Where Do Roaches Come From: A Friendly Guide to Their Origin

Roaches, or cockroaches, are pesky insects that seem to appear out of nowhere. As a homeowner, you might be wondering where these unwelcome visitors come from. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and by understanding their origins, you can better prevent and manage their presence in your home.

Roaches come from a variety of places, often seeking shelter, food, and water they need to survive. They can enter your home through cracks and crevices, floor drains, sewer pipes, or even hitch a ride in cardboard boxes and grocery bags. Among the most common species are the American, Oriental, and German cockroaches.

These insects are expert at hiding and reproducing, making them difficult to eliminate once they settle into your living space. Timing is crucial in roach prevention; by acting quickly and using appropriate control methods, you can limit their impact on your home and health.

The Origin of Cockroaches

Cockroaches are insects that have been around for millions of years. They are known for their incredible ability to adapt and survive in various environments. Let’s take a look at where these creatures come from and how they’ve managed to thrive in the habitats they’re found in today.

Believe it or not, cockroaches are actually ancient creatures that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Fossils have shown that they originated around 320 million years ago. Most of the cockroach species we come across today have evolved from these prehistoric insects.

One reason for their survival is their impressive adaptability. They can thrive in many different environments, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts and even in your home. Cockroaches have learned to be opportunistic, making the most of available resources. This adaptability has enabled them to thrive and spread across the globe.

When it comes to where roaches come from in an urban context like your home, it’s often a matter of them finding ways to enter through small gaps or cracks in the building. Once inside, they’re attracted to food sources and warmth, which is why they’re commonly found in kitchens or near heating sources.

To sum it up, cockroaches have a long history and a remarkable ability to adapt, making them both fascinating and notorious creatures. From their ancient beginnings to their current widespread presence, these insects have proven that they’re tough survivors who have mastered the art of adaptation.

Types of Roaches

German Cockroach

The German cockroach is the most common roach species found in homes, particularly in New Jersey. They are small, with a length of around 0.5 to 0.6 inches, and have a light brown color. These roaches can be identified by the two dark parallel stripes on their backs.

Pros:

  • Efficient at adapting to new environments
  • Can reproduce quickly

Cons:

  • Can cause allergies and asthma symptoms
  • Can contaminate food

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroaches are larger than German cockroaches, with a length of about 1 inch. They are dark brown or black in color, which makes them easy to distinguish from other common species. These roaches thrive in damp environments and are often found in basements, sewers, and drains.

  • Pros: *
  • Not as common in homes as other species
  • Cons: *
  • Attracted to damp environments, which can lead to water damage
  • May carry harmful bacteria

American Cockroach

American cockroaches are the largest of the four species listed here, with lengths of up to 1.6 inches. They have a reddish-brown color and a distinct yellow band behind their heads. These roaches prefer warm, humid environments and are often found in sewers and other damp spaces.

  • Pros: *
  • Not as common in homes compared to German cockroaches
  • Cons: *
  • Difficult to control due to their large size and ability to fly
  • Capable of spreading disease

Brown-Banded Cockroach

The Brown-Banded cockroach is a small species, with lengths of around 0.5 inches. Their name comes from the distinctive brown bands across their wings, which make them easy to recognize. Unlike other species, Brown-Banded cockroaches prefer drier environments and are often found in cabinets, closets, and other hidden spaces.

  • Pros: *
  • Not as closely associated with damp environments
  • Cons: *
  • Can hide in harder-to-reach areas
  • Able to spread bacteria and trigger allergies

Comparison Table

Species Size Color Preferred Environment Health Risks
German Cockroach 0.5 – 0.6 in Light brown Various, indoors Allergies, asthma, food contamination
Oriental Cockroach ~1 in Dark brown Damp, basements Bacteria, water damage
American Cockroach Up to 1.6 in Reddish-brown Warm, humid Disease, difficult to control (larger, can fly)
Brown-Banded ~0.5 in Brown bands Dry, hidden spaces Bacteria, allergies, harder-to-reach hiding spots

By knowing the differences between these common cockroach species, you can better understand where they might be hiding and take appropriate steps to address any infestations in your home.

How Roaches Enter Your Home

Roaches can find their way into your home through various entry points. For instance, they can sneak in through cracks in the walls and foundation. It is essential to seal any gaps you find to prevent roaches from making themselves at home in your space.

These pests can also enter through pipes, drains, and holes in and around your home. Be sure to inspect and fix any issues to reduce the likelihood of a roach infestation. Roaches often crawl through windows, especially if there are damaged screens. It’s important to repair or replace any worn-out screens to keep them out.

A more surprising entry point is your home’s sewer system. Roaches, especially the American cockroach, can travel through sewer drains and find their way into your home. Regularly cleaning your drains and ensuring their covers are secure will help.

Lastly, roaches could hitch a ride on your belongings. This often happens when their egg cases attach to items you bring inside. Be vigilant when you move things like bags, packages, or plants into your home, and always inspect them for signs of roaches.

Remember to:

  • Seal cracks in walls and foundation
  • Fix any damaged pipes, drains, or holes
  • Repair or replace worn-out window screens
  • Secure sewer drain covers and keep them clean
  • Inspect belongings for roach egg cases before bringing them inside

Roaches and Their Habitats

Roaches can be found in various locations, both indoors and outdoors. They generally thrive in damp, dark, and warm spaces. Let’s explore some common areas where roaches might be found.

Car: Roaches in your car can be quite unsettling. They can easily enter through open windows or vents, especially if there are food crumbs or spills inside.

House: Roaches often enter homes in search of food, water, and shelter. They can invade your kitchen, bathroom, basement, attic, and even furniture.

  • Kitchen: Roaches are drawn to food particles and spills on countertops and floors, as well as accumulated grease in appliances.
  • Bathroom: The moisture and dampness attract roaches to bathrooms, where they hide in cracks and crevices near plumbing fixtures.
  • Basement: Dark, damp basements provide an ideal habitat for roaches, particularly in cluttered areas or near water sources.
  • Attic: Roaches may infest attics with poor ventilation, especially if there are food sources or nesting materials present.
  • Furniture: Roaches can hide in upholstered furniture, especially if it’s near food sources or in a humid environment.

