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German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the German Cockroach

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The German Cockroach is a well-established import widely known for its efficiency in infesting human spaces.

Updated: 05/31/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Fast and brown, German Cockroaches are a familiar sight in urban areas. They have been in North America for over a century. Their nickname, "Croton bug", was coined in the late 1800's when they first began invading homes in New York after the Croton Reservoir started bringing additional water to the growing city. Their familiarity these days has led to most people addressing this particular species in general as 'cockroach'. They are dark brown with thin antennae. Legs are paler with spiky hairs. Their movements are fast and dart-like, tending to startle people when they scurry. Adhesive pads on their feet allow them to walk vertically on smooth surfaces, even on glass. This also allows them to walk across ceilings without falling.

Smaller than American and Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches are notorious household and industrial pests. Infesting houses, restaurants, warehouses, and other institutions with food pantries, they come out at night or in the dark, scavenging for whatever food products they can find. They usually hide behind stoves, in bathroom vents and plumbing, and under sinks during the day, but if they are seen in large numbers actively scavenging in daylight, it is a sign that a severe infestation is probable. A large population like that would require a professional exterminator to eradicate.

Several generations of German Cockroach can be born in one year, with approximately 30 nymphs in every egg capsule. Females are darker than males and may carry an egg capsule at the end of their abdomen. It is shaped like a grain of rice or Tic-Tac mint. This capsule is left near a food and water source so the emerging nymphs (smaller versions of adults) can immediately start feeding after they hatch.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Blattodea
        Family: Blattellidae
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          Genus: Blattella
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            Species: germanica

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Blattella germanica
Other Name(s): Croton bug
Category: Cockroach
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 16mm (0.51" to 0.62")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black
Descriptors: fast; flying; hairs; pantry; bathroom

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 13mm (0.5in) and 16mm (0.6in)
Lo: 13mm
Md: 14.5mm
Hi: 16mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the German Cockroach may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the German Cockroach. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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