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Discoid Roaches: All You need to Know

Discoid roach has many names, including tropical cockroach and false death’s head cockroach. Like Red Runner and Dubai Roach, it is also popular as exotic pets food with low chitin to protein and fat ratio. Although Discoid roaches are native to Jamaica and Cuba, they are also found in Florida.

Discoid roach is a 1.5 inches tan, a circular disc-shaped cockroach with a dark brown patch on the head. They have wings that cover a rough-surfaced body. They can not fly nor climb smooth vertical surfaces. The Discoid cockroach is a popular feeder roach for exotic pets, making it a sort-after insect.

The good thing about Discoid roaches is that they are legal in Certain US states where Dubia Roaches are illegal, including Florida, California, and Louisiana. In addition, discoid roaches are primarily outdoor species and rarely infest homes. I have written this blog to make it easier for the reader to identify and compare Discoid roach with other feeder roaches.

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Discoid roach Characteristic & Identification

Superficially Discoid roach resembles death’s head cockroach. For this reason, they are also known as false death’s head cockroaches. But many other features help differentiate both of them easily.


Adult Discoid cockroach appears like a fat tan-colored disc with dark brown to black patches on the prothorax. The Discoid roach has thin antennas smaller than the body size. When looked from below, the abdomen appears serrated.

The nymph of discoid roach is light brown with multiple black patches resembling spikes.

The male Discoid roach has a light-colored abdomen with a segmented plate at the end of the abdomen, whereas; females have a dark-colored abdomen with a singular plate at the end of the abdomen.


An Adult Discoid roach measures 1.4 to 1.8 inches (3.55-4.57 cm).

The nymph measures 4 to 6 mm in the earliest stage to about 10 to 12 mm long at a later stage.

Wings and Bite

Both male and female discoid roaches are equipped with two sets of tiny wings. Unfortunately, the wing size is smaller than the body, making them poor flyers.

Discoid roach never bites.

Identification Points

Discoid roaches can be differentiated from death’s head cockroach by,

  1. Discoid roach has smaller size than death;s head cockroach by upto half an inch.
  2. Death’s head cockroach is slender and flatter than Discoid roach.

Distribution And Habitat

Discoid roach lives in the outdoors and loves a warm and humid atmosphere. They rarely infest homes and are accidental intruders; exterminating them is very easy.

They are native to South America, Jamaica, and Cuba but are also found in Northern US, especially in Florida.

Discoid roach is omnivorous and loves to eat starchy foods or fresh herbs.

Cockroaches come in different sizes; some of the biggest cockroaches, like one found by a Facebook user Locutor O. Paniagua on September 4, 2020, measured 4.5 inches, holding a world record. 

Can Discoid roaches infest your House?

Discoid roach love to live outside and rarely infest homes. However, accidental infestations are reported in some tropical regions, including Florida.

Once the cockroach infests a home, it usually nests in a hidden area with plenty of food and water. They are slow breeders and take a long time to multiply into large numbers.

Moreover, they are not timid and sensitive to light; therefore, they freely crawl out, and exterminating them is very easy.

It is essential to know that many people across Florida and other countries try to breed discoid roach as they are very sought after and can sell for some good money.

In short, infestation with discoid roach is very rare and a blessing in disguise for the one who knows its importance.

To know whether your place is infested with small roaches, look for cockroach smear marks around the damp corners. They are an indication of an infestation.

Benefits and Uses of Discoid Roaches

Exotic pets, including leopard geckos, Lizards like bearded dragons, Monitor lizards, and Chinese Water dragons, all require a constantly balanced diet in the form of proteins. Insects, including Cockroaches, crickets, and worms, come to the rescue in this scenario.

The problem with using roaches as food is that the exoskeleton is full of chitin, a biopolymer that is difficult to digest. On the other hand, crickets are low in protein and worms high in fat, making them less ideal. These problems are solved by Discoid, Dubia, and Red runner roaches.

Discoid roaches are used as,

  1. Food of choice for exotic pets because they have very low percentage of Chitin and Fat and are high in proteins and calcium, vitamins and minerals.
  2. In certain parts of South Florida, people arrange cockroach eating competitions. For this, discoid roaches are thought to be the ideal insects.
  3. Recently, some scientists are trying to use Discoid roaches as fuel cells to power minature robots (Source)

Are Discoid roaches Legal in the US?

In certain states of the US, including Florida, Hawaii, California, and Louisiana, entry of Dubia and Red runner roaches are illegal. This is because these roaches are not prevalent in these states.

On the other hand, the atmosphere of these states has a perfect environment and lacks a suitable predator for Dubia and Red runner roaches. Therefore, if Dubia and Red Runner roaches escape in the wild, this can bring a tragedy similar to the Rabbit Plaque of Australia in 1900.

Contrary to the above, Discoid roaches are legal in all states of the US because they are native species.

Method to Breed Discoid Roaches

Discoid roaches are bad breeders as compared to other roaches. They often take a long time to mate and breed, making them scarce. If you want to breed discoid roach for feeding your exotic pest or else want to farm them for selling, then this article is for you.,

Discoid roaches are breeder by the following Method.

Step 1: Arrange Breeding Containers.

Before you start to order Discoid roaches, arrange breeding containers. Although you can use glass, I prefer square-shaped plastic containers at least 2 feet tall.

The number of breeding containers depends on your requirement. However, you must have one container for every male and three females.

Step 2: Order a Perfect Pair

You must order young Discoid roaches, no more than one year old, or you will only get a few batches before the female stops giving offspring.

Step 3: Group and Seggregate Properly

Keep one male and 3 to 4 females per container. This is because one male can fertilize many female roaches.

Step 4: Set Up Temperature and Humidity

You must keep the temperature between 85 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit; any above or low will drastically affect the fertilization rate.

To keep the humidity high, you may use a wet towel to cover the container or a humidifier.

Step 5: Arrange a Balanced Diet

To gain a maximum breed, you must feed them a well-balanced diet rich in proteins and vitamins. The best diet is a coarse powder of wheat or maze mixed with peanuts. Also, keep green veggies and milk solids to full fill the calcium and Iron demand.

Step 6: Take your Reward

After three months, you will start to see the results in the form of offspring. One female usually gives rise to 35 nymphs in her lifetime. Segregate the babies after four months, and they will ultimately be mature by eight months.

Additional Read!

Red Runner Roach: All you need to Know

I saw one Cockroach, Should I be Worried?

Where Do Roaches Come From?