Do All Cockroaches Fly?

Do all cockroaches fly? Not all cockroaches fly. It's a creepy question, and one we might be afraid to ask for fear of the answer. Stoy Hedges, an entomologist and Manager of Technical Services at Terminix...

It's a creepy question, and one we might be afraid to ask for fear of the answer.

Stoy Hedges, an entomologist and Manager of Technical Services at Terminix International, offers this reply, "No. The German cockroach does not fly."

However, that is not the case with all types of cockroaches. According to the website for the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program, ( the American cockroach does. Well, sort of. "Even though both sexes are winged, their flight is more of a gliding movement from point to point than active flight."

How can you tell an American cockroach from a German cockroach? "The American cockroach is...about 40 mm. (1.5 inches) long with a reddish-brown body," while the German is considerably smaller at 12-17 mm. (½ to 5/8 inch) long, and is tan to light brown with two dark brown stripes on the body just behind the head.

One type not to be concerned about performing aerial feats in your living room, is "The Oriental cockroach, [they] only have partial wings or wingpads. They don't fly," says Hedges.

The Oriental cockroach is about 1 inch long and comes in shades from dark brown to black, and has a glossy body.

Regarding cockroaches you might see outdoors, Hedges states, "Smoky Brown and Woods cockroaches do fly, or at least the male Woods cockroaches fly. They emerge in June and July in most areas of the country."

According to the International Cockroach Association's website at, the Smoky Brown "is a ready flier and easily travels from trees onto houses. It is commonly attracted to homes to feed on improperly contained trash containers and pet food on patios and decks. Once by the house, the insect may then enter."

Regarding Woods cockroaches, the ICA site states, "Adult males usually mature in June and July and are active at night. Being strong fliers, they will readily fly to lights on buildings and may crawl inside."

Hedges adds about the Woods cockroaches, "You see these one inch long cockroaches fly near your TV at night."

Those are the cockroaches we most commonly see. However, there are 3,000 species of cockroaches in the world and 50 in the United States according the University of Rhode Island website cited above.

If you live in the southern states, particularly Florida, you will have other species of cockroaches winging it. Among the fliers is the Australian cockroach which is found along the Gulf Coast and is up to 1 and 1/4 inches long and is reddish brown with yellow markings. The Cuban cockroach resides in the same geographical location as the Australian, and is easy to spot with its bright lime green body. It is active at night, flying towards lights and onto (eventually into) buildings. The Asian cockroach is primarily a resident of the Sunshine State. It looks identical to the German cockroach, with one important difference; the Asian cockroach can fly. For a look at all these critters, check out the Pest Library at

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