The American cockroach is also known as the water bug, flying water bug, and, in some areas of the South, the palmetto bug. It is the largest of the common species, growing to be 1.5 inches or more. Although they are the least common among domestic species, they rank second in abundance to the German cockroach when found in many commercial and other large buildings. They have a color that is reddish-brown, with a pale brown or yellow border on the pronotum. Both sexes are fully winged, though rarely known to fly. The males' wings extend beyond the abdomen while the females' are the same length.

The time it takes for an American cockroach to fully develop depends on temperature but averages around 600 days under room temperature. Egg capsules are formed at the rate of about one per week until anywhere from 15 to 90 capsules have been produced. The capsule is dropped within one day of being produced either in a suitable location, such as near a food or water source, or in a protected area. If it is in the South, this could be outdoors in moist or decaying wood. The ootheca (egg case), which is black in color, can be glued into these locations by a secretion that the female produces from her mouth. Since the ootheca requires such high humidity to hatch successfully, it is sometimes not feasible for the female to deposit her eggs outside. For this reason, the American cockroach will find inside sources to live and lay their eggs. For example, in cold or arid regions, they can be found in large numbers in damp basements, dishwashing rooms in restaurants, around bathtubs, clothes hampers, floor drains, and sewer systems. In basements, they are often found high on the walls. After having been at room temperature, the eggs will hatch in about 50-55 days. Young nymphs are grayish-brown in color and will molt 9-13 times before they reach maturity. With each molt, they become more of the reddish-brown in color that they will retain in adulthood. The nymphal stage can last anywhere from 160-970 days. After reaching adulthood, females can live from 14-15 months. Males live slightly shorter lives.

Behavior and Habitat of American Cockroach

The American cockroach prefers warm, moist, dark areas. This is why they are so abundant in sewer systems, basements, and anywhere in commercial buildings, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, hotels, hospitals, and prisons, where there is not proper ventilation. In the South, this species is abundant in alleyways, yards, hollow trees and palm trees. Sometimes, they are found underneath shingles or occasionally, in attics. When conditions are unfavorable outdoors, this roach will move indoors. As mentioned in the previous section, the roach can also be found around bathtubs, clothes hampers, and floor drains. When in the basement, the American roach is usually found high on the walls. Although they do not fly often, they have been found to fly in certain geographical areas. Moreover, they rely on their excellent gliding abilities and are able to cover long distances if they take off from a rooftop or the top of a building. However, along the Gulf Coast of Texas, they have been observed flying around streetlights. In addition, American cockroaches have been seen to fly in the extremely hot, desert areas of California.

Feeding Habits

For food, American cockroaches prefer decaying organic manner. They also feed on bookbindings, manuscripts, clothing, and paper. Sweet things such as syrup are also appealing. If no food is available, they can live for 2-3 months. They will die if no water is ingested for over a month.

How You Acquire American Cockroaches

If American cockroaches become an indoor pest, it is usually for one of two reasons. The first way they may enter indoors is transportation through grocery packages or other carrying devices such as handbags. The second reason you may be seeing this species indoors is because they found the outdoors not suitable to live in and the have found some dark, damp area suitable indoors to live and breed.


Perimeter Treatment: Since American cockroaches are found outside a lot of the time, a perimeter treatment is a really effective way to prevent them from migrating inside your property, since they are known to frequently do this. In a perimeter treatment, you would basically create a 4-6 foot barrier around your home using a liquid insecticide. Consequently, if the roaches try traveling through this barrier, they will die.

Baseboard and Perimeter Treatment: If the cockroaches have already made their way inside, a baseboard and perimeter treatment would be called for. This procedure would include using a liquid insecticide to spray around the baseboards or lower 6 inches of the inside perimeter of your walls inside your property. In addition, a chemical barrier would be used as described above to prevent further cockroaches from entering the premises. The reason for using a baseboard treatment is because once the American cockroaches have entered the building, they are usually distributed throughout the entire structure as opposed to staying in one location. This combo baseboard and perimeter treatment is a highly successful way of getting rid of American cockroaches if they are in a structure.

IGR (Insect Growth Regulator): The IGR works by stopping roaches to mature from nymphal to adult cockroaches and therefore preventing reproduction. After application, you will begin noticing roaches with twisted wings. This is an indication that the IGR is working and the roach can no longer able to reproduce. This method is excellent for an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) due to its low toxicity. For maximum effectiveness, we recommend it used in conjunction with granular insect bait. Granular Insect Bait: Granular insect bait is another way of controlling the spread of American cockroaches by applying it around the perimeter of the infested property. The bait works simply by the roaches feasting on it, thinking it a tasty food source, and dying. The bait is low in toxicity; therefore making it a safer alternative to the liquid insecticide used in traditional perimeter treatments. To achieve the same effectiveness as liquid insecticide, it is recommended to use the granular bait in conjunction with an IGR.

Glue Boards: Glue boards are good ways to catch the roaches you are seeing that are running around. Although they will not give you 100% control, they are a good solution for reducing your problem and getting an infestation under control. Glue boards are excellent tools for IPM (Integrated Pest Management) as well as a good component in a multi-faceted treatment plan that may also include granular insect bait or an IGR.

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