structures.  Some people can develop severe allergies to cockroach parts, feces, and oils.   Females carry the ootheca for up to a month, dropping it just before the eggs hatch.”

German Cockroach
German Cockroach

Letter 20 – Female Boll’s Sandroach

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: South Texas
July 8, 2017 10:30 pm
Found this creepy crawly while walking my dogs tonight. I have lived in this exact house for a majority of my life and have never seen a beetle like it. I have looked everywhere and cannot seem to identify it, it’s simple curiosity that has me asking. He was about the size of a quarter, fairly flat, a light gray color all over, his head was hidden from my view, he seemed to have sections similar to a pill bug. Hope you can help!
Signature: Brianna

Female Boll’s Sandroach

Dear Brianna,
This is not a Beetle.  It is a female Sandroach in the genus
Arenviga, probably Boll’s Sandroach which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings” and “Other related species occur in West and South Texas.”

Letter 21 – Female Cape Mountain Cockroach from South Africa

 

Subject: Cool brown and orange striped beetle
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
May 12, 2014 1:38 am
Hello Bugman!
It’s very exciting for me to have someone to turn to for identifying the super cool bugs that I’ve been finding. I try to do the research online and oftentimes I’m successful, but it’s such a relief to have support for those times I need help. Thank you.
This bug (beetle, I’m assuming) was found in the hills/mountains outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
Cheers,
Signature: Kenda

Cape Mountain Cockroach
Female Cape Mountain Cockroach

Hi Kenda,
This is not a beetle, but rather, a Cape Mountain Cockroach,
Aptera fusca.  According to iSpot, it is also known as a Giant Cockroach or Table Mountain Cockroach.  Since iSpot also has images of winged examples of the species, we suspect this is a sexually dimorphic female Cape Mountain Cockroach, or possibly a nymph that has not grown wings, but there are numerous other examples of Cockroaches with wingless females.  Looking at iSpot a bit more closely, it appears our guess that this is a wingless female is correct.

Funny. My husband was certain that little gal was a cockroach. Thank you for the info. I will be posting her pic along with another shout-out for What’s That Bug on an upcoming article.
Also, a friend of mine sent me a photo of a stick bug (he took the pic innSouth Africa) -it’s over a foot long. Is that something you would like me to share on your site?
Cheers,
Kenda

If you have your friend’s permission, we would love to post the Stick Insect.

Absolutely! He is happy to share!  I’ll do it now.
Cheers,
Kenda

Letter 22 – Female Florida Sand Cockroach

 

Subject: Scary Bug
Location: Tbilisi Georgia
April 13, 2016 4:38 pm
Can you please help me to identify this insect. it is around 2 cm.
Signature: public

Female Florida Sand Cockroach
Female Florida Sand Cockroach

Based on this BugGuide image, we believe this is a female Florida Sand Cockroach, Arenivaga floridensis.  Like other species in the genus, the male has wings and can fly while the female is flightless.

Female Florida Sand Cockroach
Female Florida Sand Cockroach

Letter 23 – Female Sand Cockroaches

 

Subject: Found bug
Location: Az
January 22, 2014 5:08 pm
Hi
We found this digging in the yard
Signature: Jenn

Female Sand Cockroaches
Female Sand Cockroaches

Hi Jenn,
These appear to be female Sand Cockroaches in the genus
Arenivaga, based on this photo on BugGuide.  These are outdoor species that do not infest homes.  See the genus page on BugGuide for more information.

Letter 24 – Female Turkestan Cockroach, we believe

 

Subject: School Project
Location: High Desert California
May 3, 2014 11:11 am
I was assigned a project to pin bugs and give their scientific names but I can’t find the name of this bug.
Signature: Confused Student

Female Turkestan Cockroach
Possibly Female Turkestan Cockroach

Dear Confused Student,
Though we have issues with doing homework projects, your email indicates that you have identified other specimens but this Cockroach is a remaining challenge. At first we thought this might be a  female Turkestan Cockroach,
Shelfordella lateralis, an Invasive Exotic species that exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism, that was allegedly “introduced to the US in the late 1970s, presumably by military personnel returning from the Middle East” according to BugGuide.  We first posted images of Turkestan Cockroaches in 2011.  Your individual appears to lack the “short whitish lateral dash at base of wing” which are a diagnostic characteristic, according to BugGuide.  This individual from BugGuide also lacks the lateral dashes at the base of the wings.  We will attempt to substantiate our tentative identification.

Letter 25 – Flightless, Female Sand Cockroach

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Fallon Nevada U.S.A.
April 4, 2017 9:37 pm
Found this bug on my carpet in my garage converted to computer room, could not ID it, please help.
Found April 4th, 2017
Signature: Brian.

So sorry, forgot to say the bug in my previous submission is 1/2 inch long

Flightless Female Sand Cockroach

Dear Brian,
This is a flightless, female Sand Cockroach in the genus
Arenivaga which you can verify by comparing your individual to this BugGuide image.  This is not a Cockroach genus that infests homes.  Males can fly and are attracted to lights.  According to Eric Eaton:  “Females are wingless and rarely surface from under the sand.”