Ceiling: Roaches can also be found on ceilings, particularly if there are water leaks or damaged plaster that provide entry points.

In summary, roaches thrive in damp, dark environments with food sources nearby.

Roach Infestation Signs

One sign of a cockroach infestation is the presence of fecal matter, which can look like dark spots or smears. You might also find cast skins, egg cases, as well as live or dead cockroaches.

Roaches tend to be active at night, so if you spot them during the day, this is a clear indication of a heavy infestation. Roaches enjoy hiding in protected areas such as cracks and crevices.

To inspect your home for roaches, place traps in all corners of the room, especially in the kitchen. Position them behind the stove, refrigerator, and inside cabinets. This helps determine where roaches are entering your home.

Being aware of roach infestation signs helps you to address the issue promptly. Remember, the sooner you take action, the easier it is to eliminate them from your living space.

Favourite Hideouts of Roaches

Roaches are versatile creatures that can find shelter in various places. They love hiding in areas that provide sufficient food, moisture, and warmth. Here’s a brief overview of some favorite hideouts of roaches.

Cardboard and Cardboard Boxes
Roaches appreciate the warmth and darkness of cardboard materials. They can easily hide and breed between the layers of cardboard boxes. Make sure to remove unnecessary cardboard from your home.

Clutter
Your clutter provides ample hiding spots for roaches. They like untidy spaces, such as stacks of paper and piles of laundry. Keep your living area clean and organized to prevent them from finding suitable areas to nest.

Appliances
Kitchen appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves can be perfect homes for these insects. Roaches can live in the small gaps behind and under these appliances, and they have access to food particles. Regularly clean behind your appliances to deter roaches.

Crevices and Cracks
Roaches can squeeze into the smallest of spaces. Tight spots, such as wall crevices or gaps between baseboards, provide an ideal habitat. Seal any gaps you find with caulk to prevent them from entering your home.

Bullets

  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Clutter
  • Appliances
  • Crevices
  • Cracks

Mulch, Gutters, and Firewood
Roaches can also hide outdoors in your garden or yard. They can be found in mulch, gutters, and stacks of firewood. Maintain your outdoor area by regularly cleaning gutters, using less organic mulch, and storing firewood away from your home.

By understanding these favorite hideouts, you can make your home less inviting to roaches and maintain a cleaner, healthier living environment.

Roaches and Health Risks

Cockroaches are more than just a nuisance. They can pose health risks, including carrying food-borne pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. These pathogens can contaminate various surfaces, putting you at risk of getting sick.

Moreover, allergens from roaches can trigger asthma attacks. Their feces, saliva, and body parts contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in some people. You may experience coughing, sneezing, or wheezing when exposed to these allergens.

To safeguard your health, it’s essential to take steps to control and eliminate cockroaches. Some key strategies include:

  • Decluttering and cleaning your home regularly
  • Removing food and water sources
  • Using traps or pesticides
  • Sealing entry points like cracks and crevices

Remember, prevention is better than cure. So, maintain a clean environment and be vigilant about roach control to minimize health risks for you and your family.

Prevention and Control Methods

General Sanitation

One of the most effective ways to prevent roaches is by maintaining a clean environment. Here are some steps you can take to keep your home clean and free of unwanted pests:

  • Vacuum floors regularly to remove food crumbs
  • Wash dirty dishes immediately after use
  • Dispose of garbage regularly and use sealed trash cans
  • Keep food stored in sealed containers
  • Fix any leaky faucets to prevent excess moisture

By following these simple steps, you can greatly decrease the chances of attracting roaches. Keeping a clean home is an essential part of roach prevention.

Sealing of Entry Points

Another important step in roach control is sealing entry points. Roaches often enter homes through gaps and cracks. Examples of areas you should examine for potential entry points include:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Vents
  • Grocery bags

Use caulk or other appropriate sealants to close off any identified gaps. By sealing all entry points, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of roaches coming into your home.

Professional Pest Control

In some cases, a professional pest control service may be necessary for effective roach control. These companies can evaluate your situation and provide tailored treatments, such as bait stations or pesticide applications.

Some potential advantages of using professional pest control include:

  • Expert knowledge and experience
  • Access to specialized treatment options
  • Ongoing monitoring and prevention services

However, there may also be some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Cost of professional services
  • Possible need for multiple treatments

In conclusion, it’s essential to maintain a clean home, seal all possible entry points, and, if necessary, enlist the help of a professional pest control service. By taking these measures, you can effectively prevent and control roaches in your living space. Remember, prevention is key.

Getting Rid of Roaches

Home Remedies

Boric acid is an effective and inexpensive option for getting rid of roaches. Sprinkle a thin layer in areas where you have seen roaches, such as under appliances or in cabinets. However, be cautious when using boric acid, as it can be harmful to pets and humans if ingested.

Other home remedies include:

  • Placing sticky traps in strategic locations around your home
  • Sealing cracks and crevices where roaches might enter
  • Keeping your home clean and clutter-free to reduce hiding spots and food sources

Remember, no home remedy is foolproof, and you might still need professional help for severe infestations.

Professional Treatments

When dealing with a persistent roach problem, it’s often best to consult a pest control professional. They have access to stronger treatments and can help identify the sources of the infestation.

Some advantages of professional treatments are:

  • Access to stronger insecticides
  • Expertise in identifying and targeting roach hiding spots
  • Ongoing support to ensure the infestation is fully eradicated

Keep in mind that professional treatments can be costly, but they provide a more thorough solution for getting rid of roaches.

Method Pros Cons
Boric Acid – Inexpensive – Can be harmful if ingested by pets or humans
Sticky Traps – Environmentally friendly – May not be effective on large infestations
Professional Treatment – Expertise and strong insecticides – Can be expensive

In conclusion, both home remedies and professional treatments offer ways to get rid of roaches. Consider your specific situation and the severity of the infestation when choosing the best course of action. Remember to always follow safety precautions and consult professionals when needed.

