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Wood Roach vs. Cockroach: What to Be Aware Of

Roaches are definitely something anyone would like to avoid in their home. Nevertheless, they still magically appear from time to time. Telling the difference between wood roach vs cockroach is fairly hard since they look fairly similar at first glance. It might be hard to spot the difference in these insects, but you should know that wood roaches are not your enemy. “What are wood roaches?” you might ask. In short, they are insects that won’t harm you or your household.

To know the difference between the tree roaches and cockroaches, you just need to look at their size: the latter are usually bigger and darker in color.

Wood Roach vs Cockroach
  • Size: wood roaches are typically smaller than cockroaches.
  • Body: wood roaches have a flattened body shape, while cockroaches are more oval-shaped.
  • Wings: wood roaches typically have wings, while cockroaches do not.
  • Habitat: wood roaches are more likely to be found in wooded areas, while cockroaches are more likely to be found in urban environments.

cockroaches crawl through the gap

How to Tell the Difference Between Roaches?

Here is how you can quickly tell the difference between tree roaches and regular cockroaches:

  • They have different colors. Tree roaches are beige or light brown, while cockroaches are reddish or dark brown.
  • Tree roaches have wings while cockroaches do not.
  • Tree roaches are attracted by light and, unlike cockroaches, do not hide when the sun comes up.

Differences between wood cockroaches and other cockroaches

It is important to be aware of some specific characteristics of different roaches that can potentially change your approach to getting rid of them.

Wood roaches

Most of the time, people confuse a wood cockroach with a regular cockroach. Although, many entomologists would be offended because they are of different species. Let’s look at the two separately to find out how to spot which one you are dealing with.

Of course, it is easy to google pictures of wood roaches, but without a trained eye, they all look the same. Wood roaches are small insects, they have light brown if not yellowish color, and they are usually spotted outside. They have wings and can fly during their whole lifecycle.

Their reproduction season starts in May or June, and these species prefer to breed only during warm times, as it is easier to hatch healthy offspring. Their eggs are laid inside the old or dead bark, where young cockroaches can find enough food to grow.

Wood roaches primarily feed on decaying matter, and their mouth is specialized to work through the tough material of the trees. Moreover, their habitat should be humid enough for them to feel comfortable enough to reproduce. This is why wood roaches in the house are a rare appearance. Their intestines contain yeast-heavy microflora, which helps them digest all of the eaten wood.

The other interesting characteristic is their light sensitivity. Wood roaches are mainly active during the daytime, which means that they won’t be afraid of you coming into the room and switching the lights on. They might be startled by flickering but will not try to run away at first sight.

wood roach on white background

Cockroaches and their characteristics

Cockroaches, on the other hand, are much more frequently seen in houses than outside. What you should pay attention to is their size since they can reach up to 2 inches long. In addition, they have a dark-brown or reddish exterior that helps to hide in the darkness. They are highly invasive, which means that once they get into your house, it might be really hard to get rid of them.

Another difference that you might notice in cockroaches is that they don’t have wings until their first molding. The development of a house cockroach happens over the course of several days. Cockroaches can breed at any season of the year, as long as there is enough food and it’s warm and dark enough.

House roaches prefer eating spoiled food and very rarely consume hard materials such as rotten wood. You can see them in your trashcan or around big piles of used products. They will eat any leftovers you got, as they are not really picky in their diet.

Of course, proteins and fats have more energy in them, that is why they might prefer these foods over others. Cockroaches also produce allergens that may cause breathing difficulties.

Light sensitivity is also a distinct feature of these insects. They will go out mostly during the night to avoid any accidental interactions with humans. Once you turn on the light – they will immediately scatter around the room, looking for a dark corner to hide in. They are afraid of you as much as you are of them, so you should not worry about them getting anywhere close to your body.