Flightless Female Sand Cockroach

Thank you,
The area I am in is very sandy, I dug a tower footing 5.5 ft deep and it was still like a beach, we have had a lot of rain this year after years of drought, wonder if that is why this is the first time I have seen them.
Brian.

Letter 26 – Female Boll’s Sandroach with Ootheca

 

Subject: Roach or what?
Location: Georgetown Texas
July 16, 2015 9:46 pm
We found this in our house in Texas. Any ideas?
Signature: Jen

Female Boll's Sandroach with Ootheca
Female Boll’s Sandroach with Ootheca

Dear Jen,
While this is a Cockroach, the good news is that it is not a species that infests homes.  This female Boll’s Sandroach,
Arenivaga bolliana, is basically an outdoor species and she must have accidentally wandered into your home.  We would urge you to relocate her outside.  You can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings.  This large roach is also present in abandoned Atta texana [Texas leaf-cutter ant] tunnels and in chambers filled with nest refuse.”  Your female Boll’s Sandroach is carrying an ootheca or egg case.

Letter 27 – Furniture comes with Drawer full of Cockroaches

 

Subject: Bugs in Furniture
Location: Houston Texas
January 22, 2013 9:28 pm
I bought this furniture in Houston Texas and when I got it home it had these bugs in the drawers. I have been told they are wood roaches by one person and another said they are water bugs. I need to know what they are.
Signature: TexasGirl

Drawer Full of Cockroaches

Dear TexasGirl,
We do not believe these are Wood Roaches, though we will try to get a second opinion.  Wood Roaches are benign creatures that do not infest homes, and you can read more about them on BugGuide.  The person who told you they are Water Bugs, is trying not to alarm you or is living in denial.  Water Bug is a common name for the Oriental Cockroach, but these are not dark enough to be Oriental Cockroaches and you can see BugGuide for information on the Oriental Cockroach.  There are only a few species of Cockroaches that infest homes, and we believe this might be one of them.  Our best guess is that this is a clutch of immature American Cockroaches (See image from BugGuide) and you can read more about them on BugGuide.  Cockroaches that infest homes and buildings are sneaky critters that can come home in grocery store bags or loads of clean laundry.  Again, we will try to get a second opinion on your species.

Thanks for your response, the furniture has been stored in a Garage in Houston Texas for about three years..I left the furniture outside and have killed all of the living ones I could find but I am worried about eggs.  I will have to treat the furniture before I bring it inside.

Eric Eaton Confirms American Cockroach Nymphs
Daniel:
I agree these are nymphs of American Cockroach, Periplaneta americana.
Eric

Letter 28 – Cockroach Nymph from Malaysia

 

Subject: Unknown Bug
Location: Penang, Malaysia
November 13, 2016 4:29 am
Hey Bugman,
Can you identify this bug? I found it while hiking. It was very skittish.
Thanks again for your help!
Signature: Jon

Cockroach Nymph (higher resolution image)
Cockroach Nymph (higher resolution image)

Dear Jon,
Do you have a higher resolution file you can send?  The mouthparts on this insect look decidedly Orthopteran, and the lack of wings would indicate an immature specimen, but what is unusual to us is the morphology of the hind legs.  They are not as well-developed for jumping as in many Orthopterans.  We will begin researching this unusual critter’s identity soon.  The antennae are unusually thick at the base and after the distinctive white band, they taper off like threads.

Eric Eaton provides a correction.
Daniel:
This is the nymph of some kind of cockroach (Blattodea).
Eric

Update:  November 24, 2016
Subject: Re-upload
Location: Penang, Malaysia
November 24, 2016 6:14 am
Hey Bugman,
Here’s a better quality picture of the bug I showed you a while back. Thanks!
Signature: Jon

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Cockroaches from the Philippines

 

cave invertebrates

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #1

Location: Lanao del Norte, Philippines
November 15, 2010 1:12 am
i would like to ask a help to identify these specimen. i collected these invertebrates from the cave in the Philippines. i find it hard to identify them because i have no standard taxonomic keys and other references. Please kindly help me because they are needed to be identify for my thesis. I hope for your help, as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration.
Signature: immediately

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #2

These invertebrates are needed to be identify for my thesis. Please, kindly help me. I hope i could have the answers as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your cooperation.
Signature: immediately

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #3

Dear immediately,
While we sympathize with your thesis dilemma, we have an ethical issue with doing your homework.  We know that researching and writing is very labor intense, but this thesis is your research project and you need to do the research.  You have submitted 9 images that you want us to identify and you have indicated that this is critical information for your project, yet you will get credit for the thesis without doing the necessary research work.  Six of nine images you submitted are Cockroaches and they represent several different species, though it appears some may be nymphs and adults of the same species.

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #4

It would probably take us many hours to properly identify all of your Cockroaches, and even then we may not be able to provide conclusive identifications.  We did find this comment posted on a Cockroaches of the Philippines web page:  “Oh and by the way there are several species of roaches found in the philippines and some of them are worth a fortune abroad but most of these species do not dwell ion human homes”.

