Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

How Many Kinds of Cockroaches Are There in the USA

When it comes to the song “Born in the USA,” only around 65 species of cockroaches can actually sing along. That’s out of 4,500 species of roach found worldwide. And of those 65 red-white-and-blue roaches, only four are considered true pests: German, American, Brownbanded, and Oriental cockroaches.

Other notable species of cockroach in the USA are named for their places of origin. We have the Pennsylvania cockroach, the Florida woods cockroach, and the Australian cockroach. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is not native to the USA but some Americans keep them as pets because they are very cool by cockroach standards. Then there are the critters named after their appearance. These include the brown cockroach, and the deliciously named smoky brown cockroach. The field cockroach is found, you guessed it, in fields in the southwest, while the sand cockroach is found, wait for it… on sand dunes.

There are two cockroach species referred to as death head cockroaches (as if one weren’t enough). The true death head cockroach has jet-black wings and a distinct skull design on its brown thorax. The so-called false death head cockroach has a less distinctive skull marking and no black wings. Neither is capable of flight and they’re pretty large. The death head cockroaches are voracious and eat half their body weight in one sitting. They like organic material from feces to rotting wood but they aren’t interested in coming into your home.

North American non-pest cockroaches eat decaying plant and animal matter which makes them beneficial to the environment. But according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cockroaches are the most hated critter in the USA, topping out mosquitos, rats, wasps, and rattlesnakes. And the four species of cockroach considered pests are REALLY pesky. They spread disease, ruin food supplies, and can even destroy entire homes and warehouses if left untreated. So while the American, German, Asian, and Oriental cockroaches are hogging the limelight, the smoky browns and death head roaches go about their business virtually unknown.