How to prevent wood cockroaches from entering your house

There might be different reasons for wood roaches and cockroaches to be in your house. Both of them can be annoying pests, and of course, it would be better to not have them in your space.

many caught cockroaches

Keeping Wood Roaches Out is Easy

Wood cockroaches usually appear in your house by accident. They might accidentally wander in or get carried inside with footwear. They don’t like being in human spaces, as there is mostly no reason for them to be in our houses. What might be a problem is that even though there is a great variety of different insecticides against roaches, they won’t be as effective against tree roaches.

If they do invade your house, it is better to try to let them out on their own by guiding the insects closer to the open doors or windows. Using different chemical compounds inside your house might also negatively affect your health, causing an allergic reaction. There are also special sprays that you can use outside your house to spray the chemical on the possible ways these insects can enter through.

Keeping cockroaches out is hard

Things are more difficult with house cockroaches, though. These pests can easily get into your house and will refuse to get out no matter how hard you try. The first thing you need to do to prevent them from getting inside is always clean up any food waste they might be potentially attracted to.

Always wash your dishes and don’t let the trash stay inside for too long. Be sure to check all of the tight corners and drawers because roaches like to lay their eggs in places that most of the time are overlooked by us.

When you know that cockroaches are already in your house, there are different approaches you might choose while dealing with them. The first one is sticky traps that have a specific bait that will attract roaches to them, and then the insects won’t be able to get off of the piece of paper.

Even though you might catch a lot of them on these contraptions, you will not get rid of the root of the problem. To completely get rid of cockroaches, you might need to purchase cockroach traps with poison that will slowly kill the insect when it eats it. These traps are effective as they exterminate the whole colony.

cockroach died on the floor

If you are really concerned about an infestation, you might need to contact your local pest control, which will send a professional to deal with your problem. They will have specific insecticides that are highly poisonous. Usually, it might take from 2 to 6 hours for your house to get fully cleaned. It is recommended to leave the place for a day so you don’t breathe in the harmful toxins.

FAQ on Different Types of Cockroaches

If you’re not a specialist, it might be hard for you to differentiate between several kinds of roaches, and it is natural to have questions regarding this problem. Here are the most common questions people ask with regards to wood roaches.

Are wood roaches the same as cockroaches?

No. Wood roaches are a different species of roaches that are not common inside our houses. They are smaller in size and have light-brown coloring. Tree roaches prefer to feed on rotten wood and live only in highly humid places.

Do wood roaches infest homes?

Wood roaches are a rare sight in the house. They don’t infest human homes, as there is nothing for them to feed on and the environment of our spaces is not optimal for them to breed in. They might get in during the spring, but it is easy to get rid of them.

What attracts wood roaches?

Wood cockroaches are attracted to humid, warm places which contain their main source of food: decaying trees. They lay their eggs in tree stumps or fallen old plants that have been around in the forest for a long time.

Why are wood roaches in my house?

Wood roaches accidentally enter the house by being carried inside or attracted to light. Don’t be afraid, they are completely harmless. You can simply catch them and throw them out near the woods. In the spring, they can get in if it is warm inside.

What does a wood roach look like?

A wood roach is a small insect that barely reaches 1 inch. It has wings and light-brown coloring. You can meet them near decaying trees in nature.

wood roach on a tree

Don’t Make Friends With Roaches

Roaches are insects that invaded almost every continent on our planet. Despite them being gross-looking, some are actually not that harmful. You should be aware of the common differences between wood roaches and house cockroaches to know which one you are dealing with. This way, you can always be ready to take important steps to eliminate the problem.

Have you ever encountered wood roaches in your house? What measures do you take against cockroaches? Please, share your opinion with us in the comments below.

Also read:


  • Their habitat should be humid (Scott Horn USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA):
  • Cockroaches also produce allergens (J H van Wijnen, Arnoud P Verhoeff GGD Amsterdam, D. K. F. Mulder-Folkerts, H. J. H. Brachel):
  • Cockroaches are already in your house (By Blake Layton and Jerome Goddard, Mississippi State University):


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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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