Unidentified Cave Cockroach from the Philippines #5

Dear whatsthatbug.com,
First, I would like to say thank you for at least looking at the pictures of my specimen but i would like to inform you that i’m doing my research work regarding the identification of the specimens that is why i surfed the net to look for information and pictures of invertebrates that might help me. As i said in my letter to the bugman, i have no standard taxonomic keys and other references about invertebrates that could help me identify the specimens. I surfed the net to research about the topic and find references and then I saw your site – thats when i thought that this site could be my reference and could help me identify the specimens. I even thought that it’s okay to send the pictures though they were considered critical information for my thesis. I still hope that i can identify the specimens with the help of internet.
But i still would like to extend my thanks for giving it a try and also for your time. Thank you.

Dear immediately,
We have posted several of your photos and you are free to post a comment to our readership requesting additional assistance.  Your other creatures are a Huntsman Spider and a Camel Cricket and Snails, but we have no idea of the species, nor did we have any luck, as you yourself have seen, with any information on cave dwellers from the Philippines.  Perhaps some experts will write in with identifications.  Again, you are advised to post a comment to the postings we have made with your photos as that will ensure that whenever someone writes in with information, you will be informed.

Ed. Note: Caves are habitats that may provide the isolation needed for the evolutionary production of unique species.  Perhaps we were a bit harsh in our original response to immediately who might be doing important research on what might turn out to be new species that are currently unclassified.  Since we are not scientists, we would prefer that professionals take the reins from here.  If you are able to provide any information on these Cockroaches or on the other specimens posted from Lanao del Norte, Philippines, please post a comment.

Letter 2 – Female Turkestan Cockroach

 

Subject: Big Bug
Location: Las Vegas NV
July 29, 2012 7:11 pm
Found this thing by my back door. Its 1 1/2 inch.
Signature: VegasSmitty

Female Turkestan Cockroach

Dear VegasSmitty,
This is a female Turkestan Cockroach, and we first posted images of this introduced species last year.  Males have wings and look more like typical Cockroaches.  According to BugGuide, the Turkestan Cockroaches were:  “introduced to the US in the late 1970s, presumably by military personnel returning from the Middle East” and they are found in “semi-arid to arid desert areas, in water meter boxes, cracks between blocks of poured concrete, compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, and sewer systems.”

Letter 3 – Dusky Cockroach, we believe

 

Subject: Found on my shower curtain
Location: Maryland
May 27, 2017 5:23 pm
Help! I found this bug scattering around my shower curtain. It is spring/summer and I live in Maryland outside of D.C.
Signature: Michelle

Dusky Cockroach

Dear Michelle,
This is a Cockroach, but it does not look like one of the species that typically infests homes.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a Dusky Cockroach,
Ectobius lapponicus, a species that according to BugGuide is:  “native to Europe (widespread), adventive in NA” and “earliest record in our area: NH 1984 (Chandler 1985).” iNaturalist has images of it crawling on leaves, so we suspect this individual just found its way into your home and it will not cause an indoor infestation.  According to ResearchGate:  “Adult and nymph males are typically found on low-lying vegetation, while females are more often found in leaf litter and decaying wood (Roth and Willis 1960).  That does not seem like behavior of a home infesting Cockroach.  Of the entire genus, BugGuide notes:  “Abundant in European forests, moorlands, scrubby woodland margins, and rough grasslands, mostly on the ground under dead leaves, among bracken ferns, in grass and moss, on lower branches of small trees and shrubs, and also in coastal habitats (sea cliffs, sand dunes, beaches).”

 

Letter 4 – Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Bathroom and kitchen floors
January 12, 2016 8:06 pm
I called the landlord and told them we had bugs… The exterminator said there was no sign of. Bugs, so I am leaving them this Baggie witht the ones I caught after 3 minutes of being home today…
Signature: Please Help!

Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca
Cockroaches Hatch from Ootheca

These are hatchling Cockroaches and they have emerged from the Ootheca or egg case that is also pictured.  The female Cockroach carries around the ootheca until she finds an appropriate place to leave it where the hatchlings will have a good chance of surviving.  We believe based on this BugGuide image that you have German Cockroaches, one of the most prevalent species that infest homes.

Letter 5 – Egyptian Desert Roach

 

what’s this insect?
Location: alexandria, Egypt
August 6, 2011 5:49 pm
can you please help me identify this insect i found on the kitchen groud walking quikly yesterday.
Signature: MiGo

Egyptian Desert Roach

Hi MiGo,
This is a female Egyptian Desert Roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca.  This is not a species that will infest your home.  You can read all the previous research we did on the Egyptian Desert Roach in this posting from our archives.

Letter 6 – Cockroach with Ootheca

 

Is this bug a cochroach?
November 6, 2009
Hi. I live in Westfield, NJ and over the passed month we’ve been finding these little bugs that move pretty fast around the house. Usually in the living room or kitchen. We’re not sure if they are cochroaches or not but we’ve laid a couple of bait traps around the house. So far we’ve spoted/killed around 8 this month.
What do you think? Thanks!
Michael
Union County, NJ

Cockroach with Ootheca
Cockroach with Ootheca

Hi Michael,
Your photo shows a female Cockroach with her ootheca or egg case.  She is lacking the two parallel longitudinal dark streaks on the pronotum that identify a German Cockroach, so we are uncertain what species of Cockroach you have.  Your letter indicates that you have a species that infests homes, and the German Cockroach would be a likely candidate except for the markings.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify the species of Cockroach for you.

