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Cockroaches is the collective name for several storage pests and similar beetles that can even transmit bacteria and various parasites to humans. Some beetle species look confusingly similar to cockroaches, but are completely harmless.

In a nutshell

  • there are mainly three species known as cockroaches
  • Beetles that have similar characteristics are usually not storage pests
  • Beetles with similar characteristics are predominantly other cockroaches or bugs
  • similar beetle species usually invade living spaces unintentionally

Characteristics of cockroaches

In order to actually be able to distinguish a cockroach from similar beetles, it is important to know the three species that are dangerous storage pests.

German cockroach (Blattella germanica)

  • Length: 12-15mm
  • Brown
  • 2 dark vertical stripes on the chest
  • Elytra cover the entire body, sometimes even a little extra length

Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)

  • Length: 25 - 30mm
  • dark brown to black
  • shortened wings

American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

  • Length 28 - 44mm
  • reddish brown
  • pale yellow to orange in front of chest
  • well-developed flying wings

Notice: All cockroaches, even those that are harmless, share similar characteristics and one of these is the long, well-developed antennae.

Types from A - E

Amber Cockroach (Ectobius vittiventris)

Source: Peace Fart, Photography of Ectobius vittiventris, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: 9 - 14mm
  • Appearance: light brown retina, pronotum transparent at the edge, wings finely dotted and translucent, distinctive body shape tapering to the rear
  • Occurrence: mainly southern Europe, since the 21st century also found north of the Alps
  • Food: decomposed plant material
  • Particularities: occasional mass propagation in warm and dry summer months, is attracted to light and invades dwellings

Stinging nettle bug (Heterogaster urticae)

  • Length: 6-7mm
  • Appearance: black-grey ground colour, with whitish and reddish-brown spots, hairy legs
  • Occurrence: Biotopes with stinging nettles
  • Food: sap of stinging nettles
  • Special features: Larvae feed exclusively on the juice of the nettle seeds

Oak bug (Harpocera thoracica)

Source: Sandy Rae, Harpocera thoracica - male, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Length: 6 - 6.8mm
  • Appearance: Dark brown to black ground colour, brownish pronotum, black triangular spot behind pronotum, black and white spots on wing tips
  • Occurrence: sunny and dry meadows
  • Food: male buds with pollen, aphids
  • Special features: rapid development from the young stage to the adult beetle in just 2 weeks

Eremocoris fenestratus

  • Length: 6 - 6.6mm
  • Appearance: reddish brown to black ground colour, thickened front thighs
  • Occurrence: sunny and warm areas with cypress plants
  • Food: Sap from the seeds of the cypress family
  • Special features: very rare to find as it is bound to its food plants

Types of F - M

Spruce cone bug (Gastrodes abietum)

Source: AfroBrazilian, Gastrodes abietum 03, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: 7 - 7.5mm
  • Appearance: Brown ground colour, black pronotum with subsequent black triangle, thickened forelimbs
  • Occurrence: Spruce
  • Food: sap of the seeds of spruce
  • Special features: has a very flattened body, which makes it easy for them to get into the seeds

Glossy soft bug (Deraeocoris lutescens)

Source: By ©entomartIn case of publication or commercial use, Entomart wishes then to be warned (, but this without obligation. Thank you. Attribution Link
  • Length: 3.7-4.5mm
  • Appearance: Orange-brown ground colour, black markings, two dark spots on the nape shield
  • Occurrence: deciduous trees
  • Food: live predatory and feed mainly on aphids or leaf fleas
  • Specialties: Beneficial in the garden

Lapland cockroach (Ectobius lapponicus)

  • Length: 9 - 12mm
  • Appearance: Males able to fly, females with shortened wings, dark spot on pronotum, black dots on wings
  • Occurrence: Mainly in forests with a layer of shrubs
  • Food: decomposed plant material
  • Special features: occasionally get lost indoors

Lepidargyrus ancorifer

  • Length: 3 - 4mm
  • Appearance: black-brown ground color, light hairy
  • Occurrence: meadow orchards, ruderal areas, meadows
  • Food: plant juices
  • Special features: mainly found in climatically favorable regions

Types of N - S

Nut-colored pore long bug (Cymus glandicolor)

Source: AfroBrazilian, Cymus glandicolor 01, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: 3.7-5mm
  • Appearance: Elytra light brown, pronotum dark brown
  • Occurrence: Wet meadows, in winter in foliage along forests
  • Food: vegetable saps of seeds as of sedges
  • Special features: can also be found in the garden with a pond

Notice: Has characteristics similar to the German cockroach when young. However, it is clearly distinguished by the shorter antennae, which are thickened at the end.

