The 5 Most Common Roaches In Wisconsin

Written by Peralee Knight
Published: May 28, 2022
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Cockroaches are easily the insects most people associate with filthy or disgusting conditions. We all universally dread the idea of finding a roach in our homes or workplaces. But believe it or not, most species of roaches want nothing to do with us! However, the species that invade our homes are notoriously difficult to get rid of. A large part of why roaches are difficult to eliminate is because extermination often depends on your location and the individual species. For individuals living in Wisconsin, there are five cockroach species that are commonly found in the state. However, only one of these species is native to the area, and it is one of the kinds that does not like it indoors! So, what are the most common roaches in Wisconsin, and how do you know if it is a roach or another insect?

How To Identify A Cockroach

German Cockroach
There are over 4,500 species of cockroaches found worldwide.

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Cockroaches, also referred to simply as roaches, are members of the Dictyopteran order of insects, and there are over 4,500 known species found worldwide. However, out of that staggering amount, only about thirty of them live around or near humans. Cockroaches are medium-sized insects with six legs and two body-length antennae. Their bodies resemble that of a beetle, with a glossy exoskeleton, and they are deep brown, reddish-brown, or amber-colored. Individual markings and characteristics are determined by species.

The Five Most Common Roaches Found In Wisconsin

There are five species of cockroach that are common in the state of Wisconsin. However, cockroaches are one of the most resilient and invasive types of insects in the world. When people joke that the roaches are the only species that could survive nuclear winter, they are not far off the mark! Due to their high adaptability to even the harshest conditions and to consume almost anything, new species can always appear in your area. In this section, we will go into how each of the top five species can be identified and the locations they are likely to be found.

Wood Cockroach

Pennsylvania Wood cockroach is light, yellowish brown in colour with pale colouration along the wing margin.
The wood cockroach, or Pennsylvania wood cockroach, is light, yellowish-brown in color, with pale coloration along the wing margin.

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The wood cockroach, also called the Pennsylvania wood cockroach, is the only species that is native to Wisconsin, and it is rarely found indoors. This species is one inch in length on average and prefers to live in or near rotting vegetation, firewood, or under the bark of trees. Males are light brown, whereas females are a darker brown overall. While both males and females have wings that span their entire body length, only male wood roaches can fly. Like many species, the wood roach is nocturnal and retreats when in the light.

German Cockroach

Types of Cockroaches - German Cockroach
German cockroaches secrete a foul-smelling liquid that tends to leave noticeable staining.

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The German cockroach is the most common species found in urban areas. This species prefers locations such as multi-level housing structures, food preparation areas, storage areas, and near plumbing fixtures. German roaches are a half-inch in length, and they are light brown with two darker brown bands near their head. The species also secrete a foul-smelling liquid that tends to leave noticeable staining.

American Cockroach

American cockroach crawling
The American cockroach can live up to three years as an adult.

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The American cockroach is one of the most common roach species found throughout North America. This species is up to two inches long, with body-length wings and a reddish-brown body marked with a yellow band just behind the head. American roaches prefer environments such as single-floor locations where food preparation areas are located. The American cockroach may live up to three years as an adult.

Oriental Cockroach

Black Cockroach - Oriental Cockroach
The oriental cockroach can adapt and survive in cold temperatures.

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The oriental cockroach can adapt and survive in cold temperatures, as well as in indoor and outdoor locations. This species is a quarter-inch long and is very deep brown overall, often appearing black. Oriental roaches are considered by many to be the dirtiest type of roach. This is both due to their preferred environment near garbage or sewage areas and the extremely foul odor they produce. These roaches may live up to three years in the nymph stage of their life cycle, but they only live around 6 months as adults.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded Cockroach on egg box
Brown-banded cockroach coloring varies in males and females.

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The brown-banded cockroach is a bit less common in Wisconsin than the four species above but is still prevalent. This is due to its preference for warmer temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This species is around a half-inch long, and males have long narrow bodies that are amber-colored with darker brown banding. Females have rounded bodies, and the coloration is reversed; deep brown overall with amber banding. Brown-banded cockroaches prefer locations under electrical appliances, under wall hangings or furniture, or in cluttered areas. This species is also known to jump suddenly when startled.

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