Suggestion from Eric Eaton
Daniel:
Wow, I have no idea.  I’d suggest contacting Dr. (?) Betty Faber at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.  She knows roaches very well and will surely recognize this one.  I’ll be interested to know myself!
Eric

Letter 7 – Cockroach: Family Cryptocercidae

 

Beetles, I think…
Hi!
All 61 pages of beetles on your amazing site have been viewed to no avail. Thought I had one of these beetles (they are beetles, right?) identified on BugGuide but, alas, no. The first, the long solid black one with the chunky hind legs, was moving very quickly on the front porch wall one day last summer. … Any ideas? I’d love to be able to name them properly.
Thank you,
R.G. Marion
East Tennessee

Cockroach
Cockroach

Hi Again R.G.
We thought your other insect looked like a Cockroach, more specifically, a Cockroach in the Family Cryptocercidae as pictured on BugGuide. We wrote to Eric Eaton to get his opinion, and here is what he wrote back: “Daniel: Your ID of Cryptocercidae is right on! This must be from somewhere in the Appalachians, as the species has a disjunct distribution: Pacific Northwest and Appalachia. Then it picks up again in Japan or something. LOL! I’m serious. Eric”

Letter 8 – Cockroach Ootheca

 

eww-theca
greetings bugman! here for you i have a picture of an ootheca which you i thought you might like to put on your ‘eggs’ page. when i first found it i had no idea what it was, and was touching it way more than i would’ve had i known what creature it came from! gross. after searching ‘brown egg case’ a picture came up that sent shivers down my spine, for it was of the ootheca still attached to its mother roach. i understand roaches are important for the environment, but that didnt stop me from throwing it over my neighbors fence. they’ll probably find their way back to me anyway, they always seem to. thanks!
ps- sorry about the cat hair!

Thank you so much for adding to our archive with your awesome Cockroach Ootheca.

Letter 9 – Cockroach Sculpture by Cesar Crash

 

Bug Art
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
January 26, 2012 7:35 am
Here is my last creation. I let it hangin’ on my bed. Isn’t it adorable?
Signature: Cesar Crash

Cockroach Sculpture by Cesar Crash

Hi Cesar,
Thanks for reminding us that you have submitted other insect sculptures.  We will need to search the archive and categorize them as Bug Art.  Does this Cockroach Sculpture scare away the real roaches which we are guessing are much smaller than this in Brazil?

It have only scared humans till now! Thank God I have no problems with cockroaches at home. The only ones that appear are those burrowing crusty ones. And some wild roaches that have no fear for humans.
Perhaps it will attract a giant Ampulex compressa!

Letter 10 – Cockroach with Ootheca

 

Subject:  Please identify this insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Conroe, TX
Date: 06/11/2018
Time: 03:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please tell me what this is?  Thank you for your time and assistance.
How you want your letter signed:  Mary Luc

Female Cockroach with Ootheca

Dear Mary Luc,
This is a female Cockroach (sorry we can’t determine the species from this camera angle) and she is expelling an ootheca or egg case.

Letter 11 – Cockroaches

 

Mr. Bugman,
I have consulted your website and now know that my home is harboringAmerican Cockroaches. These bugs absolutely disgust my daughter and I. Welive in northeast Oklahoma and we’ve occupied our home for two years. Wejust started noticing them at the beginning of summer (around the end ofMay). I haven’t seen an abundance of them but what I have seen isdisturbing. I’ve spotted one coming from under the washer, one in mydaughter’s bathroom (not that I’ll ever tell her) and two coming out fromunder the kitchen sink. I’ve also noticed them prowling around outside myhouse in larger numbers (around screens and such). Will these things dieoff when winter really kicks in or should I consider extermination? I usedabout half a can of RAID trying to kill one of them and that is verydiscouraging. Will it actually be worth my money to get an exterminatorfor these things? I will have to move out and leave all my belongingsbehind if I can’t get rid of them any other way! Where did theabominations come from to begin with and how did they get in my house?They fly for crying out loud! Please give me some much needed advise.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Grossed out in Tulsa

Dear Grossed Out,
Regarding the origin of the "abominations", I think it is best to quote Sutherland who writes "If the test of nobility is antiquity of family, then the cockroach that hides behind the kitchen sink is the true aristocrat. He does not date back merely to the three brothers that came over is 1640 or to William the Conquerer. Wherever there have been great epoch-making movements of people he has been with them heart and soul, without possessing any particular religious convictions or political ambitions. It is not so much that he approves of their motives as that he likes what they have to eat. Since ever a ship turned a foamy furrow in the sea he has been a passenger, not a paying one certainly, but still a passenger. But man himself is but a creature of the last twenty minutes or so compared with the cockroach, for, from its crevice by the citchen sink, it can point its antennae to the coal in the hod and say: ‘When that was being made my family was already well-established’."
I’m sure that is no consolation, but roaches are well evolved and will most surely outlive man on this planet. I think extermination is overkill, not to mention that it just produces stronger more resistant bugs. Their numbers will decrease in the winter, but you can be assured that somewhere they will survive the cold and return the following summer. For now, squash the ones you see.

