The Top Four Most Common Roaches In New York City

๋Juvenile brown banded cockroach isolated on white floor.
Chumrit Tejasen/

Written by Peralee Knight

Published: June 12, 2022

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It is no secret that cockroaches tend to be a real problem in big cities, and you would find it difficult to find a bigger city than the Big Apple! But which species are found the most in the city that never sleeps?

This article will talk about the four most common roaches in New York City. But how can you tell which one is which, or if an insect is even a roach at all? It all starts with knowing what to look for that makes a cockroach a cockroach!

Roaches In New York City: Identification


Cockroaches are insects with six legs, body-length antennae, and shiny exoskeletons.

Before trying to identify one of the four common cockroaches that call New York City home, it is important to know the basics. There are over 4,500 species of cockroaches in the world, but only around thirty infest human locations. Though some can be confused with other insects, roaches have common characteristics to identify them.

The physical characteristics that identify an insect as a cockroach are:

  • Cockroaches have six legs
  • Medium-sized insects with shiny exoskeletons like beetles
  • Two long antennae at the top of the head the same length as the body or longer
  • Roaches are brown, tan, or amber, with species-specific markings
  • Roaches go through three life cycles; egg, nymph, and adult
  • Some species go through multiple molts in the nymph stage
  • Cockroach species populate quickly, leaving obvious signs
  • Roaches prefer warm places with high humidity and without much light.

Now that we know the basics of identifying a cockroach, let us start things off with the number one roach in New York. In fact, this species is also the number one most invasive species in the entire United States!

German Cockroaches

German Cockroach

German cockroaches commonly infest multi-level buildings like apartments.

German roaches are distinctive, as they are not only the most common roaches in New York City but the entire United States as well. Unfortunately for the city that never sleeps, this pest prefers urban environments and cities, particularly multi-level buildings. The German roach is most likely to infest food prep areas near plumbing or in cluttered or messy storage.

The German cockroach is a half-inch long and is light brown over the entire body with two darker bands on its head. The most common sign of an infestation of this species is staining from the sticky and foul liquid it excretes.

American Cockroaches

American cockroach on wood

American cockroaches are the second most common roaches in New York and the United States as a whole.

American cockroaches are the second most common roaches in New York City, as well as the United States. This species is also found most in food prep areas, under sinks and near plumbing, or in messy storage areas. However, unlike German roaches, they prefer single-level buildings and businesses.

The American roach is nearly double the German roach’s size, around 2 inches long with body-length wings with no distinct markings. This species is reddish-brown over the entire body with a single yellow stripe on the back of the head.

Oriental Cockroaches

Black Cockroach - Oriental Cockroach

The oriental cockroach is the third most common roach in New York City.

Introducing one of the most disgusting members of the roach species, the oriental cockroach. While not as invasive or common as the American or German cockroach, the oriental cockroach makes up for it by being gross! Unfortunately, this species is adaptable because indoor or outdoor, cold or hot, they thrive. As for the disgusting part, their preferred habitat is near garbage, sewage, and wherever human or animal waste is found.

Oriental roaches are a quarter-inch long and so deep brown over the entire body that they often appear black. Visually, they can be mistaken for other insects if you are unaccustomed to seeing cockroaches. However, they produce a foul odor that can often overpower even the worst locations.

Brown-Banded Cockroaches

Types of Cockroaches - Brown Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches are amber and dark brown, but markings and body shapes differ between males and females.

The brown-banded cockroach tends to prefer temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, infestation occurs when the brown-banded species seek to escape the winter cold. Brown-banded cockroaches are mostly spotted under electrical appliances, behind wall hangings, under furniture, and in cluttered areas. When exposed, this species is known to jump to escape from threats.

Brown-banded roaches are a half-inch long, and color, markings, and body shape differ depending on whether they are male or female. Females have wide, round deep brown bodies and amber-banded markings. Males have long, narrow, amber-colored bodies with deep brown-banded markings.

Roaches In New York City: Signs Of Infestation

Cockroach Eggs and Egg Sacks - Egg Case

Excrement, molted exoskeletons, and egg casings are common signs of cockroach infestation.

In large urban areas like New York City, roaches are notoriously difficult to get rid of. This is particularly hard when you live in an apartment building or share an office space with many people. However, spotting the most common signs of an infestation is the first step!

The most common signs and locations to look out for are:

  • Deep brown or rust-colored droppings
  • Shed exoskeletons
  • Egg casings, which look like small light brown or tan seed pods
  • Sticky liquids or visible staining (German species)
  • Unpleasant, foul, or musty odor that lingers after cleaning
  • Clusters of nymphs, which share adult markings
  • Signs of an infestation are most often found in warm and humid locations like attics, basements, and crawl spaces.

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