Mosquitoes flying around

Identifying Bugs that Look Like Cockroaches

December 09, 2022

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

You may have a general idea of what cockroaches look like: crawling insects with brown, oval-shaped bodies, with six legs and antennae. But these physical characteristics aren’t as unique to cockroaches as you might think.

We’ve rounded up some of the most common types of bugs that can be confused with cockroaches, as well as how to get rid of each type if you find them in your home. If the infestation has become uncontrollable, a pest control professional can help you determine the specific root cause and best way to mitigate it. 

What does a cockroach look like?

The main physical characteristics of a cockroach are: 

  • Two antenna
  • Brown in color (ranging from beige to darker brown, possibly with bands on their head and neck area)
  • Oval-shaped bodies
  • Six legs
  • May have wings (but they aren’t good flyers)
  • Length between .25–2 inches

A cockroach is only one type of roach, so these qualities may represent the general category of roaches, even if different breeds bring about some variation.

cockroach on a rock

Types of bugs that look like cockroaches

Take a look at these commonly-mistaken doppelgangers with similar features to the cockroach, and learn the best ways to approach an infestation, no matter what it is.

Crickets vs. cockroaches

You can tell a cricket and a cockroach apart because a cricket has longer hind legs that allow them to jump relatively high for their size. Cockroaches are fast, but most cannot jump very high since they don’t possess this particular hind leg feature. 

close up of cricket on a green leaf 

Ground beetles vs. cockroaches

Ground beetles have a similar body shape and color to cockroaches; however, ground beetles can sometimes be black which is a little darker in color compared to cockroaches. The real defining difference between the two is their wings. While ground beetles feature hard wings, cockroaches usually sport more pliable, leathery wings. 

Black ground beetle on pebbles

Water bugs vs. cockroaches

Water bugs sport a similar body shape to cockroaches, too. You’ll know them by their large pincers and more aggressive behavior, including, but not limited to attacking much larger predators and essentially sucking out their insides after immobilizing them.

water bug on wood

Asian Long-Horned Beetles 

Asian long-horned beetles are commonly mistaken for cockroaches despite their distinctive markings and white-spotted, jet black exteriors.

Long-horned beetle on tree

Palo Verde Beetles 

Palo Verde beetles can fly and they also have longer, bigger bodies than cockroaches. This might be harder to notice out of context, but compare the size of the cockroach (.25–2 inches) with the average size of a Palo Verde beetle, which can be as much as 3–3.5 inches long!

Palo Verde beetle on red flower

Wood-Boring Beetles 

Wood-boring beetles do as their name says and attack wooden structures, but cockroaches don’t. This means the location where you’re seeing this insect may be able to tell you what type of bug it is. Wood-boring beetles are smaller in size to cockroaches.

Wood-boring beetle on wood

When to reach out to a pest control professional 

No matter what insect you do find in your home, a pest control professional is usually the best next step to help you identify and treat the intruder. They can help determine how large an infestation is and the right treatment plan for your specific location and property. This may take one treatment or a series of routine treatments. Whichever treatment plan you choose, your pest control professional will work with you until you get the results that you expect.

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