What Do Cockroaches Look Like?

cockroaches-look-like Credit: Frank Greenaway/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

The physical appearance of cockroaches varies depending on what stage of life the insects are in as well as their specific breed. Male and female cockroaches also vary in appearance: males are generally much larger than females and have different colors and body shapes.

Adult cockroaches differ widely in size, ranging in length from just under 1 inch to over 3 inches, which is measured from the rear end to the tip of the antenna. Cockroaches are found in different colors: some are amber, copper and golden in color, while others come in darker shades, such as black and even dark blue.

Adult cockroaches have a distinct look that is more or less prehistoric in character. These insects have long, flat, oval body shapes complete with two long antennae for feeling and identifying scents and smells. These antennae are perhaps the most distinguishing of all cockroach features: they are long, feathery and wire thin and are often longer in length than the cockroaches’ bodies. The torsos of cockroaches are made up of tiny segments covered with a thin, protective layer that in the aggregate forms the cockroaches’ hardy outer shells.

Cockroaches, like many other insects and arthropods, have compound eyes that contain many tiny retinas. Their eyes have many lenses, giving the insects the ability to simultaneously see objects to the front and off to both sides. The thoraxes, or torsos, of cockroaches are shield-like in appearance, fortified underneath with a thick layer of cartilage and covered with a thick outer shell. The edge of the first part of the thorax generally covers most of the cockroaches’ heads, acting as a combination of helmet and hood.

Cockroaches have many tiny long and spindly legs, which give them the ability to run, dig and even swim. Most cockroaches have four wings: two large wings, much like those on birds, which facilitate takeoff and landing, and a set of two smaller wings underneath that aid with balance and keeping cockroaches upright in the air. They also have strong, downward-facing mouthparts that look like small claws and help the roaches grasp and consume their food.

According to JRank, some species of cockroaches have brilliant bright markings that give them a magnificent and easily identifiable look but, most importantly, protect them from potential predators. These bright colors act as warning signals to predators that the cockroaches contain potent and powerful poisons that will leave predators sick, paralyzed or dead if they are consumed. A phenomenal characteristic of some cockroach species is their ability to assume the look and even shape of similar insects. Cockroaches that live in tropical regions are known to adopt the shape and physical resemblance of fireflies, ladybird beetles and wasps.