Letter 12 – Cockroaches

 

Dear WTB,
I found myself in a debate over the Labor Day weekend as to whether or not Los Angeles’ famous creepy crawlers are in fact cockroaches. My friend who grew up in New York kept referring to them as water bugs. As a life-long Southern Californian, I say la cucaracha! What do you say? Oh, and I’m refering to both the small brown ones and the big black ones. I tried to search online for a photo but I got too ooged out to continue. Oh, and is it true that the cockroackes will rule the earth long after we’re gone?
signed,
curiously strong in silver lake

Dear Curiously Strong.
Cockroaches never gave up the earth. If you want to really be creeped out, just try watching the film Mimic (soon to be posted as a review on this site). Yes, those waterbugs are roaches, in fact the Oriental Cockroach, Blatta orientalis. We have a roach comparison photo on our roach page.

hi again
thanks a whole bunch for taking your time to research that bug for me. the picture and description of the bug you sent fit perfect. anyway you guys are
great and thanks again

Letter 13 – Cockroaches

 

Are cockroaches known spreaders of disease? That is my only question, because they certainly look like they would be, truly gruesome characters what with their greasy demeanor and inquisitive antennae.
Having spent much time in South East Asia, you will be pleased to know I am sure, that I once was neighbor to a Thai girl who lived basically on a linolium floor. Thai’s eat on the floor. Lunch time, she would tap her foot, and one limping fellah, I guess it was a male I did not inqiure, would limp and dash across the floor from the vicinity of the bathroom, lodge itself next to her heal, and enjoy a lite meal, hand fed. She would then later tap her heel again, and the little fella (not so little) would limp and dash back to where he came from.
I personally am not particularly fond of cockroaches. However, I am beginning to respect the intelligence of insects, as I know you do, and whether or not you publish this is up to you.
But I knew you’d love to hear the story–and it is a true story. God bless you bug guys. New website for me thanx to Yahoo. See ya again soon. (Not the cockroach, you!)
Best regards,
frederick pavese

Dear Frederick,
Thank you for the sweet letter.
According to Hogue, "The importance of cockroaches in transmission of human diseases sems overrated, although most of the domiciliary species have been found capable of mechanically transmtting some disease organisms, especially dysentery bacteria." The key word here is mechanical transmission, meaning the roach must walk through a disease infested area before transmitting it to a person who puts dirty fingers into the mouth. Roaches are scavengers who help clean up dropped food, especially in the tropics where their large size prohibits huge numbers inside the home, unlike the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) which is the small, quick, light hating roach known to infest tenement slums and other high human population environments, including restaurants. I think that Thai girl’s pet sounds like a delightful companion.

Letter 14 – Cockroaches

 

It’s official.
There are flying cockroaches in New York City. One flew from the floor of my apartment to a table top before my eyes. If only it had been a hallucination. Once it was dead, I felt like I’d slayed a dragon.
What’s the best way to kill a flying cockroach? I’ve heard they have armor.
Becky

Dear Becky,
Squashing works fine since they do not have armor.
Thanks for the horrifying news.

Letter 15 – Cockroaches and Entomophobia

 

Why the ”ick” factor??
Location: NYC
March 9, 2011 8:39 pm
I am both fascinated and terrified of bugs. Your site has really increased my tolerance and awe of the insect world. I love reading about them, finding them but not touching them! I never fail to find myself ”itchy” whenever I am on your site- but I always come back to look and learn some more. All bugs are escorted out of my house now with the glass on magazine method. There is one exception to that rule and I must confess it to you- the nyc waterbug. My 6 foot, chiseled chinned husband is reduced to a squealing little girl at the sight of them and even the cat runs the other way. Why do these bugs send us into such hysteria? We don’t see them often in our home but they are regulars in the NYC underworld of the subway system. I have seen one of them part a crowd of hundreds of hardened, rush hour commuters. Will you speak to this atavistic, gut reaction to a creepy crawly water bug please?
Again, I hope to grow ever more tolerant of the beloved bug world.
Signature: The Lovely Mrs. Phillips

Cockroach

Dear The Lovely Mrs. Phillips,
We are happy to hear that your tolerance level for the lower beasts has increased because of your exposure to our website.  With regards to the “Ick” factor and entomophobia, we can only deduce that our collective unconsciousness has been affected by negative media coverage of Cockroaches.  The NYC Waterbug is a Cockroach.  The few species of Cockroaches that infest human homes can be very prolific and they are rarely found singly.  Pop culture shows like Fear Factor have also contributed to the entomophobia zeitgeist, and as a culture we have become conditioned to associate Cockroaches with filth.