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 – Cockroach from Israel is Egyptian Desert Roach

 

What kind of bug is this?
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
February 11, 2011 9:51 pm
Hi, I found this bug in my apartment in Israel and I assume it’s a beetle, but I can’t figure out what kind. Someone told me they thought these sting. Do you know what this is?
Signature: Curious

Egyptian Desert Roach

Dear Curious,
This is sure an unusual looking Cockroach.  The good news is that of the thousands of species of Cockroaches, only a few actually infest human dwellings, and this is not one of those.  The pestilent species have given a bad name to all Cockroaches.  Our initial web searches did not produce any matches to this primitive looking Cockroach, but perhaps one of our readers will have luck with a species identification.

Immediate Update:   Egyptian Desert Roach
After posting, we decided to search our own archive and we noticed a marked similarity between the pictured specimen and the Boll’s Sand Roach from Texas we posted last year.  We then searched the web for images of the family it belongs to, Polyphagidae, and we discovered a Polyphagidae web page with a photo of the Egyptian Sand Roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca.  The proximity of Israel to Egypt leads us to believe you may have encountered an Egyptian Desert Roach.  The Bugs in Cyberspace website describes the Egyptian Desert Roach as being:  “a very unusual roach species. Females look like large, rounded scarab beetles while males posess long, black wings. Feed them a little dried dogfood, fruits and vegetables. The photo included there would indicate that your individual is a female.  AllPet Roaches indicates that females have long back legs to ensure that they never get stuck on their backs as well as forelegs engineered for digging in the sand.

Letter 2 – Cape Zebra Cockroaches from South Africa

 

Stripy Cockroach Looking Bug With Tail
March 2, 2010
I found these 2 little bugs nesting happily underneath a computer on top of a plastic box. They were a pair, one with a long smooth hard black tail thing and the other without one. I’ve never seen anything like them before, can you tell me what they are? They look a little like trippy cockroaches to me. The house they were in is on the mountain, with the surrounding terrain mostly in it’s natural fynbos state. The room itself has a lot of damp in the walls which perhaps they like.
Jo
Fish Hoek, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Zebra Cockroaches

Hi Jo,
These are definitely Cockroaches, and not the species that are normally associated with home infestations.  They are actually quite pretty.  The tail on the one specimen is actually an ootheca or egg case.  In many species of Cockroaches, the female carries the ootheca about until she finds a suitable location for it.  We recently posted an image of  Cape Mountain Cockroaches from South Africa, but your species is different.  While attempting to unsuccessfully identify your species, we stumbled upon the All Pet Roaches page on Angelfire, though your species is not pictured.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist in this identification.

Cape Zebra Cockroach with Ootheca

Daniel and Jo:
They look like Cape Zebra Cockroaches (Temnopteryx phalerata). According to Wikipedia the Cape Zebra Cockroach is “is endemic to the Fynbos biome of the Western Cape province of South Africa”. The Field Guide to Insects of South Africa has a brief write-up and a photo if you scroll down. According to the Field Guide there are six other similar Temnopteryx species, all endemic to South Africa, so it could actually be another species in the genus. Regards.
Karl

Letter 3 – Cockroach from Korea

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: South Korea
May 16, 2014 1:13 pm
Hi, I found this guy in my room tonight. I live in South Korea and the weather has been in the low 80s now. I tried to get rid of it and it seemed a little fast. It doesn’t seem to be able to fly. It looked almost black, if not very dark brown. Thank you.
Signature: Amy

Cockroach
Cockroach

Dear Amy,
This is a Cockroach, more than likely male, and not recognizably a species that infests homes.  We will try to identify its species soon.
  Very few Cockroaches infest buildings, many are quite beautiful and colorful, and we think your individual is handsome.

Letter 4 – Cape Mountain Cockroach from South Africa

 

Armour-plated bug
April 7, 2010
Seen on 04/06/2010 at Silvermine near Cape Town alive but inactive in the National Park
Richard Tudor Price
Western Cape, South Africa

Cape Mountain Cockroach

Hi Richard,
The Cape Mountain Cockroach in your photograph is not one of the few species of Cockroaches that infests homes and gives the other relatives a bad reputation.  Just this January we ran another posting of this fascinating insect.

Hi Daniel and thanks for identifying the Cape Mountain Cockroach.
Cheers.
Richard

Letter 5 – Bush Cockroach from Australia

 

Unknown Insects
February 15, 2010
Please can you help me identify these insects, found in the garden during the summer months.
Chris Moran
Perth, WA, Australia

Bush Cockroach

Hi Chris,
Not all Cockroaches are pestiferous species that infest homes.  Some Cockroaches are actually quite beautiful and they would much rather live in a natural environment.  This Bush Cockroach, Ellipsidion humerale, is pictured on a Brisbane Insect website page.

Letter 6 – Cape Mountain Cockroaches from South Africa

 

Flat Orange and Black bug
January 9, 2010
I saw this starnge looking bug in rotten tree stumps in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa in December. The photo is the posterior, unfortunately I did not get to see the head end. Any idea what it is?
Thanks, Jon Cooper
Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Mountain Cockroaches
Cape Mountain Cockroaches

Dear Jon,
Though the photo does not provide the best angle for identification purposes, we thought this must be a species of Cockroach.  When we did a web search of “Cockroach South Africa”, we found a biodiversity page on life in Southern Africa with an image of the Cape Mountain Cockroach, Aptera fusca which states:  “The Cape Mountain Cockroach has an interesting biology in that the eggs mature and hatch inside the female so that she ‘gives birth’ to young. In this species the male is winged and the female wingless (hence the generic name meaning ‘without wings’)
.”  We found some photos online, and some dialog on pet blogs, but the only source of information on the Cape Mountain Cockroach we could quickly uncover was on Wikipedia which states:  “The Cape mountain cockroach, Aptera fusca is a giant cockroach which lives in the fynbos biome of the Western Cape region of South Africa. Adult females can be from 30 to 40 mm long. Males are slightly smaller, and have wings, which are absent in females. Unusually for insects, it gives birth to 18-24 live offspring and protects the young for a while after giving birth. When alarmed, it raises its abdomen into the air and squeaks loudly“.

