There’s almost nothing worse than thinking you may have spotted a roach. While roaches are a common pest throughout the United States, there are also a number of insects that can mimic them in appearance and behavior.
So, how do you know for sure if you’re really dealing with a roach or if you have another culprit on your hands? It’s important to find out.
Correctly identifying a pest can help not only alleviate stress, but also aid in your pest control plan and the overall success of that plan down the road. And we’re here to help.
Today, we are talking about bugs that look like roaches in the hopes of helping you identify and manage the pest that’s bugging you.
What Are Roaches?
There are over 4,600 species of roaches but only 5 species are considered serious pests.
Also known as cockroaches, Waterbugs or Palmetto Bugs, Roaches are insects that belong to the order Blattodea. There are roughly 4,600 species of roaches, but only 30 are known to inhabit the same areas as humans. Out of those 30 species of roaches, only five are commonly known to be home invading pests.
These five species of roaches include:
- The German Cockroach
- The American Cockroach
- The Hissing cockroach
- The Oriental Cockroach
- And The Brown Banded Cockroach
Unfortunately, roaches tend to look like a lot of other insects. So how do you know if you’re dealing with the real deal or simply just bugs that look like roaches? It can be tough, but it helps to have a better idea of what true roaches look like.
Most roaches grow to be between 0.7 and 3 inches long. They range in color from red to reddish brown to dark brown and black. All roaches have antennae and six legs, and their bodies are long, flat, and oval shaped.
Roaches move quickly and tend to invade homes in large numbers. They are nocturnal and prefer the dark, often scurrying away when a light is turned on or shined upon them. They usually hide beneath counters, appliances and even in cracks and crevices along your flooring.
Because they are nocturnal, roaches tend to be most active at night. They procreate rapidly and are attracted to human food sources, dirty dishes, garbage, water and clutter.
It can be difficult to tell between bugs that look like roaches and true roaches, especially considering there are a few different types of roaches to contend with.
This video talks more about the different types of true roaches you might come across.
However, while roaches are nasty and can carry serious bacteria that can lead to illness and disease, they are also not the only pests that are flat, brown and attracted to human food sources.
With that in mind, let’s move on and talk about the most common types of bugs that look like roaches in the hopes of helping you identify the pest you’re dealing with.
What Are The Most Common Types of Bugs That Look Like Roaches?
Different beetle species are some of the most common insects to be mistaken for roaches.
There are a number of bugs that look like roaches, many of which are harmless and easy to get rid of.
However, some bugs that look like roaches are just as bad if not worse to have in your home, so it’s vital you take a moment to use this bug identification guide to identify the insect you’re dealing with before you come up with a pest control plan.
Some of the most common bugs that look like roaches are:
- Giant Water Bugs
- Bed Bugs
- Asian Longhorned Beetles
- June Bugs
- Ground Beetles
- Wood-Boring Beetles
- Palo Verde Beetles
Of the above bugs, bed bugs, termites, crickets, june bugs and beetles are the most commonly encountered by people inside homes and considered to be bugs that look like roaches.
That said, depending on where you live and your daily habits and lifestyle, you could be more likely to encounter any of the other bugs on the list as well.
With that noted, let’s take a moment to discuss the above bugs that look like roaches in more detail below, starting with Giant Water Bugs.
Giant Water Bugs
Roaches are often called waterbugs, which is one of the reasons they are often confused for Giant Water Bug insects.
Scientific Name: Lethocerus Americanus
Region: Southern Canada and the United States
Habitat: Freshwater ponds, rivers, marshes and streams
Appearance: Giant Water Bugs can grow to be up to four inches in size. They are very similar looking to roaches, though they are an entirely different species.
The Giant Water Bug is one of the most commonly confused bugs that look like roaches. They are also confused for roaches due to their name. In fact, water bug is another common name for certain roaches as well.
Though some roaches can survive in water, most don’t and prefer land where food sources are readily available.
