Cockroach Species File (Version 5.0/5.0)
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About the Cockroach Species File

This page covers the basic information about the CSF database and website.  The Cockroach Species File is an application based on Species File Software, a foundation for taxonomic database development.  Information about the design and use of SFS may be found at

Statistics about the quantity of data, and the website and database editorial policy are on separate pages.


The Cockroach Species File Online (CSF) is an up-to-date, accurate synonymic catalogue of the scientific names of world cockroaches, which also contains information about the geographical distribution of cockroach species, data about type specimens and their depositories, and images of types and other specimens.  It updates and largely supersedes the pioneering world catalogue of cockroaches by Karlis Princis (1893-1978), which was published in eight parts between 1962 and 1971.  The CSF is the data provider of cockroach names for the Species 2000 and ITIS 'Catalogue of Life' Dynamic and Annual Checklists (  The Catalogue of Life in turn supplies the names from the CSF to a wide range of organisations including GBIF ( and EoL (

Please note that fossil cockroaches are not included in the CSF.  They may be added in the future if collaborators can be found to enter and update the information for them.  In any case, many so-called fossil cockroaches are actually ancestral "roachoids" with external ovipositors that pre-date the split between the mantids (Mantodea) and the cockroaches, which is thought to have occurred during the lower Cretaceous about 140 million years ago.  These would fall outside of the scope of the CSF anyway.

We hope that the CSF will be a useful resource for cockroach taxonomists and other biologists, not only as a source of information about nomenclature, but also as an aid to identifying cockroaches, using the images of specimens, information about species distribution and, in the future, taxonomic keys and pdf copies of original descriptions and other literature.  A wide variety of cockroach species are kept in captivity as pets, lab animals, food for insectivorous animals, etc. and, unfortunately, they are often misidentified or their scientific names are misspelled.  Hopefully the CSF will help to prevent some of these errors from being made.


Comparison between Princis’ catalogue and the CSF

The major differences between the CSF and Princis’ ‘hard copy’ world catalogue are as follows:

  1. Scientific names:  Names of taxa published since 1970 (the date the last volume of Princis’ catalogue was compiled) have been added.  Roth (2003), Zoobank ( and the Zoological Record were useful for locating these names.  Note that although Roth (2003) contains a comprehensive list of the names published between 1970 and 2002, there are many spelling and other errors in this paper, so it should be used with extreme care.
  2. Higher classification:  This has been updated.  It now largely follows Roth (2003) and Beccaloni & Eggleton (2013).
  3. References:  Full reference citations are (or will be) included in the CSF, in contrast to Princis' catalogue which uses abbreviated references to save space.  Many thanks go to Ingo Fritzsche (Germany) for providing a very useful electronic list of taxonomic papers about cockroaches, and to Ingo and Roland Dusi (Germany) who supplied many difficult to obtain publications as pdf files.
  4. Species distribution by country:  The names of countries listed in Princis for species and subspecies have been translated from German into English and the names revised to accord with modern geopolitical divisions.  We have added to or corrected these lists if we have found distributional information in the literature which is more up-to-date than that in Princis.  Note that the distributional information in the CSF is meant to be a guide only and is not intended to be definitive, especially for species with large geographical ranges.  One of its main uses is it enables users to generate lists of the species recorded from a country or zoogeographical region.
  5. Type specimen information:  This information was not present in Princis' catalogue.  It has been compiled from a variety of sources, including the London Natural History Museum’s Collections Index database, and a database of the cockroach types in the OUMNH kindly supplied by Darren J. Mann (UK).
  6. Common names:  The CSF includes common names whereas Princis (understandably) does not.
  7. Images:  Photographs of types and other specimens are present in the CSF, whereas Princis' catalogue does not include illustrations.

The only significant information from Princis' catalogue which is currently missing from the CSF are the comprehensive lists he gives of publications which mention a particular cockroach taxon.  For economically important pest species such as the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) several hundred references are listed.  Since there is little likelihood that these will be entered into the CSF database in the foreseeable future, we have included a reference to the catalogue part and page number(s) on which a name is listed in Princis.  This will enable people who are lucky enough to have a copy of his scarce catalogue to rapidly find names in it without having to refer to his index.



George Beccaloni began work on the database that was to become the CSF in 2004.  This early version simply contained a list of all currently valid cockroach genera and their higher classification.  In February 2005 Daniel Otte (USA) suggested to George that he might consider developing a comprehensive Species File database for cockroaches and he put George in contact with David Eades (USA) so that they could discuss this possibility.

George finished work on the first version of the CSF database in January 2007 and he sent it to David and his team for migration from MS Access to the Species File system.  Most of George's work on this database was done in his spare time during 2006 (George's current job does not allow him official time to work on this project).  The CSF first went live on the Web in May 2007 and data migration was completed in July 2007.

Since then George has spent as much of his 'spare' time as he can afford correcting and editing data in the CSF and adding information from recently published papers.  In 2007 George obtained funding from the Orthopterists’ Society ( to photograph types and other specimens in the London Natural History Museum’s (NHM) collection.  Ed Baker was employed to do this work and he imaged a total of 219 types (153 primary and 66 secondary types) plus 283 non-types in the time available.  In 2011 funding was obtained from the 4D4Life project ( via Chris Lyal (NHM) to employ Paul Brock to check c. 500 species-group and infrasubspecific names which appeared to be absent from the CSF.  The names were carefully checked and the few which were actually missing were entered.  Paul also uploaded a large number of high quality images of NHM specimens taken by Zongqing Wang (China), who spent one year working with me on the cockroach collection at the NHM.

