3 Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches & How To Deal With Them

3 Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches & How To Deal With Them

When you see a brown bug in your house, it’s natural for many of us to jump to the conclusion that we’re dealing with cockroaches and our house needs to be condemned. Actually, there are a lot of bugs that could fit this description. Determining which insect it is will help you get rid of it as soon as possible.

Here are a few insects you might see that look like cockroaches.

1. Beetles

While The Beatles might have made people swoon the world over, beetles could not be more opposite. The sight of a beetle is absolutely not one that makes people rejoice. Instead, it is often met with disdain or discomfort. One notable exception to this is the ladybug, which is actually a kind of beetle.

Ladybugs are one of the few insects that have risen through the ranks to be considered cute, and we salute them. Since they are so cute, no one would ever confuse them with the admittedly creepy discovery of a cockroach in your house. However, there are nearly countless types of beetles total, many of which do bear some tangible similarities to cockroaches.

How Do Beetles Look Similar to Cockroaches?

Beetles and cockroaches are perhaps one of the most commonly confused on our list. At first glance, they have a lot of visual similarities. They both have six legs and are relatively close in terms of length. Depending on the type of beetle (of which there are approximately 350,000 species), they might even be a similar brown color to cockroaches.

Although it is easy to mix these two up, once you look closer, you’ll actually realize that they have quite a few distinct characteristics. That is… if you can get yourself to look closer.

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How Are Beetles Different From Cockroaches?

Depending on which type of beetle you are dealing with, it might be very easy to tell them apart from cockroaches. The primary ways that you would be able to tell the difference would be by their color or their size.

 Cockroaches are a reddish-brown hue. So, anything very different from that should raise alarm bells in your mind that this might be another bug entirely.

If their coloring seems similar, there are a few other points of difference that you can look out for. Check out the length of their limbs. A cockroach’s legs and antennae are significantly longer than those of a beetle. Cockroaches’ exoskeletons appear hard, which can be distinct from a beetle’s exoskeleton.

This next item is actually a point in favor of cockroaches – shocking, we know. While beetles are known to bite, cockroaches do so very rarely. It’s still possible for them, but it is exceptionally uncommon. So while you will probably be freaked out by the sight of a cockroach in your house, you at least don’t have to be worried about a bite.

The final way to determine whether or not you are dealing with a cockroach or a beetle is a very simple one. It isn’t impossible for beetles to take up residence in your home, but they greatly prefer to live outdoors.

On the other hand, cockroaches commonly live in houses, apartments, and other indoor residents. As a result, just the bug's presence is a significant indication of what kind of bug it is.

How To Deal With Beetles

As we mentioned, you can take some comfort in the fact that most types of beetles do not prefer to make your house into their home. Unfortunately, there is one specific kind of aptly named beetle that can’t get enough of your belongings: the carpet beetle

Sure enough, carpet beetles like to live in our carpets. The damage that they do is often confused with moths since they like to feed on the same materials. Carpet beetles are much smaller than cockroaches. They have a unique white, brown, yellow and black pattern, so you are unlikely to confuse them with each other.

That said, if you are experiencing an infestation of carpet beetles, here are some steps you can take:

  • Use your vacuum cleaner’s nozzle attachment on the affected areas
  • Wash any contaminated clothes/bedding at a high temperature
  • Keep all food tightly shut
  • Apply a natural insecticide 

2. Water Bugs

Water bugs have a history of being mistaken for cockroaches that span back a long time. This misunderstanding is so pervasive that people often refer to cockroaches as “water bugs” and vice versa. In reality, these are two entirely separate species.

Let’s review what water bugs and cockroaches have in common (and what they don’t):

How Do Water Bugs Look Similar to Cockroaches?

Cockroaches and water bugs both share a certain brown hue in their exoskeleton and can also be close in length. Water bugs look the most similar to a species known as the oriental cockroach. That is because both bugs are similar in color and are known to live outdoors near water.

Water bugs typically ring in at about two inches in length. Cockroaches are usually a bit smaller (around one to one and a half inches), but it is well within the realm of possibility for some of them to grow that extra half inch.

How Are Water Bugs Different From Cockroaches?

Although the color of these two insects is similar, it is not exactly the same. Cockroaches have a much redder hue than the brown or gray consistent with water bugs. 

