Wood Roach vs. Cockroach: 6 Surprising Differences That You Didn’t Know!

I’m 100% sure you might not know these significant differences between a wood roach and a cockroach.

Pennsylvania wood roaches, tree roaches, or wood roaches are natively found in North America, just like any other species of cockroaches.

However, despite similarities and differences, wood roaches are less harmful than Oriental or German cockroaches.

Therefore, in this guide, you will be learning the wood roach vs. cockroach differences, similarities, and how to get rid of wood roaches if they have invaded your home.

So, let’s begin, shall we?

What Do Pennsylvania Wood Roaches Look Like?

There are more than 4500 species of cockroaches, and they are found everywhere in the world except for Antarctica.

And Pennsylvania wood roach or tree roach is one of the species of cockroaches.

Even though they are similar to other cockroaches, such as Oriental and German, they are pretty different from them, considering habitat and other characteristics.

However, at first glance, wood roaches can also be confused with the commonly found roaches due to their similar appearance.

Therefore, knowing what wood roaches look like becomes essential so you can make a precise observation to identify them.

Below is the image of a Pennsylvania wood roach:

And here is the bodily structure by which you can know what a wood roach looks like:


The body of wood roaches is flattened in shape, unlike the oval-shaped body in the case of its cousin cockroaches. Like other cockroach species, wood roaches also have three body parts.

They have a head, thorax, and abdomen established on six legs by which they crawl, but their legs have tiny spines different from a traditional roach.

Further, you will also find an antenna on the head of the wood roach, which will be slightly longer.

You will find one pair of wings over the body of male and female wood roaches, but only male wood roaches can fly.

Female wood roaches cannot fly as they have slightly smaller wings.

Apart from this, you will also notice the cream-colored edges of their bodies.

The wood roaches have smaller mouthparts which can make them chew wood and plant fibers adequately, but they do not bite humans and pets.


The size of a wood roach is smaller than the other cockroaches and gets around ¾ to 1 ¼ inches long, and they also exhibit sexual dimorphism (differences in appearance based on sex).

For instance, adult male wood roaches are around one inch long, whereas adult females are only ¾ of an inch long.

Further, male wood cockroaches have long-functioning wings that exceed the total length of their body.

However, on the other hand, female wood cockroaches have wings, too, but they don’t function. It is why only female wood roaches cannot fly while males can.

Male wood roaches can fly but for short distances. The nymphs, however, don’t have wings until adulthood.


Along with the size difference between male and female wood roaches, they also possess color differences.

Male Pennsylvania wood roaches are light brown, and amber-brown, while females possess dark brown with yellow bands on their pronota (the shield-like structures that protect the back of heads).

So, by observing the above-mentioned key factors, you can quickly identify the wood cockroaches.

Also, check Beetle vs. Cockroach!

Wood Roach Vs. Cockroach – The Similarities

There are 4500+ cockroach species, and as of now, you know what tree roaches look like.

And now, let’s find the similarities that make people confuse Pennsylvania wood roaches with oriental and German cockroaches.

  • Wood roaches or tree roaches have the same lifecycle as other species of cockroaches.
  • Females carry eggs, and the eggs are formed into nymphs. Then they shed their skin to become adult wood roaches just like other cockroaches.
  • Considering anatomy, wood roaches, and other cockroaches are the same.

Apart from these, the significant similarity is their overall appearance, as wood cockroaches may seem to have similar body color as other roaches from a distance.

However, now you are aware of the appearance of wood roaches.

And after knowing their main characteristics, you will find it easier to distinguish them quickly.

How To Identify A Wood Cockroach: 4 Key Characteristics

A wood cockroach is often confused with an American cockroach due to some similar qualities.

Therefore, five key characteristics set wood roaches apart from the commonly found cockroaches.

These are:

Body Size

One of the main characteristics of identifying wood cockroaches and other common roaches is knowing the body size of these insects.

The generally found American and oriental roaches have a body size of around 1 ½ inches to 2 inches, which is comparatively larger than the wood roaches.

Wood cockroaches have smaller body sizes, which is the main factor setting them apart from the other species.

Life Cycle

Like other cockroaches, wood roaches also start their life from eggs, each egg is protected by the tiny capsule known as an egg case.

And each egg case can have up to 32 eggs in it.

Female roaches produce these egg cases and deposit them in a safer place.

Now, the incubation period lasts around 34 days, after which nymphs or baby cockroaches are formed.

