Types of Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches But Aren’t

types of bugs that look like cockroaches

Cockroaches are an unwelcome presence in our homes. They’re filthy, can spread diseases, and are often too quick to catch or kill. So, it’s understandable to panic when you spot a brown-back critter scuttling away.

But, often these random sightings turn out to be some other insect entirely. There are quite a few insects that look very much like cockroaches but are often harmless. Here’s a quick overview of a few different types of bugs that look like cockroaches.

5 Types Of Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches

#1. Water Bugs

Water Bugs

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Water bugs are often mistaken as a type of cockroach, but they’re not. Actual water bugs, as the name suggests, live in water.

They thrive in water bodies like ponds, lakes, and streams. Water bugs are also called electric light bulbs or toe biters because they like to fly around porch lights and bite humans when they are handled or feel threatened.

Water bugs grow up to four inches in length with that cockroach-like color of dark brown. They are also predatory insects that love feasting on smaller aquatic animals like tadpoles.

#2. Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

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Bed bugs are another species often mistaken as baby cockroaches or cockroach nymphs because of the similarity in color (reddish-brown) as well as the same oval body shape.

Given how tiny bed bugs are, you will have to make a closer inspection to distinguish them from baby roaches. Adult bed bugs only grow about 0.2 inches long and have flat bodies. The primary source of nourishment for bed bugs is you. They pierce your skin while you’re asleep and then use their elongated beak to withdraw blood from you.

Compared to cockroaches, bed bugs are rounder and have shorter antennae.

#3. Crickets


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At first glance, crickets look very similar to cockroaches, but more people would welcome a cricket than a cockroach. In Asia, crickets are considered good luck and are common in folklore and cultural beliefs.

Crickets have rounded heads with long antennae, cylinder-shaped bodies, and long rear legs. Most crickets in the US have brown and black colorings, with a handful being greenish.

#4. Termites


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Although termites and cockroaches are entirely different in terms of their behavior as well as physical appearance, they’re still easily mistaken for one another.

Termites are much smaller than cockroaches and are social creatures that live in large colonies with their own set of royalties — a king and queen. They prefer living inside the confines of walls where they can be safe and have plenty of space to create their colonies.

Unlike cockroaches, termites’ diet consists of cellulose obtained from leaves, wood, and other organic matter like fungi or manure. Termites also vary in their appearance depending on the species.

#5. Beetles


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Another bug that resembles a cockroach is the beetle. Although some species of beetles look a lot like roaches, beetles in general feature shorter legs. They are also plumper with a rounder body than your common cockroaches.

When you look closer, beetles also have tufts of hair on their bodies that cockroaches don’t have. Beetles are typically not harmful to humans, but they can cause damage to your property depending on the type of beetle you are dealing with.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between These Bugs And Cockroaches?

Cockroaches may seem to have plenty of physical similarities with the bugs listed here, but a closer look will make you realize that these bugs have many unique characteristics.

For instance, the habitat choice of water bugs and cockroaches is very different. Water habitats live in water, while cockroaches like damp and moist places but cannot survive in water.

Food preference is another way to distinguish other bugs from cockroaches. Bed bugs survive on human blood, water bugs eat smaller aquatic species, and termites prefer cellulose, whereas cockroaches will eat almost anything they find including garbage.

Additionally, unlike termites, cockroaches live alone and can survive without the help of their colony. You will seldom see two roaches congregating and foraging for food together.

Characteristics That Are Unique To Cockroaches


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Cockroaches have certain distinct characteristics that make them unique. Here are some things that make cockroaches one of a kind.

#1. Impressive Resilience

Did you know that a cockroach can live headless for a week? They are also experts at holding their breath for at least 40 minutes and can survive in the hottest as well as freezing temperatures. It’s almost impossible for cockroaches to go extinct.

#2. Size Matters

A major factor behind cockroaches’ tendency to survive is their size. It is very easy for cockroaches to hide in crevices and slide themselves into cracks. Male cockroaches, for example, can conveniently fit into a space as thick (or thin) as a quarter coin.

#3. Incredible Quickness

Aside from being small, cockroaches are also fast creatures. They can cover up to three miles per hour. A newborn roach can run as fast as its parents!

#4. No Food, No Problem

Cockroaches can survive without food for almost 30 days. This species can also survive without a drop of water for two weeks. And since they fall under the bracket of omnivores, they have a variety of food options to choose from.

#5. Breeding Machines

A female cockroach is one of the most rapid breeders in the world and can have up to 30,000 babies per year. Imagine how many offspring 50 female cockroaches can have annually!

Gretchen Walker
Gretchen is a homemaker by day and writer by night. She takes a keen interest in life as it unfolds around her and spends her free time observing people go about their everyday affairs.