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10 Types of Cockroaches in California (With Pictures)

german cockroach on a rock

Few insects are as disliked by humans as cockroaches, and it’s not necessarily without good reason. Cockroaches are notoriously hard to eliminate thanks to their swift reproductive cycle, and they often invade our homes and businesses, spreading disease in the process. No location is safe from these insects, including California. Here are 10 types of cockroaches you’ll find in California.

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The 10 Types of Cockroaches in California

1. German Cockroach

German Cockroach
Image Credit: Erik Karits, Pixabay
Scientific name: Blatella germanica
Length: 0.5 inch

German cockroaches are one of the most stubborn indoor pests in California. They are found in homes and buildings all over the state, preferring warm and humid locations close to food sources.

German cockroaches live around kitchens and other food storage and prep locations where they destroy paper materials and contaminate food and cookware. These roaches are light brown with two dark stripes on their back. Among the diseases that they’re known to carry are Staph bacteria, hepatitis, typhoid, and dysentery.

2. Turkestan Cockroach

Turkestan cockroaches
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Blatella lateralis
Length: 1 inch

The Turkestan cockroach is an invasive species in California found in warm, dry parts of the state. Southern California and the Central Valley are the primary locations for this outdoor species, which lives in compost piles, sewer systems, and potted plants.

Females are dark brown with cream-colored markings, while males are lighter with yellow-tan wings. They typically don’t come indoors but can be pests in the garden. Turkestan cockroaches eat other insects, nuts, and seeds.

3. Oriental Cockroach

oriental cockroach
Image Credit: Furiarossa, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Blatta orientalis
Length: 1.25 inch

The oriental cockroach is found throughout California. Unlike many species, they prefer cool, damp conditions. Basements, drains, and garages are all common places to find these bugs. Oriental cockroaches are almost black, with short or underdeveloped wings. Because of this, they can’t fly, don’t climb well, and aren’t very fast.

They can spread diseases and bacteria as they scavenge for food in your cabinets and pantry. The invasive Turkestan cockroach is beginning to overtake the oriental in population size.

4. Brown-banded Cockroach

brown banded cockroach
Image Credit: Freedom my wing, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Supella longipalpa
Length: 0.5 inch

The brown-banded cockroach is a pest in all corners of California, although it is less common than the German cockroach. These insects are light brown, with two lighter bands crossing the middle of their body.

Females are slightly darker than males. They live indoors in warm locations, such as near appliances or among the clutter on the floor. The species reproduces quickly, with a female and her babies creating as many as 600 additional cockroaches per year.

5. American Cockroach 

american cockroach
Image Credit: guentermanaus, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Periplaneta americana
Length: 2 inches

As one of California’s biggest and fastest cockroaches, this species is a notorious pest to homes and businesses. The American cockroach thrives in warm, moist conditions. They are reddish-brown with thick bodies and short wings.

They can infest any location, with a particular preference for restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. Sewers and drains provide them entrances to basements, and they’ve also been known to crawl through cracks in foundations. American cockroaches give off a strong smell and can carry bacteria like Salmonella.

6. Surinam Cockroach

Surinam cockroach
Image Credit: Elliotte Rusty Harold, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Pycnosceles surinamensis
Length: 1 inch

These outdoor cockroaches can be found in all parts of California. The Surinam cockroach is a burrowing garden pest that lives in loose soil, mulch, compost piles, and potted plants. It’s also known as the greenhouse cockroach because it is often found near plants.

The Surinam cockroach has a dark brown body, brown or olive wings, and a shiny head. They can cause enormous amounts of damage to plants by burrowing and eating them. Although they don’t usually come indoors on their own, they can hide in the soil of potted plants and get into the house. This species sometimes carries roundworms, a parasite that affects poultry.

7. Field Cockroach 

Pale-bordered field cockroach
Image Credit: William Cushman, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Blatella vaga
Length: 0.5 inch

The field cockroach resembles the more common German cockroach but is primarily an outdoor insect. They are gray to olive-brown, with two black stripes behind the head and one between their eyes.

In California, the field cockroach is often found in the southern part of the state and desert regions. They live outside in dead leaves and other decaying plant debris. They may take shelter in homes and other buildings in very hot and dry conditions. Field cockroaches eat garbage, plant matter, and other bugs.

8. Three-lined Cockroach

three lines cockroach
Image Credit: EA Given, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Luridiblatta trivatta
Length: 0.25 inch

These tiny cockroaches are native to the Mediterranean region. In California, they are primarily found along the north and central coast, including the San Francisco Bay area. The three-lined cockroach is brown with three black stripes across the body and has no wings.

Three-lined cockroaches live mainly on the ground outdoors, hiding in dead leaves and other debris. When the weather is hot and dry, they may pop up indoors looking for a water source, primarily in late summer and fall.

9. Smoky Brown Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach
Image Credit: eye-blink, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Periplaneta fuliginosa
Length: 1.5 inch

The smoky brown cockroach lives outdoors, often around water sources like swimming pools. They are most commonly seen in southern California. The species is dark brown to deep mahogany and can fly well.

Because of their flying ability, smoky brown cockroaches are often found in higher locations than other roaches. When they do come indoors, you may see them in attics, and they’ll also hide under roof shingles. Back down to earth, they frequent wood piles, planter boxes, garages, trees, and shrubs.

10. Australian Cockroach 

australian cockroach on the ground
Image Credit: Douglas Cliff, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Periplaneta australasiae
Length: 1-1.5 inches

The Australian cockroach is an invasive, tropical species that enjoys warm, humid environments. They are not as common in California as some of the other species on our list. Greenhouses and zoos are two possible spots you’ll find the Australian cockroach.

They look similar to the American cockroach but are a bit smaller. They are reddish-brown and have a light, cream stripe along the wings. Australian cockroaches eat a variety of materials, including other insects, plant matter, and dead animals.

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Keeping your house clean can reduce the chances that cockroaches move in, but even that isn’t always enough. Because they reproduce so quickly, don’t hesitate to contact a pest control specialist if you spot a cockroach or evidence of their presence, like droppings. Cockroaches are unpleasant guests with the potential to bring along bacteria and disease as housewarming presents.

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Featured Image Credit: Lukas Juhas, Unsplash


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