Phytocoris tiliae

Source: AfroBrazilian, Phytocoris tiliae 02, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: 6-7mm
  • Appearance: mottled gray-green to black, noticeably long hind legs
  • Occurrence: trees in all, parks, bushes, deciduous forests
  • Food: Plant sap, small insects
  • Special features: mostly hidden in lichens

Plane bug (Arocatus longiceps)

Source: picture taken by Kurt Kulac English: Please report references to German: source and proof to requested., Arocatus longiceps02, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Length: 5.5 - 6.6mm
  • Appearance: red-brown ground colour, pronotum with black spots, wings with three black triangles, hairy
  • Occurrence: Plane trees, occasionally lime, maple or chestnut
  • Food: Sap from the seeds of the preferred trees
  • Special features: originally immigrated from Asia or southern Europe

Black ground bug (Drymus ryeii)

Source: Donald Hobern from Copenhagen, Denmark, Drymus ryei (26838104165), edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Length: 3.5-4.6mm
  • Appearance: The entire body is black with some dark brown spots
  • Occurrence: forests
  • Food: sap of mosses
  • Special features: hibernate in loose bark, which is why they like to come into apartments with bark decoration material

Types of T - Z

Tangier Cockroach (Planuncus tingitanus)

Source: Didier Descouens, Planuncus tingitanus s.l. MHNT Adult female, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: variable depending on the subspecies
  • Appearance: pale yellow to brownish ground colour, shortened wings, yellowish central spot with darkened edge
  • Occurrence: Shrubs in settlement areas, inner-city small forests
  • Food: decomposed plant matter
  • Special features: originally from more southern regions, distribution favored by road traffic, are attracted to light

Tappers (Beosus maritimus)

Source: By ©entomartIn case of publication or commercial use, Entomart wishes then to be warned (, but this without obligation. Thank you. Attribution Link
  • Length: 6 - 7.5mm
  • Appearance: black-brown ground color with whitish spots
  • Occurrence: sandy soils, loamy fallow land, nutrient-poor grassland, heaths
  • Food: Juices from plant seeds such as the meadow hogweed
  • Special features: trains only one generation per year

Volatile Narrow Neck (Dicyphus errans)

Source: This image is created by user B. Schoenmakers at, a source of nature observations in the Netherlands., Dicyphus errans (Miridae) - (imago), Elst (Gld), the Netherlands - 4, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 3.0
  • Length: 4.5 - 5.1mm
  • Appearance: black first and second wing part, reverberation shield predominantly black, dark gray to brownish elytra
  • Occurrence: prefers open habitats with a low herb layer, can also be found in gardens or greenhouses
  • Food: Plant juices from various plants such as cranesbills, ragweed, sage; also suck on various insects such as spider mites, aphids or dead animals
  • Special features: adult animals overwinter under the rosettes of plants such as mulleins, are active until late in winter

Forest ground bug (Drymus sylvaticus)

Source: AfroBrazilian, Drymus sylvaticus 01, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Length: 3.5-4.6mm
  • Appearance: black matt body color, brownish on the abdomen
  • Occurrence: semi-arid and nutrient-poor grassland
  • Food: Plant saps from plants in their natural habitats
  • Special features: The naming is rather misleading, as this species does not live in forests

frequently asked Questions

How can I identify a beetle find?

If you are not sure which bug it is, carefully catch the bug and put it in a jar with a piece of paper on top. This makes it easier to identify the insect and view it from all sides.

How can I prevent bugs from entering the house?

Avoid unnecessary light sources in the house and in the garden. This not only attracts bugs that have characteristics similar to cockroaches, but also various insects in general that also invade the house.

What do I do with bugs in the house?

If they are not cockroaches, the beetle should be taken outside immediately. In winter it is advisable to release them in sheltered areas such as under evergreen shrubs and trees.

When are other bugs hardest to tell apart from roaches?

Beetles have similar characteristics, especially with cockroaches in the young stage. Later, similar beetles can usually be distinguished from the pests solely by their size.

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