Thanks for that Daniel,
I thought it was a cockroach at the time but my googling was not as successful as yours. Have looked at pictures on internet and I think you’ve got it right.
Thanks again,
Jon cooper

Letter 7 – Cave Cockroach from the Philippines

 

Subject: Cave cockroach
Location: Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines
May 29, 2017 9:13 am
Hi 🙂
Just curious what this cockroach is. I found this inside a cave in zamboanga del norte. I sent two pictures but its just one cockroach just flipped over.
Signature: With love

Cave Cockroach

Since you found it in a cave, and it is a Cockroach, we are content calling this a Cave Cockroach, but we decided to do some research.  We found an online article entitled Cockroaches (Insects, Blattodea) from caves of Polillo Island (Philippines), with description of a new species and there is an illustration identified as Ectobiidae:  Shelfordina sp., adult female that resembles your image.

Cave Cockroach

Thank you but it is different from Shelfordina sp. It has a beetle-like structure and it has those amber colored orb-like structures on its ventral area. I did a research and I think it’s more of an Ergaula capucina. I really appreciate your effort for responding quickly. 🙂

Letter 8 – Cave Cockroaches in Malaysia

 

White Cave Cockroach
Location:  (Black Cave) Gomantong Caves, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia.
September 19, 2010 9:15 am
I found this cockroach inside a huge dark cave. This white cockroach is exactly 33mm from it’s forehead to the tip of it’s tail (I had measured it). This is the only white cockroach I’ve seen in the cave. Is it a completely different cockroach species than the cockroaches around it or it is just an albino ?
Signature:  C.X. Wong

Newly Molted Cockroach in a Cave

Dear C.X. Wong,
We cannot tell you what species of Cockroach you encountered, but we can tell you that the white individual is not an albino.  It is a freshly molted individual, and when its exoskeleton hardens, it will resemble its fellow cave inhabitants in terms of coloration.

Letter 9 – Cockroach Extracted from Ear in Panama

 

Subject: Worst sci-fi nightmare- cockroach in ear
Location: Gamboa Panama
November 8, 2015 8:49 am
While out in the woods in Panama, a bug flew past me and into my ear. It was, as you can imagine, quite painful. We drowned the ear in water, and tried to aspirate it with an aspirator. Looking under a powerful light and it seemed like it was out. Nevertheless, the next day, I went to the doctor to get it checked out. Indeed, he saw it still in there, legs, wings, etc. It had burrowed around the corner of the ear canal and out of sight before it died by drowning.
We irrigated it, bringing out half after 10 efforts. Irrigated it more, and the front finally came into reach, and was plucked out by forceps.
The roach, likely initially attracted to the light of my headlamp.
I’m curious if you know which kind of roach this is.
Best,
Real Life Chekov
PS- As the bug split in half in the extraction, I’ve sent you one photo without the bottom half, another with it (and the detached leg) in their place, and finally, a photo that shows the doctor irrigating, and the bug after it got into reach.
Signature: Real Life Chekov

Medical Attention for Cockroach in Ear
Medical Attention for Cockroach in Ear

Dear Real Life Chekov,
Thanks for sending us an account of your harrowing encounter with a Cockroach in Panama.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to help you identify the species.  One of our contributors, Susan Lutz, once provided us a similar account with an insect entering her ear while filming a documentary on Headhunters in the Amazon of Ecuador.

Cockroach
Cockroach

Letter 10 – Cockroach found in Hotel Room

 

Subject: who is my friend?
Location: Nashville, TN
September 16, 2012 7:57 pm
Found this guy in my hotel room. Slow moving and peaceful. Gone when i got back in the evening. hope they didn’t exterminate.
Signature: curious

i found it!
on  your site…looks like a cave cockroach.
it was very pretty.

Cockroach

Dear curious,
This is indeed a Cockroach, but it is not a Cave Cockroach.  We may be wrong, but it looks more to us like an American Cockroach.  According to BugGuide:  ” They are significant pests throughout the world. They are not native to the Americas at all. They come from tropical Africa. They were probably transported to the Americas on slave ships.”

Letter 11 – Cockroach from Bosnia

 

Subject: Could you identify this bug?
Location: Bosnia and Hercegowina
July 25, 2017 12:49 am
Hi, I would like to know what bug is this that I found next to my bed. I’ll attach some photos bellow.
I live in Bosnia and Hercegovina, southeastern Europe.
Can you identify it?
Signature: Tomislav Sopta

Cockroach

Dear Tomislav,
This is some species of Cockroach.

Letter 12 – Cockroach from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  Armour-plated bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern Costa Rica rainforest
Date: 02/03/2019
Time: 09:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Sorry this picture is fuzzy. This bug is about 2” long, sitting on the floor at the exterior door jamb of the house we’re renting. Do we have to worry about it hurting us or our dog?  Thank you.
How you want your letter signed:  Sue

Cockroach

Dear Sue,
This is a Cockroach, probably a flightless female, and we are confident it is not a species that will infest homes (most species of Cockroaches prefer to live outdoors) nor will it pose any threat to you or your dog.  It looks similar to this individual pictured on BugGuide.

Wow! Thanks so much, Daniel. Fascinating! (and I’m glad it won’t infest the house)

Letter 13 – Cockroach from Kenya

 

Completely Stumped
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
January 9, 2011 10:08 am
Hi Daniel,
I don’t even know what family to start looking in for this one.
I’ve only seen it once. It was long after dark. Taken less than a month ago.
Signature: Zarek

Cockroach

Hi Zarek,
This is some species of Cockroach.  Only a few species of Cockroaches infest homes, but they have given a bad reputation to the thousands of benign Cockroaches around the world.