Letter 16 – Cockroaches served with Pretzels in Manhattan

 

”Mustard” Bug
Location: Manhattan, NY, NY
August 8, 2011 8:17 pm
I bought a pretzel off of a vendor in Manhattan. He put it in a brown paper bag because I was going to take it to go. He didn’t have mustard packets available, but did have a warehouse sized size of yellow mustard on his stand. It’s August and has been consistently humid and a minimum of 85 degrees a day for over a month now. The bottle looked as though it had seen better days, but I figured, once I got upstairs to my office I’d wash my hands after touching it and eat my pretzel. So I proceeded to squeeze some mustard onto the side of the bag and carefully went upstairs, where I tore the bag apart to make a plate and mindlessly ate some pretzel as I worked on my computer. Half way through the pretzel I looked at my mustard and thought, ”what are those green things? Oh no, I hope there’s no dirt in the bag”….ugh! if only it was that good. I moved the ”green things” around and it turns out they were black worms or bugs or larva of some sort. with orange/yellow stripes, legs and antennas! I’m disgusted! I don’t know if it came from the mustard that’s probably been sitting on his cart since the winter, or if they originated from the paper bag and the mustard killed them. Please help me identify these things and let me know that I won’t get a parasite of some sort. I’ve attached pictures.
Signature: grossed out

Cockroach Nymphs

Dear grossed out,
Your pretzel vendor is serving immature Cockroaches with his pretzels.  We will be tagging your submission as one of the Worst Bug Stories Ever.

Letter 17 – Countdown 16 More Postings to the 20,000 Mark: Metamorphosis of a Cockroach

 

Subject: insect identification
Location: Sindh, Pakistan.
March 29, 2015 10:32 pm
I encounterd this insect in a public bathroom. I suspect it might be a cockroach but I have never seen anything like this. I do not know if the brown shell is another insect or an egg. I am very eager to know what insect this is.
Signature: Zayd M

Metamorphosis of a Cockroach
Metamorphosis of a Cockroach

Dear Zayd,
You witnessed the metamorphosis of a Cockroach.  Unlike the literary Franz Kafka version where a man is transformed into a Cockroach, the metamorphosis process is a natural means for insects and other creatures to grow and mature.  Insects and other Arthropods have hard exoskeletons that do not grow.  When the insect outgrows its exoskeleton, it molts, shedding the old skin, and then the insect expands in size.  In your image, the old exoskeleton is dark and the new exoskeleton is white and soft.  It will soon darken and harden and the Cockroach will be larger than before the metamorphosis.

Letter 18 – Fake Cockroach in Philadelphia

 

Subject:  Sidewalk in Philadelphia
Geographic location of the bug:  Philadelphia
Date: 04/27/2019
Time: 04:19 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi – I saw this beetle/roach on the sidewalk near a big belly trash can. It was big enough to fit in the palm of my hand.  It has no antennas or fuzz/fur on its legs.  It was totally smooth.  I’ve never seen this before and can’t find anything online.  Maybe you can help?
How you want your letter signed:  Ryan

Fake Cockroach

Dear Ryan,
How quickly did it move?  This sure looks like a fake Cockroach to us, like something might find on Small Scale World.

It didn’t move at all.  This crossed my mind but I didn’t think much of it because I have seen other bugs not move right away either
I thought it was fake too but wasn’t about to test that theory.
Ok thanks for your input!

Letter 19 – Family of Cockroaches

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Greenwood indiana
March 25, 2014 6:05 pm
I recently noticed one of these bugs and now they are in out cabinets and crawling out at nite they have not let out kitchen probably because I have sets traps which you see in the picture and other traps that our poison. I thought it was a cockroach but I think those are wings on them? However I have not seen them fly. And they come out more a night. Please help!!
Signature: Kendra

German Cockroach Family
German Cockroach Family

Hi Kendra,
You have an infestation of German Cockroaches,
Blattella germanica, and based on the family photo you included, they are multiplying.  See this photo on BugGuide for comparison.  German Cockroaches are probably the most pestiferous of the Cockroaches, and according to BugGuide:  “Omnivorous, eats just about anything edible” and “Like most cockroaches, the German Cockroach is nocturnal. It is a major pest of residential and commercial structures.  Some people can develop severe allergies to cockroach parts, feces, and oils.   Females carry the ootheca for up to a month, dropping it just before the eggs hatch.”

German Cockroach
German Cockroach

Letter 20 – Female Boll’s Sandroach

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: South Texas
July 8, 2017 10:30 pm
Found this creepy crawly while walking my dogs tonight. I have lived in this exact house for a majority of my life and have never seen a beetle like it. I have looked everywhere and cannot seem to identify it, it’s simple curiosity that has me asking. He was about the size of a quarter, fairly flat, a light gray color all over, his head was hidden from my view, he seemed to have sections similar to a pill bug. Hope you can help!
Signature: Brianna

Female Boll’s Sandroach

Dear Brianna,
This is not a Beetle.  It is a female Sandroach in the genus
Arenviga, probably Boll’s Sandroach which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings” and “Other related species occur in West and South Texas.”

Letter 21 – Female Cape Mountain Cockroach from South Africa

 

Subject: Cool brown and orange striped beetle
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
May 12, 2014 1:38 am
Hello Bugman!
It’s very exciting for me to have someone to turn to for identifying the super cool bugs that I’ve been finding. I try to do the research online and oftentimes I’m successful, but it’s such a relief to have support for those times I need help. Thank you.
This bug (beetle, I’m assuming) was found in the hills/mountains outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
Cheers,
Signature: Kenda

Cape Mountain Cockroach
Female Cape Mountain Cockroach

Hi Kenda,
This is not a beetle, but rather, a Cape Mountain Cockroach,
Aptera fusca.  According to iSpot, it is also known as a Giant Cockroach or Table Mountain Cockroach.  Since iSpot also has images of winged examples of the species, we suspect this is a sexually dimorphic female Cape Mountain Cockroach, or possibly a nymph that has not grown wings, but there are numerous other examples of Cockroaches with wingless females.  Looking at iSpot a bit more closely, it appears our guess that this is a wingless female is correct.

