Caribbean Giant Cockroach

ORDER: Blattodea

FAMILY: Blattidae

GENUS: Blaberus

SPECIES: giganteus

Brown with black markings on its body. The adult has two pair of wings, which fold back, flat over the abdomen. It is the largest cockroach in its genus and is one of the largest cockroaches known. Females can grow up to 4 inches long, males 3 inches. The only way to visually differentiate between the sexes is to look on their abdomen where the cerci are located. Between the cerci of the males, a pair of short antennae called styli is present. Females lack styli. These tiny styli can be hard to see.

Tropical areas of Panama, West Indies and northern South America. Tropical forests and caves; the wetter the environment, the better.

Omnivorous. A variety of decaying plant and animal matter.

Before they mate, the male flaps his wings, then nibbles on the females erogenous zones and runs around in circles. When mating is complete, the female is pregnant for life. Eggs are retained within the female in a compartmentalized case, or ootheca. Nymphs will molt seven to eight times before adulthood, over a period of 4 to 6 months. Adults can live an additional 20 months.

As a survival tactic, it mimics the color pattern of noxious beetles. It can produce a foul smell to avoid being eaten which discourages most predators. They can also fly a little, but they navigate poorly. Their best defense is either to hide or run, like other roaches. They never bite, and the odor is not long-lasting or harmful to people.

The sexes can also be distinguished by their behavior--males frequently engage in a courtship ritual, females do not. This cockroach is closely related to the cockroaches living in the Carboniferous coal forests 200 million years ago. They have been common lab animals since the 1950's. This cockroach is not considered to be a "pest" species. Other names include Trinidad Cave Cockroach, Trinidad Giant Cockroach, Cuban Giant Cockroach, Cuban Black-Spot Cockroach, Glass-Wing Cockroach, Giant Black-Spot Cockroach, and Giant Cockroach.

The Brazilian Giant Cockroach can be found in the bug house in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.

The Brazilian Giant Cockroach is not endangered. This animal has not yet been evaluated by the IUCN.


  1. Piquett, P. G. and J. H. Fales. 1953. Life history of Blaberus giganteus (L.). Journal of Economic Entomology 46(6):1089-1090.