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German Cockroaches

German Cockroach

The German cockroach is an urban pest commonly found in houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and other buildings. They are the most common species of cockroach in Canada and throughout North America. German Cockroaches are small, measuring 15 millimeters when fully grown, and have the typical long, wide, and flat body shape. Unlike the American cockroach, German Cockroaches are not able to fly.


What Do German Cockroaches Look Like? image of German cockroach

  • Long, flat, and wide body shape with six legs and two long antennae protruding from the head
  • Adults are approximately 13 to 16 mm in length
  • Light brown to tan colour
  • Two dark longitudinal lines on the pronotum (shield behind head)
  • Males exhibit a much more tapered abdomen than females

image of German cockroach fragments

Habitat and Behaviour

A day in the life of a German cockroach

Cockroaches tend to prefer areas that are warm and humid. Like most indoor pests, they are looking for sources of food and water as well as a safe place to rest and reproduce. Cockroaches will typically be found in and around appliances, bathrooms, under sinks, dishwashers, medicine cabinets, mop closets, false ceilings, and anywhere food may be kept overnight such as storage closets and pantries. Cockroaches are not likely to move from one building to another, but that hasn’t stopped them from spreading via shipments and packaging to nearly every corner of the world, even as far north as Alert, Nunavut.

Cockroaches are omnivorous and scavengers, as such they will feed on almost anything available. However, they do prefer sugary foods, grease, starch, and meats. In heavily infested buildings, they may resort to other eating glue, packaging materials, biting humans, and even turning cannibalistic.

German Cockroach Life Cycle


Why should I be concerned?

Although cockroaches are not often associated with damage caused to buildings and vegetation, they have the potential to do great harm as they travel through various habitats, including refuse heaps and sewers. Cockroaches contaminate food with their feces and defensive secretions, they can carry pathogenic organisms. They can carry intestinal diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid fever, and cholera. People who experience frequent and prolonged exposure to cockroaches may develop mild to severe allergic reactions such as dermatitis, itching, swelling of the eyelids, and serious respiratory conditions.

Do German Cockroaches Bite?

Tips for prevention and control

These tips may help you keep German cockroaches out of your home:

  • Do not leave food out overnight
  • Do not leave pet food and water out overnight
  • Wash your dishes, pans, and utensil as soon as you are done using them
  • Remove all food or spilled drinks from counter tops and clean counters, sinks, and tables with soapy water
  • Vacuum all cracks and crevices to remove debris and food
  • Sweep or vacuum any food and debris on floors
  • Take garbage out daily in closed plastic containers; keep waste containers washed and clean
  • Repair any leaky water pipes or faucets
  • Recycle cans and bottles on a regular basis; wash and clean containers that hold recycling items
  • Increase ventilation where condensation is a problem

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