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German vs. American Cockroaches

Cockroach species vary in size, color, and behavior. German and American cockroaches are two common home invaders. To get rid of a cockroach infestation, you need to identify which cockroach has moved into your house. We’ve gathered information to help you correctly identify these pests and eliminate an infestation.

Do German & American Cockroaches Look Different?

American cockroach

Though these cockroaches are both flat and oval, there are differences in appearance between the two species. German cockroaches grow between 1/2" and 5/8". They have a light brown body and two dark stripes on their back. Despite having wings, these cockroaches don’t fly. American cockroaches are larger than German cockroaches. They can reach 2" but are usually about 1 1/2" in length. These cockroaches are reddish-brown and have yellow markings on their head. American cockroaches have wings and can fly.

Where Do German & American Cockroaches Live?

German cockroach

While both cockroaches will scurry into homes, they have different hiding spots. German cockroaches like warm and humid environments. They are often found in kitchens and bathrooms. American cockroaches actually prefer to be outside and are often found under mulch, leaves, and damp vegetation. When temperatures drop too low, they head indoors. They like warm and damp conditions. You are likely to spot them in basements and bathrooms. It’s not uncommon for these pests to hide in drains and sewers.

Why Are There Cockroaches in My Home?

Cockroach eating crumbs

To get rid of a pest infestation, you need to understand why they’re in your house. German and American cockroaches enter homes looking for a few things:

  • Warmth: German cockroaches prefer warm environments, so they gravitate to houses. Though American cockroaches like to be outside, they will enter homes if temperatures become too cold.
  • Shelter: Cockroaches head inside looking for shelter. Your house protects them from harsh weather conditions and other threats. These pests squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices. They can also hide in messy rooms, in boxes and bags, and under piles of paper, clothes, and other clutter.
  • Moisture: These cockroaches like damp areas. Leaking pipes and appliances can attract German and American cockroaches. They gravitate to areas with moisture including kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms.
  • Food: Cockroaches like to eat, and they aren’t picky eaters. These pests will feed on crumbs, pantry items, pet food, glue, soap, book bindings, and decaying matter.

How Did Cockroaches Get into My House?

Cockroach near crack

Cockroaches are resilient and capable of finding ways into homes. There are several ways these pests can get into your house. They can enter homes by:

  • Hitching a ride in cardboard boxes you bring in from storage.
  • Sneaking inside in used electronics and furniture.
  • Hiding in boxed food or grocery bags from the store.
  • A visitor that unknowingly brings them in their clothing, bag, or purse.
  • Slipping in from neighboring apartments. They can use pipes and vents to enter your apartment.
  • Squeezing through cracks and crevices, tears in window screens, and loose weather stripping.
  • Climbing in plumbing pipes and drains. American cockroaches often hang out in pipes and sewers.

Is One Cockroach a Sign of an Infestation?

Is one cockroach a sign of infestation?

If you spot one cockroach, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with an infestation. However, you don’t want to ignore this pest. Cockroaches reproduce quickly, and one cockroach can quickly turn into an infestation. These pests are also excellent hiders, which means you may not notice their presence right away. You’ll want to keep your eyes open for other signs of an infestation. These pests can spread bacteria as they crawl over surfaces, so you don’t want cockroaches moving into your home. 

How to Get Rid of German & American Cockroaches

Roach Killer Gel Bait

When these pests invade, you’ll want to act quickly. We’ve made a list of tips to help you eliminate a cockroach infestation.

  • Seal cracks in walls and your home’s foundation, gaps between windows and doors and outer walls, and holes where utility pipes and wires enter your home.
  • Make sure screens and weather stripping are in good repair.
  • Cover vents with mesh.
  • Wipe up all spills, grease, and crumbs on countertops and underneath or between appliances. This will help to eliminate food sources.
  • Get rid of cockroach hangouts like empty boxes, newspapers, magazines, and paper bags.
  • Repair any leaky plumbing, pipes, and faucets indoors and outdoors.
  • Use plant-based insecticide sprays. Our Ant & Roach Killer and Home Bug Spray kill cockroaches on contact and provide residual repellency.
  • Use a bait or dust. Our Roach Killer Gel Bait and Spider & Insect Dust are longer-lasting treatments for out-of-the-way areas. You can place bait or dust where you’ve seen cockroach activity including under countertops, inside cabinets, and in wall voids.

German and American cockroaches have many differences, but neither make a good roommate. Being able to identify these pests is the first step to eliminating an infestation. Once you know what you’re up against, you can work to control the pest problem. If cockroaches or other pests are bugging you, we have your back! For a more environmentally and family-friendly solution, check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products.

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