Wow.
Ok.  Most cockroaches I’ve seen in the US and in Kenya have always been very drab and plain looking.  The patterns on this one are beautiful.
Zarek

Letter 14 – Cockroach from Kenya

 

Subject: identification
Location: Kenya, Malindi
April 7, 2017 9:18 am
Hi there, I would need if possible an identification for the following two insects, one seems to be a moth and the other some type beetle (?). They came flying on a veranda at night close to a light and landed on the curtain where they stayed for long. In Kenya, Malindi (coast) , April the second 2017.
Signature: Joan

Cockroach

Dear Joan,
Your Moth is a member of the superfamily Noctuoidea which contains Owlet Moths and kin.  What you have mistaken for a beetle is a Cockroach.

Letter 15 – Cockroach from Peru

 

Subject:  This critter
Geographic location of the bug:  Peru (tambopata)
Date: 12/18/2017
Time: 10:59 AM EDT
Hello, a few nights ago I hid under my mosquito net (and took the photo of it from there) from this, and forgot to ask our guide what it was. Google isn’t providing answers! It was about 5cm long.
How you want your letter signed:  Any help appreciated, thanks, Lucy

Cockroach

Dear Lucy,
This is some species of Cockroach.

Letter 16 – Cockroach Hitching a Ride

 

Subject: Red / Black beetle? On car tire
Location: Marion IL
May 7, 2015 1:29 am
Found this on my tire about an hour after parking in Marion, IL…. Would really like more info on it.
Signature: J brewer

Cockroach
Cockroach

Dear J brewer,
We imagine these images of an immature Cockroach hitching a ride on a car might incite some paranoia.

Cockroach
Cockroach

Thank you for the quick response, no paranoia here as it has been a few months since this pic was taken and I have never experienced a cockroach infestation but had a childhood friend that lived in a roach infested trailer and that was just crazy…   I have never seen a cockroach infestation as out of control as they had allowed it to become.
Once again I appreciate your quick reply!!!
J Brewer

Letter 17 – Cockroach Metamorphosis in Vietnam

 

Subject:  A bug photo for you from Hội An
Geographic location of the bug:  Hội An, Vitenam
Date: 07/10/2019
Time: 07:21 AM EDT
Ed. Note:    Webmaster Daniel is currently on holiday in Vietnam and during a technical conversation with editor Daniel who was struggling as usual with technology, webmaster Daniel forwarded this image.
How you want your letter signed:  Daniel

Cockroach Metamorphosis

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the help today.  Now when I am on my conference, I will be able to identify and post submissions.  This is a molting Cockroach.  When insects shed their hard exoskeleton, the new exoskeleton is soft and needs time to harden.  Freshly molted insects are often white or pale in color.

Letter 18 – Cockroach from Zimbabwe

 

Subject: Strange Bug!
Location: Harare, Zimbabwe
September 22, 2013 11:16 am
Hi,
We saw this bug yesterday at around 20:00, in a house yard at Harare, Zimbabwe.
The size was about 1 cm for the body and 2 cm for the tail.
What is that???
Signature: African S.

Longhorned Orthopteran
Longhorned Orthopteran

Dear African S.,
This appears to be a member of the order Orthoptera, and it is probably a Shieldbacked Katydid.  Judging by the ovipositor, it is a female.  We hope by posting your photo, one of our readers may be able to assist with a species identification.

Dear Daniel Marlos,
Thank you for your quick and interesting answer!
I’ll keep following,
Yours,
Shira

Hi Shira,
One of our readers supplied a comment suggesting this might be a Blattid with an Ootheca, which translates to a Cockroach with an Egg Capsule.

Update:  Septmeber 27, 2013
After receiving a few comments, we agree that this is a Cockroach, but we have not had any luck finding any similar looking images on the internet.

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 – Cockroach from Israel is Egyptian Desert Roach

 

What kind of bug is this?
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
February 11, 2011 9:51 pm
Hi, I found this bug in my apartment in Israel and I assume it’s a beetle, but I can’t figure out what kind. Someone told me they thought these sting. Do you know what this is?
Signature: Curious

Egyptian Desert Roach

Dear Curious,
This is sure an unusual looking Cockroach.  The good news is that of the thousands of species of Cockroaches, only a few actually infest human dwellings, and this is not one of those.  The pestilent species have given a bad name to all Cockroaches.  Our initial web searches did not produce any matches to this primitive looking Cockroach, but perhaps one of our readers will have luck with a species identification.

Immediate Update:   Egyptian Desert Roach
After posting, we decided to search our own archive and we noticed a marked similarity between the pictured specimen and the Boll’s Sand Roach from Texas we posted last year.  We then searched the web for images of the family it belongs to, Polyphagidae, and we discovered a Polyphagidae web page with a photo of the Egyptian Sand Roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca.  The proximity of Israel to Egypt leads us to believe you may have encountered an Egyptian Desert Roach.  The Bugs in Cyberspace website describes the Egyptian Desert Roach as being:  “a very unusual roach species. Females look like large, rounded scarab beetles while males posess long, black wings. Feed them a little dried dogfood, fruits and vegetables. The photo included there would indicate that your individual is a female.  AllPet Roaches indicates that females have long back legs to ensure that they never get stuck on their backs as well as forelegs engineered for digging in the sand.

Letter 2 – Cape Zebra Cockroaches from South Africa

 

Stripy Cockroach Looking Bug With Tail
March 2, 2010
I found these 2 little bugs nesting happily underneath a computer on top of a plastic box. They were a pair, one with a long smooth hard black tail thing and the other without one. I’ve never seen anything like them before, can you tell me what they are? They look a little like trippy cockroaches to me. The house they were in is on the mountain, with the surrounding terrain mostly in it’s natural fynbos state. The room itself has a lot of damp in the walls which perhaps they like.
Jo
Fish Hoek, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Zebra Cockroaches

Hi Jo,
These are definitely Cockroaches, and not the species that are normally associated with home infestations.  They are actually quite pretty.  The tail on the one specimen is actually an ootheca or egg case.  In many species of Cockroaches, the female carries the ootheca about until she finds a suitable location for it.  We recently posted an image of  Cape Mountain Cockroaches from South Africa, but your species is different.  While attempting to unsuccessfully identify your species, we stumbled upon the All Pet Roaches page on Angelfire, though your species is not pictured.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist in this identification.

