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American Cockroach vs. German Cockroach — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Published on March 6, 2024
American Cockroaches are larger, prefer damp areas like sewers, and can fly, whereas German Cockroaches are smaller, thrive in indoor environments like kitchens, and cannot fly.
American Cockroach vs. German Cockroach — What's the Difference?

Difference Between American Cockroach and German Cockroach


Key Differences

American Cockroaches, averaging about 1.5 inches in length, are among the largest pests in urban homes, seeking warm, damp environments like sewers and basements. On the other hand, German Cockroaches are smaller, typically about 0.5 inches long, and prefer the warmer, more humid conditions found in kitchens and bathrooms.
While American Cockroaches are more likely to be found in commercial buildings and outdoor environments, German Cockroaches tend to infest residential spaces more aggressively, thriving in close proximity to human activity. This makes German Cockroaches a more common household pest.
American Cockroaches have a reddish-brown color and are capable of flying short distances, which can aid in their spread across different areas. Conversely, German Cockroaches are light brown to tan, with two dark stripes on their back, and lack the ability to fly, relying more on hitchhiking on personal belongings to spread.
The life cycle of an American Cockroach, which can last up to an approximate two years, allows for more extended periods between generations. In contrast, German Cockroaches have a shorter lifecycle, with a higher reproduction rate, leading to quicker infestations if not promptly addressed.
Control measures for American Cockroaches often involve addressing outdoor entry points and damp areas inside buildings. In contrast, controlling German Cockroaches usually requires more targeted indoor treatments, such as baiting and sanitation, due to their preference for living spaces and rapid reproduction.

Comparison Chart


About 1.5 inches (38 mm) long
About 0.5 inches (13 mm) long

Preferred Habitat

Sewers, basements, and damp areas
Indoor environments, especially kitchens and bathrooms

Flying Ability

Capable of short flights
Cannot fly


Light brown to tan with two dark stripes

Life Cycle

Up to two years
Shorter, with a higher reproduction rate


Can fly to move across areas
Spreads through hitchhiking on belongings

Commonality in Homes

Less common in homes, more in commercial buildings
More common in residential settings

Control Measures

Address outdoor entry points, damp areas
Targeted indoor treatments, sanitation, baiting

Compare with Definitions

American Cockroach

A large, reddish-brown insect known for inhabiting damp environments.
The American Cockroach is often found in the basement due to its preference for moisture.

German Cockroach

A small, light brown cockroach that thrives indoors, especially in kitchens.
We discovered German Cockroaches behind the fridge during the cleanup.

American Cockroach

Often found in commercial buildings and less frequently in homes.
The restaurant had to call pest control to deal with an American Cockroach infestation.

German Cockroach

More commonly found in residential settings than its American counterpart.
German Cockroaches are a frequent problem in apartment buildings.

American Cockroach

Prefers warmer climates but can survive in a variety of environments.
Despite the cold weather, we found an American Cockroach in our garage.

German Cockroach

Cannot fly, which limits its spread to close contact or hitchhiking.
German Cockroaches spread throughout the apartment complex via shared laundry facilities.

American Cockroach

Capable of flight, making it adept at spreading across different areas.
The American Cockroach flew from one building to another, seeking new habitats.

German Cockroach

Known for its rapid reproduction rate, leading to quick infestations.
A few German Cockroaches turned into an infestation in just months.

American Cockroach

Has a longer lifecycle than many other pests.
The American Cockroach can live up to two years, outlasting seasons.

German Cockroach

Requires targeted indoor treatment for control.
The exterminator used bait stations specifically designed for German Cockroaches.

Common Curiosities

Can German Cockroaches fly?

No, German Cockroaches cannot fly.

What environments do American Cockroaches prefer?

American Cockroaches prefer warm, damp environments like sewers and basements.

Where are German Cockroaches most commonly found?

They are most commonly found in indoor environments, especially kitchens and bathrooms.

What is the lifespan of an American Cockroach?

The lifespan can be up to two years.

Are American Cockroaches capable of flight?

Yes, they are capable of flying short distances.

Can cleaning reduce the risk of cockroach infestations?

Yes, proper sanitation can significantly reduce the risk of infestations from both types.

How big are American Cockroaches compared to German Cockroaches?

American Cockroaches are significantly larger, about three times the size of German Cockroaches.

What attracts American Cockroaches to homes?

They are attracted to warm, damp conditions often found in homes.

What are the primary control measures for American Cockroaches?

Addressing outdoor entry points and controlling indoor moisture are key.

How do the reproductive rates of these cockroaches compare?

German Cockroaches have a higher reproduction rate compared to American Cockroaches.

How do German Cockroaches spread?

They spread through hitchhiking on personal belongings.

What colors are German Cockroaches?

They are light brown to tan with two dark stripes on their back.

How effective are baits against German Cockroaches?

Baits are highly effective as part of a targeted indoor treatment strategy.

Do American Cockroaches pose the same level of infestation risk as German Cockroaches?

No, German Cockroaches pose a higher infestation risk in residential settings due to their rapid reproduction and indoor habitat preference.

What makes German Cockroaches a common household pest?

Their preference for living spaces close to human activity and their rapid reproduction rate.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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