Cockroaches and beetles are both insects, but that’s about as far as the similarities go.
In this article, we bring to you the Ultimate Showdown between cockroaches and beetles. We will cover the following topics:
- How to tell the difference between a cockroach and a beetle
- The different foods that cockroaches and beetles eat
- Threats posed by cockroaches and beetles to the health and home
- How to recognize damage caused by cockroaches and beetles
Cockroaches vs beetles
Cockroaches and beetles are both insects, each with six legs and three body parts. There are significantly more species of beetles, with over 370,000 known species, and they can be found in every freshwater and land habitat in the world.
This differs from cockroaches, where there are only 4,500 known species, and they are often found inside homes and regarded as pests.
Sometimes, cockroaches can look a lot like beetles (such as the Oriental cockroach with its rounded, shiny, armored appearance), whereas some beetles can look like cockroaches (for example, the June bug).
This can make it difficult to tell the difference between the two insects.
Saying that, there are many more differences than similarities between cockroaches and beetles, and with a little practice, you can easily learn how to recognize one from the other.
How to identify a cockroach
Male and female cockroaches usually do not vary in color too much and are typically reddish-brown to dark brown.
Their antennae are much longer than that of other insects, and it typically comes with lots of segments. Along with three body parts (the head, the thorax, and the abdomen), a cockroach will have six long legs.
Cockroaches may appear to have an exoskeleton on the back of their body, but in fact, this shell is more of a papery, leathery texture, and is not at all solid. This shell is only there to protect the wings.
In some large cockroach species, the male can possess a double set of wings, whereas the females do not have any wings at all. Typically, an adult cockroach will measure between 1 and 2 inches in length.
Cockroaches also have wings which fold over one another, with the veins in the wings resembling leaves or branches.
How to identify a beetle
Whilst ground beetles are commonly mistaken for cockroaches, one of the easiest ways to tell the difference is that beetles have much smaller heads. They also have short antennae with a limited number of segments.
Beetles can come in any color, usually with vibrant shells which are considered to be quite pretty. They can range in size from 1/16th of an inch to 6 inches.
Not all beetles can fly, but they do typically possess two sets of wings, with the stiff, outer set being used to protect the inside wings.
Beetles have their elytra running symmetrically down the middle of their back, and the veins of their wings are straight and parallel.
What do cockroaches eat?
As you may imagine, cockroaches have a fairly unlimited diet. They will eat almost anything, including candy and starches, skin, hair, paper, and any organism dead or alive. It is rare that they will turn down a meal.
What do beetles eat?
The diet of a beetle varies depending on the species, but typically, they will eat leaves, wood, seeds, or carpet. Sometimes, they will eat fungi or feces, but you are unlikely to find these species in a home.
Which threats are posed by cockroaches and beetles?
Over 30 species of cockroaches are considered pests, due to the general consensus that they are unsanitary. This is due to the fact that they consume feces and are attracted to decay and rot, making them a medical concern.
On the contrary, beetles aren’t typically considered to be a health threat.
The problem with cockroaches
Whilst beetles can be annoying, they can rarely be a concern to health like cockroaches are. When cockroaches find themselves indoors, they can cause sickness by spreading harmful bacteria from dumpsters, trash cans, sewers, and carrion.
They can contaminate your food and harbor viruses and bacteria such as salmonella, staphylococcus, and the polio virus.
Cockroaches can pick up parasitic worms, and recent studies show that even the presence of cockroaches in a home can increase the hospitalization number for Asthma-related symptoms.
Not only that, but cockroaches are generally robust, and can even pick up dangerous chemicals and move them to sensitive locations.
Cockroaches can also bite humans, and when this happens, it is usually around the eyes or mouth. When they do this, the wounds will often swell from infection, and sometimes this can lead to scarring or further issues.
The problem with beetles
Beetles are often considered to just be a nuisance rather than a pest. They can cause damage to agriculture, forestry, and horticulture, and can often be annoying when they accidentally get inside a home – but they will not pose any kind of health threat.
Some beetles can get into your pantry and live in any open food containers. These include the red flour beetle, sawtoothed grain beetle, larder beetle, and cigarette beetle.
Other beetles destroy wood, with one of the worst being the anobiid powderpost beetles. Another example of a beetle that can present a threat to man-made structures is the longhorn beetle.
Another type of beetle is the carpet beetles, which can burrow into any material in your house and ruin it.
Examples of this nuisance beetle are the black carpet beetle, common carpet beetle, varied carpet beetle, and furniture carpet beetle.
How to recognize damage caused by cockroaches
It is unlikely that you will notice cockroaches living in your home until there is an infestation. They search for food at night, due to the fact that they are nocturnal.
If you do not see them eating your cereal or books, then you will likely first notice the odor that they leave behind. It usually smells quite musty, and the stronger the odor, the bigger the problem.
Cockroaches also leave behind feces which look like coffee grounds or specks of pepper. The larger the roaches, the bigger the waste.
How to recognize damage caused by beetles
The majority of damage caused by beetles comes from their larvae. You could find the larvae inside sheds, at home, or in other structures which contain wood or carpet.
Similar to cockroaches, when you realize that you have a problem, it is usually too late to prevent any damage.
Carpet beetles are able to chew through leather, carpet, cloth, and even dead organisms. They are often mistaken for clothes moths, and if left untreated, can cause expensive problems within your home and property.
Often, beetles find their way into your home by accident, seeking shelter or living on something which has been carried indoors. You will find them around fibers such as cloth, leather, and fur, or around your kitchen.
You will find the larvae of beetles hidden in undisturbed areas, such as behind baseboards, beneath floorboards, and under heavy objects like furniture.
How to remove cockroaches and beetles living in your home
You can use the below methods to remove both cockroaches and beetles from your home.
- Take away their food supply and water source, storing any accessible food in airtight containers.
- Clean up any food crumbs and ensure that surfaces are kept clean.
- Keep your garbage sealed and clean the containers to remove any smells which may attract insects.
- Remove unnecessary vegetation from your yard as it can trap moisture and provide shaded hiding places for insects.
- Pick up any dog droppings from your yard.
- Reduce moist conditions around the perimeter of your home as cockroaches are attracted to high humidity and dampness.
- Patch up any openings that insects could be using to gain entrance, such as window gaps, door frame cracks, and any holes between skirting boards or plaster.
Natural repellents are also good for removing beetles and cockroaches. By placing bay leaves, cucumber slices, or garlic wherever you are experiencing a problem, you should be able to remove the insects.
Alternatively, you can purchase insect spray around places in need of protection from pests.
In conclusion, whilst cockroaches and beetles are both insects that you can find outdoors and inside the home, they are incredibly different.
From the way they look to the problems they can cause, cockroaches and beetles are as dissimilar as any other insect.
Whilst one is usually considered a pest, the other is praised for its beauty, and you will often find people who collect beetles for their pretty shells.
Beetles – and especially their larvae – can cause damage to carpets, clothes, and fabrics, but are never considered to be a health hazard.
On the contrary, cockroaches can cause severe health issues, from bacterial diseases such as salmonella to heightened Asthma-related symptoms.
This all means that cockroaches have a bad reputation – even though they are just as important to the ecosystem as beetles. Perhaps due to their unique diet, they are even more important.
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