Giant Water Bugs, on the other hand, thrive and hunt in water. They spend much of their time just below the surface of fresh water ponds, marshes and streams hiding in the plant life that collects near the water’s edge.
Predatory insects, Giant Water Bugs are famous for their two front legs which they use to grab prey and inject them with their venomous saliva from their proboscis. Their bite is known to be one of the most painful bites in the insect world and can often cause serious damage to people who get in their way.
Sometimes known as Toe-Biters, Giant Water Bugs are not to be messed with. The good news is that they are not home dwelling pests and, though they are true bugs that look like roaches, will not sneak into your home to invade your pantry.
Bed bugs and baby roaches look an awful lot alike, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.
Scientific Name: Cimex Lectularius
Habitat: Human environments
Appearance: Bed bugs grow to be between 5 and 7 mm in length. They are small, flat and brown until they feed, at which point they become engorged and appear darker in color.
Bed Bugs are some of the most greatly feared pests in the United States. While you may be surprised to find them on this list of bugs that look like roaches due to their small size, the truth is that bed bugs and nymphs (baby roaches) look an awful lot alike.
Furthermore, both bed bugs and roaches primarily come out and night. They are often not seen unless you have a severe infestation, and both bed bugs and roaches shed their exoskeletons as they grow.
However, there are a few telltale differences that can help you identify if you’re dealing with true roaches or just bugs that look like roaches.
We should first note that bed bugs do not carry bacteria or disease. At their largest, they grow to only be around 7 mm in length. Even though they bite people, their bites are painless and many people have no reaction to bedbug bites whatsoever. However, other people may experience red, itchy rashes, scabs or bumps.
Roaches, on the other hand, invade different areas throughout the home and are attracted to food, water and garbage. They are also much larger than bed bugs once full grown.
Bed bugs, on the other hand, are more likely to invade bedrooms and areas where people sleep or spend a lot of time. They are not attracted to human food sources and instead survive on human blood.
Though it is true that termites and roaches belong to the same order, they are still different insects.
Scientific Name: Isoptera
Region: Termites are most common in the south, south west, southeast and western United States. They live and consume wood inside houses and in natural environments like forests.
Habitat: Termites are attracted to moist, wet areas and areas rich in soil. While they feed on and build chambers through wood, they also consume wood and build underground structures in soil in which to live.
Appearance: Termites are large and often confused for ants. They are also some of the bugs that look like roaches. They range in size from 1/8th to 1 inch and range in color from white to brown to tan. There are also different types of termites, and they range in appearance based on this as well.
Like roaches, termites are also in the order of Blattodea. And while they are bugs that look like roaches, they are not one in the same and are an entirely different species.
That said, there are several types of termites and their appearances can vary, as we mentioned above, so it’s not uncommon for people to get confused.
Termites do not carry bacteria or diseases, nor do they contaminate your food sources. However, they can be just as problematic as roaches if they invade your home. Termites devour wood using their strong mandibles and can cost you thousands of dollars in structural damage.
Crickets can look very similar to roaches, though their back legs usually give them away.
Scientific Name: Grylloidea
Region: The United States
Habitat: Fields, forests, trees, below porches, beneath rocks, in bushes and more.
Appearance: Crickets can range in size from ½ of an inch to 1 inch. They also range in color from brown, black, red and even green. Due to their six legs, oval body shape and antenna, crickets are often considered to be bugs that look like roaches.
While crickets may look like roaches, they’re not nearly as concerning and much easier to get rid of if they enter your home. Most crickets prefer to live outdoors and are therefore not considered home-invading pests. However, they can wander in accidently and feed on furniture or other materials, making them an annoying pest.
Crickets are also noisy, famous for their incessant chirping at night. That said, they do not usually get into food. Unfortunately, if crickets do get into your food, it’s best to throw that food out. Like roaches, cricket feces can spread bacteria, though it is rare.