Funny. My husband was certain that little gal was a cockroach. Thank you for the info. I will be posting her pic along with another shout-out for What’s That Bug on an upcoming article.
Also, a friend of mine sent me a photo of a stick bug (he took the pic innSouth Africa) -it’s over a foot long. Is that something you would like me to share on your site?
Cheers,
Kenda

If you have your friend’s permission, we would love to post the Stick Insect.

Absolutely! He is happy to share!  I’ll do it now.
Cheers,
Kenda

Letter 22 – Female Florida Sand Cockroach

 

Subject: Scary Bug
Location: Tbilisi Georgia
April 13, 2016 4:38 pm
Can you please help me to identify this insect. it is around 2 cm.
Signature: public

Female Florida Sand Cockroach
Female Florida Sand Cockroach

Based on this BugGuide image, we believe this is a female Florida Sand Cockroach, Arenivaga floridensis.  Like other species in the genus, the male has wings and can fly while the female is flightless.

Female Florida Sand Cockroach
Female Florida Sand Cockroach

Letter 23 – Female Sand Cockroaches

 

Subject: Found bug
Location: Az
January 22, 2014 5:08 pm
Hi
We found this digging in the yard
Signature: Jenn

Female Sand Cockroaches
Female Sand Cockroaches

Hi Jenn,
These appear to be female Sand Cockroaches in the genus
Arenivaga, based on this photo on BugGuide.  These are outdoor species that do not infest homes.  See the genus page on BugGuide for more information.

Letter 24 – Female Turkestan Cockroach, we believe

 

Subject: School Project
Location: High Desert California
May 3, 2014 11:11 am
I was assigned a project to pin bugs and give their scientific names but I can’t find the name of this bug.
Signature: Confused Student

Female Turkestan Cockroach
Possibly Female Turkestan Cockroach

Dear Confused Student,
Though we have issues with doing homework projects, your email indicates that you have identified other specimens but this Cockroach is a remaining challenge. At first we thought this might be a  female Turkestan Cockroach,
Shelfordella lateralis, an Invasive Exotic species that exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism, that was allegedly “introduced to the US in the late 1970s, presumably by military personnel returning from the Middle East” according to BugGuide.  We first posted images of Turkestan Cockroaches in 2011.  Your individual appears to lack the “short whitish lateral dash at base of wing” which are a diagnostic characteristic, according to BugGuide.  This individual from BugGuide also lacks the lateral dashes at the base of the wings.  We will attempt to substantiate our tentative identification.

Letter 25 – Flightless, Female Sand Cockroach

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Fallon Nevada U.S.A.
April 4, 2017 9:37 pm
Found this bug on my carpet in my garage converted to computer room, could not ID it, please help.
Found April 4th, 2017
Signature: Brian.

So sorry, forgot to say the bug in my previous submission is 1/2 inch long

Flightless Female Sand Cockroach

Dear Brian,
This is a flightless, female Sand Cockroach in the genus
Arenivaga which you can verify by comparing your individual to this BugGuide image.  This is not a Cockroach genus that infests homes.  Males can fly and are attracted to lights.  According to Eric Eaton:  “Females are wingless and rarely surface from under the sand.”

Flightless Female Sand Cockroach

Thank you,
The area I am in is very sandy, I dug a tower footing 5.5 ft deep and it was still like a beach, we have had a lot of rain this year after years of drought, wonder if that is why this is the first time I have seen them.
Brian.

Letter 26 – Female Boll’s Sandroach with Ootheca

 

Subject: Roach or what?
Location: Georgetown Texas
July 16, 2015 9:46 pm
We found this in our house in Texas. Any ideas?
Signature: Jen

Female Boll's Sandroach with Ootheca
Female Boll’s Sandroach with Ootheca

Dear Jen,
While this is a Cockroach, the good news is that it is not a species that infests homes.  This female Boll’s Sandroach,
Arenivaga bolliana, is basically an outdoor species and she must have accidentally wandered into your home.  We would urge you to relocate her outside.  You can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings.  This large roach is also present in abandoned Atta texana [Texas leaf-cutter ant] tunnels and in chambers filled with nest refuse.”  Your female Boll’s Sandroach is carrying an ootheca or egg case.

Letter 27 – Furniture comes with Drawer full of Cockroaches

 

Subject: Bugs in Furniture
Location: Houston Texas
January 22, 2013 9:28 pm
I bought this furniture in Houston Texas and when I got it home it had these bugs in the drawers. I have been told they are wood roaches by one person and another said they are water bugs. I need to know what they are.
Signature: TexasGirl

Drawer Full of Cockroaches

Dear TexasGirl,
We do not believe these are Wood Roaches, though we will try to get a second opinion.  Wood Roaches are benign creatures that do not infest homes, and you can read more about them on BugGuide.  The person who told you they are Water Bugs, is trying not to alarm you or is living in denial.  Water Bug is a common name for the Oriental Cockroach, but these are not dark enough to be Oriental Cockroaches and you can see BugGuide for information on the Oriental Cockroach.  There are only a few species of Cockroaches that infest homes, and we believe this might be one of them.  Our best guess is that this is a clutch of immature American Cockroaches (See image from BugGuide) and you can read more about them on BugGuide.  Cockroaches that infest homes and buildings are sneaky critters that can come home in grocery store bags or loads of clean laundry.  Again, we will try to get a second opinion on your species.