Note that from 2007 to June 2014 the CSF was named the Blattodea Species File.  The name was changed to Cockroach Species File in July 2014.


Quality of CSF data

The CSF contains all published genus- and species-group names and infrasubspecific names, except for a small number published in recent papers which have not been entered yet.  Very few older names are missing and these will be added when they are discovered.

So far, most of the effort put into error checking data in the CSF has concentrated on ensuring that names of taxa are correctly spelt and that the author names and years of publication are correct.  Numerous errors in Princis’ catalogue have been corrected and a number of names have been added which were discovered to be missing from his catalogue.

Unfortunately Princis’ catalogue does not always give the original published spellings and combinations of names and sometimes when this information is present it is ambiguous or incorrect.  Correcting this data is an on-going task and it will ultimately be necessary to examine the original descriptions of all taxa in order to ensure that this information is accurately recorded in the CSF.

An important point to note is that the references given to the publications in which names were originally published are incorrect for a small proportion of the taxa in the CSF.  This problem resulted from having to link a database containing the names of taxa to a database containing taxonomic references.  Mismatches occurred in some cases where the author of a name published more than one taxonomic paper in the same year as the name in question.  These errors are being corrected when they are discovered.


Future development

Work on the CSF will be prioritised as follows:

  1. Links between names of taxa and references to original descriptions will be checked and corrected.
  2. Full citations will be entered for currently incomplete references to original descriptions.
  3. All original descriptions will be checked to ensure that the page number, original spelling of the name and the original combination of the name are correctly recorded in the CSF.  Information about type specimens (kind of type(s), numbers of types, their sexes, the localities they were collected from, and their depositories) plus information about species/subspecies distributions will be entered into the CSF.
  4. Synonyms and references will be added for family-group names.
  5. Pdf files of out of copyright references will be made available for downloading.


Your help is needed!

If you notice any errors or omissions in the CSF then please report them to George Beccaloni (send mail).  In addition, if you publish a taxonomic paper about cockroaches, then please send George a copy of your publication (as a pdf file if possible) so that he can keep the CSF up-to-date.

If you have photos of living cockroaches or museum specimens (especially types) which you would like to have included in the CSF then please contact George.  Cockroaches should be accurately identified to at least genus level.  JPEGs are preferred and image files should ideally be no larger than 1MB in size.  The name of the image should include the scientific name; followed by any useful information (briefly stated!); and finally the name of the copyright holder.  Underscores should be used instead of spaces, e.g., Gromphadorhina_grandidieri_Mangily_Madagascar_Copyright_G.W.Beccaloni.jpg or Elliptorhina_brunneri_Holotype_male_in_BMNH_Copyright_BMNH.jpg.  If you do not hold the copyright of an image then please ensure that you have the permission of the copyright holder to publish the image on the Web.


Literature cited

Beccaloni, G. & Eggleton, P. 2013. Order Blattodea. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.). Animal Biodiversity: An Outline of Higher-level Classification and Survey of Taxonomic Richness (Addenda 2013). Zootaxa, 3703: 46-48.

Princis, K. 1962. Blattariae: Subordo Polyphagoidea: Fam. Polyphagidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 3. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 1-74.

Princis, K. 1963. Blattariae: Suborde [sic] Polyphagoidea: Fam.: Homoeogamiidae, Euthyrrhaphidae, Latindiidae, Anacompsidae, Atticolidae, Attaphilidae. Subordo Blaberoidea: Fam. Blaberidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 4. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 76-172.

Princis, K. 1964. Blattariae: Subordo Blaberoidea: Fam.: Panchloridae, Gynopeltididae, Derocalymmidae, Perisphaeriidae, Pycnoscelididae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 6. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 174-281.

Princis, K. 1965. Blattariae: Subordo Blaberoidea: Fam.: Oxyhaloidae, Panesthiidae, Cryptocercidae, Chorisoneuridae, Oulopterygidae, Diplopteridae, Anaplectidae, Archiblattidae, Nothoblattidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 7. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 284-400.

Princis, K. 1966. Blattariae: Suborbo [sic] Blattoidea. Fam.: Blattidae, Nocticolidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 8. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 402-614.

Princis, K. 1967. Pars 11. Blattariae: Suborbo [sic] Epilamproidea. Fam.: Nyctiboridae, Epilampridae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 11. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 617-710.

Princis, K. 1969. Blattariae: Subordo Epilamproidea. Fam.: Blattellidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 13. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 712-1038.

Princis, K. 1971. Blattariae: Subordo Epilamproidea. Fam.: Ectobiidae. In: Beier, M. (Ed.). Orthopterorum Catalogus. Pars 14. W. Junk, 's-Gravenhage: 1041-1224.

Roth, L. M. 2003. Systematics and phylogeny of cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattaria). Oriental Insects, 37: 1-186.


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