Some of the largest cockroaches in the world measure more than 2 inches. Even more, the largest cockroach in the world may grow to almost 4 inches, making it as large as a human palm.
Various large species of cockroaches live around the world. Some of them are only found in nature, particularly in woodlands.
Other very large cockroaches of the world only live in caves, mainly due to the dark humid nature of their environments.
Several species of large cockroaches can also live indoors. They can survive on human food as well as on non-food items such as paper or manuscripts.
Some of the largest cockroaches in the world also carry disease-causing bacteria. They can infest foods indoors, leading to various health issues in humans.
Here are some of the largest cockroaches and the areas of the world they can be found in.
Table of Contents
1. Megaloblatta longipennis – The largest cockroach
The official largest cockroach in the world, Megaloblatta longipennis is a species that reaches a maximum length of 3.8 inches. This cockroach is even up to 1.75 inches wide.
The wingspan of this species can measure almost 9 inches.
Roaches of this species have a dark brown appearance. Their brown nuance is based on red undertones.
Its wings have a brighter brown or brown-red appearance while its head is always darker.
Megaloblatta longopennis is a species mostly found in the Northwestern parts of South America.
This species is also present in Central America, to a lesser extent. Most of its range is comprised of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Range – Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador
2. Giant Burrowing Cockroach – The heaviest cockroach
Slightly smaller than the Megaloblatta Longopennis, The Giant Burrowing Cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros) may reach a length of 3.1 inches.
Apart from being one of the largest cockroaches in the world, this species also stands out as the largest wingless cockroach and the heaviest cockroach in the world.
It features a bulky body which is also heavy as it has no wings.
As its name implies, The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is also a species that burrows, being the only burrowing cockroach in the world.
An Australian native, this cockroach has a very limited distribution in the country.
It only lives in Queensland’s woodlands, a habitat under constant deforestation threats.
Burrowing takes place in these woodlands. The burrow of the roach can measure up to several feet in the ground.
Giant Burrowing Cockroaches are mostly found around eucalyptus areas.
Caves are also areas with high moisture which attract these bugs.
Cockroaches of this genus are known to live in tropical and subtropical areas.
They prefer areas of Central America and areas around Northern South America for warmth, food, and moisture.
These bugs are very heavy if they cannot find sufficient food. Their bodies start to store fat and they may even become obese and almost too heavy to move.
An obese Giant Burrowing Cockroach is an easy target for predators. This includes all types of vertebrates and invertebrates that can make it inside its burrows.
Range – Queensland Australia
3. Brazilian Cockroach – The largest cave cockroach
Brazilian cockroaches (Blaberus giganteus) are always regarded as some of the largest cockroaches in the world.
The females of the species are the largest but are also the reason why the species is conflictual regarded as the largest in the world.
Some sources note the female Brazilian cockroach can reach a length of 3.9 inches while others say the female can only grow to a maximum of 3.5 inches.
A gray and brown color is specific to dual color Brazilian cockroaches. These bugs are winged and their nymphs have a dark brown wingless appearance.
Bugs of this genus are dependent on warmth and high to very high moisture.
A change in these circumstances may lead to slow growth, inactivity, or even death.
The Brazilian cockroach is a type of roach that can eat almost anything it can find. It starts with eating decaying vegetation, the most easily accessible food for the species.
All types of fruit, decaying fruit, dung, and carrion are also eaten by the roach.
As it loves dark places more than other roaches, this type of roach is mostly found in caves and areas with bats in caves.
Its native range includes South America and parts of Central America, with incipient populations in North America.
Range – Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Florida
4. Megaloblatta blaberoides – The longest wingspan
A measured record-holding wingspan of 7.1 inches makes the Megaloblatta blaberoides the largest wingspan cockroach in the world.
Its wingspan is almost twice its size and twice the size of the largest cockroach in the world.
A mostly nocturnal species, this type of cockroach is native to Central America.
It features a dark brown to black color and a light brown underside.
Juvenile Megaloblatta blaberoides are dark brown, and wingless, with orange spots along the sides of the body.
Feeding on dead and living plants, this cockroach is attracted to light at night, when it can fly over very short distances.
Range – Guatemala, Panama
5. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Growing up to a size of 3 inches, The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) is one of the multiple large roaches in Africa.
Only found on The Island of Madagascar, this type of cockroach has a specific dark brown or brown and yellow color.
It has a distinct wingless body which only allows it to crawl. However, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are very good climbers.
They can easily climb their enclosures.
Born without wings, this species easily climbs different surfaces. It can even climb the vertical walls of its enclosure.
The diet of The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is mostly comprised of vegetation such as leaves and grasses.
This type of cockroach has a similar diet to many of the cockroaches also living on the island.
Its name is derived from its hissing capacity. A loud hiss is specific to these cockroaches.
