The cockroaches are a small order of medium sized to large winged insects. Most species belong in the tropics or subtropics, but a number of species have adapted to life in human dwellings and have thereby managed to spread to all parts of the globe.

Cockroaches have a fairly uniform build, with a flattened body, long antennae, and usually two pairs of wings, the fore wings being stiff and leathery. The order does, however, contain one group which differs strongly from other cokcroaches both in morphology and lifestyle: the termites. These small, social, nest-building insects have traditionally been treated as a separate order, Isoptera. Both morphological and molecular studies have, however, confirmed that they do belong to the cockroaches.