Cape Zebra Cockroach with Ootheca

Daniel and Jo:
They look like Cape Zebra Cockroaches (Temnopteryx phalerata). According to Wikipedia the Cape Zebra Cockroach is “is endemic to the Fynbos biome of the Western Cape province of South Africa”. The Field Guide to Insects of South Africa has a brief write-up and a photo if you scroll down. According to the Field Guide there are six other similar Temnopteryx species, all endemic to South Africa, so it could actually be another species in the genus. Regards.
Karl

Letter 3 – Cockroach from Korea

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: South Korea
May 16, 2014 1:13 pm
Hi, I found this guy in my room tonight. I live in South Korea and the weather has been in the low 80s now. I tried to get rid of it and it seemed a little fast. It doesn’t seem to be able to fly. It looked almost black, if not very dark brown. Thank you.
Signature: Amy

Cockroach
Cockroach

Dear Amy,
This is a Cockroach, more than likely male, and not recognizably a species that infests homes.  We will try to identify its species soon.
  Very few Cockroaches infest buildings, many are quite beautiful and colorful, and we think your individual is handsome.

Letter 4 – Cape Mountain Cockroach from South Africa

 

Armour-plated bug
April 7, 2010
Seen on 04/06/2010 at Silvermine near Cape Town alive but inactive in the National Park
Richard Tudor Price
Western Cape, South Africa

Cape Mountain Cockroach

Hi Richard,
The Cape Mountain Cockroach in your photograph is not one of the few species of Cockroaches that infests homes and gives the other relatives a bad reputation.  Just this January we ran another posting of this fascinating insect.

Hi Daniel and thanks for identifying the Cape Mountain Cockroach.
Cheers.
Richard

Letter 5 – Bush Cockroach from Australia

 

Unknown Insects
February 15, 2010
Please can you help me identify these insects, found in the garden during the summer months.
Chris Moran
Perth, WA, Australia

Bush Cockroach

Hi Chris,
Not all Cockroaches are pestiferous species that infest homes.  Some Cockroaches are actually quite beautiful and they would much rather live in a natural environment.  This Bush Cockroach, Ellipsidion humerale, is pictured on a Brisbane Insect website page.

Letter 6 – Cape Mountain Cockroaches from South Africa

 

Flat Orange and Black bug
January 9, 2010
I saw this starnge looking bug in rotten tree stumps in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa in December. The photo is the posterior, unfortunately I did not get to see the head end. Any idea what it is?
Thanks, Jon Cooper
Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Mountain Cockroaches
Cape Mountain Cockroaches

Dear Jon,
Though the photo does not provide the best angle for identification purposes, we thought this must be a species of Cockroach.  When we did a web search of “Cockroach South Africa”, we found a biodiversity page on life in Southern Africa with an image of the Cape Mountain Cockroach, Aptera fusca which states:  “The Cape Mountain Cockroach has an interesting biology in that the eggs mature and hatch inside the female so that she ‘gives birth’ to young. In this species the male is winged and the female wingless (hence the generic name meaning ‘without wings’)
.”  We found some photos online, and some dialog on pet blogs, but the only source of information on the Cape Mountain Cockroach we could quickly uncover was on Wikipedia which states:  “The Cape mountain cockroach, Aptera fusca is a giant cockroach which lives in the fynbos biome of the Western Cape region of South Africa. Adult females can be from 30 to 40 mm long. Males are slightly smaller, and have wings, which are absent in females. Unusually for insects, it gives birth to 18-24 live offspring and protects the young for a while after giving birth. When alarmed, it raises its abdomen into the air and squeaks loudly“.

Thanks for that Daniel,
I thought it was a cockroach at the time but my googling was not as successful as yours. Have looked at pictures on internet and I think you’ve got it right.
Thanks again,
Jon cooper

Letter 7 – Cave Cockroach from the Philippines

 

Subject: Cave cockroach
Location: Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines
May 29, 2017 9:13 am
Hi 🙂
Just curious what this cockroach is. I found this inside a cave in zamboanga del norte. I sent two pictures but its just one cockroach just flipped over.
Signature: With love

Cave Cockroach

Since you found it in a cave, and it is a Cockroach, we are content calling this a Cave Cockroach, but we decided to do some research.  We found an online article entitled Cockroaches (Insects, Blattodea) from caves of Polillo Island (Philippines), with description of a new species and there is an illustration identified as Ectobiidae:  Shelfordina sp., adult female that resembles your image.

Cave Cockroach

Thank you but it is different from Shelfordina sp. It has a beetle-like structure and it has those amber colored orb-like structures on its ventral area. I did a research and I think it’s more of an Ergaula capucina. I really appreciate your effort for responding quickly. 🙂

Letter 8 – Cave Cockroaches in Malaysia

 

White Cave Cockroach
Location:  (Black Cave) Gomantong Caves, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia.
September 19, 2010 9:15 am
I found this cockroach inside a huge dark cave. This white cockroach is exactly 33mm from it’s forehead to the tip of it’s tail (I had measured it). This is the only white cockroach I’ve seen in the cave. Is it a completely different cockroach species than the cockroaches around it or it is just an albino ?
Signature:  C.X. Wong

Newly Molted Cockroach in a Cave

Dear C.X. Wong,
We cannot tell you what species of Cockroach you encountered, but we can tell you that the white individual is not an albino.  It is a freshly molted individual, and when its exoskeleton hardens, it will resemble its fellow cave inhabitants in terms of coloration.

