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19 Differences: German Cockroach vs American Cockroach (Palmetto Bug)

There are over 4000+ species of cockroaches, and it is pretty challenging to identify the type you have encountered.

Luckily, german cockroaches & American cockroaches (aka palmetto bugs) are pretty different from each other, and it’s straightforward to identify what you have spotted. All you need is some basic information about significant signs & differences, which will help you identify them very quickly.

Once you know the type of cockroach, it is then far easy to deal with them. So let’s get started.

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1. Origin of German Roaches vs Palmetto Bugs

Let’s start by knowing the origin of both types of roaches. According to scientists, German Cockroaches are native to North Africa (Ethiopia and Sudan) and are spread all over different parts of the world, including Europe and Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, the American cockroach and other palmetto bugs are most commonly found in the Southeastern United States. It is believed that American cockroaches are native to tropical climates of Africa and Florida wood cockroaches mainly belong to the Southeastern United States. This is also the place of their origination.

German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug: Origins

2. German Cockroach Size vs American Roach Size

German roaches are almost an inch smaller than all species of palmetto bugs. Baby german roaches are approximately 1/4 inches long, but as soon as they grow bigger, adult german cockroaches can reach a size of a half-inch or 5/8 inch long.

Most species of palmetto bugs are larger than 1 inch. Adult American Cockroaches are around 1.5 inches to 2 inches long.

Size comparison of German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug

3. Color of American vs German cockroach

Color is the most prominent indicator that helps identify the type of roach.

German cockroaches are light to medium brown or tan/pale brown. Moreover, most of them have parallel dark stripes on their shield.

Different species of palmetto bugs have different in color from each other. For example, American cockroaches are reddish-brown with a yellowish spot on the back of the head which resembles the shape of 8. On the other hand, Florida wood roaches are Dark reddish-brown to slightly blackish, and smoky brown cockroaches look like Smoky dark brown.

Color comparison of German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug

4. Habitat of German roach vs American roach

Cockroaches are insects of the outside world, but German cockroaches are fond of living indoors. The species is now known to cause a chronic infestation. These like to be in indoor structures due to a lack of cold tolerance. Just like all other cockroaches, they like to be around humid areas with plenty of scrap food to eat.

On the other hand, American cockroaches (the most common species of palmetto bug) are not fond of indoors but thrive in gutters and sewer systems. The Florida wood cockroach particularly likes to live outside. However, multiple scenarios can cause them to move inside if the conditions are ideal. You can learn more about palmetto bug infestation here.

Habitat comparison of German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug

5. German Roach Egg Casings vs American Eggs

German cockroach egg cases are relatively thinner and very long in size. They are around 1/3 inches (8mm) long and 0.12 inches (3.5 mm) in width. It has a light tan color. The surface of the egg case has visible bands across the surface width-wise.

The American Cockroach species of palmetto bugs have egg cases similar in length to german cockroaches but are pretty thick and wider. They are around 1/3 inches (8mm) long and 0.2 inches (5 mm) in width. Other palmetto bug egg cases are comparable to the American cockroach, but most are larger in length.

Egg case difference of German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug

6. Egg Case placment of German Roach

This exciting and unique feature of German cockroaches is that they like to keep the egg case attached to their bodies until it is about to get hatched. This increases the survival rate. Then, when the eggs are about to hatch in a few days, the female German cockroach will place them somewhere hidden, with a little food and moisture supply.

American cockroaches and other species of Palmetto bugs will typically place the egg case just it is formed and ready. They will attach it to a substrate to regulate its moisture level in a hidden, dark, and moist place.

Learn More: How Many Roaches are in One Egg?

Egg case placement of German Cockroach vs Palmetto Bug

7. Eggs per case in German Roach vs American

A female German cockroach will lay around 4 to 8 egg cases in its entire lifespan. Each capsule has around 30 to 50 individual eggs. Therefore, they can reproduce 120 to 400 young roaches considering their entire life span.

American cockroaches will lay about 8-10 eggs cases in their entire life span, and in each egg case, there are about 14-18 eggs.

Learn More: Cockroach Eggs: Pictures & Facts

Eggs per case, german cockroach vs american cockroach

8. Population Growth

German cockroaches can reproduce quickly in a favorable environment. A female German cockroach can produce 400 eggs approximately, and it takes almost 103 days for a German cockroach to reach adulthood. The survival and growth rate of german cockroaches is tremendous.

On the other hand, palmetto bugs’ growth rate is slower than German cockroaches. This is because a baby American cockroach takes around six months to reach adulthood, plus the eggs per case are dramatically low. Palmetto bugs thrive better outside or in the sewerage systems. Not inside your kitchen.

You can learn more about how fast roaches multiply here.

Population growth german cockroach vs american cockroach

9. Life span of German Roach vs Palmetto Bug

German cockroaches can live up to 1 year under optimal conditions. However, like other cockroaches, they are also sensitive to cold temperatures and need a moderate environment for their long survival.

Whereas an American cockroach has a different lifespan number according to their gender. A female palmetto bug can live more than two years and an adult male American cockroach up to 1.5 years.