Asian Longhorned Beetles
Asian Longhorned Beetles are an invasive species to the US.
Scientific Name: Anoplophora Glabripennis
Region: Though not widely spread throughout the US, the Asian Longhorned Beetle has been found in six states including New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Ohio.
Habitat: Forests and yards with an abundance of hardwood trees
Appearance: When fully grown, these beetles are between 3/4ths and ⅕ inches in length. They are all black with long antennae, and have white spots covering their bodies.
Although the Asian Longhorned Beetle is not dangerous to humans, they are a major environmental pest. These invasive species procreate exponentially and are known to feed on and kill over 15 different species of hardwood trees and plants.
They also look annoyingly similar to cockroaches. Luckily, they are not known home invading pests and are not after human food sources. Unluckily, they are incredibly dangerous for the environment.
In large numbers, the Asian Long-Horned Beetle can destroy and deteriorate mulberry trees, elms, mables and more.
Sometimes called a May Bug, June Bugs are commonly confused for roaches, though they generally prefer living outdoors.
Scientific Name: Cotinis Nitida
Region: The Southern and Eastern United States and Southern Canada
Habitat: Forests, greenlands, grassy areas and gardens
Appearance: June Bugs grow to be between 12 to 25 mm in length. They range in color from brown to green to red and, if they get inside, may be considered to be bugs that look like roaches.
Also known as June Beetles, May Bugs or Green June Bugs, June Bugs are common insects and are certainly some bugs that look like roaches. However, they are entirely different and are relatively harmless to people and pets.
That said, they can be seriously damaging to gardens and vegetation. June Bug grubs are especially problematic and can kill large sections of grass, causing serious damage to lawns. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to repel June Bugs and keep them from coming around.
Best of all, June Bugs are outdoor pests and they are not known to be attracted to human food sources.
There are over 2,000 ground beetle species in the US, and many of them resemble roaches.
Scientific Name: Carabidae
Habitat: A wide range of habitats including forests, deserts, grasslands and mountains.
Appearance: Ground beetles range in appearance and size depending on their species. Because there is such a massive range of ground beetles, it is not uncommon for some of them to be considered as bugs that look like roaches.
There are an estimated 40,000 different species of ground beetles throughout the world, with 2,000 found in the United States. With so many different ground beetles ranging in size, color and appearance, it’s no wonder some of them may be bugs that look like roaches.
Luckily, most ground beetles are highly beneficial insects and prefer to live outdoors. They generally do not procreate in large numbers and are not known to invade homes looking for human food sources.
In fact, ground beetles are natural decomposers who dine primarily on pests and even weed seeds, often stopping weeds before they grow.
That said, ground-beetles can be problematic in large numbers. This is because they have such a ravenous diet and can consume their own body weight in food each day.
There are many species of wood boring beetles in the United States.
Scientific Name: Buprestidae
Habitat: Wood bark, forests, furniture and homes.
Appearance: There are a variety of wood boring beetles ranging in size from 2.7 to 4.5 mm in length. They are often brown, black or tan.
Like termites, Wood Boring Beetles feast on wood. For this reason, they can be highly destructive to forests, structures and even furniture if they get inside your home. There are over 700 different species of wood boring beetles, and all of them can be highly destructive.
Many are responsible for what is known as beetle kill, as their larvae devour wood from beneath the bark.
Wood boring beetles also have the ability to invade your home and can cause serious structural damage and damage to furniture and appliances made of wood. While they are bugs that look like roaches, they are not related.
That said, they can be even more destructive and concerning than roaches in large numbers, so it’s best to keep an eye out for them and to remove them immediately from your home and property if you see them.
Palo Verde Beetles
The Palo Verde Beetle is one of the largest beetles in the United States, growing to be almost four inches in length.
Scientific Name: Derobrachus Hovorei
Region: North America
Habitat: Forests and trees, including the Palo Verde Tree
Appearance: The Palo Verde Beetle is considered one of the largest beetles in the United States, reaching lengths up to four inches at times. It is also one of the bugs that look like roaches.