Letter 9 – Cockroach Extracted from Ear in Panama

 

Subject: Worst sci-fi nightmare- cockroach in ear
Location: Gamboa Panama
November 8, 2015 8:49 am
While out in the woods in Panama, a bug flew past me and into my ear. It was, as you can imagine, quite painful. We drowned the ear in water, and tried to aspirate it with an aspirator. Looking under a powerful light and it seemed like it was out. Nevertheless, the next day, I went to the doctor to get it checked out. Indeed, he saw it still in there, legs, wings, etc. It had burrowed around the corner of the ear canal and out of sight before it died by drowning.
We irrigated it, bringing out half after 10 efforts. Irrigated it more, and the front finally came into reach, and was plucked out by forceps.
The roach, likely initially attracted to the light of my headlamp.
I’m curious if you know which kind of roach this is.
Best,
Real Life Chekov
PS- As the bug split in half in the extraction, I’ve sent you one photo without the bottom half, another with it (and the detached leg) in their place, and finally, a photo that shows the doctor irrigating, and the bug after it got into reach.
Signature: Real Life Chekov

Medical Attention for Cockroach in Ear
Medical Attention for Cockroach in Ear

Dear Real Life Chekov,
Thanks for sending us an account of your harrowing encounter with a Cockroach in Panama.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to help you identify the species.  One of our contributors, Susan Lutz, once provided us a similar account with an insect entering her ear while filming a documentary on Headhunters in the Amazon of Ecuador.

Cockroach
Cockroach

Letter 10 – Cockroach found in Hotel Room

 

Subject: who is my friend?
Location: Nashville, TN
September 16, 2012 7:57 pm
Found this guy in my hotel room. Slow moving and peaceful. Gone when i got back in the evening. hope they didn’t exterminate.
Signature: curious

i found it!
on  your site…looks like a cave cockroach.
it was very pretty.

Cockroach

Dear curious,
This is indeed a Cockroach, but it is not a Cave Cockroach.  We may be wrong, but it looks more to us like an American Cockroach.  According to BugGuide:  ” They are significant pests throughout the world. They are not native to the Americas at all. They come from tropical Africa. They were probably transported to the Americas on slave ships.”

Letter 11 – Cockroach from Bosnia

 

Subject: Could you identify this bug?
Location: Bosnia and Hercegowina
July 25, 2017 12:49 am
Hi, I would like to know what bug is this that I found next to my bed. I’ll attach some photos bellow.
I live in Bosnia and Hercegovina, southeastern Europe.
Can you identify it?
Signature: Tomislav Sopta

Cockroach

Dear Tomislav,
This is some species of Cockroach.

Letter 12 – Cockroach from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  Armour-plated bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern Costa Rica rainforest
Date: 02/03/2019
Time: 09:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Sorry this picture is fuzzy. This bug is about 2” long, sitting on the floor at the exterior door jamb of the house we’re renting. Do we have to worry about it hurting us or our dog?  Thank you.
How you want your letter signed:  Sue

Cockroach

Dear Sue,
This is a Cockroach, probably a flightless female, and we are confident it is not a species that will infest homes (most species of Cockroaches prefer to live outdoors) nor will it pose any threat to you or your dog.  It looks similar to this individual pictured on BugGuide.

Wow! Thanks so much, Daniel. Fascinating! (and I’m glad it won’t infest the house)

Letter 13 – Cockroach from Kenya

 

Completely Stumped
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
January 9, 2011 10:08 am
Hi Daniel,
I don’t even know what family to start looking in for this one.
I’ve only seen it once. It was long after dark. Taken less than a month ago.
Signature: Zarek

Cockroach

Hi Zarek,
This is some species of Cockroach.  Only a few species of Cockroaches infest homes, but they have given a bad reputation to the thousands of benign Cockroaches around the world.

Wow.
Ok.  Most cockroaches I’ve seen in the US and in Kenya have always been very drab and plain looking.  The patterns on this one are beautiful.
Zarek

Letter 14 – Cockroach from Kenya

 

Subject: identification
Location: Kenya, Malindi
April 7, 2017 9:18 am
Hi there, I would need if possible an identification for the following two insects, one seems to be a moth and the other some type beetle (?). They came flying on a veranda at night close to a light and landed on the curtain where they stayed for long. In Kenya, Malindi (coast) , April the second 2017.
Signature: Joan

Cockroach

Dear Joan,
Your Moth is a member of the superfamily Noctuoidea which contains Owlet Moths and kin.  What you have mistaken for a beetle is a Cockroach.

Letter 15 – Cockroach from Peru

 

Subject:  This critter
Geographic location of the bug:  Peru (tambopata)
Date: 12/18/2017
Time: 10:59 AM EDT
Hello, a few nights ago I hid under my mosquito net (and took the photo of it from there) from this, and forgot to ask our guide what it was. Google isn’t providing answers! It was about 5cm long.
How you want your letter signed:  Any help appreciated, thanks, Lucy

Cockroach

Dear Lucy,
This is some species of Cockroach.

Letter 16 – Cockroach Hitching a Ride

 

Subject: Red / Black beetle? On car tire
Location: Marion IL
May 7, 2015 1:29 am
Found this on my tire about an hour after parking in Marion, IL…. Would really like more info on it.
Signature: J brewer

Cockroach
Cockroach

Dear J brewer,
We imagine these images of an immature Cockroach hitching a ride on a car might incite some paranoia.

Cockroach
Cockroach

Thank you for the quick response, no paranoia here as it has been a few months since this pic was taken and I have never experienced a cockroach infestation but had a childhood friend that lived in a roach infested trailer and that was just crazy…   I have never seen a cockroach infestation as out of control as they had allowed it to become.
Once again I appreciate your quick reply!!!
J Brewer

Letter 17 – Cockroach Metamorphosis in Vietnam

 

Subject:  A bug photo for you from Hội An
Geographic location of the bug:  Hội An, Vitenam
Date: 07/10/2019
Time: 07:21 AM EDT
Ed. Note:    Webmaster Daniel is currently on holiday in Vietnam and during a technical conversation with editor Daniel who was struggling as usual with technology, webmaster Daniel forwarded this image.
How you want your letter signed:  Daniel

Cockroach Metamorphosis

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the help today.  Now when I am on my conference, I will be able to identify and post submissions.  This is a molting Cockroach.  When insects shed their hard exoskeleton, the new exoskeleton is soft and needs time to harden.  Freshly molted insects are often white or pale in color.

