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What Are Giant Flying Cockroaches? 6 Types

Surinam cockroach

Cockroaches are generally assumed to be small bugs roaming in dirty places searching for food, water, and shelter. But to your surprise, not all roaches are as small as the common household cockroaches that we usually see.

Cockroaches can be so giant that many people often confuse them with large water bugs. These insects measure around 4 inches long! Comparatively, the typical size of an American cockroach is around 2 inches, while a German roach measures about 0.5 inches.

If you live in the US, you may not see giant flying cockroaches since most of these species are found outside the country. Remember that you can’t determine how infectious a roach is by its size. Despite being so small, German roaches are the most infectious bugs out there.

Here are the six types of giant flying cockroaches you must know about:

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The 6 Types of Giant Cockroaches

1. Megaloblatta Longipennis

Size 3.8 inches in length and 1.75 inches across
Wingspan 8 inches
Family Ectobiidae

Megaloblatta longipennis is recorded as the largest flying cockroach ever. According to Guinness World Records¹, the estimated size of this cockroach is reported to be about 3.8 inches with a wingspan of 8 inches. It belongs to the family Ectobiidae.

“Megaloblatta” is a blend of the Greek word “Megalo,” meaning giant, and the Latin term “Blatta,” translating to a light-reflecting insect. This cockroach is found in many countries, including Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and more.

If you live in any of these countries, you may encounter a giant, dark brownish-black bug in the wild—that’s Megaloblatta longipennis. These roaches never infest homes and are mostly seen eating green leaves. However, they are omnivorous.

Megaloblattas are flying roaches, but they rarely fly. Nevertheless, they are very active in warm and humid conditions.

2. Central American Giant Cave Roach

Central American Giant Cave Roach
Image By: Okrasiuk, Shutterstock
Size 3.6 inches in length and 0.95 inches across
Wingspan 6 inches
Family Blaberidae

The second largest cockroach species on this list is Blaberus giganteus. They measure about 3.6 inches on average, with a wingspan of 6 inches. The female roaches are generally bigger than the male, measuring up to 0.75 inches more than the male.

You may have already heard about this roach by different names. Some include the Brazilian, Mexican, or Central American giant cave roach. It is also known as just the giant flying cockroach.

This roach has big, strong wings, making them good fliers. Females usually fly less than males. Their unique color palette makes them stand out from other giant roaches.

You’re likely to find this roach species outdoors, preferably in dark, green areas with lots of humidity. However, these bugs live under shady rocks and inside caves, hence the giant flying cockroach name.

3. Giant Burrowing Cockroach

Giant Burrowing Cockroach
Image By: skydie, Shutterstock
Size 3.5 inches
Wingspan 4 inches
Family Blaberidae

Measuring just a little smaller than Blaberus giganteus, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach is the third-largest flying species on this list. It measures about 3.5 inches with a wingspan of 4 inches.

Although not the most giant, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach is the heaviest roach species in the world, weighing approximately 30–35 grams. These are light brown bugs living inside burrows and use their front legs for digging. The good thing is that they never infest homes and feed on rotten plants and leaves.

If you live in Southern Australia or Queensland, you’re likely to encounter these bugs. They are most active in the rainy season.

4. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Image By: torook, Shutterstock
Size 3 inches in length and 1 inch across
Wingspan No wings
Family Blaberidae

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are the fourth giant roach species on this list. They measure about 3 inches in length and 1 inch wide.

These roaches have a distinctive combination of vibrant and tan colors, making them one of the most beautiful cockroaches alive. They also have several stripes on the back, just like a staircase.

Evident from their name, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are native bugs to Africa’s Madagascar Island. They make a unique, sharp hissing sound and belong to the family Blaberidae.

One unique characteristic of this roach species is that the females don’t lay eggs like other roaches. Instead, these cockroaches give birth to live babies like mammals. Another interesting fact is that Madagascar residents consider these bugs pets. They even make the male cockroaches fight and bet on the winner. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are usually active at night for mating, fighting, and eating.

You may find these in the wild since they rarely come to homes. These roaches are also present in the lowland tropical forest of Madagascar, where they nourish fallen fruits. They also decompose the soil, which is why they’re also called living fossils.

5. American Cockroach

american cockroach
Image By: guentermanaus, Shutterstock
Size 2.1 inches in length and 0.5 inches across
Wingspan Only some subspecies with wings
Family Blattidae

Although not that giant, American Cockroaches are still large enough to give someone a good scare. They measure about 2.1 inches in length and 0.5 inches in width and belong to the family Blattidae. American cockroaches are not limited to the US. They are also native to the Middle East and Africa. Surprisingly, they were brought to the US in 1700 via the sea.

You can identify these roaches from their distinctive reddish-brown and yellow color combination. They have a distinctive margin on their thorax. Some subspecies have wings, while others don’t. So, you’ll rarely see them flying.

One interesting thing about American cockroaches is that they are one of the fastest bugs, with a speed of 5.4 kilometers per hour. They also have the longest life cycle of about 700 days.

You’re likely to find this roach species in the wild as well as in your homes. They are also found under fallen tree stems and rocks, searching for food and water. However, they also feed on garbage, rotten fruits, and trash.

6. Death’s Head Cockroach

Death’s Head Cockroach
Image By: K Hanley CHDPhoto, Shutterstock
Size 2 inches in length and 0.8 inches across
Wingspan 1 inch
Family Blaberidae

Last but not least, Death’s Head Cockroaches are one of the largest roach species, measuring 2 inches in length and 0.8 inches in width. They have a distinctive “skull-like” mark on their heads, making them different from other roach species.

Death’s Head Cockroaches have dark brownish-black bodies with flat physiques. Despite having wings, these bugs have a low ratio of wingspan and body mass. So, they can’t fly.

This cockroach species is primarily active at night, looking for food and water. Although smaller in size, they have an enormous appetite. In fact, they can eat food equal to their 50% body weight at a time.

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Cockroaches are one of the most common pests, with the ability to nest in the narrowest places. We know them as tiny bugs, but they can be pretty big.

Unlike German and American cockroaches, some roach species can measure about 3 to 4 inches in length. While some of these giant roaches can fly, others have weak or no wings to do so. Except for the American Cockroaches, you may not find any of these cockroach species in the US.

Featured Image Credit: Elliotte Rusty Harold, Shutterstock


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