Cockroach Anatomy 101

There are cockroaches found across the globe, to the tune of more than 4,500 species. With so many types – about 55 of which are found in the United States – there is variation in terms of size, color and abilities (for example: some roaches fly, while others do not). However, roach anatomy is basically the same for all of them.

Know your pest types

Proper cockroach identification is important, because it helps determine what control methods should be used. You may think you know what a cockroach looks like, but other insects can be mistaken for them. Certain species of ground beetles, crickets, leaf-footed bugs and Longhorned beetles are sometimes confused with cockroaches.

Anatomy of a cockroach

Immature cockroaches look roughly the same as adults, but are smaller and sometimes have different coloration. For the purposes of understanding the basic anatomy of a roach, it is easiest to look at the adult. Its body is divided into three segments: head, thorax and abdomen.

Cockroaches have a long pair of antennae that help them to pick up smells and vibrations. The antennae are connected to the head, which also includes the brain, strong mouthparts for scraping and chewing food and compound eyes. They have poor vision and dislike light, which is why most species are nocturnal.

After the head comes the thorax. It includes three pairs of legs – cockroaches have six legs total – and two pairs of wings. Additionally, there is a plate behind the head called the pronotum. It is important because that is where many species have differentiating markings. Most adult cockroaches have wings, but only a few species fly. However, cockroaches can crawl at speeds of up to 3 miles per hour. They are also able to traverse walls and ceilings due to the fact that their legs have short, spiky protrusions that stick to surfaces.

The abdomen is the final piece, and it contains reproductive organs. At the back of the abdomen are two short protrusions called cerci. They function like rear antennae and are connected to the roach's legs by the abdominal nerve ganglia. This allows their legs to start moving when vibrations are sensed, often before their brain even processes a threat. That is also why it can be hard to sneak up on a roach.

Now that you know how cockroaches' anatomy helps them get around, go the extra mile and stop them in their tracks. For roach control you can trust, call Terminix® or get cockroach control online here.