Further, these baby cockroaches can take up to two years to reach the adult life stage.

Like other cockroaches, nymphs shed their skin and grow with the newer skin, known as removing exoskeleton.

After reaching adulthood, these cockroaches live only for a few months.


Another critical characteristic of wood roaches is a habitat that differentiates them from other cockroaches.

As the name suggests, wood roaches stay in wooded areas with a lot of moisture.

Therefore, they are more likely to be found in the forest.

However, tree roaches love the firewood and get into humans’ households through that.

On the other hand, generally found cockroaches tend to live inside homes where they feed upon debris, food crumbs, leftovers, and human garbage.

Though wood roaches do not feed on human waste like German cockroaches; instead, they feed upon rotten vegetation, dead wood, and rotting leaves.

Furthermore, a dead tree or a pile with rotting leaves becomes not only a food hub for wood roaches, but they also love to make this place their home.

You should be careful while bringing firewood to your yard or home because wood roaches might get into your household through that.

Also, Pennsylvania wood roaches are a crucial part of the natural ecosystem as they help consume dead insects and plant matter.

The decomposing leaves get consumed by these tiny wood roaches, which further contributes to balancing the natural ecosystem.

Body Color

The body color of male and female roaches is different in wood roaches.

Though adult roaches have more color variations, nymphs are medium brown and lack wings initially.

Male tree roaches have amber brown color in the light shade, while females are dark chestnut brown color with yellow bands on their shield-like structure that protects their head.

Another crucial body characteristic of wood roaches is the head antenna, which is longer than their whole body.

Where Do Wood Roaches (Tree Roaches) Hide?

Now, you know the characteristics of wood roaches and their natural habitat.

Therefore, it will be easier for you to know about the hiding place of tree roaches.

Wood roaches love a firewood pile and decaying leaves.

Therefore, they hide where they can find their food, i.e., decaying leaves and also wood logs or trees, to get shelter.

That means you will most likely find wood cockroaches in the garden, yard, or where many wood logs are present.

It is why many people also call them to yard roaches because they are most likely to be found in yards and gardens.

So the hiding places for wood roaches become your yard, garden, basements with wood logs, firewood storage, etc.

6 Differences Between Wood Cockroaches And Other Cockroaches

It’s time for the final difference.

Now you know adequately about wood cockroaches and their characteristics.

So, let’s dive into the main and tell the difference between wood roaches and other cockroaches:

1. Behavior

Wood roaches are generally not harmful to humans as they prefer to stay outdoors, where they can find wood logs, decaying leaves, etc.

On the other hand, commonly found cockroaches, such as American cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches, and German cockroaches, love to stay indoors.

It is why German cockroaches cause an infestation in homes, leading to various problems.

Also, wood roaches are insects that do not bite humans or pets, so even if they are inside your home, most likely, you will be safe.

However, cockroaches found indoors can bite humans, and the after-effects of biting these cockroaches lead to pain and minor issues.

Furthermore, even wood roaches love to stay around the woods but will not damage your furniture and other stuff.

But it is not the same with the other cockroaches. For example, German or American cockroaches can eat fabric if they are starved, and hence, they can destroy the stuff.

Tree cockroaches do not eat filth, so they carry no disease.

However, other cockroaches carry various diseases which can cause allergies to asthma attacks and stomach problems.

It is because cockroaches found indoors can eat anything (from food leftovers to waste); therefore, they become more problematic than wood roaches.

2. Flying Capabilities

Some species of other cockroaches can fly, however, in the case of wood roaches, only male wood roaches can fly.

Female wood roaches cannot fly.

3.  Active Time

Pennsylvania wood roaches prefer the winter season to stay primarily active.

However, during the mating season, which is May and June, the male wood roaches can fly around, causing some nuisance.

Considering other cockroaches (Oriental, American, and German), they are primarily active during the nighttime.

These pesky insects prefer dark and warm environments to get out of their shelter and do various things, such as finding food and water.

Also, household cockroaches are clever enough to play dead when any danger comes, but it is not the same with wood roaches.

4. Hiding Places

As mentioned, wood roaches hide where they can find wood and other decaying matter, leaves, or plant matter.

However, cockroaches found in the home tend to hide around the crevices, gaps, bathroom, kitchen, waste area, and even sewage area.

Therefore, these cockroaches hide to get out of their homes once they infest.

