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Cockroaches, who doesn’t know them? By far, this insect is considered one of the dirtiest things you can have in your home. This while they have been present on this earth many times longer than man. Meanwhile, the cockroach has lived for about 350 million years and is one of the most successful creatures we know.

Cockroaches come in many shapes and sizes. Therefore, you cannot lump them all together. The vast majority are friendly and live in the wild. Only a small proportion are considered harmful.

Cockroaches cannot bite and will never attack. So you don’t have to be afraid of them. However, they can transmit diseases and it is a sign that the environment in which they are present is not hygienic.

Species of Cockroaches

As far as we know, there are over 3,500 different species of cockroaches on Earth. However, not all species are also considered pests. The vast majority live in the wild and hardly ever bother humans. Some species that we still sometimes encounter in the Netherlands are listed below.

German cockroach

The German cockroach (Blatella germanica) is by far the most common species in the Netherlands. They grow on average between 12 and 15 millimeters long. Usually you find them in warm damp places. For example, under a refrigerator. If you see one cockroach of this species, you can assume that there are several. During the day you will hardly see them, if at all, because these are true nocturnal animals that only emerge when it is quiet and dark. Furthermore, this species is known as an omnivore. This means that it is not picky and will eat any kind of food. When you are bothered by the German cockroach, it is advisable to keep everything clean and dry and especially not leave any food lying around.

American cockroach

We see the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) a lot less often than the German cockroach. This species is notable for its relatively large appearance. They can grow between 3 and 5 centimeters in size, making them the largest species found in the Netherlands. The American cockroach also prefers warm humid environments, is only active at night and, like its German brother, eats almost anything. The American cockroach is also notable for its willingness to fly when it is very hot and humid.

Brown banded cockroach

The brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa) is very similar to the German cockroach. It is about the same size, between one and one and a half inches long. It also prefers warm humid environments and places itself mostly walking. The difference from the German cockroach is mainly in the yellow-brown color of the brown-banded cockroach. In addition, the brown-banded cockroach can also be found in less humid places.

Northern cockroach

The northern cockroach (Ectobius Lapponicus) is usually not a nuisance in the Netherlands. This species lives mostly in forests and meadows and feeds there on organic material. As far as is known, this species does not live indoors and is therefore almost never found there. The length of the animal is between 6 and 11 millimeters depending on the sex. What stands out are the insect’s wings which are larger than its conspecifics.

Eastern cockroach

The Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) is also found throughout the Netherlands but to a lesser extent than the German cockroach. This species grows between 2 and 3 centimeters long and is much darker in color. The Oriental cockroach does resemble a beetle or a beetle. This species is found in buildings but can also be found outside. They are regularly spotted in garbage dumps and containers. Like all its congeners, the Oriental cockroach is mainly active at night.

Surinamese cockroach

Like the Northern cockroach, the Suriname cockroach is not normally found indoors. They mostly live outside in hollow trees or under rocks. The only times we do see this species inside is when it has traveled with houseplants. The Suriname cockroach does not eat everything but feeds on plant material. This species grows about 3.5 inches long and is brown in color.

Living area of a cockroach

Cockroaches are found all over the world and are among the oldest inhabitants of this earth. Over time, they have evolved into many different species. Every area on earth has its own species with its own characteristics.

Cockroaches in the Netherlands

There are only a few species of cockroaches in the Netherlands. The German cockroach is the most well-known species. It is often spotted in homes and restaurants where it feasts on food scraps. Normally the Netherlands, especially in winter, is too cold for cockroaches. Outside, you won’t see most species easily. You usually find cockroaches in warm damp places with food nearby, think of a kitchen.

Characteristics of a cockroach

Although there are many species, cockroaches have corresponding characteristics that many other types of insects do not have. They are oval in shape, fast and well camouflaged. Furthermore, the cockroach is known to survive for a very long time without food.


A cockroach’s head can be recognized by its relatively long antennae. These are sometimes as long as the body itself. It has strong jaws with which it manages to destroy organic material.


Below the thorax are the 4 legs. Although most species in the Netherlands almost never fly, the cockroach’s wings are attached to this part of the body. The wings also serve as a kind of shield.

Back body

The abdomen contains most of the organs. These are protected by the wings. This is also where the eggs are made with which the cockroach reproduces.


Cockroaches generally live in warm humid conditions. In tropical countries they survive basically everywhere and are found not only near people but also in the wild. In colder environments such as the Netherlands, survival in the wild becomes more difficult. A cockroach simply does not survive the winter because it is too cold. For that reason, you often see them here in warm environments such as kitchens. Especially near the warm elements under refrigerators, freezers and ovens, they are regularly found in large numbers.

Furthermore, the cockroach is light-shy. You will therefore almost never see them during the day. They usually hide in small cracks and holes and only come out when it is dark and quiet.

Cockroaches live in groups but do not do so consciously. Where you see one cockroach there are probably more than a hundred. This is because cockroaches can reproduce incredibly quickly. Because of this, you’ll suffer from a cockroach infestation pretty quickly.

What does a cockroach eat?

A cockroach is an omnivore. It eats all forms of organic matter. From rotten apples to bread crumbs and from meat to fish. Anything digestible it will eventually eat. However, the cockroach also seeks the path of least resistance and will eat the organic material it can most easily obtain and that has the highest energetic value rather than food that is more difficult to digest.

Enemies of the cockroach

The cockroach has some natural enemies. It is said that if you suffer from mice that you definitely do not have cockroaches. This is because mice eat cockroaches. Besides the mouse, the cockroach also has other insectivorous animals as enemies such as spiders and birds. Logically, the biggest enemy is humans. WE associate cockroaches with unsanitary conditions and want to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Cockroaches lay eggs that they carry with them until they hatch. By the way, it is said that you should never kick a cockroach to death. This is because the eggs can then get stuck to your shoe which you take home. From nymph to death, cockroaches live about 6 months. However, this strongly depends on the development and can also be longer.

Nuisances & diseases

Cockroaches are not necessarily dirty but are seen as a signal of a dirty environment. Therefore, the solution to these pests is usually good and thorough cleaning and dry things. The problem with cockroaches is that they can reproduce at lightning speed which can cause there to be hundreds in a short period of time.

Furthermore, cockroaches are known to carry many bacteria that can cause disease. For example, it is known that they can carry Salmonella, E Coli and the Listeria bacteria. All are known human pathogens.

Controlling cockroaches

If you suffer from cockroaches, we always recommend hiring a pest controller. Often the problem is more serious than it first appears. Controlling cockroaches is best left to people who know their stuff.

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