American Cockroaches

american cockroach picture

Identification

Latin Name: Periplaneta Americana

American cockroaches normally live outdoors; however, may enter homes to find water or food. Adult American cockroaches are reddish brown or mahogany colored with an area behind their heads outlined with yellow band.

Adults can be slightly more than 3 inches (50 mm) long with both male and female American cockroaches having the ability to fly.

american cockroach castner

Reproduction

Female American cockroaches make protective cases for their eggs. These cases are capsule-shaped. After forming a capsule, the roach deposits it in a warm, humid area. An average American roach egg capsule contains about 16 eggs.

When the eggs hatch, the tiny nymphs come out of the capsule. As they grow, the immature roaches shed their skins. If there is plenty of food, American cockroaches can develop from egg to adult in as little as 5½ months.

Behavior & Diet

Both male and female American cockroaches can fly. The wings develop when the roaches become adults.

American cockroaches normally live outdoors. They prefer warm, damp areas like flowerbeds, and under mulch. In many parts of the United States people call them “palmetto bugs” because they live on trees. American cockroaches are very common in sewer systems of many American cities.

American cockroaches enter homes to find water or food. They can easily pass under doors if the weather stripping is damaged. Basement windows and garages are also common entryways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements.

Outdoors, American cockroaches eat leaves, tiny wood particles, fungi and algae. They also eat small insects. Indoors, American cockroaches forage under appliances, in drains, in kitchen cabinets and on the floor. They eat crumbs, scraps of food and spilled food that they find. They will also eat pet food that is left out overnight.

Signs of Infestation

American cockroaches run very fast and homeowners may see them scurry into dark areas. Other signs may include:

  • Droppings – American cockroaches leave their droppings in the dark areas where they hide. Homeowners may find these droppings in basements, in pantries or behind appliances.
    American cockroach droppings are small, and sometimes people mistake them for mouse droppings. American cockroach droppings have ridges on the sides and they are blunt on the ends. Mouse droppings have pointed ends. Since mice groom themselves, mouse droppings often have hairs embedded in them.
  • Egg cases - American cockroach egg cases are about 38 mm long. They are dark-colored—reddish or blackish brown. Homeowners often find these egg cases in basements, in laundry rooms or kitchens. The egg cases may be under cabinets or behind appliances. American cockroaches also deposit their egg capsules behind stored items in garages and sheds.
  • Odor – Cockroaches produce a chemical called an “aggregation pheromone.” The odor of this chemical causes the roaches to stay together in groups. Some people describe the odor of these pheromones as having a “musty” smell. As the roach population starts to grow, people with sensitive noses may begin to notice this odor.

How do you get them?

American cockroaches enter home to find water or food. They can easily pass under doors if the weather stripping is damaged. Basement windows and garages are also common entryways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements.

How Serious is an Infestation?

Cockroaches are filthy pests. They can spread disease, contaminate our food and cause allergies and even asthma. Cockroaches can pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then transfer these germs to food or onto food surfaces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they are proven or suspected carriers of the organisms causing diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever and viral diseases such as poliomyelitis.

Orkin encourages people to help reduce cockroach populations by removing all food and unnecessary water sources, sealing all cracks and crevices, vacuuming and removing shelter sites like cardboard and paper. To effectively manage a serious cockroach infestation, you must correctly identify the type of cockroach causing the infestation, which is why it is important to contact a pest control professional.

Prevention

To help reduce cockroach populations, follow these helpful tips:

  • Keep a clean home and remove all food and unnecessary water sources
  • Seal cracks and crevices
  • Vacuum and remove shelter sites (cardboard, paper, etc.)

To effectively manage a serious infestation, you must correctly identify the type of cockroach causing it, which is why it is important to contact a pest control professional.

What Orkin Does

Keeping American cockroaches out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps:

  • Assess – Your Orkin technician will do a thorough inspection inside and outside of your home
  • Implement – The technician will customize the treatment and select from a variety of tools and techniques to help keep pests out of your home
  • Monitor – Every time the technician returns to your home, an inspection will be performed to determine if treatments have been effective, check for new activity and identify areas of the home or landscape vulnerable to pests

For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Additional Information

The American cockroach is also commonly known as the water bug, flying water bug or palmetto bug. While a major pest in the United States, they are native to the tropical climates of Africa with evidence suggesting that they were brought to North America aboard ships.

Interested in learning more about the American cockroach? Browse the links below.

More Treatment Information

More Detailed Information