You should also note the bug’s proportions to give you a helpful clue. Water bugs are much wider than cockroaches, who are quite slender. A water bug might look more like an oval, whereas a cockroach more closely resembles a rectangle.

Cockroaches are well known for their creepily long antennae at the end of their heads. Meanwhile, water bugs have much shorter antennae, making a stark difference. 

While cockroaches are typically timid and prefer flight over fight, this is not always the case for water bugs. Instead, water bugs are known to bite people frequently when they feel threatened. A bite from a water bug is not dangerous, but it is painful and unpleasant.

What To Do About Water Bugs

There is no doubt that water bugs prefer to live up to their name by residing in and nearby water, but if they live in a colder area, this might not be an option. When winter approaches and the temperature gets lower, many bugs will flock to the warmth and shelter of indoors. Water bugs are no exception to this.

The best way to deal with water bugs is to prevent them from coming into your house in the first place. You can do this by getting rid of certain bodies of standing water near your home, especially near doorways, windows, or cracks. This could include water that has accumulated in a gutter, in pipes, and more.

Reinforcing any visible cracks that could allow bugs to enter your home will not only help deter water bugs, but it will also help deter bugs of all kinds from getting inside. If you need any more proof that this is a worthwhile endeavor, proper reinforcement means that less drafty winds will come in, and heat won’t escape. Not only is your home more likely to be bug-free, but you could also save some money on heat.

For an all-natural method of repelling these creatures, citronella can be highly effective. Citronella is frequently used as a natural mosquito repellent, so much so that it’s a prominent ingredient in our BuzzPatch Mosquito Repellent Patches. However, this powerful essential oil can be used to repel other kinds of bugs too.

3. Bed Bugs

Finally, we have the infamous bed bug. While bugs might not always be the most popular invention of Mother Earth, perhaps none more universally despised than bed bugs. 

They come for us where we are supposed to feel the safest and feed on us when we least expect it (although they can also be found during the day).

The itchy bumps that they leave us with serve as an unpleasant reminder that these violating little pests paid us a visit. They also spread incredibly easily, so they have to be dealt with quickly and thoroughly to ensure they’re totally gone.

How Do Bed Bugs Look Similar to Cockroaches?

Although an adult cockroach is significantly bigger than a bed bug at any age, there can still be some confusion when it comes to differentiating between the two species. Bed bugs can look similar to young cockroaches, often causing some people to wonder what insect it is that they’re actually dealing with.

The main similarity between the two is likely their coloring. The red-brown of the bed bug is fairly similar to that of the cockroach. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to tell these two apart.

How Are Bed Bugs Different From Cockroaches?

An adult cockroach is much bigger than an adult bed bug, even right after a bed bug has had a meal. Bed bugs are about five to seven millimeters long, or 3/16 to a quarter of an inch. That’s quite a bit smaller than an inch to an inch and a half, which is where cockroaches typically land.

Other than that, bed bugs and cockroaches differ greatly on how they get their nutrients. Cockroaches are known to eat essentially anything, which is what makes them so adept at surviving in harsh environments. The one thing that cockroaches don’t seem to like is our blood while we’re still using it.

Bed bugs are pesky insects that need blood to survive. They use the blood of people, pets, and other mammals to fuel themselves so that they can lay eggs and continue their life cycle. Say what you will about cockroaches, but at least they don’t do that.

How To Deal With Bed Bugs

In order to get rid of bed bugs for good, you’re going to need to thoroughly clean any and all upholstered surfaces in your home. All bedding, clutter, and more has to be fully sanitized. However, you have another issue to deal with in the meantime that the rest of the bugs on our list don’t cause.

Bed bugs make us their prey, and their bites leave us with itchy red bumps that we have to deal with for days afterward (somewhat similar to the effects of mosquito bites). 

For occasions when our family needs itch relief without all the harsh chemicals, there are the MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches. Using Grid-Relief Technology, just place a sticker on the sight of the bite and let it work its magic on people of all ages.

So Many Creepy Crawlies

Now you know just how many bugs are out there that vaguely resemble cockroaches. While lots of insects share some visual similarities, you can often tell the difference when you pay a bit more attention.

With that information in mind, you can find how to get rid of them for good and how to keep your family safe and happy along the way.


Cockroach | Britannica

Beetles (Coleoptera) | Smithsonian Institution

Bed Bugs Appearance and Life Cycle | US EPA

Carpet Beetles | Entomology at University of Kentucky

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