Thanks for your response, the furniture has been stored in a Garage in Houston Texas for about three years..I left the furniture outside and have killed all of the living ones I could find but I am worried about eggs.  I will have to treat the furniture before I bring it inside.

Eric Eaton Confirms American Cockroach Nymphs
Daniel:
I agree these are nymphs of American Cockroach, Periplaneta americana.
Eric

Letter 28 – Cockroach Nymph from Malaysia

 

Subject: Unknown Bug
Location: Penang, Malaysia
November 13, 2016 4:29 am
Hey Bugman,
Can you identify this bug? I found it while hiking. It was very skittish.
Thanks again for your help!
Signature: Jon

Cockroach Nymph (higher resolution image)
Cockroach Nymph (higher resolution image)

Dear Jon,
Do you have a higher resolution file you can send?  The mouthparts on this insect look decidedly Orthopteran, and the lack of wings would indicate an immature specimen, but what is unusual to us is the morphology of the hind legs.  They are not as well-developed for jumping as in many Orthopterans.  We will begin researching this unusual critter’s identity soon.  The antennae are unusually thick at the base and after the distinctive white band, they taper off like threads.

Eric Eaton provides a correction.
Daniel:
This is the nymph of some kind of cockroach (Blattodea).
Eric

Update:  November 24, 2016
Subject: Re-upload
Location: Penang, Malaysia
November 24, 2016 6:14 am
Hey Bugman,
Here’s a better quality picture of the bug I showed you a while back. Thanks!
Signature: Jon

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

30 thoughts on “Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches: Surprising Mimics to Watch Out For”

  1. This is a female of an introduced (but not pest) species of European wood roaches, Ectobius pallidus. They can get into houses, but will not thrive there.

    Reply
  2. Up to now, I do not acquire enough and accurate information about these cockroaches.But i think these are not new species. anyway, i’m still hoping to get some information from the experts worldwide through internet.

    Reply
  3. I have not encountered any article stating that E. pilosa is present in the country. though it may be possible since the distribution of the species is around Indonesia (Sumatra); Malaysia (Malacca state); Indonesia (Java Island); Borneo Island. What is present in the country (esp. Luzon) is E. carunculigera.

    For the Blattidae, am working with few samples of somewhat same (morphologically) and identified it not as “Periplaneta” sp. but more of the “Dorylaea” sp.

    Reply
  4. I have not encountered any article stating that E. pilosa is present in the country. though it may be possible since the distribution of the species is around Indonesia (Sumatra); Malaysia (Malacca state); Indonesia (Java Island); Borneo Island. What is present in the country (esp. Luzon) is E. carunculigera.

    For the Blattidae, am working with few samples of somewhat same (morphologically) and identified it not as “Periplaneta” sp. but more of the “Dorylaea” sp.

    Reply
  5. In the last month I have killed 2 roach like similar to the one in the photo from NJ. Except they are not what I would identify as German roach and these fly. They actually have wings and fly. The two killed look exactly like the photo but have wings that seem to be smaller than you would expect. They do not fly for long distances probably no more than 2 feet, but boy they are fast. Now I have one I found dead this morning that apparently expired due to exterminator spray. As everyone know the south has a real problem with roaches because of the ideal climate for breeding. I wonder if this insect is a new introduced species?

    Reply
  6. hey Im a BSbiology student too and we are writing a thesis about cockroaches in the philippines, specifically in luzon only. Can i ask the scientific names of the most common household cockroaches here? thanks a lot

    Reply
  7. There are a lot of references that will lead you to that answer. If, for some very unimaginable reason you still fail to find it, look for cristian at the Museum of Natural History at UPLB

    Reply
  8. I found a female Tuckestan roach. I think I also saw a male, it looks like the female but with wings. Does it bites? They look like they came from space. My husband was in the Army, I guess they came with him years ago.

    Reply
  9. I just discovered my 7 lb dog hunting a nearly 4 inch (it gets bigger every tI me I think of it brown beetle she bug with wings, very elongated. Thankfully it was on its back and not able to flip over or I might have failed Ted or had a heart attack or both. Worse still, it was squeaking. I lived in Venezuela for 3 years and this thing rivaled almost anything I saw there, except for the poisonous centipedes. WHAT IS IT? And more importantly, why ME? My husband saw one a few days ago at the far end of the house. It’seems been extremely hot and humid here in NJ for 2-3 weeks. How do these things even get in the house? I’m 64 and I’ve never seen anything like it. Your help is appreciated and no, I didn’t get a picture but it didn’t look like a cockroach. I live in the country. Thank you

    Reply
  10. I found one in my in my restroom what do I need to do do I need to have my house sprayed because it was in the house is it going to put babies out or what

    Reply

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