American cockroach
Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus)
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea
Family: Blattidae


Size: American Cockroach adults are about 1 3/8 to 2 1/8 in ( 34-53 mm) long.

Characteristics: A cockroach is oval in outline, with body flattened, antennae long and threadlike, head mostly hidden, chewing mouthparts, front wings leathery with veins. American cockroach: both sexes fully winged; wings of male (but not female) extend beyond tip of abdomen; poor to moderate flier.

Color: Reddish brown, except for pale brown to yellowish band around edge of pronotal shield.

Where found: The American cockroach, despite its name, is not native to North America. It may have come from Africa, but is now all over the world. It is also called “water bug”, “Bombay canary” or “Palmetto bug”. 

Comparison with other species: Brown cockroach: very similar. Australian cockroach: front wings with pale yellow outside margin at base. Smoky brown cockroach: pronotal shield uniformly dark. Other roaches are either smaller or larger, without pale markings, and/or not found in structures.

Habitat: Warm, humid places. The American cockroach may be found in residential buildings, but is far more common in food storage and food preparation areas, basements, and steam tunnels of large commercial buildings, such as restaurants, markets, hospitals, food processing plants. In the U.S. this is the most common species in sewers. In summer, it may be found outdoors.

Food: Many different things, but especially fermenting food. 

Biology: The female drops her egg capsule or uses a substance from her mouth to glue it to the surface of a crevice that is near a source of food. She does this an average of about 9-10 times during her life. Each egg capsule contains about 14-16 eggs. Development from egg to adult at room temperature takes about 20 months, and 10-13 molts. Adult females live about 15 months, or half that time if the temperature rises to the mid 80s F. 

Damage: Nuisance, and health hazard as carrier of disease.

Invasion: American cockroaches may enter buildings in packaging, or come up through sewer drains, or in a mass, from other structures or dumps, during warm weather.

How to detect and control American cockroaches:

  • Inspect at night using a flushing agent and flashlight to determine species and location.
  • Check drains.
  • Initial pesticide application may include residual baits, insect growth regulators, liquids, aerosols, lacquers and/or microencapsulated pesticides, placed in cracks and crevices, occasionally on surfaces, or in voids. Dusting of voids is sometimes appropriate.
  • For control in sewers, dusting with silica gel is effective.