This is mostly due to their body shape and color, which can range in shades of brown to black. They also have long antennae and six legs.
The Palo Verde Beetle is named for the Palo Verde Tree, which is their primary habitat. This beetle is incredibly damaging to trees much in the same way that wood-boring beetles are. Their grubs live beneath the bark of certain trees and consume the tree from the inside out, causing serious destruction and damage.
Despite their massive size, the Palo Verde Beetle can be difficult to detect on trees as it is the grubs that cause the damage, not the adult beetles. Furthemore, these beetles spend the majority of their lives as grubs and die very quickly after maturing and mating.
The good news is that, while these are bugs that look like roaches, Palo Verde Beetles do not invade homes and are not attracted to human habitats or food sources.
Bugs That Look Like Roaches But Aren’t – What To Do If You’re Not Sure
Roaches and other insect pests can carry bacteria that can make you and your loved ones sick, so make sure you clean up around your home.
Although there are a variety of bugs that look like roaches, it’s important to try and be sure. Remember, identifying the pest causing you problems in your home allows you to create a pest control plan that will be successful.
Though roaches don’t bite or sting, they can spread bacteria and disease including salmonella and dysentery. They can also invade our homes in large numbers, procreating rapidly and causing distress, worsening symptoms of asthma, and causing allergies in those with sensitivities.
If you saw an insect and are worried it’s a roach, there are a few ways you can go about finding out. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to identify if you’re dealing with a roach or just bugs that look like roaches is by catching the pest using sticky traps.
Gideal Roach Sticky Traps
Sticky traps like the environmentally friendly traps above by Gideal are easy to use, non-toxic and highly effective. While they won’t catch and eliminate all the pests causing you problems, they will help you identify if you’re dealing with roaches or just bugs that look like roaches.
The traps are also designed to protect curious children and pets who may find the sticky glue tempting to play with. These traps even have a tunnel-like build, making them the ideal hiding place for roaches or other insects like spiders and ants.
Simply set the sticky traps near areas where you have seen the pests and check them often. Once you do catch the pest, use our above bug identification guide to help determine if you are truly dealing with roaches or bugs that look like roaches.
If you are dealing with roaches, your next step should be to focus on roach removal. Some of the best methods of removal for roaches include baited traps and poisons. The good news is that there are poisons that are kid and pet safe but deadly to these pests.
Take a look.
Boric Acid Roach Killer
Boric Acid is one of the more popular roach killers on the market because it is safe and effective. While it can be irritating to people and pets if inhaled, it is generally not dangerous or toxic. That said, you should still keep this product out of reach of children and pets and only use it as directed.
The powder is derived from natural ingredients and works after sticking to the roaches body as the pest walks through the dust. When the roach cleans itself, it ingests the powder. The powder then expands in the roaches stomach after the roach drinks water, killing the roach within 72 hours.
Boric acid also works on other types of bugs including ants, crickets, silverfish and more.
Along with using boric acid to keep roaches and bugs that look like roaches at bay, it’s also a good idea to adopt good habits.
Keep your home and surrounding yard clean and free of debris. Pick up any clutter inside your home and repair water leaks or water damage as soon as possible. It’s also important not to leave dirty dishes out overnight and to invest in sealed garbage bins.
If you have pets, store their food in airtight containers and put food away after mealtime. It’s also wise to store your own pantry foods in air-tight containers made of glass or thick plastic and to keep perishable foods in the refrigerator when you’re not cooking or eating.
We also suggest vacuuming often or sweeping and cleaning routinely after meals and snacks. Last but not least, call a pest control expert if you find you cannot identify roaches or bugs that look like roaches.
Remember, some pests can cause serious structural damage while others carry and spread bacteria and disease, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on roaches and bugs that look like roaches. Now it’s your turn to share. Which of the above pests do you think you may be dealing with? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.