And it is why taking help from various cockroach-killing products and a professional exterminator is handy.

5. Body And Size

The difference in the body between other cockroaches and wood cockroaches is minor. However, the size of their body can vary a lot.

An adult wood roach can grow up to 1 inch long, and a female can grow only ¾ inch.

However, other cockroaches, such as the german cockroach or American, have slightly larger body sizes, which can go around 2 inches as well.

6. Problematic

German, Oriental, or American cockroaches are problematic as they can infest your home and cause various problems, from causing allergies to various other diseases.

They can even bite as well.

Therefore, getting rid of these cockroaches takes time and effort. You can also lure them through different ways and start eliminating them.

Otherwise, pest control is always an option.

However, it is not the same with wood roaches.

First, wood roaches do not eat any waste or food leftovers; therefore, it is less likely that they will infest your home.

Second, luring the wood roaches inside is impossible as they do not feed any kitchen food items. Instead, they feed upon the decaying leaves and plant matter.

Therefore, other cockroaches are more problematic than wood roaches.

How To Prevent Wood Cockroaches From Entering Your House?

Although wood roaches do not invade households still, here’s how keeping wood roaches away from your home becomes easier with these tips:

Get Rid Of Wood Roaches In House

1.  Make sure to fill and repair all the gaps, cracks, walls, doors, and windows. Filling gaps with silicone-based sealant works excellently. It will prevent wood roaches and other cockroaches from entering your home.

2. Whether kitchen, bathroom, or basement, check water pipe leakages frequently and get any leakage repaired. Cockroaches invade their home in search of food and water.

3. Keep your home clean and ensure proper waste management to keep cockroaches away from your home.

Get Rid Of Wood Roaches On Deck

Another common place for wood roaches to hide is the wooden deck; you don’t want wood roaches crawling around your deck.

This is one of the places where these roaches can sneak inside.

And it is how you can get rid of them:

  • By using diatomaceous earth.
  • You can also sprinkle borax detergent.
  • Insecticide spray.

However, vacuum-clean the surface after using the methods mentioned above to ensure safety.

Also, keep these things away from the children or food items in your house.                                    

Get Rid Of Wood Roaches In Your Yard Or Garden

Wood roaches love to stay around yards or gardens as they can easily find wood and decaying leaves.

Here are quick tips to remove wood roaches from your yard or garden.

Store Firewood Outside
Clean Your Yard

If you use firewood, then you should keep the firewood outside your house, as dried firewood is the perfect host for wood cockroaches.

Therefore, instead of stacking up firewood in your home, you can keep them outside in a shed. Bring enough firewood to burn at once.

It will reduce the chances of getting wood roaches in your home.

Keeping your yard clean ensures no decaying leaves or plant matter can provide shelter to wood roaches.

Hence, keep your yard and garden clean regularly.


Why do I have wood roaches in my house?

Cockroaches need food and water to thrive. And if you do not clean your home regularly (especially the kitchen), chances are that you are providing food debris and leftovers to these tiny insects to feed upon.
Also, poor waste and garbage management leads to building cockroach colonies.

Is wood roaches harmless?

Wood roaches eat the plant’s decaying organic matter and decaying leaves; therefore, they prefer to stay outdoors to find decaying plant matter as their food.
On top of that, they do not bite humans and pets; therefore, they can be considered harmless roaches.
On the other hand, other cockroaches can easily bite humans, so they are not that safe compared to wood roaches.

How can you tell a wood roach?

Wood or outdoor roaches have flat, oval bodies making it easier to hide under tree barks and around the woody area.
Also, they have a reddish-brown to darker brown color, six long and spiny legs, and a longer antenna than their body length. They feed upon organic debris and not on human food.
Further, wood roaches are slightly smaller in size than the other species.

Do wood roaches come out at night?

No, wood roaches do not come out at night, likewise other cockroaches; instead, they are primarily active during the winter and mating months.

Wood Roach vs. Cockroach: Final Words

There are many differences between wood roaches and other cockroaches; from appearance to behavior, you will find a lot of differences.

However, the main difference is that it is less likely for wood roaches infest homes, whereas other cockroaches can quickly infest your home.

Therefore, wood roaches typically are less problematic for humans, whereas other cockroaches are more.

Hence, if you are facing a roach infestation, read our guide on How To Get Rid Of Cockroach Infestation In 5 Quick Steps!

However, getting home pest control from a professional company is always the best option in the worst case.

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