Expelling air is the main method the roach uses to hiss.
It’s believed The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach hisses as a defense method.
A loud hiss may serve as a warning sign to potential predators as this roach cannot fly to escape predators.
Range – Madagascar
6. Death’s Head Cockroach
Growing to a length of over 2 inches, Death’s Head Cockroach (Blaberus craniifer) is a species named after the appearance of its head.
This type of cockroach lives in subtropical and arid climates.
A native Central American roach, Death’s Head Cockroach has been introduced to The United States.
This species is now confirmed in Southern Florida.
A large cockroach, the bug is found in woodlands where it hides and lives under leaf litter or rotting wood.
While it doesn’t feed on rotting wood, this type of cockroach feeds on vegetation and fruits found around its moist habitat.
Both the male and the female are large compared to other North American cockroaches.
The female of the species has the same dark brown color and light-colored head as the male, with a larger subgenital plate.
Roaches of this species have wings that they can use for flying.
The Death’s Head Cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroaches in the world with the ability to fly.
Even more, this is a type of cockroach that flies longer distances compared to other North American species, even if it flies less than birds or other insects.
Death’s Head Cockroaches prefer to raise in the air and glide to their destination to reduce the effort needed to raise their heavy bodies.
Bugs of this genus may become an occasional pest around homes, particularly those around woodlands.
The bug has been seen feeding on stored dry foods such as pet food.
Range – West Indies, Mexico, Southern Florida
7. American Cockroach – The largest cockroach in house
A common presence in North America and around the world, The American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is the largest type of cockroach that can also live in the house.
As with all species of cockroaches, The American Cockroach has variable sizing. Still, it generally grows to a size of up to 2.1 inches, being comparable to The Death’s Head Cockroach.
The size of this species is comparably larger than the size of other species of cockroaches that can settle indoors.
A typical 2-inch American cockroach is 2 times larger than an Oriental Cockroach and 2-4 times larger than a German Cockroach.
The American Cockroach, one of the largest types of cockroaches in The United States is almost 2 times smaller than Megaloblatta longipennis, the largest cockroach in the world.
This is a species that easily feed on different types of food, likes warmth and moisture, and may live its entire life indoors.
Unlike other species in homes, The American Cockroach is also able to fly. This roach has a poor flying ability compared to similar large roaches such as The Death’s Head Cockroach.
One of the major risks carried by this species comes with its health concerns. It picks up bacteria from the food and moist environments it lives in.
This bacteria can then be transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact.
These types of cockroaches can survive in colonies, indoors. They need food to live a long life.
As omnivores, these roaches can eat all types of fresh and dry food, as well as paper, textiles, dry skin, and even carrion.
Some of the first types of food that attract American Cockroaches include fermenting food or decaying vegetation.
Dying plants around the house, piles of leaves, and rotting fruit around the garden are all known to attract these omnivores.
Range – Africa, Middle East, North America, in tropical regions around the world
Bonus: The Smallest cockroach in the world
In direct opposition to the largest cockroaches in the world, The Ant Cockroach (Attaphila fungicola) is the smallest in the world.
Smaller than an ant, this type of cockroach shows a parasitic lifestyle, living in the nests of leaf-cutting ants.
This type of cockroach is so small that it can even ride on the back of its host ants as a means to get to a new place.
These cockroaches live in the same nests with ants and move out with them as soon as they establish new nests or new colonies by riding on the ants themselves.
Almost all types of bugs and insects are immediately killed or attacked in the nests of these ants.
Ant Cockroaches manage to escape this problem by taking on the pheromone characteristics of its hosts ants.
In essence, leaf-cutter ants overlook these small cockroaches in their nests.
They also overlook them based on their size. Smaller than the ants themselves, these tiny brown cockroaches can even be carried away by flying ants.
This is the only means by which the cockroaches can spread to new nests and new colonies established in satellite ant nests.
Leaf-cutter ants are known for transforming plants into a type of fungus. These small cockroaches feed on the fungus leaf-cutter worker ants make.
Ant Cockroaches cannot live indoors and are not spotted indoors.
They only live in ant colonies where they share the same food as their hosts.
Some of the typical areas these cockroaches include Eastern and Southeastern US states, regions of Central America, and even South America.
One of the biggest enemies of Ant Cockroaches is the leaf-cutter ants themselves.
These small cockroaches use pheromones to mimic the odor of the ants in the nest.
Most times, their mimicry efforts are specific which means ants live them alone and even take them as their own.
Ant Cockroaches don’t often get this mimicry odor right. This is when ants identify them correctly and attack them.
This is one of the reasons many dead Ant Cockroaches can be found in the nests of these ants.
Studies show queen ants are the most likely to correctly identify Ant Cockroaches over worker ants and other casts of their colonies.
Range – Colombia, Panama, Brazil, Texas, Louisiana