It's not always easy to tell cockroaches from other bugs, unless you know what to look for. Common insects like crickets and beetles are often mistaken for roaches. The list below can help you figure out whether you're dealing with roaches or simply bugs that look like roaches.



  • Cockroaches have flat, oval-shaped bodies with long legs and antennae.
  • Most beetles have shorter legs and antennae. Beetles have a hard exoskeleton and make a definite "crunch" when squashed.
  • Crickets are shaped like grasshoppers, with strong back legs for jumping.



  • Cockroaches are reddish-brown to black. Some roaches are a single color of brown and some have more than one color and specific markings. The American cockroach has reddish-brown wings and light-colored circular or "figure eight" markings on its midsection (thorax). It also has a light-colored band just below its head. The German cockroach is light brown in color, with two stripes just below its head. The smoky brown cockroach is dark mahogany brown all over.
  • There are more than 300,000 species of beetles, and they come in various shapes, sizes and colors. Many beetles are brown, which increases their resemblance to cockroaches. The ground beetle and the June bug are two harmless beetles often mistaken for roaches.
  • Crickets are brown to black in color.



  • Most cockroaches have wings that lie flat against their backs and are always visible, but not all.
  • Beetles may or may not have wings. When a winged beetle is at rest, its wings fold up under hard wing cases, part of the beetle's exoskeleton.
  • Crickets’ wings extend over their abdomens. Not every cricket species has wings.



  • Crickets, like grasshoppers, can jump great distances. A startled cockroach may "hop," but running is their best escape. Beetles are also known to scurry, and some species are exceptional swimmers.



  • Cockroaches are attracted to water, but they live on land. The smoky brown cockroach is often mistakenly referred to as a water bug, a type of true bug that lives only in water.
  • Cockroaches live in and around your home. Crickets and beetles are mostly outdoor bugs, but under the right conditions, they’ll enter your house.
  • Crickets and some beetles are attracted to light. Cockroaches prefer dim light and darkness.



  • Cockroaches come from eggs. They look similar to adult roaches from the time that they hatch.
  • Beetles begin life as a worm (grub) and later morph into the adult bug.
  • Crickets also hatch from eggs, and, like cockroaches, the nymphs look similar to the adults.



  • Cockroaches are scavengers. They will eat plants, other insects, feces and your food and garbage. Roaches usually don't eat clothing or bedding unless it’s soiled.
  • Certain beetles and crickets can be very destructive to wood, fabric and food crops. Some species of beetles are predators.



  • Beetles have powerful mouthparts and some may bite.
  • Cockroaches aren't known to bite humans except in rare circumstances, but they can still be a danger to humans. Roaches travel through sewers and filth and track germs across your food and belongings. Also, some people are sensitive to allergens found in roach feces and discarded caste skins.