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American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Cockroach.

 Updated: 10/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




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



American Cockroach Videos



A brief glimpse of Christmas at an American Cockroach's house

The American Cockroach is actually not native to the United States, but instead originates from Africa. It emigrated to North America via trans-oceanic trade. The cockroaches stowed away on board ships and were introduced to this continent as well as Antarctica and Greenland. Their original habitat was warm and humid, but they have acclimated to colder climates by taking shelter in warm indoor spaces such as buildings, warehouses and homes. They have also been able to survive in colder 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 males appear longer. They are very good flyers, though most humans see this species running on floors, walls, and ceilings more often than in flight. Their bodies are flat and somewhat flexible, making them able to squeeze through tight, flat spaces.

Adults eat moist organic matter. 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 home pest. Cockroach infestations can become a problem in homes, multi-unit dwellings, restaurants, and food warehouses. Professional exterminators are very helpful in eradicating infestations from these places.

Females can 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. They eat the same types of foods as adults. Female life spans are at least a year long.

Most cockroaches flee for cover with sudden illumination, however, they will explore areas and rooms that already have lights on. Look for them with a flashlight in dark spaces like cabinets, under shelving or pallets, or in potentially humid places like bathrooms, crawlspaces, or basements.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Blattodea
        Family: Blattidae
          Genus: Periplaneta
            Species: americana
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Periplaneta americana
Other Name(s): Cockroach, Waterbug, Roach, Palmetto Bug
Category: Cockroach
Size (Adult; Length): 27mm to 40mm (1.05in to 1.56in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; red; yellow
Descriptors: fat, wide, fast, flying, pest, infestation
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
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
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.