Letter 18 – Cockroach from Zimbabwe

 

Subject: Strange Bug!
Location: Harare, Zimbabwe
September 22, 2013 11:16 am
Hi,
We saw this bug yesterday at around 20:00, in a house yard at Harare, Zimbabwe.
The size was about 1 cm for the body and 2 cm for the tail.
What is that???
Signature: African S.

Longhorned Orthopteran
Longhorned Orthopteran

Dear African S.,
This appears to be a member of the order Orthoptera, and it is probably a Shieldbacked Katydid.  Judging by the ovipositor, it is a female.  We hope by posting your photo, one of our readers may be able to assist with a species identification.

Dear Daniel Marlos,
Thank you for your quick and interesting answer!
I’ll keep following,
Yours,
Shira

Hi Shira,
One of our readers supplied a comment suggesting this might be a Blattid with an Ootheca, which translates to a Cockroach with an Egg Capsule.

Update:  Septmeber 27, 2013
After receiving a few comments, we agree that this is a Cockroach, but we have not had any luck finding any similar looking images on the internet.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

33 thoughts on “Where Do Roaches Come From: A Friendly Guide to Their Origin”

  1. I just remarked to my husband how lovely this cockroach is, and his response was “say what???” (We both lived in Philadelphia, so we know cockroaches for the pests they can be.)

    Anyway, since I’m fairly obsessed with photoshop CS3 at the moment, I created my first paintbrush preset of this image. It turned out great! I thought you’d appreciate that. 🙂

    Reply
    • While we can appreciate your new found appreciation of PhotoShop, please do not send us any digitally transformed images. We must confess that there have been a few times when the insect images we received were so unusual and fantastic that we thought there must have been PhotoShop enhancement at work. We were happy to learn we were wrong.

      Reply
  2. I actually saw 2 of these roaches yesterday whilst hiking up Myburgh Ravine in Constantia…even though I have never heard or saw one before, I knew it was a roach because of my phobia for them so just had to google it to see if i was right….and because of my fear, I was not able to take photos

    Reply
  3. On the topic of identification, I’m guessing Gyna. As to the species if it’s even been described… dunno.
    The similarity of the pronotal markings to Blaberus craniifer is remarkable.

    Reply
  4. Species of Periplaneta found in Florida
    1. Color above shining blackish brown; length 24-33mm
    ……………………………….. P. fuliginosa (Serville)
    – Color not as above; pronotum with distinct to vague
    pronotal markings ………………………………………….. 2
    2(1).Tegmina with conspicuous lateral pale basal stripe;
    pronotum with sharply contrasting, pale or yellow
    margin; length 23-29mm …. P. australasiae (F.)
    – Tegmina entirely reddish brown; pronotum with less
    defined markings …………………………………………… 3
    3(2). Distal segment of cercus elongated, length more
    than twice width; male with caudal tergite deeply
    notched; distal portion of plate thin, projecting as
    hood over corresponding terminal sternite; median
    segment unspecialized ……….. P. americana (L.)
    – Distal segment of cercus triangular; less than twice
    width; male with caudal tergite only slightly
    notched; distal portion opaque; median segment
    specialized, consisting of a shallow channel haveing
    a tuft of hairs; 25-33mm ……………………………..
    …………………………………P. brunnea Burmeister

    Reply
  5. Species of Periplaneta found in Florida
    1. Color above shining blackish brown; length 24-33mm
    ……………………………….. P. fuliginosa (Serville)
    – Color not as above; pronotum with distinct to vague
    pronotal markings ………………………………………….. 2
    2(1).Tegmina with conspicuous lateral pale basal stripe;
    pronotum with sharply contrasting, pale or yellow
    margin; length 23-29mm …. P. australasiae (F.)
    – Tegmina entirely reddish brown; pronotum with less
    defined markings …………………………………………… 3
    3(2). Distal segment of cercus elongated, length more
    than twice width; male with caudal tergite deeply
    notched; distal portion of plate thin, projecting as
    hood over corresponding terminal sternite; median
    segment unspecialized ……….. P. americana (L.)
    – Distal segment of cercus triangular; less than twice
    width; male with caudal tergite only slightly
    notched; distal portion opaque; median segment
    specialized, consisting of a shallow channel haveing
    a tuft of hairs; 25-33mm ……………………………..
    …………………………………P. brunnea Burmeister

    Reply
  6. I believe that this may in fact be a young blattid, with the ‘tail’ being an ootheca. It is missing the saltatorial hind legs of most orthopterans.

    Reply
  7. Certainly a cockroach, although not a young one since only adults can produce oothecae. Maaaaaybe Blattellinae, although I don’t know all those zosterias very well.

    Reply
  8. Update: just found one crawling on ima’s porch in kfar Bilu Israel, about a pinky big and not interested in interaction with humans nor cat.

    Reply
  9. Possibly Periplaneta australasiae with heavy pronotum markings. Like australasiae, it also has two yellow markings along the wing edges.

    Even if it isn’t austr., the general shape reminds me of Periplaneta. Of course, it may be a harmless non-pest lookalike, though

    Reply
  10. Possibly Periplaneta australasiae with heavy pronotum markings. Like australasiae, it also has two yellow markings along the wing edges.

    Even if it isn’t austr., the general shape reminds me of Periplaneta. Of course, it may be a harmless non-pest lookalike, though

    Reply
  11. The need to molt periodically goes along with having a hard exoskeleton. It’s a major structural fact, not only for insects, but for all the Ecdysozoa, a huge clade of the animal kingdom that comprises the arthropods, nematodes, water bears, velvet worms, priapulids, and a few other phyla. Ecdysis—molting—was a major innovation in the history of life, and I thought I’d give it a shout out.

    Reply
  12. I have just discovered a colony of them living in a pile of old pine tree trunks, plenty of females and young, only seen one male so far. I agree that they are Cape Mountain Cockroaches. They squeal when disturbed and squirt out a green juice that stains your skin brown. Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

    Reply

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