There are many different types of cockroaches and most of them can spread disease. The three main types of cockroach in Australia are the German Cockroach, Australian Cockroach and the American Cockroach.

German cockroach

The German Cockroach is one of the smallest of the cockroaches and is probably the most commonly found species inside buildings. Adults are 12 to 15 mm long, have a light amber/brown colour with two dark stripes on the head. They are mostly found in and around kitchens, pantries, storerooms and other food handling areas. They prefer to be near food, moisture and warmth. They do not fly.

Australian cockroach

The Australian Cockroach is larger (30 to 35 mm) and is able to fly. It is dark brown with clearly defined yellow markings on the head and the front wings. This cockroach prefers plant food and is usually found outdoors. For example, under the bark of trees and among woodpiles.

American cockroach

The American Cockroach is one of the largest of the cockroaches (30 to 45 mm). It is red brown in colour with a pale yellow border around the head and it can fly. The American Cockroach prefers warm and moist conditions. It is a very widespread pest which lives in wall and roof cavities, sewers, drains, cellars, grease traps and rubbish dumps. It can be found around any food preparation area.

Cockroaches and disease

Like flies, cockroaches can carry many disease-causing germs on and in their bodies. Because their natural homes include rubbish, dirt and filth they readily pick up germs from these areas. They then walk over food, cutlery, crockery and cooking equipment, benches, tables and other places in the home and pass the germs on to people.

Bacterial diseases

  • salmonellosis
  • shigellosis


  • gastroenteritis
  • hepatitis A


Controlling cockroaches

On private property, owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring adequate maintenance and pest control is regularly undertaken. 

There are several ways you can control cockroaches around your home:

  • Keep food in containers which have tightly fitting lids.
  • Store food handling equipment and containers up off the floor.
  • Where possible, fill in small cracks and holes in which cockroaches could hide. It is especially important to fill in cracks and holes around pipes in walls.
  • Clean shelves and inside and underneath cupboards regularly. This will reduce the build-up of food particles.
  • When required, apply a low toxicity liquid or gel insecticide to those areas where cockroaches may hide, especially cracks and holes inside and around the outside of buildings, behind stoves and fridges and underneath the shelves of cupboards. There are many suitable insecticides that can be used to effectively control cockroaches. Before insecticides are used, people should be encouraged to regularly clean in and around their houses to reduce the cockroaches’ food source.
  • For serious infestations contact a pest control company.


To report a problem

To report a cockroach issue in a restaurant or neighbouring property, please call Customer Service on 9311 8111 or email with your contact details and address of the property of concern. Your request will be allocated to an Environmental Health Officer for follow-up.