Learn More: How Long Do Cockroaches Live? Roach Lifespan Explained

Life span and life cycle of german cockroach vs American cockroach

10. Baby German Cockroach vs American

German cockroach babies are the size of a rice grain, white in color when they hatch. The color will become darker as they grow. A quick-moving german cockroach baby will be about 1/8 inch and dark brown in color but still lighter in the shade than an adult roach.

American cockroach nymphs are not more than one-quarter of an inch in length. They tend to change their color as they shed their exoskeletons and grow. Most Palmetto Nymphs begin as a black-brown color and evolve to the reddish-brown color of adults.

You can learn more about the baby palmetto bugs here.

Babies and Nymphs of german cockroach vs American cockroach

11. White German Roach (Molting)

German cockroaches tend to mold about six times, and in each molting time, they tend to become bigger and stronger with changes in appearances. But due to their light and soft, unprotected skeleton, they are at risk, but as soon as they develop a hormone named bursicon, they become hard and dark. A freshly molted roach is also referred to as Albino Roach or white cockroach.

Most species of Palmetto bugs tend to molt approximately 10 to 13 times before reaching adulthood. After each molting, they began to resemble more and more of their adults, and at their final molting stage, they gained the ability to reproduce and develop wings.

Molting of german cockroach vs American cockroach.

12. What German Roach Eats

Both German cockroaches and palmetto bugs have almost the same eating habits; however, German cockroaches can thrive indoors with the available food supply out of kitchen garbage cans or leftover food.

Palmetto bugs are more fond of decaying food, like shit in sewerage systems, rotten plants, etc.

But both these roaches will feed on anything like glue, shampoo, meat, starch, wood, paper, or even another dead roach.

Food of german cockroach vs American cockroach

13. German Cockroach Flying Vs American Roach

German cockroaches have wings they are not able to use for flight. The maximum they can do is just slight downward jumping or gliding.

Whereas, the American Cockroach species of Palmetto bugs can fly. It can cover a short distance of around 100 feet in a single flight. But this is something not very common in most palmetto bug species. Like the Florida wood cockroaches don’t even have wings.

You can learn more about cockroaches flying here.

Flying of german cockroach vs American cockroach

14. Infestation Chances of German Roach

If there is leftover food, moisture, and good hiding spots in your kitchen, and a german cockroach finds its way there, they will infest it. German roaches are notorious and extremely hard to eliminate. Therefore, a little carelessness can lead to an infestation.

On the other hand, you will have to work hard to infest your home or kitchen with palmetto bugs. They don’t like to be indoors. There should be leftover food, ideal conditions, quick access to a sewer system for palmetto bugs to infest your home. Learn more about palmetto bug infestation here.

The German cockroach is a habitual infestation vs American cockroach

15. German Roach Smell

Their smell is another way to determine whether you are dealing with a Palmetto bug or German cockroach.

When German cockroaches start to grow, they molt during their growth period; they emit some oily, pungent smell that irritates human noses. The smell is more noticeable near their nests. The source of the smell is the secretion of pheromones and feces.

Palmetto bugs also have a stale, damp, and moldy smell. This smell is due to the same chemical called pheromone released by almost all cockroaches, including German cockroaches, but the smell can be a little different in each case. This chemical helps in communication and mating. A dead cockroach also produces this stinky smell.

Additional Read: What Do Roaches Smell Like?

16. Defence Mechanism

German cockroaches are a lot smaller than palmetto bugs. They are fast and can run away quickly. The first natural defense mechanism german cockroaches utilize is to get away from the danger. German cockroaches are not known to bite or sting.

Since Palmetto bugs are a few types of roaches, they all have different defense mechanisms. American cockroaches will like to run away just like german cockroaches. They even can fly out.

Florida wood species of palmetto bugs have a unique defense mechanism. They have a gland under their abdomen that contains a defense secretion. This protects them from predators. They are effective in repelling other insects like spiders, ants, and other roaches and predators such as birds, lizards, and frogs.

17. German Roach Bite

Both german cockroaches and palmetto bugs do not bite for the sake of attacking back or as a defense mechanism. Instead, they will bite anything in front of them, under their mouth. They are natural decomposers so they will feast on everything. TBH, they don’t recognize humans; for them, it’s just another big beefy stake on the menu that they may bite to try out.

You can learn more about cockroach bites here.

18. Health Risk of German Roach

German cockroaches can be found in highly unhygienic areas. They can bring harmful bacteria and viruses to your home, leading to serious health problems such as dysentery or diarrhea. Cockroaches are quite dangerous.

Similar is the case with palmetto bugs. If they start crawling around your food and places, you should get rid of them immediately. Most Palmetto bugs contain bacteria and viruses that can pose a danger to your health. They can also bite humans, which can cause skin irritation.

19. How easy to kill German Roach?

German cockroaches are far more challenging to eliminate than palmetto bugs. This is because german cockroaches are relatively small, easily hideout, and have a tremendous growth cycle. A single german cockroach egg case has 40-50 eggs, while a palmetto bug has around 10-20 eggs. German cockroaches naturally thrive in indoor conditions.

Additional Read: How to get rid of german roaches?

On the other hand, palmetto bugs are not indoor invaders. Most species of palmetto bugs like to live outside. Palmetto bugs are also large in size and slow. You can easily eliminate them compared to german roaches. We have a recommended list of some best roach-killing products you can use to eliminate roaches.

How easy to kill german roach vs palmetto bug