Blattaria: Blattidae, Periplaneta americana
American cockroach adults are 1 and 1/2 inches long (38mm), making them the largest of the house-infesting cockroaches. With reddish brown, fully developed wings, the American cockroaches have a yellowish margin on the thorax or body region behind the head. When disturbed, they may run rapidly and adults may fly. Immature cockroaches resemble adults except that they are wingless.
American cockroaches generally live in moist areas, but can survive in dry areas if they have access to water. They prefer warm temperatures around 84 degrees Fahrenheit and do not tolerate cold temperatures. In residential areas, these cockroaches live in basements, around pipes and sewers, and may move outdoors into yards during warm weather. These cockroaches are common in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches, foundations, and walkways adjacent to buildings. Many times, the American cockroach can be found under decks, under mulching materials, inside hollow block construction, or in any cool and damp area. Because of their fondness for sewers, large populations of American cockroaches will be seen in many cities after heavy rains or flooding. They may feed on a wide variety of plant and animal material.
Females produce egg cases and carry them protruding from the tip of the abdomen for about two days. Egg cases are then generally placed on a surface in a hidden location. The female may glue the egg case to the side of a structure or interior wall of a basement. These egg cases may sometimes be found lying loosed in mulched flower beds and compost piles. Egg cases are 3/8 inch long, brown, and purse shaped. Immature cockroaches emerge from egg cases in 6 to 8 weeks. The nymphs require 6 to 12 months to mature. Adult cockroaches can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.
Due to the large size and slow development of American cockroaches, large
infestations of these insects are not common within houses. However, during certain times
of the year, these cockroaches may move inside a house from outside sources. For example,
in winter these cockroaches may move indoors, seeking warmer temperatures and food.
Cockroaches may enter houses via sewer connections, under doors, around utility pipes, air
ducts, or other openings in the foundation. Cockroach populations in basements can be
reduced by decreasing dampness and applying insecticides in cracks and crevices where
there is evidence of cockroach activity (presence of egg cases, dead cockroaches, brown
For help in controlling these pests, go to Large Roach Elimination.
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