Insect Identification
Insect Identification

American Cockroach - (Periplaneta americana)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/6/2016

The ubiquitous American Cockroach isn't a native American, but it has done quite well in its new homeland.

The American Cockroach is actually not native to the United States. Instead it originates from Africa. It was transplanted to and established in North America during hundreds of years of trans-oceanic trade. The cockroaches would stow away on board and were introduced to the continent as well as Antarctica and Greenland.

Their original habitat was warm and humid, but they have adapted to colder climates by remaining in warmer places such as buildings, warehouses and homes. They have also been able to reside in colder, but sheltered areas such as underground subways and sewers.

The American Cockroach appears glossy and carries a reddish-brown look throughout its body. Even the wings are the same color and darker brown marks can be seen at the center of the pronotum ('shoulders'). The female has a shorter pair of wings wings while the male's wings extend past his abdomen. This makes them appear longer. They are very good flyers, though most humans see them running on floors, walls and ceilings more often than flying.

Adults eat moist foods. This can be human food, pet food or other edible organic matter. Because they eat the same foods as humans and pets, they are considered a huge commercial and personal pest.

Females lay about a dozen eggs at a time and then carry them on their backs for a few days, unloading them in a dark area where the eggs can hatch undisturbed. Nymphs (juveniles) look like smaller versions of adults and can take up to a year to grow to full size. Female life spans are at least a year long.

Most cockroaches flee for cover when suddenly illuminated, however, they will crawl and explore areas and rooms with lights on.

Cockroach infestations are a common problem in homes, apartments and food warehouses. Professional exterminators are very helpful in eradicating them from the premises.

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Category: Cockroach
Common name: American Cockroach
Scientific Name: Periplaneta americana
Other Names: Cockroach, Waterbug, Roach, Palmetto Bug

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Blattodea
      Family: Blattidae
       Genus: Periplaneta
        Species: americana

Adult Size (Length): 27mm to 40mm (1.06in to 1.57in)

Identifying Colors: brown; red; yellow

Additional Descriptors: fat, wide, fast, flying

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Mexico; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.