Cuban Cockroach

Panchlora nivea

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Gill_figueroa/

Believed to have been introduced to the United States by being shipped with green bananas.


Cuban Cockroach Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Panchlora nivea

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Cuban Cockroach Conservation Status

Cuban Cockroach Locations

Cuban Cockroach Locations

Cuban Cockroach Facts

Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Group
Fun Fact
Believed to have been introduced to the United States by being shipped with green bananas.
Estimated Population Size
Biggest Threat
Humans, birds, rats
Most Distinctive Feature
light green color
Other Name(s)
green banana cockroach
Gestation Period
48 days
Litter Size
28-60 eggs
Trees, shrubs, and other damp/dark places in tropical environments
birds, rats
Common Name
Cuban cockroach, green banana cockroach
Number Of Species
Cuba, the Caribbean, southern United States coast

Cuban Cockroach Physical Characteristics

  • Yellow
  • Green
Skin Type
Top Speed
4 mph

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The Cuban cockroach is one of the only ones in the entire United States that requires only the female to reproduce.


The Cuban cockroach, also known as the green banana cockroach, is an omnivorous scavenger, seeking out sweet and starchy foods. The attraction of decaying food is often what leads the nymphs into homes, even though the species primarily lives outdoors. Their bright green hue conceals them well in their naturally tropical environment, though it is probably also to blame for their invasion into a green banana shipment that took them to the United States and away from their native Cuban habitat.

Cuban Cockroach Species, Types, and Scientific Name

Cuban cockroaches – or the Panchlora nivea – are part of the Blaberidae family, combined in the Blattodea order with other species of cockroaches and termites. Primarily found outdoors, there are no subspecies of Cuban cockroach to speak of. Despite their green color, the word “nivea” is Latin in origin, meaning “snow white.”

Appearance: How to Identify Cuban Cockroaches

As an adult, the Cuban cockroach is bright green, which is part of the reason that humans will often keep them as pets, rather than seeing them exclusively as pests. The green is only broken up with a yellow margin, which is found on the elytra’s anterior. They only measure an average of 20-25mm, but there are some roaches that have grown to be twice this size. The female is the larger sex of the species, as the males typically only range from 12-15 mm. As baby nymphs, the Cuban cockroach is black and is often found burrowing for food.

With their strong wings, these cockroaches fly quite well, carrying their 30-35-gram body where it needs to go for food. Even though this type of cockroach is not considered a nuisance, a group of them is known as an intrusion. As social animals, they tend to infest areas together and reproduce at a rapid pace.

Though they are not aggressive, the main defense of the Cuban cockroach is its odor. They release chemicals that are reminiscent of a skunk’s spray, deterring others when afraid or threatened.

Habitat: Where to Find Cuban Cockroaches

The Cuban cockroach is named for the main region that it lives in – Cuba. However, they live in the surrounding humid and hot areas as well, like the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast, with a tropical climate. They don’t typically live indoors, which is part of the reason that they aren’t much of a pest to humans. The ones to look out for are the nymphs because they’ll go towards light in whatever space they are found.

If you want to find these cockroaches in their chosen locations, the best places to look are in trees, shrubbery, and other plants. Sometimes, the nymphs are located under logs and similar types of debris on the ground that allow them to seek out food by burrowing.

Diet: What Do Cuban Cockroaches Eat?

The main diet of the Cuban cockroach is omnivorous, and its scavenging will lead it to eat anything that it can chew up. Primarily

What eats Cuban Cockroaches?

Cuban cockroaches are quite small, placing them low on the food chain. Black rats, cats, and similar predators go after them, though they are not a significant part of any animal’s diet.

What do Cuban Cockroaches Eat?

Though the Cuban cockroach is an omnivore, its scavenging tendencies don’t often lead it towards live prey. Instead, it looks for decaying or dead animal matter. It will consume sweets or starches, but the primary diet includes food scraps, rotting fruit, or even paper scraps it comes across.
Nymphs also seek out food through scavenging and burrowing.

Prevention: How to get rid of Cuban Cockroaches

Due to the beautiful color of the Cuban cockroach, they are often kept as pets outside of its typical tropical habitat. If you decide to get rid of them from your home, the key is understanding what stage of their life cycle they are at. Finding nymphs means that they are still early in the life cycle, but adults had to lay eggs. They are most likely to be found in your fruit or plant garden because of the sweet smells, which is often what draws them indoors as well. If you come across them at the nymph stage of their life cycle, it is a sign that adults have already infested the area.
The best way to eliminate Cuban cockroaches is to regularly spray the outside of the home with an insecticide that can act as a barrier. For the cockroaches that have already made their way indoors, use insect bait to attract them with a sweet smell but cause them to die off after ingesting. You should also get rid of any debris in the yard to attract them, like wood piles, leaves, and other clutter.

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About the Author

Ashley Haugen is a lifelong animal lover and professional writer and editor. When she's not immersed in, she can be found hanging out with her dogs and birds.

Cuban Cockroach FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Cuban cockroaches poisonous?

No. Even if they did have venom, their mouth isn’t big enough or strong enough to bite any human.

Do Cuban cockroaches carry diseases?

Yes. If they are allowed to continue to infest an area, they can spread hepatitis A, hepatitis B, gastroenteritis, and salmonella. They go after decaying food, which also poses the risk of other forms of contamination.

How do you get rid of Cuban roaches?

One of the best methods of elimination of the Cuban cockroach is to leave insect bait. This bait attracts the bug with a sweet smell, but it is deadly and can knock out an infestation. Nymphs are especially attracted to sweet foods, so the bait can kill them off as well.

What do Cuban cockroaches eat?

The primary diet of the Cuban cockroach is the result of omnivorous scavenging. This scavenging allows them to consume decaying fruit, meat, and other matter.

Are Cuban cockroaches dangerous?

For the most part, no. However, the risk they pose by spreading disease is an inherent problem with allowing an infestation to fester.

How many legs do Cuban cockroaches have?

Like all cockroaches, the Cuban cockroach has 6 legs.

How do you identify Cuban cockroaches?

The biggest sign that you’re dealing with a Cuban cockroach is their green exoskeleton. Due to the particularly bright shade of green, it is believed that they first invaded the United States as part of a green banana shipment, giving them the nickname “green banana cockroach.” Their average size is just 25mm, and they weigh about 35 grams.

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